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Mac 07-09-2013 11:00 PM

Clunking noise; bad tie rod ends?
'99 1500 Sport, 4x4
I recently posted about my loose steering and slop in the gearbox. I tightened the gearbox and it helped but It's still pretty loose. I've been noticing a slight clunking noise when going over bumps in the road. I can almost feel it more than hear it. So today I jumped underneath to have another look at the tie rod ends and discovered that if I twist the driver's side tie rod end, it clunks against the steering knuckle. Should it move that easily (by hand) and should it be hitting the steering knuckle? The tie rod end boots look a little nasty, bulging and out of shape but the ends don't appear loose when pushing/pulling the tire at 9 and 3 O'clock.
Thanks guys!
Note: 1. Ball joints are good, about a year old. As are the steering damper, drag link, and shocks. 2. Stabilizer bar bushings look pretty bad, compressed and cracked.

oxymoron29 07-17-2013 10:19 PM

I am pretty much in the exact same situation as you right now. brand new balljoints, track bar, u-joints, everything else is tight in the front end and i still have a dead spot in my steering and the same popping/clunking "feel" when i accelerate, brake or hit bumps. the only thing left for me to check was either the steering shaft or the steering box itself. check for play in your steering box by first taking off the steering shaft and jostling the input shaft to see if there is axial play. mine has axial play, and a distinct "snap" when rotating the steering wheel back and forth about 4".

WRT the tie rod ends, oddly enough, just yesterday i noticed the same issue with mine. i simply adjusted the turnbuckle slightly so that it would not bottom out and cause the nasty sounding metal on metal "clunk" when rotating the tie rod.

i'd suggest you check your track bar bushings, control arm bushings, shock bushings, and replace those sway bar bushings. if everything looks solid you might be in the same boat as me and require a new steering box. i've tried adjusting mine using the proper method outlined in the FSM (preload then over-center adjustment) and it only caused more friction in the box; no effect on preciseness. ones from the junker are only $20 and are used on some GM trucks, so I might try that or drop the dough on a redhead....

Wh1t3nukle 07-23-2013 01:34 AM

Is the clunk being felt in the steering wheel? In the seat? At your feet?

Sometimes that can help determine what it is.

Additional things to check are the body mount bolts.

Get a helper that will turn the steering wheel while in PARK and you are laying underneath to look and listen to things.

Note that the ball joint on the tie rod to drag link tends to be missed in how it can contribute to steering feedback. That joint may appear cosmetically sound, but it gets worked alot over the mileage since it gets pulled in all directions over time.

DaSOB 08-06-2013 08:53 PM

I'm getting a very heavy "thump" from time to time when the steering wheel is turned far left and I'm accelerating or backing. I can feel it through the body of the truck. I thought it might be a ball joint or tie rod end, but I don't feel it through the steering wheel. It's just a heavy, felt/heard "thump".

Any ideas on this?


the persuader 08-06-2013 09:33 PM

Try checking your axle u joints and ball joints.

DaSOB 08-07-2013 09:14 AM

The truck is RWD - no U-joints up front. I suspect a ball joint - been getting some noise from the left front when turning.

Any other suggestions will be welcomed!

KyleKirk 08-08-2013 02:15 AM

Could also be a control arm bushing. When you accelerate the control arm can can shift a bit if the bushing is bad and hit metal. I would suspect that or bad ball joints.

DaSOB 08-08-2013 09:43 AM

I'm fairly certain that it's the left upper ball joint. I replaced the left lower last night and plan to do the right lower this evening. Still getting the "thump", and it does seem to originate on the driver side. Both driver side ball joints were very badly worn, so I'm sure it's the left upper.

I'm going to let a pro change the uppers and then do an alignment - looks like you have to take the upper control arm out in order to have room to work on the ball joint, and for all that trouble plus the need for an alignment I'll just take it to a shop for that part of it.

KyleKirk 08-08-2013 10:49 AM

You don't have to remove the upper control arm to r/r the upper unless it is riveted in from the factory.

DaSOB 08-08-2013 10:51 AM

Thanks. It just looks to me like there isn't room to get the clamp in there - I'll have to double check that this evening. If I can get the clamp in and be able to work with it, I may give it a go.

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