Clunking and Wobble in Steering - Possible Ball Joints? [Video-n-Post] - Second Generation Nissan Xterra Forums (2005+)
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-09-2019, 01:52 PM Thread Starter
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Clunking and Wobble in Steering - Possible Ball Joints? [Video-n-Post]

2007 Off-Road, 141k miles.

Over the last few months it's been developing a bit of a clunking in the front end. Now it's got a wobble in the steering and whenever I hit a bump, it feels like it's going to lose control. I checked my tie rods and they seem fine, although they're Moogs and I was just reading another post about how they're not very good anymore.

I'm wondering if it's possibly my upper ball joints or control arms? In the last 20k/year-ish I've replaced LCA's, lower ball joints, sway bar bushing, outer tie rods, wheel bearings and shocks all around. Springs have a little surface rust, but they aren't broken or anything.

Here's a video of the sound. It isn't a great clip. The louder sound is my keys banging against the dash (had to drive with one hand, hold camera with the other) but you can hear the clunking sound I'm describing. When I'm driving it's definitely coming from the front end, sounds like it's down near the wheel wells but maybe a little further in near the engine bay, and higher up? Is there a way to check these?
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-09-2019, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Traverse View Post
2007 Off-Road, 141k miles.



Over the last few months it's been developing a bit of a clunking in the front end. Now it's got a wobble in the steering and whenever I hit a bump, it feels like it's going to lose control. I checked my tie rods and they seem fine, although they're Moogs and I was just reading another post about how they're not very good anymore.



I'm wondering if it's possibly my upper ball joints or control arms? In the last 20k/year-ish I've replaced LCA's, lower ball joints, sway bar bushing, outer tie rods, wheel bearings and shocks all around. Springs have a little surface rust, but they aren't broken or anything.



Here's a video of the sound. It isn't a great clip. The louder sound is my keys banging against the dash (had to drive with one hand, hold camera with the other) but you can hear the clunking sound I'm describing. When I'm driving it's definitely coming from the front end, sounds like it's down near the wheel wells but maybe a little further in near the engine bay, and higher up? Is there a way to check these?
I'm gonna guess your sway bar end link is loose. Seen it on other rigs and dealt with it before. It'll sound like a metal pole being flopped around in another metal pole near the front of the engine. It scared me half to death because it started when I was half way through an Anza Borrego trail, and I thought my front end would fall apart.

They'll seem snug when you feel by hand, but they'll need to be torqued quite hard to stop the clunk. Good luck!
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-09-2019, 02:02 PM Thread Starter
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Alright, I'll check those out. I've had the sway bar off the body and disconnected them from the LCA's and haven't replaced them so they should probably be replaced either way. I don't do a whole lot of off-roading with it, although I live in Michigan where our city streets are about as rough as some trails haha. Any recommended brands?
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-09-2019, 02:07 PM
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Alright, I'll check those out. I've had the sway bar off the body and disconnected them from the LCA's and haven't replaced them so they should probably be replaced either way. I don't do a whole lot of off-roading with it, although I live in Michigan where our city streets are about as rough as some trails haha. Any recommended brands?
I can't recommend a brand, since I just did the sway bar delete and haven't looked back. Although, if you're going to replace the end links try and tighten them first to see if it addresses the clunk. If it does, then some research on replacements could be in order.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-09-2019, 02:27 PM
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For sway bar end links stay away from Moog would be my advice. I didn't get a whole lot of miles on them before I put OEM's on.

In my very limited bad ball joint experience if they were noisy driving I could get them to make noise moving the suspension while the X was stationary.
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-10-2019, 01:49 AM
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To check ball joints, jack the tire off the ground. Put one hand on the top and one on the bottom of the tire and shake it back and forth. Have someone watch the ball joints while doing this. If the ball joint is bad, they will see play in it. May also hear the clunking.
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-10-2019, 07:49 AM Thread Starter
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I went out this morning and checked the end links. The driver's side seems fine, but the one on the passenger's side seems pretty loose. I couldn't tighten it down any further than it already is. I jumped on the running board and tried my hardest to listen in. I could hear the clunking sound pretty faintly, and leaned down as close as I could and it definitely sounded like it was coming from down there, so I'm going to start by replacing those next week.

But I did also notice that the upper ball joints have a lot of dry rotting on the boots, and the one on the passenger's side has a small amount of grease leaking out of it, so I'm going to plan to replace those fairly soon as well. The Moog tie rod ends I replaced a year or so ago are also torn already, so I'm gonna throw those into the mix as well and hopefully this thing starts handling like a damn race car haha.

Thanks for all the input!

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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-10-2019, 08:18 AM
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Are your upper control arm ball joints greasable ?
My SPC's have the zerk fitting, and I give them a few shots of grease w/ each oil change or thereabouts.
Changing a dry rot or leaking boot is pretty straightforward. And not terribly pricey, I think Nisstec has them for $ 12.45

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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-10-2019, 09:18 AM Thread Starter
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Are your upper control arm ball joints greasable ?
My SPC's have the zerk fitting, and I give them a few shots of grease w/ each oil change or thereabouts.
Changing a dry rot or leaking boot is pretty straightforward. And not terribly pricey, I think Nisstec has them for $ 12.45
I didn't actually check for grease fittings, but that's a good point. I'll take a look when I get off work tonight.

I like that everything on this car is so accessible when I need to take a quick look at something. I'm used to working on Volkswagens, where they cram things into spaces they can't possibly fit.

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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-10-2019, 10:45 AM
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I agree with the others, it sounds sway bar related. If it is not the end links, it is probably the bushings holding it to the frame.


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  Second Generation Nissan Xterra Forums (2005+) > Xterra Tech Topics > Suspension & Steering

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