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Front end clunk?

Discussion in 'Stock 1991 - 1994 Explorers' started by 04sd, January 14, 2009.

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  1. 04sd

    04sd Member

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    I've got a clunk somewhere in the front end I'm trying to find and looking for suggestions. First the truck, it's a '90 Bronco II, about 150K miles on it, about two years ago I had the Radius Arm clunk, I replaced the RA bushings and all was well. I only put about 1K miles a year on this truck. Last fall I installed the complete drivetrain from a '91 Explorer in to my Bronco. This included front axle, springs, steering box & linkage. Ever since then I've had this clunk which happens the first time I hit the brakes after changing forward/reverse direction. So if I pull in the driveway and stop, put it in reverse and get moving and hit the brakes it will clunk as I stop. Go again in reverse and stop, no noise. Go forward, the first time I stop it'll clunk. I think it's gotten worse since fall probably because I plow snow with the truck so it sees a lot of forward/reverse starting and stopping. As stated earlier the RA bushings have maybe 1 or 2 thousand miles on them. I've disconnected the front swaybar, no change. Hubs locked or unlocked, 2 wheel or 4 wheel drive, still does it. Shift to neutral before hitting the brakes, still does it. I pulled the axle pivot bolts out and pulled down the axle beams, bushings are not new but look OK. I replaced all 4 ball joints about a month ago. I tried to tighten the radius arm to axle bolts, 3/4" drive with a pipe, seemed tight. Actually broke a 18" 1/2" drive Craftsman breaker bar making sure one of them was tight. If I stop using the parking brake it does not do it, so it's something with torquing the front back and forth. Front driveshaft slipjoint is nice and smooth and moves easily.

    I'm looking for ideas at this point. My next step is to get my brother over this weekend so one of us can lay on the ground next to it to see if we can see or hear something.
     
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  3. solitary ogre

    solitary ogre Active Member

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    i had a mysterious clunk in my '88 bronco ll for about a year 'til i discovered the right axle beam bushing was loose. it didn't look loose but changing it made it quiet. my right radius arm bushing would squeak and i'd use wd40 to kill the noise about once a month 'til i got enough energy to change it. i also had a broken right main leaf spring that made not so nice clunk noises. i changed both sides to keep things even in the back. the front and rear spring mounting bolts were really badly worn and had to be replaced. i figure it was the use of too much air in the air-shocks that caused the axle wrap that led to the leaf breaking. i often would unhook my utility trailer and leave the air pressure high for the weekend knowing i would hook up the trailer for work on monday mornings.
    now my '91 explorer has the similar clunk. once it clunked so loud i thought i'd popped a tooth off the front pinion but there wasn't any steel filings floating in the oil so i guess it is okay. it appears to be the same right axle beam bushing making the clunk. it doesn't look worn but that can be the only place i can find that would make such a noise.
    i'm anxious to hear what you find in your's. i hope it isn't a ghost.

    keep smilin.........t
     
  4. 04sd

    04sd Member

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    I'll probably put in new axle beam bushings just because they're not new and hope that's it. Rear springs have all new bolts and poly bushings with Explorer leaves. All four shocks have less than 4K miles on them.
     
  5. BajaBronco

    BajaBronco New Member

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    I have a 1989 Bronco II with similar issue. Mine also clunks when I back up, turn and stop. Then it seems to clunk after driving and coming to a quick stop. It is intermittent. I have had it checked by mechanics 4 times. I have replace Radial arm bushings and Transmission mounts. I have owned this vehicle 4 years.

    A few years ago, I owned a 1987 Dodge Diplomat with a similar undiagnosable clunk. That one turned out to be a Front Sway Bushing. I discovered that when jacking up the car front end one day and heard the clunk.

    I haven't replaced my Bronco II front sway bushings yet.
     
  6. Roadrunner777

    Roadrunner777 Well-Known Member

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  7. 04sd

    04sd Member

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    Wow, this is an old thread. On my BII it turned out to be the axle twisting in the radius arm on the drivers side. I thought the bolt was tight but it wasn't. I actually put a small tack weld on the radius/axle joint and the clunk stopped. Don't remember anymore how I tighten the bolt but I did cut the weld and the noise was gone.
     
  8. ddenton749

    ddenton749 Member

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    I have this mysterious clunk as well. It started after I replaced the 4WD axle U-joints. It sounds like bad left radius arm bushings. Step on the brake - clunk. left off the brake - clunk. applying the brake going down hill - clunk, clunk, clunk, clunk..... Let of the brake and the clunking stops. Apply the brake harder and the clunking stops.

    I replaced the radius arm bushings and the radius arm brackets this weekend and the noise is still there.

    04SD had an interesting thought. Perhaps the axle housing is moving in the Radius arm? I did have to loosen it when I did the U-Joints. I needed to move the left radius arm to remove the front differential. Maybe I didn't get it tight enough? I also broke a Craftsman breaker bar trying to loosen the bolts.
     
  9. ddenton749

    ddenton749 Member

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    Update:

    The mysterious clunk was in fact the loose bolt that 04sd described above. The lower radius arm bolt to the axle was slightly loose. I must have left it loose when I replaced the 4WD axle U-joints. I got under the car with a 1/2" breaker bar and a 30" steel pipe cheater bar, and I probably got a good 1 turn out of the bolt. The clunk is gone.

    It was that simple.
     
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