2002 A4 clunking noise

I strange thing happened to my car this morning. As I was driving away, I heard a clunking noise from under what seems to be the driver side front wheel. I felt a slight, corresponding jolt through the
steering wheel. At first I though I had hit a pot hole, but then as I drove more I realized that the clunk was happening even on smooth road. It happens mostly (or at least I notice it mostly) at slow speeds and in first gear.
As far as I can tell, it's not related to steering wheel position (i.e. it happens when I'm driving straight or turning). Also, it doesn't seem to be related to road conditions, such as bumps, inclines, etc. It's relatively random, except for the fact that I only seem to notice it as slow speeds.
It's very slight and you have to turn off the radio to hear it, but I'm worried that there is a problem with the control arms or with a bearing.
Could it just be a loose skid guard?
Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

It could be a CV joint, bearing, brakes or any moving component. You will need to have a mechanic check it to find out. The is no typical failure that can be diagnosed without seeing the car but the CV is the first thing I would look at.
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On Wed, 18 Jul 2007 12:56:53 +0000, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

You have good reason to suspect the control arms (uppers). When the bushings wear, clunking noises will randomly come and go, progressively getting worse as time goes by.

Doubt that if you can feel it resonate through the steering column. I'd make an appointment to have your suspension thoroughly inspected.
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Thanks for the reply. The noise has gotten worse over the last two days. Unfortunately, I am hundreds of miles away from home. Should I be worried about driving home tomorrow? What's the worst that can happen?
This car has been nothing but a pain in the ass since I bought it. Is there any channels through which I can complain that would make a difference to audi?
Madesio wrote:

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On Sat, 21 Jul 2007 18:55:56 -0700, " snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com"

If it is the classic A4 worn control arm bushing syndrome, you can keep driving it pretty much indefinitely - or until you can't stand the noise any longer.
I don't know who you could complain to that'll be receptive to hearing about a 5 year old car with suspension noise...
/daytripper '00 s4 6spd
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On Sat, 21 Jul 2007 18:55:56 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Not sure as to exactly how badly the upper control arms are worn (if that's actually the problem).
Worse case scenario is the bushings completely wearing to the point where they disintegrate and break apart. All that's left is the bolt in the middle of the area where the bushing formally resided in. The combination of friction resulting from the metal to metal contact and stress from suspension movement will break this bolt in two. Depending on which side breaks, the wheel will lean to the arm that holds, being forced into an unusual position causing you to lose control of your vehicle if you happen to be driving. Not trying to scare you but you asked.

You can try your local dealer as they may be able to warranty certain things out of goodwill depending on your mileage and maintenance records.
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Thanks for the truly worst case scenario!
I have had the car in the shop at least once every two months over the past year. It just seems to me like audi didn't take much time in building this car right. how can a supposed "luxury car" have more reliability problems than a hyundai?
anyway, i am going to drive the car home and take it to my mechanic tomorrow morning. i'll report back on what i find out.

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On Sun, 22 Jul 2007 11:26:59 -0000, " snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com"

Interesting. I also have an '02 A4, and my experience couldn't be different. I've owned it over two years, and all it's had in that time has been a couple of routine services (about 15 months apart, right when the dashboard computer said they were needed) and a set of new tyres. That's it. Nothing more has been needed. (Well, apart from fairly frequent oil top-ups - I carry a bottle in the boot.) At the last service - in January - I was warned that it'll need brake pads soon, but the dashboard warning hasn't lit yet.
I've been well impressed with the Audi quality.
My contrast is with the BMW that I traded in for the A4. It was a 323i, seven years old when I parted with it. That car had been in and out of the dealer's workshop ever since I bought it - typically, about three times a year. The dealer just regarded that car as a siphon feeding money from my bank account to theirs. I didn't like their personal attitude, either - it amounted to 'you're not good enough to own a BMW'. The Audi's costing me about half as much money to run, and a lot less hassle. For that and other reasons, I'd rather own the Audi than the Beemer.
I really do hope that your clunking doesn't turn out to be serious.
Peter.
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wrote:

