Merry Xmas, The Sleigh Is Broke: How Big a Deal Clunky FCA Bushings? UPDATE! ABS Something???

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Driving in and out of our steeply transitioned drive the last couple of days I've been getting a clunk-clunk noise. I think I tracked it down. The two front bushings on the right/PS front control arm are showing some flakiness when peeking in around the mount. Other bushings all look solid on the FCAs, but they all just turned over 200,000 miles.

And I was planning on driving home for Christmas in the next couple of days, as many are. Help me a bit with triage.

I'm thinking it's safe to drive, with nothing but the bushings showing wear and tear currently. In fact, was planning on a shop visit soon for a new valve cover gasket anyway, so I'm thinking unless I was planning on hitting the trail (I wish!) soon, it'll be OK except for the intermittent clunk-a-ma-jazz noise. Or am I being too optimistic? Homeward trip is under 200 miles one way and truck sees limited around town use a few days a week, mostly.

Assuming my diagnosis holds up once my tech sees it, should I plan on doing all 6 of the track bar bushings, given age and mileage? The truck is pretty darn close to factory, suspension is as in my sig line below, and the truck has seen nothing but limited back road duty, nothing gnarly (so far).
 
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Broski

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Those bushing would have to be a lot more worn then some Flakiness for you to get clunking noise. JMHO
When I was getting a Clunk- clunk noise it was the control arm bolt had come lose, but it would only happen when Wheeling 🤷‍♂️

Have you checked the shock bushings ?

If it really is the control arm bushing then I don't think it's a problem to drive it on your trip.
 
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FWIW when I pulled my OEM control arm bushings with 275k miles they looked to be in fine shape so 200k miles on a set is not unheard of. I'd also think if they were failed to the point of moving around you would notice a change in how the truck handles at speed. Those bushings moving around could cause your castor to change which impacts tracking and steering.

I've also seen where the bolt hole on the axel side bracket gets oblong, usually due to loose bolts not being addressed timely. Be sure to read the FSM on how to remove/tighten the bolts if you try. They have little teeth on them to reduce backing out so you want to be sure you are turning the right end (nut vs bolt).

And agree on checking the shock bushings, top and bottom. My cruiser developed a clunk when the bushing on one shock had failed which allowed it to move in the upper mount about 3/4 of an inch. I think this resulted from me not getting the upper mounting bolts tight enough when I replaced the shocks causing the rubber mount to wear out prematurely.

Personally, I would not drive anything with a known failed suspension component if I had another option, but I am often a bit more on the conservative side.

As for replacing them, yes, do all 6 at the same time.
 
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Driving in and out of our steeply transitioned drive the last couple of days I've been getting a clunk-clunk noise. I think I tracked it down. The two front bushings on the right/PS front control arm are showing some flakiness when peeking in around the mount. Other bushings all look solid on the FCAs, but they all just turned over 200,000 miles.

And I was planning on driving home for Christmas in the next couple of days, as many are. Help me a bit with triage.

I'm thinking it's safe to drive, with nothing but the bushings showing wear and tear currently. In fact, was planning on a shop visit soon for a new valve cover gasket anyway, so I'm thinking unless I was planning on hitting the trail (I wish!) soon, it'll be OK except for the intermittent clunk-a-ma-jazz noise. Or am I being too optimistic? Homeward trip is under 200 miles one way and truck sees limited around town use a few days a week, mostly.

Assuming my diagnosis holds up once my tech sees it, should I plan on doing all 6 of the track bar bushings, given age and mileage? The truck is pretty darn close to factory, suspension is as in my sig line below, and the truck has seen nothing but limited back road duty, nothing gnarly (so far).
Look at your sway bar bushings. They tend to crack and fall out, then make noise. There are four per bar. 2 and 2.
 
