Ka-Chunk! Why Is Your Car Clunking?

Have you ever heard someone call an old car called a "clunker?" As it turns out, there are various reasons why your vehicle may make a dreadful clunking sound. Recognizing the source of these noises can help you determine if the problem requires critical attention. While the possible causes for an unsettling clunk are numerous, these are three of the most common.

1. Brake Pad Movement

Believe it or not, some minor clunking when braking may not be much of a concern. In a disc-brake system, the calipers loosely hold your pads in place. In some cases, you may hear a slight clunking noise as the pads shift in the calipers. This noise can indicate improper installation or worn pads, but the movement alone is not a cause for concern.

If the sound bothers you or it persists, you should consider contacting a professional brake shop for an evaluation. Fixing the noise usually involves installing new shims to keep the pads in place more tightly. While they're repairing your issue, your technician can also check for loose bolts and other issues that may be causing the noise.

2. Steering Linkage Play

Your steering linkage includes several joints that can wear out over time. Although you won't usually find them on any manufacturer maintenance schedules, these are essentially consumable components that will fail with age and use. As items like ball joints wear out, they introduce play that can cause clunking or banging noises.

Fortunately, these sounds are usually the earliest indications of trouble. As the problem progresses, you may notice vibrations in your steering wheel, or your steering may suddenly feel loose or unstable. It's usually a good idea to repair this problem before it gets worse, as worn ball joints can impact your vehicle's safety by making it more challenging to control.

3. Bad Suspension Components

Like your steering linkage components, suspension components eventually wear out from use. Suspension clunks are often most noticeable when traveling on rough roads or hitting bumps. Although you should expect some "boom" under these circumstances, you're usually hearing the sound of your tires impacting the road surface.

Loud or metallic sounding clunks may indicate your suspension bottoming on its travel, which can be the result of worn-out or blown shocks and struts. If the sound comes with a harsher than usual ride or noticeable swaying, then it's a good idea to have a professional check your suspension for problems. Repairing a worn suspension is an excellent way to improve your vehicle's ride and handling.

Reach out to a local auto repair service to learn more about these issues.