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I would bet on the tie rods being bad first. Bad outer tie rods will clunk mostly when turning or when the vehicle rocks as you tip from one side to the other (generally during turns but also when traversing uneven ground). I replaced all front end parts on my 2006 Pilot at 200,000 miles. My CV axles were still quite good, but I replaced them anyway. All the other suspension and steering parts were well worn.

Also, I noticed a vibration in the front end about 180,000 starting to develop. I changed tires, front end, wheel bearings to no avail. Then I read a post about adjusting the valves. The valve adjustment fixed my mysterious front end vibration. Make sure you don't go past 150,000 on the timing belt. Best to change that at 100,000 mile intervals, adjust the valves at 200,000 or so and have the transmission flushed every 60,000. That's what I do. I have over 318,000 on my Pilot and I love it. The 2006 year was probably the best mechanically long lasting of the Honda's.

If the tie rods don't fix the problem, reinspect you struts on top and make sure the nuts are tight. Next check the motor mounts.
 

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I would bet on the tie rods being bad first. Bad outer tie rods will clunk mostly when turning or when the vehicle rocks as you tip from one side to the other (generally during turns but also when traversing uneven ground). I replaced all front end parts on my 2006 Pilot at 200,000 miles. My CV axles were still quite good, but I replaced them anyway. All the other suspension and steering parts were well worn.

Also, I noticed a vibration in the front end about 180,000 starting to develop. I changed tires, front end, wheel bearings to no avail. Then I read a post about adjusting the valves. The valve adjustment fixed my mysterious front end vibration. Make sure you don't go past 150,000 on the timing belt. Best to change that at 100,000 mile intervals, adjust the valves at 200,000 or so and have the transmission flushed every 60,000. That's what I do. I have over 318,000 on my Pilot and I love it. The 2006 year was probably the best mechanically long lasting of the Honda's.

If the tie rods don't fix the problem, reinspect you struts on top and make sure the nuts are tight. Next check the motor mounts.
Two questions:

1. Can you explain the front end vibration and valve adjustment? I'm starting to get a slight vibration in the front end that increases as RPMs increase. I inspected my CV boots and I have a good amount of grease coming form the inner side of the driver side CV boot, so I attribute the vibration to that. The vibration is fairly intermittent, so I'm waiting until its noticeable to passengers before I replace the entire CV axle.

2. Assuming the front end is lifted up, do you have a way to check for bad inner and outer tie rods? I don't think mine have been replaced since I got the vehicle (at 150k and I'm now at 200k), and I know that's a common point of failure.

--Chris N.
 

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Two questions:

1. Can you explain the front end vibration and valve adjustment? I'm starting to get a slight vibration in the front end that increases as RPMs increase. I inspected my CV boots and I have a good amount of grease coming form the inner side of the driver side CV boot, so I attribute the vibration to that. The vibration is fairly intermittent, so I'm waiting until its noticeable to passengers before I replace the entire CV axle.

2. Assuming the front end is lifted up, do you have a way to check for bad inner and outer tie rods? I don't think mine have been replaced since I got the vehicle (at 150k and I'm now at 200k), and I know that's a common point of failure.

--Chris N.
Vibration that is always present and changes with the engine rpm is likely in the engine and not in the steering, drive train, and suspension. In your case the vibration can be you cv axle. In my case, I had already changed them. Intermittent vibrations tend to be steering, drive train and/or suspension.

The easiest way to check your tie rod ends is to have the front end off the ground. Have a second person sitting in the drivers seat turning the steering wheel one way and then the other while you watch the movement of each joint. You will easily notice the play in a bad joint. You will need to take the front tires off to view the inner tie rods.
 

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Vibration that is always present and changes with the engine rpm is likely in the engine and not in the steering, drive train, and suspension. In your case the vibration can be you cv axle. In my case, I had already changed them. Intermittent vibrations tend to be steering, drive train and/or suspension.

