Front Clunking sound when driving straight.

Sleet

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 22, 2005
Location
Kalamazoo, MI(home) Provo, UT(work)
TDI
jetta, 98, black
Ok here's the deal. I have a sporadic clunking noise from the drivers side front end. '98 jetta 315k miles.

I heard it last night on the freeway. I had pulled off on an exit ramp and got out and checked tires (had recently gotten some new ones installed and figured I'd double check that the tire shop had tightened them) Everything was fine and I got back on the freeway and after a mile or so the noise was back again (it just suddenly started it didn't start up gradually)

I pulled over and again checked the tires and drove the last 3-4 mile home and there wasn't a sound.

So today I get up and head out. I drive about 1/2 mile on side streets until the freeway and I pull out and go for about 4 miles. As I'm slowing down off the exit I heard the noise again. as I'm coasting it intensifies and by the time I'm stopping at the light I'm hearing clunk, clunk, clunk.

I pull off and slowly make my way to a gas station and get out and it's dark and can't see a darn thing. I try to feel the cv joints on the drivers side and can't make out much. So I get back in the car call into work and decide to wait it out until it gets light.

I get out an hour later and try to take a look at things and nothing seems out of the norm. So I try to slowly drive it back (on side streets) and it's making the clunk noise constantly and consistently. The noise is directly associated with how fast the tires are spinning.

While driving I also notice that the clunking almost goes away if I'm just giving it enough fuel to keep the speed steady / or just slight increasing the speed. If I try to coast it gets really louder and more pronounced.

I come up to a Target and since it's still early and no one's there I pull into the parking lot and decide I better get this thing towed before I break something. So as I'm pulling in and slowing down it's still making the clunk... clunk.. clunk (I can feel it even in the peddles) so I'm thinking great! BTW the clunking isn't associated with the road surface at all. So as I slow down to a stop. get out and look under again. I decide to move it forward 10 feel to avoid lying in a puddle and suddenly there wasn't a clunking sound?!?!?!

So then I drive a little further and a little further and nothing! It's acting completely normal! I've since driven home, and taken it on a few short trips around on the freeway I've been trying to get it to make the noise. Driving it rather hard, sharp corners (some turning the steering way all the way both directions) flooring it on the freeway etc.

The sound is completely gone and I'm a bit clueless. I know I have a front bearing that has started to make a little noise so I figured I'd try to get that changed later today but wasn't sure if I need to grab a drive shaft or something?

the only things I could think of are either drive shaft or transmission.

Anywone have any ideas?
 

TonyJetta

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Sep 15, 2005
Location
Tucson, Az
TDI
'15 Jetta TDI SE / '06 Jetta TDI DSG Pkg0 / '96 Passat TDI
Clunking or knocking while driving or turning indicates a bad CV joint.

whirring or grinding could be several things: wheel bearing, brake pads due to a caliper hanging...and more.

Tony
 

johnnymass85

New member
Joined
Mar 2, 2011
Location
greenville new york
TDI
1997 jetta
Just went through same thing brought car too 2 diffent shops.when they test drove the car it was fine a little while later it would come back.I took a chance on changing both axles and it was the passenger side inner cv joint.I got the axles from car quest for 55 each made in canada come with life time warranty .Worth a shot and not that hard too change 1st time took 2hrs per side roughly.good luck
 

tdidieselbobny

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Apr 4, 2005
Location
Stafford,NY (WNY)
TDI
'03 Galactic Blue Jetta TDI, '15 Silk Blue Golf Sportwagen TDI
Stone in hubcap? All your wheel studs in place? I know you said it was speed related,but how is the tranny mount? I would try jacking it up and checking wheel bearing play and any binding when turning tire by hand-it would drive me apesh*t to have a clunking noise come and go like that-I would always be thinking something is ready to bite the dust.....
 

Sleet

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 22, 2005
Location
Kalamazoo, MI(home) Provo, UT(work)
TDI
jetta, 98, black
Inner CV Joint

Thanks to everyone for the advice. Since the noise was intermittent I thought I'd try to wait until it was a little warmer here before trying to get it fixed. However after being out of town for a week (and letting someone else drive the car) the noise got much more consistent. I was 99% sure the sound was coming from the drivers side CV shaft so I ordered one and swapped it out.

The noise was still there and I drove it for a day and the noise was even worse (I think the noise got worse because the joint was getting worse - not because I had replaced the one CV shaft) So I got a used CV shaft for the passenger side and swapped it out last night. The noise is now gone :)

From a little more reading it sounds like the passenger side Inner CV Joint is more likely to go as the heat from the turbo/exhaust goes right by it and probably cooks the grease inside the joint.

None of the boots for all 4 CV joints seemed bad so that is why I was concerned it might be the transmission initially but fortunately this wasn't the case.

Here is a youtube clip I stumbled upon yesterday and this is pretty close to what the sound was like (yes mine is a A3 and the clip looks like an A4). It got so bad that when slowing down for a stop sign I could actually "feel" the pulse in the steering wheel and it felt like someone was knocking on the floor of the car next to the pedals (again this is what made me think it was the drivers side inner CV Joint.

Hope that helps anyone who has a similar problem :)

-J
 

TonyJetta

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Sep 15, 2005
Location
Tucson, Az
TDI
'15 Jetta TDI SE / '06 Jetta TDI DSG Pkg0 / '96 Passat TDI
From a little more reading it sounds like the passenger side Inner CV Joint is more likely to go as the heat from the turbo/exhaust goes right by it and probably cooks the grease inside the joint.
Correct.

To prevent that failure, install a heat shield: 357-407-721-B
Bolts: N01-251-6 // (M10X18 bolts), 2 req'd

When I started commuting (>10 miles), I installed the heat shield. I have about 20k miles without and 45k miles with it installed. So far, I have had no issues with the right inner CV boot.

On edit: This shield can be installed without removing the axle or that silly weight on the K-member. Just rotate the shield around, like a 3-d puzzle piece.

Tony
 
Last edited:

Redlabel6

Veteran Member
Joined
Nov 23, 2009
Location
Chaska, Minnesota
TDI
98 Jetta, 2005 Passat
As Tony says, the heat shield is a great add! I picked one up at the local u-pull-r for $1.00! I think all gassers have them.
 

GTiTDi

TDIClub Enthusiast, Macht Schnell! Vendor , w/Busi
Joined
Oct 18, 2010
Location
3 Spruce st Wareham, gateway to Cape Cod Massachus
TDI
91 GTDI,'02 Jetta wagon ALH swap, '99 Eurovan, '79 Audi Fox 1.6TD, '03 GTI 1.8T rally car
Hopefully the replacement axle you used was of a good quality. Some Chinese Replacement Auto Part (CRAP) axle assemblies I have seen installed by less reputable shops don't even have grease applied to the ball/cage assembly of the inner joint.

A friend of mine picked up a high-mile mk4 golf 2.0 that has had lots of shady work done, including a cheapo drivers side axle..when he first got the car the axle was loose, which I attributed to the inattentive tech who installed it..so I torqued it and all seemed fine. The first long high speed trip he took to Boston he called me up saying it was vibrating/shaking bad at high speed and making a popping/snapping noise at lower speeds.when he got it to the shop we put it up in the air, I pulled back the inner boot and low and behold the joint was dry as a bone. there was grease everywhere else but in the grooves where the balls ride..not having a joint to replace it with and short on time I injected grease into joint with a needle point grease gun fitting. He has been driving with that axle since then. That was a while ago!


moral to the story..if you use cheap parts double check to make sure they are at least greased properly! even better--don't use cheap parts!
 
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