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Discussion Starter #1
2001 9-5 Aero wagon, bought it about 2 years ago and this has been an issue since I got it. The suspension is tight when I drive, but when I'm backing out of the garage and onto the street while turning the wheels I get a loud clunk from the front, sounds like it's coming from up by the radiator almost. It's especially noticeable when I put the wheels at full lock one way to back out around a corner and then straighten out to pull away "clunk"

It's not the engine or transmission, this is definitely coming from the body or suspension.


About a year ago I had to change the struts, they were worn out. When I did that job, new struts, strut bearings, strut mounts. And while I was at it all new bushings on the lower A-arms and new ball joints. Problem remained.

Someone a while back suggested the drop links for the sway bar. I didn't feel any play in them so figured I'd just take them off and see if the clunk went away. nope. So I put them back on and no difference

Today I spent a couple of hours trying to figure out what is going on. I took the bolts out of all of the subframe bushings (one at a time) and checked the bushings. They are old but intact. (nothing like the ones on my old 03 Aero that pretty much fell out when I took the bolts out)

So now I'm at a loss. I was sure that I was going to find the subframe bushings bad, given the size of the job to fix them. I might do them anyway, but for now I'm trying to figure out what this really is.

I don't think I have an issue with the engine mounts, I changed the right one when I put the engine in the car. The rear one seemed fine. Didn't check the transmission mount but could that be it?

Any suggestions? I've pretty much exhausted everything in the front suspension except for the tie rod ends and those are pretty tight.
 

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I would think in your case it could be a bad ball joint or one thats starting to fail. I had this issue for two years in a row and due to the winters in vermont it helped exacerbate the problem. Now that Im in North Carolina I have not had any issues with the ball joints.
 

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I've been chasing the same issue and I've replaced everything except cv joints which I think is the issue with the noise. Hopefully it solves the problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Well, today I add Subframe bushings that didn't solve the problem. The subframe bushings were actually quite worn although "looking" at them didn't show they were bad but when I pushed on the bushings they pretty much fell out in 4 of the 6 locations.

Definitely less rattling and vibration at idle but the clunk is still there.
 

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My 2000 wagon does the same thing. It makes two loud clunking noises when backing up and turning. If the window is down, the clunks have a metallic sound to them, so it's not anything plastic, like the air box, rattling around. The struts, ball joints, sway bar links, sway bar bushings, subframe bushings, tie rod ends, and the right CV axle have all been replaced in the last two years. The only things left are the inner tie rods, which are original at 215,000 miles, and the left CV axle. I'm going to be replacing the inner tie rods in the next month or so. If that doesn't solve it, then I'll replace the left CV axle.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I should have mentioned that I did replace the drive axle on the passenger side about a year and a half ago. When I junked the '99 sedan that I had, I took the two drive axles out and kept them and noticed that one of the ones on the wagon had a broken boot and was spraying grease. So I just swapped the whole axle. That too didn't charge the problem.

Jeremy, it is definitely a metallic sound

For more info:
  • It doesn't happen when I shift from forward to reverse if I'm not turning so it's not play in the CV joints that is being taken up on change of direction
  • It does happen when I'm backing and turning, the feel is like something is "shifting" with the pressure on the wheels. that's what led me to believe it was the subframe bushings.
  • it doesn't happen when turning while going forward constantly or going backward constantly, only if I'm switching from F to R (while turning)
  • It's definitely coming from the suspension and not something inside of a fender like the post above, although that did give me cause to look in there. That's not my issue.
I've not done the sway bar drop links or the sway bar bushings because I just took the drop links off and the car still made the noise so those aren't the issue.

Still stumped!
 

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I'm really hoping it's the inner tie rods, although the noise my car makes seems awfully loud for that to be the cause. I had also originally thought it was the subframe bushings, which were still original at around 210,000 miles. I did a ton of work on the front end, hoping to fix all the noises, and the car did get miraculously quieter and tighter, except for that clunk, which annoys me to no end because I hear it every day in my office's parking garage, and I'm sure everyone around me hears it too.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Agree, mine annoys the **** out of me. but the car is much tighter with all of this done. Now all I need to do is fix the damned oil leak!
 

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For the past few years my ’00 would always make a clunk sound when turning the wheel to almost full crank to one side when pulling out of a parking spot or when backing out of the driveway. Kind of got used to hearing it. Recently, I backed out of my driveway and heard a louder than usual clunk, and as I drove away I suddenly noticed my steering wheel was crooked. The spokes were at 8 and 2 instead of 9 and 3. When I made my first turn, the car yanked over to that side and then wandered until I was able to straighten it out. Immediately took the car back home and checked all the obvious spots - tie rod ends, ball joints, sway links. Nothing out of place. So I figured the pinion had slipped somehow and now my steering rack was toast. I had it towed to a local Saab mechanic so he could take a look. The steering rack was barely attached to the subframe! That clunk I was hearing apparently was steering rack slipping on the mounts. Beats me how they could have worked themselves loose. Anyway, my mechanic put in new bolts and torqued it back up. Then I took it for an alignment. Since then, no more clunk. I don’t know if that could be the source of your clunk, but it might be worth re-torquing your steering rack next time you’re under there.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
that was something I thought of. I'm definitely going to have to take a look. That sounds almost exactly like what I'm hearing.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Darn. Well at least you've ruled that out.
Well....

the car was in the Saab shop for something else, I was throwing an EVAP code and I can't find it (neither did they it turns out) But they told me the clunk was the right front wheel bearing. I was skeptical becuase there as no "rolling" noice like a typical wheel bearing. But I had them do it since I'm too busy with other stuff. No more clunk.

guy said the bearing was "really bad" and even though I'm usually on top of stuff with the car, I had no idea.
 

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Center subfame bushings? My car had a similar noise that I couldn't pin down, lowered the subframe to do my oil trap and noticed one of the center bushings was out of its hole. Replace them and nouse is gone.

I will warn you these bushings are plastic, you cant just beat them in like you can the rears. I had something the sise of the busing to push it in, then something like a wheel bearing race between the subfame and the car. Then using a ratchet and socket to slowly press it in using the subframe bolt.
 

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