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2002 Buick Regal - Mysterious Clunking Sound

10/09/2008 1:23 PM

In the past I have signed out a 2002 Buick Regal GS (3800 Supercharged model) at work and now own a 2002 Regal LS (3800 non-supercharged model). Both of these cars make a barely discernible clunking from the front end that can be felt through the steering column. It happens on low speed turns when traveling over a bump or depression. I have had the car in and checked out by a mechanic and he can find no problem. I have also searched mechanical forums on the Net to no avail. The ball joints, tie rods and struts are good. Tires are wearing normally.

I'm wondering if this is a manufacturing defect(?) Is something amiss with the steering column?

It is more of an annoyance than anything...or is it?

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#1

Re: 2002 Buick Regal - Mysterious Clunking Sound

10/09/2008 11:05 PM

Things that can make this noise:

steering column u-joint bushings or flexible couplers

steering rack bushings/mounts

subframe mounts

engine movement (engine mount problems)

rack and pinion wear/damage

loose/damaged steering column mountings

wheel bearings

brakes

loose engine accessory mounts

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: 2002 Buick Regal - Mysterious Clunking Sound

10/09/2008 11:08 PM

By the way, how did your mechanic check the struts, tie rods, etc.? Problems in these can escape detection unless the mechanic checks VERY carefully. Just examining with the parts in question fully assembled can often disguise problems.

It may be necessary to disassemble the items in question to be sure. Assembly loads (tension/compression) or vehicle weight not compensated for in testing can generate false results.

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#3

Re: 2002 Buick Regal - Mysterious Clunking Sound

10/09/2008 11:39 PM

There is a technical bulletin #01-02-32-0010 dated 03-27-08 addressing this concern. The correction involves replacing the column intermediate shaft. It's not a recall or even a campaign so you are most likely correct in labeling the noise an annoyance, rather than a saftey concern.

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#11
In reply to #3

Re: 2002 Buick Regal - Mysterious Clunking Sound

10/12/2008 11:25 PM

Good answer. If the intermediate column is the cause, will grabbing the shaft and trying to move it up and down, in and out, will the looseness be felt?

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#4

Re: 2002 Buick Regal - Mysterious Clunking Sound

10/10/2008 12:28 AM

Both of these cars make a barely discernible clunking from the front end that can be felt through the steering column. It happens on low speed turns when traveling over a bump or depression.

Curious... as to whether you experience a SINGLE CLUNK while turning, or do you feel/hear MULTIPLE, EQUALLY TIMED CLUNKS in the same turn? If the latter, then it is a CV joint.

Should we assume the mechanic didn't drive the vehicle to help diagnose?

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#5

Re: 2002 Buick Regal - Mysterious Clunking Sound

10/10/2008 8:14 AM

Go have your alignment checked, and ask the technician to look at the caster/camber arms. I had one of these go out on my thunberbird, and it stumped several mechanics for a few days. It seemed to have a slight jiggle in the steering wheel at low speeds when I turned to the left. Then my front driver tire started showing wear on the inside. The part was inespensive, but the mechanic wanted 150 to install. I did it myself, and took about 2 hours total. Have a good prybar handy. These things are really stuck in place.

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#6

Re: 2002 Buick Regal - Mysterious Clunking Sound

10/10/2008 8:32 AM

I have had bad CV joints before and can distinguish that particular sound (more of a whirring or clicking during turns).

Based on the responses thus far, and thank-you for the tips, I am inclined to start with the steering column. It seems to be the common element in the discussion. Engine mount will be next in line, moving on to suspension components after that.

Seems to be a lot of trouble for a mere annoyance. I have a friend who would tape together the dog tags on the family mutt to keep them from jingling during long road trips. See, I'm not the only one

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#7
In reply to #6

Re: 2002 Buick Regal - Mysterious Clunking Sound

10/10/2008 9:23 AM

If so equipped, clunking can also come from worn swaybar bushings...the swaybar can move and hit against the frame.

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#8

Re: 2002 Buick Regal - Mysterious Clunking Sound

10/10/2008 11:20 AM

I would say post #3 probably got it right but I will throw out one other odd occurrence I have seen. A cars sway bars go from clockwise to counterclockwise torque when a car goes over bumps and at other times that the car would not be cornering hard (that would keep them torqued in one direction).

These torque transitions in the sway bars will cause a thump as the connections go from push to pull if there is any slop.

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#9

Re: 2002 Buick Regal - Mysterious Clunking Sound

10/10/2008 5:09 PM

If it has rack-and-pinion steering like my '85 model (Somerset Regal) it could be in that unit. I've had a similar clunking for years, and it is truly an annoyance, albeit a rather minor one. I just attributed it to the car being an old clunker...