thanks for the wishes. i bought this car with 28,000 miles on it and, granted, i have driven it hard. a lot of city driving on the barely paved streets of baltimore. but i have had a bad thermometer, two bad vacuum lines, and now this issue all in about a year. add that to regular service and my bill is really rising.
i drove home today from the shore, probably about 150 miles. the clunking was there at low speeds, when driving out of a toll booth for instance, but there was nothing noticeable at highway speeds.
also, as a slight adjustment to my original post: i now do not believe that the noise is in any way connected to vibrations that i can feel through the steering wheel. i studied that as much as i could, and there was no correlation between the sound, a bump in the road, or vibrations through the steering wheel.
if the problem truly were related to the bushings, wouldn't the thunks come during moments of turning, accelerating, or hitting road bumps? as far as i can tell, the noise is MORE likely to happen when traveling slowly on smooth roads in first or second gear at a steady pace.
it's very strange.
i also noticed that my door has recently gotten a little creaky when i open and close it. the sound is a very similar pitch to the thunk i'm describing. is it possible that the door swing mechanism is creating the noise, even when closed? i'm going to spray some WD-40 on it to see if that helps.
also, is there anything that a ley-person could see regarding bad control arms from an unsprung inspection? cracks? leaks? is there any portion of the assembly i should particularly look at?
any help would be greatly appreciated.
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If it is due to control arm bushings you could reach in to the joints while the car is sitting on the ground and feel for any play.
Again while siting on the ground get a good hold of each front tire with both hands and try to shake it in / out at the top and back and forth when holding it at 9 / 3 O'clock as if it is steering. If you feel any clunks or other mechanical sounds this may be your problem.
Another thing that can happen is that the rubber sway bar mounts can deteriorate and cause sounds. You might be able to detect this by trying to bounce each front corner of the car by pushing on the bumper. Don't try thi when pushing on and plastic trim or sheet metal as it cound be damaged.
Another thing to look for is leaks in the fluid filled engine mounts. If the leak the engine drops down a bit and can cause components to hit things they are near.
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I did these tests just now, and there was no fluid, I could not replicate any sound while "sitting" on the car to make it move up and down. But when I pulled outward on the tire, as you said, there was a "ting" noise of metal hitting metal on some of my harder pulls. This sound did not sound like the clunk that I hear when I am driving and there wasn't any real perceptible "play" in the wheel. The noise I hear while driving is much more muted than this noise was, and, I believe, louder.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

A noise like you describe would likely be a bit different than when driving because driving the forces are much greater. It does sound like control arms or tie rod ends are a problem. At least that is my guess.
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On Sun, 22 Jul 2007 11:26:59 +0000, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

While most may consider a them a reliable automobile, Hyundais do not even come close to the driving experience your A4 should provide you with. That's not even a fair comparison. Audi's engineering on everything from the suspension to it's electronics is a lot more sophisticated than your average Hyundai grocery getter. The cars are geared to different audiences; which one do you enjoy driving more?

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I'm not going to argue that point! As I was driving this morning, i took one nice sweeping turn in third gear, pushed the throttle down, and felt the thing just hug to the road. I almost welled up because I knew I just can't afford to keep a car that is costing me several thousands of dollars more per year in maintenance. The thought of getting a japanese or korean grocery getter breaks my heart. But I am very near that point.
I decided not to take it into the shop this morning when they said they couldn't look at it until tomorrow. I have to get to the airport for a trip tomorrow morning, so this issue will have to wait. However, while driving this morning the "coolant low" light went on. I have started a new thread to discuss this issue.
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one other quick question: do the control arms eventually wear out on all four wheels, or is it an issue that mainly happens with the front wheels? is there any sense, while i have it in the shop, of having all of the bushings replaced even if only one of them is bad right at this moment?

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The control arm problem is usually associated with the front upper arms. I drove my '98 A4 for thousands of miles as the problem gradually got worse. Finally had it fixed recently when I bought new tires. Total at an independent including tie rod ends and 4-wheel alignment was about $1300.
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I've had mine replaced twice, and only on the right front passenger side, both uppers and lowers (at different times), and I'm at 109k now. I'm not sure when the next replacement will happen, and I'll be curious how much longer the other three corners last. I'll be putting in new struts when I replace the tires in September/October (I'm seeing tire slap now, which tells me a couple if not all of the factory struts are gone, but I'm not feeling it much in the ride).
1998.5 A4Q, love this car
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