The easiest way to check your tie rod ends is to have the front end off the ground. Have a second person sitting in the drivers seat turning the steering wheel one way and then the other while you watch the movement of each joint. You will easily notice the play in a bad joint. You will need to take the front tires off to view the inner tie rods.
Cool thanks. I actually just checked the vibration and it is NOT correlated to engine RPMs. It consistently happens above 65mph, and increases with speed.

--Chris N.
 

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Discussion Starter #25
Update:
I replaced both inner and outer tie rods on both sides. Inner tie rods were very worn, but It did not fix the problem. Clunking is not heard on acceleration or braking. It is most noticeable at 30 mph and slower over small and large bumps and even variations in road. It's on both sides, sounds very loose/sloppy, but there is no decrease in handling/steering, or performance. Because they were cheap and easy to replace, I bought passenger side engine and transmission mounts and will be putting them in tomorrow (hopefully). If this doesn't fix it, I will look to CV joints/axles. To date I have replaced: Complete struts, stabilizer end links and bushings, complete lower control arms with ball joints, and inner/outer tie rods. All of these items were original to the car (234,000 miles) and very worn, so I'm ok with spending the money on the parts since I am doing the labor myself and will be giving the car to my son. I am getting frustrated, however, that it's not fixing the problem. I'll try to get a video if the mounts don't work. Thank for all of the input.
Doug
 

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Posting a video and getting feedback here will save you a lot of time and money. Plus now I'm interested.

--Chris N.
 

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Cool thanks. I actually just checked the vibration and it is NOT correlated to engine RPMs. It consistently happens above 65mph, and increases with speed.

--Chris N.
You might want to try a different tire shop. Tell them to check the wheel balance and that you get the vibrations above 65. Sometimes it is a bad tire and sometimes it is the one doing the balancing.
 

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2006 Pilot with 230k miles. I'm giving it to my son, so I'm taking care of some issues. I have a clunking noise from front end, both sides, when going over bumps, even just small variations in the road. I had original struts, so I replaced the struts. Still clunks. I replaced sway bar end links and sway bar bushings. Still clunks. Lower control arms were original, so I replaced them. Still clunks. I'm ok replacing these things because I want the car to be safe and I enjoy doing the work myself. They needed to be done with the high mileage, but what else could be causing the clunking?? Tie rods have a little play when rotating them, but I don't think that would cause the clunking issue. I don't even hear it when I jump up and down on the bumper. As soon as I start driving I hear it over every bump in the road. Please give your suggestions, surely someone has had the same problem.
Thank you
I had an annoying noise coming from my 2005 Pilot's front driver's side wheel. It got worse after I got new tires. Unfortunately, the noise disappeared when I asked my mechanic to take a listen. Fast forward a few months, I went in for an oil change/anything else needed and found out that my right front axle needed to be replaced. After the work was done, the noise disappeared. Might be worth taking a look. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #30
Update: I replaced the inner and outer tie rods along with the passenger side motor mount and the transmission mounts. Clunking is still there. It is most noticable over uneven ground and bumps at low speeds. When the weather improves I will try to get a video. To date I have replaced complete struts (top nuts are tight), sway bar bushings and end links, complete lower control arms, inner and outer tie rods, and passenger side engine mount and transmission mounts. I think all that is left is front and back engine mounts and axles/CV joints. How should I check the play in the CV joints? I've done the driving in circles test and there is no noise/clicking and I have jacked up the car and there is no play when trying to move the tires. How else can I check them? What else am I missing? I can't imagine anywhere else this clunking could be coming from.
 

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If only just to rule that out, since it really does sound like a sway bar bushing problem, are you sure you installed the right part number sway bar bushings for the front? Front and rear sway bar bushings look virtually identical and differ in Honda part number by only one digit.

Easy to replace front sway bar bushings?


I got these Moogs from Rockauto and my front clunking went away.

