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Inspecting the front suspension
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AZ Landshaper
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2019 11:46 am    Post subject: Inspecting the front suspension Reply with quote

I have a suspicous suspension sound. Clunking when I hit real rough roads or anytime the front suspension is vibrated under weight. I tried to jack the vehicle up from the front right jack point and lever the wheel up and down w a breaker bar (the noise seems to come from the front right side). I had no luck in moving much aside from the entire vehicle. Definitely didnt emulate any sounds or movements as hoped.

Jumping up and down on the bumper doesnt do it either.

Im tempted to jack the vehicle again from the same point this time levering at the base of the lower bj.

Anyone want to shed a little insight on what the appropriate jack and lever points might be to emulate the movement Im looking for? I feel like the noise is most evident when I hit a point where the tire drops and less so when I cross a speed bump (up lift). That may be a bunch of BS. Leaving all possibilities on the table. whatcha think?
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SCM
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2019 11:51 am    Post subject: Re: Inspecting the front suspension Reply with quote

My similar sound turned out to be a loose captain's chair swivel assembly. It was a bugger to track down.
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AZ Landshaper
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2019 11:54 am    Post subject: Re: Inspecting the front suspension Reply with quote

Well its a weekender so no swivels.
Ill add the upper bjs are new as are the tie rods and front bearings.
Shocks are new and tight. Wheels are torqued down as well.
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Vanagon Nut
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2019 12:38 pm    Post subject: Re: Inspecting the front suspension Reply with quote

Any idea if the radius rod bushings have been replaced in recent years?

I had a mysterious clunk that typically only sounded when parallel parking. Noise came from a really worn radius rod bushing on passenger side.

If the LBJ is worn and wheel bearing is ok, I'd think you'd feel that play while wiggling tire at 12 - 6:00 position. Or, that sound might be heard when you grab the van, wheels on ground, and rock it hard side to side.

Neil.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2019 12:51 pm    Post subject: Re: Inspecting the front suspension Reply with quote

Do you have stainless coolant pipes? I had a similar clunk and it was a pipe hitting the frame. A flattened piece of coolant hose wedged between the two solved the noise.
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dabaron
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2019 12:59 pm    Post subject: Re: Inspecting the front suspension Reply with quote

Vanagon Nut wrote:
Any idea if the radius rod bushings have been replaced in recent years?

I had a mysterious clunk that typically only sounded when parallel parking. Noise came from a really worn radius rod bushing on passenger side.


this would be my guess. as the control arm moves backwards when going up during travel the radius rod is there to stop it. worn out rod bushings are a place to look.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2019 1:09 pm    Post subject: Re: Inspecting the front suspension Reply with quote

An essential but non-obvious tool for anyone doing suspension work is a giant pair of Channel-locks, or by their generic name: water pump pliers. I mean the huge ones with handles almost a foot long where the jaws will open 4 or 5 inches.

With these you can squeeze ball joints and tie rod ends axially and see whatever play has developed. It's hard to produce this movement in a way you can see it by any other means, whereas the giant pliers make it really easy, just put a jaw on the spindle end, the other on the joint cap, squeeze and watch if the ball spindle moves in and out of the socket. Doesn't matter if the suspension is loaded or drooping, this tool gives you the leverage to force the movement regardless.

Basically almost any visible axial play is unacceptable in ball/socket suspension joints. A half-mm play in a lower BJ might be OK but 1mm is enough to produce odd clunks going over small bumps and such. I wouldn't run with a UBJ or TRE that had any visible play.

You'll never produce visible radial play in a BJ without the axial play already being extreme, whereas visible axial play will appear before there's any visible radial slop, so checking axially is definitive.

The same tool can be used to manipulate and inspect bushed control arm joints, the radius rod bushes, etc. It's also like having a giant gorilla lend a helping hand while doing assemblies.
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AZ Landshaper
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2019 3:06 pm    Post subject: Re: Inspecting the front suspension Reply with quote

Well i wasnít able to find a gorilla so I guess Iíll head out and purchase a set of massive channel locks.
Iíll report back
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Jake de Villiers
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2019 10:42 am    Post subject: Re: Inspecting the front suspension Reply with quote

Did you do up the shocks with the wheels on the ground? I found out the hard way that if you do them up at full droop there will be some play in the top mount when the rubbers compress.
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yellowjacket
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2019 11:24 am    Post subject: Re: Inspecting the front suspension Reply with quote

When I took my Westy in for a wheel alignment recently, the tech showed me how he tested the lower ball joint.

For a DIY test, jack up (jack points) the vehicle on which ever front side you want to check. The tire must clear the ground enough to place a long steel bar (I have 1" dia by 6') under the tire and a 4x4 block (or similar) near the outside side of the tire as a fulcrum. Place a jack stand under the frame and lower the jack onto it (tire still clear of the ground). Have a friend pry the bar up and down while your watching for movement of the LBJ.

Both of my ball joints needed replacement (replaced in 2007). One side was obvious, but other side didn't move. Went home, replaced the LBJ, a few days later back to the alignment shop. This time the other side had movement in it. The tech and I looked at each other a swore we didn't see that side move a few days earlier. Lesson here is don't be dainty with prying the bar, put some weight/strength behind it.

Dan
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2019 11:39 am    Post subject: Re: Inspecting the front suspension Reply with quote

Do your shocks have dust covers? Notorious for getting weak, and knocking around, and you'd never guess to just poke them a bit and find out they flop around.
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