2003 Ram 2500 4x4 knocking badly on bumps

Hi all, my Ram has just started to get real noisy from the front end somewhere, due to all the pot-holed ice that's currently covering most of the roads here in the UK. The noise is resonating right through the whole
shell at low speeds but gets quieter as speed builds up and is gone by 50mph. At slow speeds it sounds like someone's hammering the underside of the footwells with a large block of hardwood! I pulled it into the workshop yesterday afternoon and crawled under armed with a torch, a lever bar and a breaker bar and various sized sockets, expecting to find some play in the front beam axle upper and lower ball joints........ Well, no play in ball joints (axle weight taken on trolley jacks and big lever bar under wheel), all suspension and steering bushes appear good with no excess play, radius arm bushes ok, body-to-chassis bushes ok and bolts tight, props good, engine and gearbox mounts good. I found a slight bit of free play (approximately 1mm) in the front sway bar to chassis mounting bushes, yet the sway bar to axle links are good with no traceable play in the ball joints. I've ordered new bushes (and links anyway, to be sure) from an American company via the internet and I'll replace them as soon as they arrive here in the UK. Now, my question is this, would 1mm of free radial play in a sway bar bush really cause a noise that sounds like that described, even though the sway bar can only knock against rubber, not metal? I've been working on cars and Landrovers for over 25 years but I've never had this sort of noise be caused just by a rubber bush wearing slightly - unless it was worn to the extent that metal-to-metal contact could take place, and even then it would still make contact regardless of speed. If my diagnosis is wrong, does anyone have any ideas where I should be looking and what I should be checking next? Thanks, Badger.
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I'd be checking the front U-Joints. I've been through 2 pair so far with the last pair at around 170,000 miles.
FMB (North Mexico)
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Hi, if you mean the front driveshaft joints where they are exposed at the ends of the axle casing, then they too are ok with no play. From past experiences, I'd have thought that there would have been some ammount of vibration if they'd gone? Oh, and I forgot to say, I've also checked the spare wheel is tight and the tailgate has had its catches adjusted to make it nice and tight also. Badger.
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I'd be checking some shock bushings or perhaps the exhaust hitting.
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Also check the front hubs. I had some strange noises form mine when they (Both) failed (at different times). On one side, the failure was graphic: I could wiggle the wheel around and see it move, the bearings were that bad.
As well, I've had my share of front U joints failing too... I'd reinspect them and see if you can see anything at all.
Are your exhaust system hangers all in good condition? Mine have rusted (2004 with 48K miles) to the point that some of the clamps have fallen off.
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Suddenly, without warning, PeterD exclaimed (1/9/2010 5:11 PM):

Definitely look for the effects of rust. My Dakota spent three years there and there's a lot of underbody rust now. In fact, I have to replace one of my steps as there's so much rust, if I kick it big chunks fall off (!).
jmc
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