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Those bushing would have to be a lot more worn then some Flakiness for you to get clunking noise. JMHO
Clunking is not constant, in fact I have to pay attention because it is so intermittent and random
When I was getting a Clunk- clunk noise it was the control arm bolt had come lose, but it would only happen when Wheeling 🤷‍♂️
Everything looks tight.
Have you checked the shock bushings ?
Yeah they're good, especially for being on there close to 12 years.
If it really is the control arm bushing then I don't think it's a problem to drive it on your trip.
I think I'm on the right track and, at this point, can find nothing else amiss.
 
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FWIW when I pulled my OEM control arm bushings with 275k miles they looked to be in fine shape so 200k miles on a set is not unheard of. I'd also think if they were failed to the point of moving around you would notice a change in how the truck handles at speed. Those bushings moving around could cause your castor to change which impacts tracking and steering.
There doesn't seem to be much play in the problem bushing, but more like binding rgar suddenly frees up and clunkc. because the two bolts aren't held in proper relation to each other.
I've also seen where the bolt hole on the axel side bracket gets oblong, usually due to loose bolts not being addressed timely. Be sure to read the FSM on how to remove/tighten the bolts if you try. They have little teeth on them to reduce backing out so you want to be sure you are turning the right end (nut vs bolt).
Everything look tight and no signs of oblongation.
And agree on checking the shock bushings, top and bottom. My cruiser developed a clunk when the bushing on one shock had failed which allowed it to move in the upper mount about 3/4 of an inch. I think this resulted from me not getting the upper mounting bolts tight enough when I replaced the shocks causing the rubber mount to wear out prematurely.

Personally, I would not drive anything with a known failed suspension component if I had another option, but I am often a bit more on the conservative side.
Yeah, me too, but seeing nothing obviously breaking, I hope the only complication that appears is something that - safely - helps me get a more precise diagnosis.
As for replacing them, yes, do all 6 at the same time.
Thanks good to know the direction I was leaning is good. I think doing the sway and track bar bushings also looks to be a part of that plan.
 

Broski

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Everything looks tight.
When Mine had the issue, on the first few inspection everything looked tight I even put fingers on it.
It wasn't tell I put a wrench on it tell I found the problem, by then I had oblong holes in the axle side mounts :mad: like Pascoscout describes. and it was only making the clunk deering hard wheeling.

How I put a wrench on every bolt when I check things out and before every wheeling trip 🤷‍♂️

For reference when I replaced my control arm bushings they were very cracked disintegrated but were not clunking, that was at 260k
Theirs a lot of rubber in those bushings, and most of it wold have to be gone to get clunking JMHO

Maybe the steering stabilizer bushings 🤷‍♂️
 
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Everything looks tight.

Not good enough. Put your big torque wrench on all 6 bolts for the front arms. Torque spec is 130 ft lbs and they can feel "good'n tight," even with a large wrench, and still be under-torqued. This is most likely the source of your clunk, not the bushing itself. Been there done that. My bolts were tight by hand, and pretty tight (they did move some, but not much) with a 1/2" ratchet. I put the big torque wrench on them and got a few good turns before hitting 130#. Clunk disappeared immediately.

IF that fails, then move on to shocks and sway bar.

:edit: Be sure to turn the nut and not the bolt.
 
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Not good enough. Put your big torque wrench on all 6 bolts for the front arms. Torque spec is 130 ft lbs and they can feel "good'n tight," even with a large wrench, and still be under-torqued. This is most likely the source of your clunk, not the bushing itself. Been there done that. My bolts were tight by hand, and pretty tight (they did move some, but not much) with a 1/2" ratchet. I put the big torque wrench on them and got a few good turns before hitting 130#. Clunk disappeared immediately.

IF that fails, then move on to shocks and sway bar.

:edit: Be sure to turn the nut and not the bolt.
x2 visual and/or finger inspection isn't enough. 130 ft-lb is a big number and takes a fair amount of effort even with a bigger torque wrench. A small ratchet or wrench won't even come close to telling if these bolts are tight enough or not.

