I'm getting some 'thunks' from my 2001 Civic EX front suspension, usually
when shifting between 1-2 and 2-3 , and also when the front tires hit an
obstacle that causes a front-to-back impact vs. and up and down. No problems
when driving daily at speed on the interstate. Struts are new Tokico blues,
as are the rear shocks.
Could it be bad ball joints ?
is it psychic wednesday?
whoever fitted the new shocks should have checked all that stuff as they
did the work. if not, they need to check it now. especially as they
may not have fastened a bolt properly.
I didn't go into all the details...noises were present before and after
shock/spring replacement : old Koni shocks and Eibach springs were replaced
with Tokico shocks and OEM springs. Yes, I wanted to restore original ride
If it were rear wheel drive, I'd guess a U-joint was going bad.
I'll take it in to Honda for a complete checkout. The car has 235K miles on
it, so it might be time...
You have at least two TSBs out on front suspension noise.
03-039 covers a knock, pop or squeak that is due to a deteriorated front
lower control arm bushing.
01-054 deals with a knock, pop or crunch resulting from the front spring
coils contacting each other.
I can't remember if you've got balljoint-type stabilizer bar links. If you
do, that's another source of knocking noise as the balls wear out.
I would think that they should. Hell, Studebaker issued TSB(s)
throughout its time in business which ended over thirty years ago.
As far as I know, all car manufacturers issue such documents and the
most serious issues result in recalls.
To check the ball joints...
Jack up the car and set it down on a pair of jack stands. Unlock the
steering wheel. Grab the tire at the 12 and 6 o'clock positions. Try to
rock it back and forth. If you feel movement it could be either the ball
joints or wheel bearing. Have someone else repeat the rocking described
above while you get under the car and look at the suspension with a
flashlight. If the movement is coming from the ball joints you should be
able to see this. If not, then look at the back side of the hub area where
the CV joint connects to the hub. If you see movement here, then the wheel
bearing is bad. Note that sometimes grabbing the tire at the 5 and 9
o'clock positions works better for detecting looseness in the lower ball
joint. You can also check the tie rods for looseness by grabbing the tire
at the 3 and 9 o'clock positions. If you feel any looseness here when you
rock the tire back and forth, you can isolate it to the tie rods by feeling
movement in the joint through the tie rod boots. The ball joint in the tie
rod ends can be checked by squeezing them with a large pair of channel lock
pliers in the vertical axis. Sometimes, this also works well for double
checking any suspected looseness in the upper ball joints.
unfortunately, while you're right in principle, jacking the car up and
letting the wheels dangle with the chassis on stands is about the
/least/ successful way of detecting ball joint wear possible.
normal running position is with the weight on the wheels, thus, most
wear is with the ball joints in that position. letting the wheels
dangle ensures that ball joints are in a position where they have
/least/ wear since the vehicle has almost zero miles with the wheels in
the solution is to test with the suspension having weight on it. the
easiest thing for the home mechanic is to jack one wheel at a time, with
the jack directly under a suspension member, wheel /just/ off the
ground. /then/ you can exert force on the wheel and see if you can feel
I do not believe that jacking up the car from the lower control arm will
produce a normal load on the suspension. One could only achieve such a goal
by putting a floor jack under the tire and jacking up the suspension from
that point. However, this would interfere with one's ability to detect
looseness in the ball joints.
Moreover, for what it's worth, I've never had any problems detecting
looseness in the ball joints following the protocol that I outlined. A
supplement to the technique could be to use a large prybar to move the
suspension around in the vertical axis of the particular ball joint being
Certainly, provided the play is actually in the joint and not the bearings,
etc. And you need to be able to tell WHICH joint is bad.
Plus, Honda balljoints can seize instead of getting loose. This will not be
apparent from the "wiggle" test, no matter how you do it. A seized
balljoint is very bad news indeed. Ask me how I know.
Pop the taper and do the check properly.
Understand and agree with your logic. The wiggle or shake test, in my
opinion, is useful for a quick, spot check only. Another clue can be gotten
from abnormal tire wear pattern, which would show up even in the case of a
seized joint.... Cupping sort of randomly around the tread, IIRC. Of course,
by this time other clues should be apparent....
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