2003 VW Jetta - Passenger Front Suspension Clunking

flash9

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 1, 2003
Location
North Carolina
TDI
Jetta Wagon GLS 5-Speed, 2003, White
Our 2003 VW Jetta is making a very odd clunking from the Passenger Front Suspension.



 
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Tdijarhead

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Nov 10, 2013
Location
Lawrenceville PA
TDI
2003 TDI Jetta Daughters Car, 2001 TDI Beetle, Daughters car, 2005 Golf TDI Mine, all 5 spds
Please downsize those pics.

It can be any number of things. Sway links, sway bar bushings, tie rods either inner or outer, ball joint or the struts, strut bushings, lower control arm bushings. Your lower control arm and ball joints look like they could be new/recent. Maybe something didn’t get tightened back up.

From the looks of your strut tops though you need new strut bushing and the bearing that goes with them. Which could certainly be your clunk.
 

flash9

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 1, 2003
Location
North Carolina
TDI
Jetta Wagon GLS 5-Speed, 2003, White
Pictures both resized.

Recently I replaced the following:

  • 10/24/2019 - Front Lower Control Arms and outer ball joint.
  • 6/23/2019 - Inner and Outer Tie Rods
  • 1/5/2017 - Bilstein Struts, Strut Rubber Mount, Strut Bearing.
The only suspension part in the front that is from 2003 is the Sway bar end links. I guess I could disconnect them and see if it goes away.
 
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super1

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 19, 2010
Location
NY
TDI
none
Picture resized.

Recently I replaced the following:

  • 10/24/2019 - Front Lower Control Arms and outer ball joint.
  • 6/23/2019 - Inner and Outer Tie Rods
  • 1/5/2017 - Bilstein Struts, Strut Rubber Mount, Strut Bearing.
The only suspension part in the front that is from 2003 is the Sway bar end links. I guess I could disconnect them and see if it goes away.

Very carefully without hurting yourself if you have someone else push up and down on the car put your hands on the items which were suggested to feel the clunk

That is one clean car


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csstevej

Top Post Dawg
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Aug 12, 2004
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north nj
TDI
2001 golf tdi 4 door auto now a manual, mine, 2000 golf 2 door M/T son's,daughters 98 NB non-TDI 2.0, 2003 TDI NB for next daughter, head repaired and on road,gluten for punishment got another tdi 2001NB,another yellow tdi NB
If you look at the video and watch the upper small dog bone link you can see the movement is in time with the noise....just my .02.
 

KrashDH

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 22, 2013
Location
Washington
TDI
2002 Golf
If you look at the video and watch the upper small dog bone link you can see the movement is in time with the noise....just my .02.
You're talking about the sway bar link right? That's what it looks like to me...visible play.
I would verify that upper joint is tightened first, then re test.
But since it looks like the track bar is physically moving, I would undo that upper sway bar connection and look at the sway bar bolt hole...it could be ovalized. Everything about that connection looks off, just from the video
 

super1

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Joined
Apr 19, 2010
Location
NY
TDI
none
Yes I agree with csstevej that’s a noise is coming from the swaybar link I’ll would put some wrenches on to see if that bolts are tight enough


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flash9

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 1, 2003
Location
North Carolina
TDI
Jetta Wagon GLS 5-Speed, 2003, White
Things to look into.

Very carefully without hurting yourself if you have someone else push up and down on the car put your hands on the items which were suggested to feel the clunk
That is one clean car
Thanks - We purchased it new in July 2003. I have done all of the service on the Jetta, except tires and alignments over the past 17 years. It has 193k miles. I was thinking the same thing in trying to carefully feeling for the vibrations as someone moves the suspension.

You're talking about the sway bar link right? That's what it looks like to me...visible play.
I would verify that upper joint is tightened first, then re test.
But since it looks like the track bar is physically moving, I would undo that upper sway bar connection and look at the sway bar bolt hole...it could be ovalized. Everything about that connection looks off, just from the video
Yes I agree with csstevej that’s a noise is coming from the swaybar link I’ll would put some wrenches on to see if that bolts are tight enough
I will focus on the lower control arm bolts (as it was the last thing I serviced) as well as sway end links. As I wrote last night, the sway bay end links are the only original "wearable" parts left on the front suspension. I did the sway bar bushings when I did the struts in 2017. (Correction - did these Oct 2019.)
 
