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pcr5946 05-02-2012 05:01 PM

Elusive Front End Clunk
Sorry if this became a little long winded, but I appreciate you guys looking through this.

So for a while now I've noticed a "clunking" noise coming from what sounds like the driver's side front end. It's most noticeable at typical surface road speeds (30-45 mph or so) over longer stretches of broken pavement, sort of small jarring bumps that don't really cause the suspension to articulate but just kind of bump it around (or going over railroad tracks, that sort of thing). At its worst I feel like I can also feel it rattling a little through the floor under the dead pedal.

The roads in New York are an absolute disaster, and so I thought I might have snapped an end link (they're still factory). So when I took it to the dealer for the most recent oil change I briefly described the sound to the service manager who wrote me up, and asked if the tech could just take a look and see if anything was obviously broken. When I got the car back, the service writer told me the tech had found a "broken front stabilizer linkage" which I took to mean the factory end link. They [obviously] offered to fix for me before I left, but I declined, as the car was going to an independent Subaru shop soon for its 60k service and I thought I'd just have them fix it instead with better aftermarket parts.

However, when I did take the car to the independent shop for service I mentioned this to them when they started work. When the tech came in to talk to me a little while later, he told me that he had looked over the front suspension while the car was on the lift and couldn't find anything broken or any torn bushings or damage to the struts that might cause the noise. They took it around the block and over some broken pavement and couldn't hear the noise at all. Now I trust these guys, so if they say nothing was broken I believe them (and wouldn't put it past my dealership to try to sell me on fixing something that wasn't broken) and when I left the shop I couldn't really hear they clunking anymore either. I heard it very faintly a few times on my way home, but it seemed much quieter and less frequent than before. But over the next several days I began hearing it again as it was before, and though its not a constant sound it's back to almost constant as it was before my 60k.

So my question is, any idea where to go from here? I'm inclined, like I said, to take the word of my independent shop's techs that nothing was broken, but something definitely isn't functioning properly under there. They said they were more than happy to take another look if it got worse again, but if I bring it back I'd like to be able to give them something more to go on. I was interested in upgrading my sways and end links anyway, but I don't want to do any upgrades that might exacerbate the problem before I figure out what's going on.

Thanks in advance for your help.

trackhore 05-02-2012 08:27 PM

I've had two front end clunks and both exhibited the same phenomenon as yours... They would diminish for a period of time after the car was raised in the air. Anyway, one was a worn sway bar bushing, common. The other was a bad front ball joint. Third noise which didn't go away until fixed was a broken ball joint fixing bolt on the steering knuckle. That was a bitch to diagnose because there was no measurable play when the suspension was loaded. A local mechanic finally saw the broken bolt and replaced the knuckle for me.

Other culprits could be worn inner or outer tie rods, torn lower control arm bushings, or worn front strut top hats.

Anyway, good luck.

scoobyscoodle 05-03-2012 01:45 AM


Check the swaybar carefully, and end links.

iggybdawg 05-03-2012 10:12 AM

I had a clunk from loose end links

DocHolladay23 05-03-2012 10:34 AM

+1 to endlinks

SpecBGuy 05-03-2012 10:38 AM

need to grease it up if not broken

captainobvious 05-03-2012 10:40 AM

I noticed a clunking too, and when i finally found out i was sorta shocked, the brake caliper seemed loose even though the bolts were tightened down. Had to get a caliper kit and this weekend i plan to tackle it.

mr.hicksta 05-03-2012 10:40 AM

Pick up some Super Lube from a hardware store and go to town on those bushings!

jfg22557 05-03-2012 12:58 PM

I hear you on the NY roads OP... they suck. Thats why I try to stick to the gravel as much as possible;).
Anyway, had the exact same front end clunk as you that just kept getting worse over the past few months, and indeed as almost everyone else in this thread has already indicated, the endlinks were the culprit.
Had a pair of RalliTek's on there that lasted maybe 30k and they were shot.. but then again why should a company called "RALLITEK" actually produce sb links that are capable of standing up to some loose surface spirited driving:rolleyes:. The amount of play that developed in the ball joints was astounding.
This is their (joke of a) claim:

We are so sure these endlinks will stand up to the punnsihment of rally racing, RalliTEK HD Front Endlinks come with a 5 year limited warranty!
stunned that theyre already toast.. working on putting together a warraty claim as we speak

SpecBGuy 05-03-2012 01:30 PM

they said punishment of "rally racing" not NY streets.:redface::)

ktmrider 05-22-2012 08:20 PM

Had same problem, RF sway bar bushing was toast. Not surprising with 133k on the chassis and likely the original known-to-clunk bushings. RF was visibly mushroomed and nearly cracked in half when I replaced them both today.

BTW I could re-position the endlink and "change" the clunk like the OP mentioned.

Put OEM bushes in, $7ea, and noticed they are the uprated models with the slit/split located at the 400 o'clock position instead of 600. Link here for good pics:

What a difference, OB stays much flatter in turns now. And of course no clunky LOL.

trackhore 05-22-2012 09:12 PM


Originally Posted by ktmrider (Post 3907707)
Had same problem, RF sway bar bushing was toast. Not surprising with 133k on the chassis and likely the original known-to-clunk bushings.

also closest to the hot UP

vkchu 06-30-2012 09:50 PM

thanks for the very specific list of items to check, all.
ive recently started hearing that clunk - gonna have my tech look it over.

08SpecB_DE 06-30-2012 10:50 PM

I have the same type of clunk but in the RF. Looks like endlinks seem to be popular failures, so if I do not see anything obvious I may get some new links and a set of bushings for good measure.

car_cursed 06-30-2012 11:26 PM

mine was a loose main strut nut.

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