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Discussion Starter #1
There is a really bad knocking or clunking in the front end of my 2006 Honda Pilot (150,000 miles) when I go over bumps in the road. I am assuming I need new struts. But I hate to buy new struts and then find the knocking is still there. Is there a way to isolate exactly where the knocking is coming from or do I have to fix things one at a time? That is, how can I tell the difference between things like worn struts, strut mounts, lower control bushings, control arms, ball joints, wheel bearings, etc. Could an experienced mechanic isolate the problem? I had a mechanic look at it and he said I needed new struts. I don't want him to replace the struts and the noise still there and then the mechanic say, "maybe it was the ball joints." If I start replacing parts by trial and error, this could either be an easy job or one way out of my budget.
 

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There is a really bad knocking or clunking in the front end of my 2006 Honda Pilot (150,000 miles) when I go over bumps in the road.
If this is occurring at low speeds, and when for example you go over a lowered curb to cross a sidewalk, dollars to doughnuts it's the sway bar bushings. Much cheaper than struts.

Cured my front end clunking.
 

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Clunks can come from a number of places. And being a 2006, you likely need a LOT of stuff replaced anyway.

Ball joints are easy to inspect/isolate, using a prybar and lifting the tire just off the ground.

A common source of a clunk is also the stabilizer bar bushings, and stabilizer bar endlinks. These are inexpensive parts and commonly worn/failed. I would have these replaced.

Struts do not last forever. If yours are original they are toast, and many need replacing even after 75,000 miles depending on road conditions where you live. Everyone uses "quick struts" which come preassembled with strut, spring, and mount as an assembly. This reduces labor and gets all new parts refreshed.

If you do need ball joints, you generally just install complete lower control arms with new joints and bushings.

You will need to plan for an alignment as well.
 

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Can you explicitly describe how to reproduce the clunk?

Where does it "sound" like its coming from (underneath you, left side, right side, etc.)?

A video with decent audio would help a ton. Also, if you're feeling like getting your hands dirty, jack up the front end, and just play around with the suspension. Tug on the wheels and feel for loose play; inspect ball joints, control arms, axles, tie rods, and sway bar (and bushings).

Happy wrenching!

--Chris N.
 

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Clunks can come from a number of places. And being a 2006, you likely need a LOT of stuff replaced anyway.
+1

If your front suspension is original and you plan to keep the vehicle, just do it all at once and pay for one alignment.

Everything in there with rubber and/or a ball joint in it (struts, LCA's, inner & outer tie rods, sway bar links & bushings) is either shot or close. You will be surprised at how much better an older Pilot drives with a remodeled suspension.
 

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My 2006 has a similar noise I have 160+k miles on it. The struts were replaced at 120k miles. It's been doing it both before and after the struts, but getting worse. The stab links have been replaced too. So I have to wonder if it's my sway bar bushings? Need to get it into the shop and see what they say.
 

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agree with previous posts the following wear out, replacing together will avoid chasing sources of noises:
  • struts
  • sway bar bushings and links
  • steering tie rods
  • lower control arms
  • engine mount - front and right
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I took it to the Honda Dealer today as they had a free diagnostic coupon. They said, "Front: caliper pins in both front calipers loose, need to replace both front calipers."

I don't know if they actually drove the car. But, the brakes work fine. There is no pull or anything like that. Could this possibly cause a continuous rattling throughout the car as I drive on a rough road? Also, if I just drive over the little raised yellow reflector markers with my left front tire it is more like a one time clunk. Several mechanics have looked at it and have told me various things. I changed the sway bar already.

I am still trying to figure out how I can get a good audio recording of the problem without all the background road noise.


Could it possibly be a motor mount?
 

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I changed the sway bar already.
Sway bar or sway bar bushings? It's just about impossible to tell from just a visual inspection when they are in place, but the inside of sway bar bushings can be out of round, which causes clunking at relatively low speeds going over bumps, lowered curbs on through sidewalk entrances, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Sway bar or sway bar bushings? It's just about impossible to tell from just a visual inspection when they are in place, but the inside of sway bar bushings can be out of round, which causes clunking at relatively low speeds going over bumps, lowered curbs on through sidewalk entrances, etc.
I did not do the work. It was the least expensive thing to try so I had a mechanic put in the new sway bars. Would the bushings normally be something that someone checks when they install the sway bars? Also, there is no clunking when I go over bumps at slow speeds. The car rattles driving on a road that is not smooth.
 

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I did not do the work. It was the least expensive thing to try so I had a mechanic put in the new sway bars. Would the bushings normally be something that someone checks when they install the sway bars? Also, there is no clunking when I go over bumps at slow speeds. The car rattles driving on a road that is not smooth.
I doubt you had "sway bars" replaced. The sway bar is good for the life of the vehicle and never needs replacing. There are two replaceable components related to the "Stabilizer Bar" (also called sway bars or anti-sway bars). These components are the Stabilizer Bar link, and the Stabilizer bar bushings.

Changing stabilizer bar links is very common. The originals are not very beefy and these wear out fairly quickly. You usually will hear them knocking when going slow over uneven bumps. Stabilizer bar bushings are different. These bushings hold and isolate the bar to the frame of the vehicle. They are rubber, and they deteriorate over time. Especially on vehicles that have oil leaks, because the oil accelerates the rubber deterioration. It is hard to be able to inspect these and know they are failing, without removing them, or disconnecting the bar. These are less frequently replaced than the stabilizer bar links. When the links are replaced, the installer SHOULD inspect these for play on both sides, but often times you will just replace a link and move on.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
You are correct, I meant the sway bar links not bar. I do have a valve cover gasket leaking. Thank you.
 
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