Clunking or knocking noises can be very annoying for any driver to hear while they are going down the road. While these noises may be a sign of some different issues, all are usually related to a suspension parts that has failed. When a suspension component has failed, the ride or the car may be altered. If the failed component is not dealt with, it can result in increasingly difficult and dangerous problems.

How this system functions:

Your car’s suspension system is designed to reduce friction between the tires and the road, ensuring a comfortable ride for you and your passengers. Many of the parts that may cause a clunking or knocking noise are not only a component of the suspension, but help control the steering of the car. Any issues regarding the steering or suspension of the car should be looked at by a mechanic as they will only become worse over time.

Common reasons for this to happen:

  • Bad Ball Joints:Ball joints connect the car’s wheel hubs to the rest of the suspension components. Depending on the car, one or two ball joints per wheel and may or may not be load bearing. If a ball joint is beginning to fail, you may notice a clunking noise coming from the front wheels. This clunking noise will get louder and more frequent over time. You may also notice that your steering has been affected by the bad ball joint, potentially causing vibration in the steering wheel.
  • Bad Sway Bar Link:A car’s sway bar or anti-roll bar, helps reduce body roll while cornering. Sway bars can help keep a vehicle from rolling over when going around a sharp corner. If the sway bar breaks or is damaged it may create a clunking or knocking sound, especially when going over bumps. Your vehicle may also had more difficulty handling when the sway bar is damaged.


  • Bad Tie Rods:Tie rods connect a car’s steering rack to the steering arm. This helps translate the turning of the steering wheel to the direction of the tires. When a tie rod end is worn or loose, they create a clunking noise. Worn tie rod ends may also cause more play in the steering wheel, making turning more vague.

How it’s done:

Telling a mechanic about any unusual sensations, in addition to the clunking or knocking noise, you may have observed, will assist him or her understand what went wrong with the vehicle.

The mechanic will start by lifting the front of the vehicle off the ground and shaking the front tires to check for play. If there is play in the front tires, the mechanic may suspect bad ball joints. The mechanic will then remove the wheel and the control arm(s) in order to access the faulty ball joint. He or she will then take out the old ball joint and replace it with a new one. The mechanic should also ensure that the new ball joint is properly lubricated in order to ensure longer life.

If the mechanic thinks that the sway bar has gone bad, the mechanic will begin by examining the sway bar bushings. If the entire sway bar appears to be in tact the bushing may cause the clunking noise. The mechanic will then change the bushings and the sway bar if necessary.

If the mechanic thinks the tie rods, he or she will examine the tie rods for damage. If the tie rod end had become worn or loose, the mechanic will remove it and change it with a new one. The mechanic will also ensure after installation, that the new tie rod end is properly lubricated.

In all repairs, the mechanic will make sure after completing the necessary repairs that the car handles properly. He or she should ask to test drive the car to ensure this.

How vital is this service?

Suspension and steering parts that have gone bad will only get worse over time. If you notice that your car is not handling well or that it has started producing a clunking or knocking noise, you should have it checked by a mechanic. Issues with suspension and steering components could also lead to other issues, like prematurely worn tires. Being vigilant about repairs to these components can help ensure long-life for your vehicle.