Steering clunk at locks Tie rods? Rack? - with video

Adam OJ

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I have been chasing down looseness and clunking and popping in my steering since I bought my '99 15 months ago. So far I have replaced:
Lower ball joints (555)
Upper ball joints (SPC)
Axle shafts (OEM)
Axle Flanges (OEM)
Front Axle Bushings (poly)
Steering Rack Bushing (poly)

I now have inner and out tie rods (555 from Cruiser outfitters) as well as new wheel bearings (more preventative than anything) sitting on my bench waiting for install.

I jacked up the fronts tonight, with the intention of doing the power steering flush (didn't have the right size hose, so didn't get it done yet). So I took advantage of having the wheels in the air to check out the clunk. I took these videos of the noise looking at the tierod on the driver side and it looks like it has a lot of up and down movement. Still, the sound doesn't seem to be coming from the tierods.


Is it normal? is the rack dead? The rack was replaced by the prior owner at around 150k ( has 213k on it now). Was done by an independent Toyota shop, don't know if they used OEM or not.

Thank you in advance for any help!!
 

Somebodyelse5

Land Crushers
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Did you check the bushings that hold the rack in place? Could be that, hard to tell from the video, but if it's those bushings it'll be cheaper and less of a sufferfest to replace.
 

Adam OJ

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Did you check the bushings that hold the rack in place? Could be that, hard to tell from the video, but if it's those bushings it'll be cheaper and less of a sufferfest to replace.
Rack bushings are new (poly) as of maybe 2k miles ago. I did confirm no movement at all of the rack when it is making those noises. Wheels are in the air, if the wheels were on the ground I'm sure I would see the normally allowed slight movement of the rack.
 

Somebodyelse5

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Rack bushings are new (poly) as of maybe 2k miles ago. I did confirm no movement at all of the rack when it is making those noises. Wheels are in the air, if the wheels were on the ground I'm sure I would see the normally allowed slight movement of the rack.
Bummer, was hoping it'd be an easy fix. To me, that doesn't sound like a tie rod end. Sounds like it's time for a new rack.

If it's an aftermarket rack, I wouldn't be surprised that it's making noise. Most of those just get new bushes/seals, you can't add metal back to gear/rack in any cost effective manner...
 

gregnash

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With the wheel suspended off the ground grab the TRE where the adjuster nut is and see if you can move the TRE in/out by hand.
Also, grab the wheel at the 3-9 o'clock positions and try and move it horizontally, then same at 6-12 o'clock and vertically. If you get play both ways then your wheel bearings are shot, if only at the 3-9 position then that would indicate TREs.

From looking the video you can see the boot move some which to me would indicate that your inner TRE is on its way out.
 

Adam OJ

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finally got a chance to jack it up by the control arm today. no movement felt at the tire. I already have the inner and outer TREs, going to replace those along with the bearings and go from there. All of that is preventative maintenance anyway. I'm not convinced it will fix the clunk, but going to keep going with the process of elimination.
 
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Anytime you are doing a preventastive maintenance, use OEM parts. I see lot of people install non-oem parts which are junk compared to good functional used toyota part.
 

Adam OJ

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2 months, you would have thought I would have gotten to this sooner...

Sent after the TRE's tonight. So dar, they don't look that bad. I did find something on the clunk though.

See this video. Does it look like the steering stop is not lined up correctly between the lower control arm and the steering knuckle?


 

abuck99

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That sounds like your noise. Can you test again with tire on the ground turning the steering to lock to see if the stop fits into the pocket with suspension weight on the knuckle.

Is the the same condition on both sides?
 
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Adam OJ

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That is just because you're at full droop. The "pocket" moves as the suspension cycles.
I didn't even think about that. It was late.. Great point. My earlier post and video probably had the same droop which would explain why it sounds the same. The kicker is, I still get a very similar sound in every day driving, when I turn to full lock, but it is more of a popping than just a hard loud clunk.



That sounds like your noise. Can you test again with tire on the ground turning the steering to lock to see if the stop fits into the pocket with suspension weight on the knuckle.

Is the the same condition on both sides?
I only got the one side pulled apart last night. I'll tackle the other one today, and I'll try to get it under its own weight and verify that the pocket lines up.

My only other theory (since I have almost replaced everything else) is lower control arm bushings. I'll be checking those out while I'm in there.

Thanks for the feedback guys.
 
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I didn't even think about that. It was late.. Great point. My earlier post and video probably had the same droop which would explain why it sounds the same. The kicker is, I still get a very similar sound in every day driving, when I turn to full lock, but it is more of a popping than just a hard loud clunk.
If it's ONLY at full lock, then it probably is those steering stops. Once they're making contact, if the suspension moves at all, it can make those kinds of noises.

On my old '94 4runner, there were little plastic caps that snapped on, over the "head" of the steering stop. Those wear out quickly and the popping returns. A dab of grease can also quiet it down for a few minutes.

IF that's all it is, the only real "solution" is to not steer quite to full lock. Or just be aware of what the noise is, and ignore it.
 

Adam OJ

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If it's ONLY at full lock, then it probably is those steering stops. Once they're making contact, if the suspension moves at all, it can make those kinds of noises.

On my old '94 4runner, there were little plastic caps that snapped on, over the "head" of the steering stop. Those wear out quickly and the popping returns. A dab of grease can also quiet it down for a few minutes.

IF that's all it is, the only real "solution" is to not steer quite to full lock. Or just be aware of what the noise is, and ignore it.
got cha, that makes sense. I have noticed this since I bought the truck a year and a half ago and it hasn't gotten any worse, so I'm not concerned about safety or something falling apart. If this turns out to be the final answer, at least I will sleep better knowing what it is.
 
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