Also, don't just put your torque wrench on the already tight bolt and turn it. The breaking torque to move a tight fastener is often much much higher than the torque value it's actually set at. Plus on these bolts you have to overcome corrosion and other things that can throw off the torque value if you just try to tighten it from its current position. The proper way is to loosen the fastener and then retorque to spec.

And finally, according to my FSM you turn the nut (holding the bolt stationary) on the frame mount and turn the bolts (keeping the nuts stationary) on the axel side.
 

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x2 visual and/or finger inspection isn't enough. 130 ft-lb is a big number and takes a fair amount of effort even with a bigger torque wrench. A small ratchet or wrench won't even come close to telling if these bolts are tight enough or not.

Also, don't just put your torque wrench on the already tight bolt and turn it. The breaking torque to move a tight fastener is often much much higher than the torque value it's actually set at. Plus on these bolts you have to overcome corrosion and other things that can throw off the torque value if you just try to tighten it from its current position. The proper way is to loosen the fastener and then retorque to spec.

And finally, according to my FSM you turn the nut (holding the bolt stationary) on the frame mount and turn the bolts (keeping the nuts stationary) on the axel side.
This is all correct except the bolded part. The proper way, according to FSM, is to replace all the hardware with new after loosening it. Those bolts/nuts are supposed to be non-reusable.
 
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When Mine had the issue, on the first few inspection everything looked tight I even put fingers on it.
It wasn't tell I put a wrench on it tell I found the problem, by then I had oblong holes in the axle side mounts :mad: like Pascoscout describes. and it was only making the clunk deering hard wheeling.
I think the issue with seeing oblonging is that the washer will cover it up until it's bad enough to be visible, by which time things are pretty bad. I can't see anything, but will keep this in mind.
How I put a wrench on every bolt when I check things out and before every wheeling trip 🤷‍♂️
I do check those 8 vital trunnion studs and other components visually, but I'm about two decades past checking that all physically. :oldman:
For reference when I replaced my control arm bushings they were very cracked disintegrated but were not clunking, that was at 260k

Theirs a lot of rubber in those bushings, and most of it wold have to be gone to get clunking JMHO

Maybe the steering stabilizer bushings 🤷‍♂️
That last may be a winner. The PS end of the steering stabilizer was loose enough to work it around a bit when tugging on it and took about half a dozen strokes on the ratchet to tighten the nut properly. Will see if that changes anything.
 

Broski

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I think the issue with seeing oblonging is that the washer will cover it up until it's bad enough to be visible, by which time things are pretty bad. I can't see anything, but will keep this in mind.
There is no washer in this application, and the bolt only need to be lose to get a clunk.
If one oblonged the holes enough that you can see it past the shoulder bolts then it was driven carelessly 🤷‍♂️
I do check those 8 vital trunnion studs and other components visually, but I'm about two decades past checking that all physically.
At 62 I am happy that I can still check my own nut physically:rofl:
Checking them visually is next to useless JMHO

That last may be a winner. The PS end of the steering stabilizer was loose enough to work it around a bit when tugging on it and took about half a dozen strokes on the ratchet to tighten the nut properly. Will see if that changes anything.
I hope this fixes it for you ;)
 
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There is no washer in this application, and the bolt only need to be lose to get a clunk.
If one oblonged the holes enough that you can see it past the shoulder bolts then it was driven carelessly 🤷‍♂️

SNIP;)
Ah, good to know. I haven't had them apart and hope to not to, at least up close and personal.

Also, having been a clerk/yard rat at a heavy truck garage, I know my pay grade. All I ever got to do was visual, but sure, that's when stuff is going to fall off, but you don't want it leaving the lot either. True enough, putting a wrench on things is what counts going down the road, but I feel I can visually spot falling apart if it's obvious. Beyond that YMMV :barefoot:

UPDATE: So we're cruising along and everything seems cool. Except the ABS light that came on conveniently enough just when we left home for the holidays. 150 miles or so later at a roundabout entering the sticks of Southern Indiana, ker chunk, chunka - and the wife was now convinced there might be an issue. Still coming from down low on the right side. 40 miles later as we near our destination, the brakes begin obviously having an issue, dodging hard to the right, depending on the caution used in applying them. Plus the issue seemed to come and go in intensity.