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#10
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Re: 2002 Buick Regal - Mysterious Clunking Sound

10/10/2008 7:41 PM

She still runs like a top!

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#12
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Re: 2002 Buick Regal - Mysterious Clunking Sound

10/13/2008 7:32 AM

"...runs like a top..."

Spins in circles, you mean? Even mine is in better shape than that!

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#13
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Re: 2002 Buick Regal - Mysterious Clunking Sound

10/13/2008 12:25 PM

Did you let my daughter borrow your car?

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#14

Re: 2002 Buick Regal - Mysterious Clunking Sound

10/14/2008 9:28 PM

check the rag joint or the stabalizer links

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#15

Re: 2002 Buick Regal - Mysterious Clunking Sound

12/23/2008 8:21 AM

My Dads car has a similar problem. You can feel 'looseness' in the steering when climbing a driveway step and there is a clunk. Now i see that it wanders down the freeway with a little slop in the steering.

i found this note on a motor Trend site:

DORMAN PRODUCTS IS RECALLING 3,900 INTERMEDIATE STEERING SHAFTS DORMAN PART NOS. 425-151, 425-152, AND 425-153, (SOLD UNDER DORMAN'S "OE SOLUTIONS" BRAND NAME), BALKAMP #'S 7-3057, 7-3058, 7-3059 (SOLD UNDER THE "NAPA" BRAND NAME), AND PLATINUM PARTS #'S 2425151, 2425152, AND 2425153 MANUFACTURED DURING THE MONTH OF SEPTEMBER 2007. THESE REPLACEMENT STEERING SHAFTS CAN BE USED ON THE VEHICLES LISTED ABOVE. THE WELD CONNECTING THE INNER TUBE TO THE OUTER TUBE MAY BE DEFECTIVE....more details


Though this may only pertain to replacement intermediate shafts. the most recent recall notice went out 10/08.

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#16
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Re: 2002 Buick Regal - Mysterious Clunking Sound

12/23/2008 9:36 AM

This recall would only be a concern it the steering shaft had been replaced after the september 2007 date.

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#17

Re: 2002 Buick Regal - Mysterious Clunking Sound

12/23/2008 9:46 AM

There is one thing that you might try. The steering travel stops will hit the lower control arms at full turn. If you cause the suspension to travel in a horizontal fashion,it will rub metal to metal. Turn the wheels to full right, you should be able to see the marks on the back of the left wheel area. Look at the part of the control arm near the lower ball joint. Put a quarter sized blob of grease on that spot, and repeat on the other side. Cheap repair if that is it. Good luck.

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#18
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Re: 2002 Buick Regal - Mysterious Clunking Sound

12/25/2008 9:57 AM

Brilliant! I will do that. Another thing I havent tried is driving one wheel at a time up the driveway step to sense weather the left tierod or the right tierod may have a sloppy joint. I guess its also possible that the entire rack is loose in its mount.

thanks Bob

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#19
In reply to #18

Re: 2002 Buick Regal - Mysterious Clunking Sound

01/07/2009 11:06 AM

I have had the exact same problem with 2 vehicles. A 01 MDX, and a 98 Pathfinder. Being that your Buick is a 2002, I would first swap out the sway bar bushings. It is an easy, quick, inexpensive job, and there's a good chance that's it. Even if you're wrong, you'll have done something that will likely need to be done soon anyway. In some cars you can actually get in close enough to see wear on these bushings with a flashlight. Assuming, you can get good sight inside the bracket that holds them. Alternatively, I have been able to wedge myself under the sway bar and push up hard while watching the bushings. The bar should show no play other than the normal twisting action. If the bar moves around within the bracket, that's it.

In my case, there was no really discernable handling problem. Just minor wander, and an annoying clunk on bumps while moving below a certain speed. My driveway has a lip, and it was extremely noticeable as I turned into it and one front wheel at a time went over the lip on an angle. It's not a bang, or really a clunk, but rather a muffled 'kadunk'. Like the sound you might get from bending a stiff rubber hose back and forth.

Check it out.

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#20

Re: 2002 Buick Regal - Mysterious Clunking Sound

03/20/2009 10:11 AM

The dealer must replace the Control Arm (steering linkage assembly) in the steering shaft. Apparently, it loses lubrication over time and then begins to get loose at wear points, causing the "sloppy" feeling in the steering wheel and brake pedal. My dealer replaced mine and it felt good for three years and now it's sloppy again. It must be replaced again.

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