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Suspension & Braking
Have some questions about suspension or brake setups for your E46 BMW? Get all your answers here!

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Old 12-02-2010, 06:38 PM   #1
luigi65
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Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Vancouver, WA
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My Ride: 2004 330i with ZHP
Post Front-end clunking-rattling -- can't pinpoint the cause

Gents, I promise I've searched and read a ton of posts. My head is spinning from all the reading I've done, and I'm an editor and read plenty as it is! I've replaced my CABs and sway bar end links in an attempt to cure the clunking-rattling noise I've been enduring for months now and which is only growing louder. I have a 330i ZHP with 61K, so I'm assuming, foolishly so perhaps, that the heavy-duty ball joints on the ZHP spec control arms are OK. The clunking-rattling happens mostly on rough roads and over bumps, but never at highway speeds, and also when I quickly tap-tap-tap my brakes, even while barely moving, such as when pulling into my driveway. I'm starting to suspect there's something amiss in my brakes -- something loose, something broken? I've made sure the caliper bolts are tight, and I took a rubber mallet and tapped around but everything seems solid. Last night, laying on the cold floor of my garage, feeling totally frustated and staring up at my suspension and feeling completely lost, I got up the nerve to submit my first question post. So here I am with my hand out for help. Thanks very much.
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Old 12-03-2010, 11:13 AM   #2
hummer
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With 61K and already replaced the links and CABs, the ball joints are the prime suspects followed by tieords, struts and strut bearings. My guess is th it's ball joints!
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Old 12-03-2010, 12:32 PM   #3
luigi65
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Hummer, thanks very much for your reply -- may only good things happen to you today! I forgot to mention that I also replaced the strut tower bearings thinking those were possibly at fault and verified that the struts moved up and down smoothly. That job ended up being a lot of work for little results, but so it goes sometimes in the backyard mechanic world, right? But the good news is that the list is growing shorter: ball joints and tie rods remain, from what you're telling me. And I'll replace my sway bar bushings too, just because that's easy and I could use an easy repair right about now! The search for a solution continues ... And thanks to anyone who read my post and at least considered replying!
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Old 12-03-2010, 03:36 PM   #4
m3collins
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Keep this thread updated. My m3 is doing the same thing....clunk/rattle only when I hit a bump or something that shakes the suspension yet I can't locate it while car is up in air.
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Old 12-04-2010, 09:35 AM   #5
cantwist
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same problem with mine, 2001 sedan, i replaced all my suspension tie rods upper bearing and lower control arms and brakes yet im still experiancing the same. Im actually going to be replacing the bushings forthe sway bar, ive heard this canbe the culpret
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Old 12-04-2010, 11:32 AM   #6
luigi65
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Gents, thanks for the replies, and I promise to have an update after my next repair. I won't leave this thread until I've solved my problem, and hopefully have helped some of you in the process. Thanks!
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Old 12-08-2010, 01:22 PM   #7
luigi65
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My sway bar bushings are in (I was only able to find OEM ones), and with luck I'll have time and energy after work to get them installed -- I'll report back.
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Old 12-10-2010, 12:45 AM   #8
bionet
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i had a thumping sound in my car from the driver side (front). any uneven street would make the thumping even louder. the sway bar endlink ended up having play and later breaking, literally. I replaced it and the thumping has gone. try to see if either side endlink has any play.
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Old 12-11-2010, 05:35 PM   #9
luigi65
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My Ride: 2004 330i with ZHP
Bionet, thanks -- I replaced the sway bar end links a few weeks ago and double-checked a couple nights ago to make sure they were tight. They were, so all is good there.

OK, solution found guys, but it's embarrassing to have to tell my story. Hopefully this will help you avoid my mistake. Here goes: I replaced the sway bar bushings the other night, as I said I would. The driver's side was a bit more worn out than the passenger side. But that repair didn't fix the problem.

Sooo, I broke down and went to the local independent shop with a good reputation, but which I've never used before. The owner lifted my car up and thoroughly inspected all suspension components. I went on and on about what I had replaced over the past few months, including the control arm bushings. He grabs a crowbar and pushes up and down where the bracket meets the frame on the driver's side. YIKES! Movement. Not good. When installing the control arm bushings, I ended up stripping the bolt holes. I must not have had everything lined up properly, even though I don't remember any unusual resistance as I ratcheted the bolts in. So, he tapped new threads, installed new bolts and away I went. I've got that great BMW ride back once again!

Moral of the story: Make sure you get the control arm bushing bracket holes lined up with the frame holes perfectly before installing the bolts. Thanks for everyone for their input!
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