Fortunately, the worst came within a few miles of rolling up to my brother's, so pulled it into the garage to look things over. Caliper bolts, etc all tight. Nothing obviously leaking or amiss about the caliper, pads, etc. I pulled and wiped the end of the ABS sensor. We took care limping it home after a noisy start in one of its fits, but it settled down after a stop at Starbucks for some reason.

This evening, I pulled the codes in the ABS Diagnostic port and to my surprise found it's throwing a LEFT hand speed sensor code. OK, will check that in the morning. Explains the sharp diodge to the right if it thinks I have failing brakes on the left. Wiping the right one seemed to help a little and I tend to run more moly than I should, so hoping it's just s stray chunk of inconsequential crap and all is soon better. Will update when I discover more.
 

Broski

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Ah, good to know. I haven't had them apart and hope to not to, at least up close and personal.

Also, having been a clerk/yard rat at a heavy truck garage, I know my pay grade. All I ever got to do was visual, but sure, that's when stuff is going to fall off, but you don't want it leaving the lot either. True enough, putting a wrench on things is what counts going down the road, but I feel I can visually spot falling apart if it's obvious. Beyond that YMMV :barefoot:

UPDATE: So we're cruising along and everything seems cool. Except the ABS light that came on conveniently enough just when we left home for the holidays. 150 miles or so later at a roundabout entering the sticks of Southern Indiana, ker chunk, chunka - and the wife was now convinced there might be an issue. Still coming from down low on the right side. 40 miles later as we near our destination, the brakes begin obviously having an issue, dodging hard to the right, depending on the caution used in applying them. Plus the issue seemed to come and go in intensity.

Fortunately, the worst came within a few miles of rolling up to my brother's, so pulled it into the garage to look things over. Caliper bolts, etc all tight. Nothing obviously leaking or amiss about the caliper, pads, etc. I pulled and wiped the end of the ABS sensor. We took care limping it home after a noisy start in one of its fits, but it settled down after a stop at Starbucks for some reason.

This evening, I pulled the codes in the ABS Diagnostic port and to my surprise found it's throwing a LEFT hand speed sensor code. OK, will check that in the morning. Explains the sharp diodge to the right if it thinks I have failing brakes on the left. Wiping the right one seemed to help a little and I tend to run more moly than I should, so hoping it's just s stray chunk of inconsequential crap and all is soon better. Will update when I discover more.
Happy that you made it to your brother's and back safely.

Thanks for keeping us posted.

The ABS and a clunking noise has me puzzled 🤷‍♂️ wish I could be more help ;)

You probably remember mine has been removed so no worries about to much moly :p
 
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Here's the latest is this mystery. Pulled the left front tire and the speed sensor. End of speed sensor was thick with moly, so wiped it off and reinstalled, noticing nothing obviously metallic stuck in the moly on the tip.

Went for test ride. ABS light off after initial power up at start. Truck seemed to brake OK, in fact several hard stops went well, i.e. straight. Then I had a couple of stops that again pulled right when I giot on the brakes hard. Then as I was approaching home a couple of more stops that went straight, only to have ABS light come back on as I pulled into the garage.

Restarting the truck cleared that, so went back out for a couple of more blocks of driving. Truck twice had a mixed stop, i.e. went straight, then changed to pulling right in mid stop or vice versa. Strange. I suspect an intermittent wiring issue, although there is a brake line coupling on the top left side off the axle that is oil soaked enough from a leaky valve cover gasket above tyhat it's hard to tell if it's leaking brake fluid. I think not or both side would be affected equally, which inequality of effort is one thing that is clear about this.
 

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