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jokila

Vendor
Joined
Dec 3, 2004
Location
Houston, Texas
TDI
2003 Jetta GLS, Manual
I had a clunk years ago and replaced my swaybar frame mounts with poly. Still going strong over 12 years later.

The originals were replaced at 3 years of age and failed again with clunking 3 years later. I figured poly would be better and last longer and I was right. I did nothing for the swaybar link ends. They are still rubber.
 

Tdijarhead

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Nov 10, 2013
Location
Lawrenceville PA
TDI
2003 TDI Jetta Daughters Car, 2001 TDI Beetle, Daughters car, 2005 Golf TDI Mine, all 5 spds
From the video it looks like that sway link top bushing is moving around.


Thanks for downsizing those pics. Did you have a different pic on top originally? I could have sworn I was looking at a slightly different view of the strut top and the gap was more than I see in the current picture.
 

KrashDH

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 22, 2013
Location
Washington
TDI
2002 Golf
I had a clunk years ago and replaced my swaybar frame mounts with poly. Still going strong over 12 years later.

The originals were replaced at 3 years of age and failed again with clunking 3 years later. I figured poly would be better and last longer and I was right. I did nothing for the swaybar link ends. They are still rubber.
That video this a different story. If the sway bar bushing was bad, you would see the sway bar movement "lag" if you will, behind the frame movement. It looks to me like the sway bar is moving in time with the frame and the only visible movement is at the upper sway bar end link joint. I recently just changed out my end links. They were original from 2002 and they were still in fine shape.
 

flash9

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 1, 2003
Location
North Carolina
TDI
Jetta Wagon GLS 5-Speed, 2003, White
From the video it looks like that sway link top bushing is moving around.
Thanks for downsizing those pics. Did you have a different pic on top originally? I could have sworn I was looking at a slightly different view of the strut top and the gap was more than I see in the current picture.
No - Just reduced the size of each of the photos and replaced the much larger ones in my TDI Photo Gallery. I would have been very disappointed if the Strut Mounts had failed. The gap is still well within allowable limits. :cool:
 
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KrashDH

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Dec 22, 2013
Location
Washington
TDI
2002 Golf
No - Just reduced the size of each of the photos and replaced the much larger ones in my TDI Photo Gallery. I would have been very disappointed if the Strut Mounts had failed. The gap is still well within allowable limits. :cool:
Yeah that strut gap is fine. I did a suspension refresh a few months ago, with new EVERYTHING, and my gap on my Golf is that or larger. Completed with quality parts from a few of our goto vendors. No ill effects.
 

hooville

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 13, 2003
Location
Marietta, GA
TDI
2000 Golf GLS, 2016 GTI, 2015 TDI Sportwagen S
Check the fasteners on the ball joint to control arm: in the video it looks like there is some play.
 

flash9

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 1, 2003
Location
North Carolina
TDI
Jetta Wagon GLS 5-Speed, 2003, White
Check the fasteners on the ball joint to control arm: in the video it looks like there is some play.
Good call on that too, I couldn't see that until I viewed the video on a computer
I noticed that as well when I re-watched my videos over lunch.
I purchased the lower control arms with TT Bushings, and I am trying to remember if the lower ball joints came already attached.
I typically double check every nut and bolt to make sure they are tightened to factory spec, but maybe I missed these. :confused:
 
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KrashDH

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Dec 22, 2013
Location
Washington
TDI
2002 Golf
I noticed that as well when I re-watched my videos over lunch.
I purchased the lower control arms with TT Bushings, and I am trying to remember if the lower ball joints came already attached.
I typically double check every nut and bolt to make sire they are tightened to factory spec, but maybe I missed these. :confused:
They come installed as I purchased the same set, but I also torqued mine to spec to double check.
 

flash9

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 1, 2003
Location
North Carolina
TDI
Jetta Wagon GLS 5-Speed, 2003, White
This was really bothering me, so I went out and jacked up that side of the car and put my torque wrench on those three bolts.

