How to fix clunking noise on a dodge caravan
Every Chrysler minivan owner eventually complains about front suspension noise. The suspension makes clunking sounds when going over bumps. The problem can be narrowed down to two components—the stabilizer bar end links, and the stabilizer bar bushings. The stabilizer bar connects to the strut with an end link that contains two ball joints. The ball joints allow the stabilizer bar to pivot up and down with the strut. However, these ball joints are not nearly as sturdy as the ball joints that attach to the wheel. So, they wear much faster and make a clunking noise over bumps. You can replace end links yourself. New links are fairly inexpensive (about $35 each at www.rockauto.com).
Jack up the van and support it with jack stands. Remove both front wheels to gain access to the stabilizer end links. To replace the links, start by hitting the link near the ball joint. You want to pop the ball joint out of it’s socket. Once you do that, you can grab the ball with a vice grips to keep it from turning as you remove the nut on the other side of the ball stud. If the ball starts to rotate, file two flat spots on it and then re-attach your vice grips. Repeat the procedure at each ball joint. To install, simple insert the new end link and tighten the nuts that come with it.
Stabilizer bar bushings can also generate clunking noises. The rubber bushings harden over time and loose their ability to dampen road shocks transmitted along the stabilizer bar. The bushings are also easy and inexpensive ($10 for set of 2) to replace. Simply remove the nut and bolt shown in the photos, tilt the bracket up and out of the way, and remove the old bushing. Notice the orientation of the flat part of the bushing so you can install the new one the same way. Insert the new bushing in it’s place, lower the bracket and insert the nut and bolt. You’re done.
This is a DIY job using ordinary hand tools, but air tools make it go much faster. Plan of repeating this repair every 30,000-50,000 miles. Yeah, I know, that sucks.
© 2012 Rick Muscoplat
Posted on by Rick Muscoplat