 

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Discussion Starter #32
If only just to rule that out, since it really does sound like a sway bar bushing problem, are you sure you installed the right part number sway bar bushings for the front? Front and rear sway bar bushings look virtually identical and differ in Honda part number by only one digit.

Easy to replace front sway bar bushings?


I got these Moogs from Rockauto and my front clunking went away.

Just checked the receipt. Moog bushings, correct part number.
 

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I'm going to suggest you look in a different direction. If I'm correct, from reading the posts the sound is not speed or acceleration related, but a sound that occurs when going over bumps. It is also not something you are feeling through the steering wheel.

Just a thought, have you checked the exhaust system, both heat shields and system clamps. A loose shield or a loose exhaust system will clunk when you driver over a bump. If it is toward the front I would suspect a cat converter shield or cat convert mounts.
 

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Discussion Starter #35
Problem Solved!!!
So, I have been paying close attention to when and where the clunking occurs. Even though I have replaced the sway bar bushings (they were worn) and the end links, I was convinced that it was a sway bar issue. I had my son shake the car as hard as he could side to side while I was under it and I noticed that the end links, where they connect to the struts still had play in them. I re-tightened (felt like I was over tightening) them and it took care of the issue. Basically, I replaced lower control arms, inner/outer tie rods, and some motor mounts unnecessarily. I am ok with this since they all had 235k miles on them and I was doing the work because I plan on giving it to my son. As a side note, I got all of the parts from Rock Auto and the prices were fantastic. I replaced struts, sway bar bushings, end links, inner/outer tie rods, lower control arms, and 2 mounts for about the same price as me paying someone to do the struts and end links. Thank you for all of the advice support.
 

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Problem Solved!!!
... I re-tightened (felt like I was over tightening) them and it took care of the issue. Basically, I replaced lower control arms, inner/outer tie rods, and some motor mounts unnecessarily. I am ok with this since they all had 235k miles on them and I was doing the work because I plan on giving it to my son. As a side note, I got all of the parts from Rock Auto and the prices were fantastic. I replaced struts, sway bar bushings, end links, inner/outer tie rods, lower control arms, and 2 mounts for about the same price as me paying someone to do the struts and end links. Thank you for all of the advice support.
I agree that at 235k, it was time to replace all that stuff anyway. The vehicle probably drives a lot better.

I'm inferring that you didn't torque the tie-rod nuts to Honda spec. Given all the work that you've done, I suggest going back to check every single nut you touched. A decent torque wrench from Harbor Freight is cheap, and the specs are all in the downloadable service manual.

This is, in my opinion, essential to a working on a vehicle safely. If the tie rod nuts needed more force than you expected, you may be surprised how hard you have to push to get some of those fasteners as tight as they need to be to stay on. On the other hand, if the tie rod nuts need to be significantly over-torqued to keep the links quiet, there's another problem that needs to be looked into.
 

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I have been having issues with a front-end clunking noise for a while too -- see video from this morning here. The front shocks were replaced at 135,000 miles, and sway bar links and two problematic motor mounts were done at 170,000. (I have 178,000 currently.)

The shops I have been to can't seem to pinpoint this clunk. It only happens when going over surfaces unevenly (like one wheel over a speed bump at a time, as in the video). If I were to go over the speed bump with both front wheels at the same time, it won't make the noise. It is also very evident at speeds under 30mph on an uneven road surface, but once I'm traveling faster than that the noise disappears.

Is it possible that the shop didn't replace the sway bar bushings when they did the links? This seems to have all the markers of bad sway bar bushings, if I had to guess.
 

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Is it possible that the shop didn't replace the sway bar bushings when they did the links? This seems to have all the markers of bad sway bar bushings, if I had to guess.
That would be my guess as well. Did they give or show you the old ones?
 

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They did not. I've heard that the bushings usually look fine at first glance, so I'm wondering if they just left them alone when they allegedly replaced the links.
 

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That's right, it's really hard to tell while they're still in place, but once removed, if you look very carefully, they're out of round on the inside.
 
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