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Infamous front end low speed clunking/chatter, what else should I replace?

44660 Views 12 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  c_patrick
2007 Acadia SLT, 70k miles.

I've replaced shocks/struts at all 4 corners, replaced front strut mounts, replaced sway bar end links, replaced sway bar bushings, replaced inner tie rods and replaced tie rod ends. All of these items were clearly worn out... but none of them were the cause of the front end rattle/chatter/clunking at low speed.

It's most noticeable when reversing out of the driveway, or entering a parking lot. It's also noticeable while driving at low speed and going over shallow pot holes.

It's a muffled sounding chatter, like metal on rubber.

I believe the noise is coming from the front passenger side.

Any thoughts on what else I can replace?
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engine mounts?
capecodacadia said:
engine mounts?
I've got the upper torque mount on order because of a noise I hear when I start the engine, the rubber looks a bit worn out on that. I wouldn't think that would cause the noise described in this post though as it seems to be suspension related.

Are the engine mounts a common problem with these vehicles?
Also check the hard mounts on the steering rack. Move the wheel back and forth just off center should make it obvious.
anicolay said:
Are the engine mounts a common problem with these vehicles?
No more so than the tranmissions, steering systems, leaking sun roofs, rods and links, timing chains, assorted electrical issues....
Thanks for your post anicolay, your work done gives me some direction to where I need to go with my Acadia.
We have a 2011 SLT-2 FWD with 83k miles and it has the exact same low speed clunking / dull rattle just as you describe. It's really driving me nuts and of course the wife could care less and she drives it everyday,:banghead:!! Makes me feel like something is loose and just isn't solid, as an example my DD ~17 year old Lexus GS400 drives much better overall.

Anyway, last week I had the Acadia at the dealer for the side airbag wiring recall and asked them to diagnose this noise. Of course, they came back with the vehicle needing New struts, strut mounts, swaybar end links and lower control arms. Well I had already changed out the lightweight OEM end links with the sturdier MOOG problem solver end links, the ones with the greasable joint with zerk fitting and also changed out the sway bar bushings/ brackets with Energy Suspension 1.25" greasable swaybar links. Again I can agree the rest of those items probably do have some excessive end play and wear but they certainly are not worn to the level that would cause this intermittent yet very specific low speed issue/clunking.

I have been working on my own cars for ~20 years and changed my fair share of springs and struts, control arms etc. including all associated rubber isolators and strut bearing hardware to do the job right, but never have these worn parts ever contributed to a noise quite like this one.

What I really think is causing mine is the steering rack. Here is why, when at a stop with engine running to give power assist, if I turn the wheel 90 degrees to the right / clockwise then let go of the wheel, the correction of the wheel causes this clunk. Now if I do the opposite and turn the wheel 90 degrees to the left / counterclockwise and let go, the correction doesn't produce the same clunk!

This leads me to believe that there is excessive play at the pinion gear and rack teeth at least on the one side. I am very close to pulling the trigger on a complete steering gear with variable effort, only $355 at gmpartsdirect and seemingly no core charge. It appears to be complete, including even the outer tie rods. I mean really, these vehicles are known offenders in this area, so I don't think this is much of a stretch to think the R&P could be causing all this!

Only thing that is holding me up is that at first glance it looks like I will need to lower the sub frame/engine cradle to be able to clear the R&P from the body/frame rails of the vehicle. Given that possibility it will probably be an all day Saturday job and still needing time to hit the alignment shop before it's all done.

Does anyone here have a link to someone who has done a R&P in their garage and have any tips or warnings? Any help is much appreciated. Also if I solve this issue with a new rack I will be sure to post up here again. Thanks for reading my long post.
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I'm not aware of the steering rack on this platform wearing out internally that causes a clunking or chatter.

Instead, check this thread...

If the steering rack bushings are worn, it would knock, and not necessarily both sides.

At least if the bushings are worn, you don't need to replace the entire steering rack - the bushings are available as a separate part.
GAcadia22 said:
What I really think is causing mine is the steering rack.
Let me know if you have any luck with this, or any other fix, just like you, it driving me nuts, it sounds like I'm driving an old rust bucket over train tracks when all I'm doing is driving on city streets at low speed. I would love to have this problem solved, but I'm sick of replacing parts that don't really need replacing.
I had my Acadia into the dealer, they found that the rack & pinion steering gear was bad along with the rack bushings, noise seems to be gone for now. I wouldn't say that it sounds "brand new" but its a huge improvement.
Went down this rabbit hole. Ended up being control arm bushings on mine.
Lboada123 said:
Went down this rabbit hole. Ended up being control arm bushings on mine.
Like you I was doing lots and lots of research on this and yes front lower control arm bushings solved my clunking too!!

I was quite relieved that it wasn't the steering rack, that would have been more expensive and much more work!

Ended up with 2 sets of lower control arm bushings and used one to fix our 2011 slt2 now I am selling the other set on eBay if anyone's interested, link below. Thanks.
I too went down this hole with mine. Tore the right front wheel down a few times. It ended up being an ever so slightly loose engine mount bolt the keeps the engine from sliding front to back right under the fuse box. Tightened the bolt and the issue was gone.
The noisy clunking lately on my brother’s 2011 Acadia SLT FWD was caused only by a loose sway bar link bottom bolt on the passenger side sounding like it was major and coming from the driver’s side.
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