I set it to 15ft-lbs, figuring if they were lose I would tighten them and then do the 1/4 turn.

All three immediately clicked as already being "tight".


15ft-lbs does not seem very tight, but I guess the 1/4 turn is quite a bit.

I was unable to flex the suspension as my helper (wife) was not home at the time.

I will get back to this after 5PM EST.
 

KrashDH

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 22, 2013
Location
Washington
TDI
2002 Golf
This was really bothering me, so I went out and jacked up that side of the car and put my torque wrench on those three bolts.

I set it to 15ft-lbs, figuring if they were lose I would tighten them and then do the 1/4 turn.

All three immediately clicked as already being "tight".

15ft-lbs does not seem very tight, but I guess the 1/4 turn is quite a bit.

I was unable to flex the suspension as my helper (wife) was not home at the time.

I will get back to this after 5PM EST.
Yes the 1/4 turn is where you are going to get the proper "stretch" of the TTY bolts, if they are in fact that in that location. 1/4 turn will gain you a LOT more torque than you think is possible. Even 15 ft-lb should be "snug" enough that the rocking/noise would go away if that's where the issue is. That clanking is from something that's completely loose (ie there is no clamping load on the component)

Did you remove that upper sway bar end link bolt and rotate the sway bar down and inspect?
 

BobnOH

not-a-mechanic
Joined
May 29, 2004
Location
central Ohio
TDI
New Beetle 2003 manual
It sounds like a loose component. Use a stethoscope or hose-in-ear to probe while someone bounces the car.
 

sisyphus

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Joined
Dec 8, 2008
Location
Appleton, Maine
TDI
99.5, '01 A4 Jetta sedans, 5 sp box, Hamman mod, Joey mod, Bilsteins, 2.00" lift
Clunks are usually IME the sway bar and/or linkage there. Strut bearings make a grinding, rending noise when they go south.
 

flash9

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 1, 2003
Location
North Carolina
TDI
Jetta Wagon GLS 5-Speed, 2003, White
Clunking Found!

I have diagnosed the clunking and ordered the replacement parts.
Video of Upper Bolt and Nut for Sway Bar Link.
I could have most likely just tightened everything back to spec, but I have taken these bolts on and off the car plenty of times over the past 17 years and the threads were looking a little rough.

So, I ordered two of each of the bolts and nut from my local VW dealership, for $8.64, as well as two new URO Sway Bar Links for $24.
I should have all of the parts by Saturday, so I will hopefully have the car back on the road by Sunday afternoon.
Thank you for everyone's help.
 
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hooville

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Jan 13, 2003
Location
Marietta, GA
TDI
2000 Golf GLS, 2016 GTI, 2015 TDI Sportwagen S
Glad it was easy & cheap fix, a loose bit down there could get ugly pretty quick! I refreshed the front suspension on the MK4 2 years ago and had to double/triple check everything before it went back on the ground. My CDO never sleeps! :rolleyes:
 

flash9

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Jul 1, 2003
Location
North Carolina
TDI
Jetta Wagon GLS 5-Speed, 2003, White
Last evening the sway bar end links arrived and I finished up the work.
I think I figured out how this came to be this way.
When I replaced the lower control arms last year (which was also only about 3,000 miles ago) I loosened the bolt and nut that connect the control arm to the control arm end link.
I torqued everything back to what is shown in the Bentley Service manual, which is shown as only 11 ft-lbs for both the bolt to the lower control arm and the bolt and nut from the sway bar and sway bar end link.

That is not very tight for the size of these bolts. Last night when I torqued everything back to spec it just did not seem very tight. I did not measure it, but I was able to get another ~1/8 turn on both with very little effort.
I will keep an eye on these, but I think they just worked themselves apart, as the drivers side was also very loose when I went to replace that sides sway bar end link as well.
 
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