Clunking and rattle in drivetrain (?) - Mazda3 Forums : The #1 Mazda 3 Forum
 
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-09-2014, 05:45 PM Thread Starter
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Clunking and rattle in drivetrain (?)

I'm at the end of my rope on this, about to break down and take it to a mechanic. Here's the story. Sorry it's so long, but in addition to providing background I kinda want to vent.

First, the car: 2006 S sedan, manual transmission, Eibach Pro-Kit springs.

It started as a simple brake job (doesn't it always?). But for the life of me I could not get the rotors off, either side. I believe they're the original rotors and the car has 134,000 miles, much of that on icy/salty Minnesota roads. I beat the snot out of the rotors with various types and sizes of hammer, PB Blaster, tried a makeshift bolt-and-nut push system, even rented a puller. Nothing worked. So I got out a torch to heat the sucker up. Still no dice. So I heated it up some more. And them some more. And then the hub started smoking and I realized I had cooked the wheel bearing on one side. Oh snap.

So instead of replacing just the wheel bearing, I hunted down a complete, inexpensive knuckle/hub/bearing (for both sides) from a local junk yard in good working condition. I decided with the car's mileage I would just go ahead and replace the CV axles and lower control arms. Plus, it was the easiest way to get all of the old parts out. I simply cut the inner CV joint boot and yanked out the entire control arm/axle/knuckle/rotor assembly--no need to separate the ball joint, etc. I then popped out the remaining stubs out of the axles.

The installation went fine. I put in the new CV axles and lower control arms, and the new (to me) knuckles/hubs/bearings seemed to work just great. I did notice that the driver-side CV axle (SureTech brand, from Rock Auto) was a little short, i.e., the inner joint seemed to stretch more than usual in order for the other end of the axle to make it through the hub.

On my test drive I immediately noticed some clunking and rattling over bumps, and also when I accelerated or stopped quickly--all on the driver's side. This had never happened before. I immediately suspected a bad CV and got a free replacement from Rock Auto. I swapped it out, but it made no difference. I then replaced the tie rod ends (I had accidentally punctured one of the grease boots during one of the installs) and sway bar links, all good quality Moog parts. No change. Next, I replaced all three motor mounts with the Roca kit (during the removal I confirmed my original PMM was indeed busted). It helped some, but the clunking and rattle continued. Then I replaced the strut mounts, strut bearings, and bump stops. The struts are still in good shape. But again, no change.

At this point I was sure the problem was the too-short CV axle on the driver's side. So I bought a reman from O'Reilly and compared it to the SureTech. Sure enough, the SureTech was about an inch shorter. Good grief. Just last night I installed the reman CV axle. And...(drum roll)...the problem still persists!! Though, again, it's slightly better than it was. But I still have a very pronounced clunk/rattle.

Now, a detailed description of the noise: any time I go over bumps I hear a clunk/rattle noise and I can feel it definitely coming from the driver's side. I also hear it when I brake abruptly, and when I accelerate from a stop or when I accelerate after shifting gears. I can also replicate the sound when I'm cruising and then stomp on the gas. The feeling is as if there is some slop/play in the drivetrain.

Basically I'm down to two possibilities: (1) bad wheel bearing/hub; or (2) there is something wrong in the differential.

The noise seems worse that you would expect with a bad wheel bearing. I'm a decent driveway mechanic, but I've never worked on a FWD differential before. If a differential bearing or gear was out of whack, wouldn't that have prevented me from getting the axles in? I didn't have any problem lining up the splines and snapping them in place, and visually everything looked fine when I installed the axles. But maybe something is loose in there?

Thoughts?

2006 Mazda 3s GT sedan whitewater pearl | 5-speed

Last edited by shaundarbie; 10-09-2014 at 07:05 PM.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-09-2014, 07:09 PM
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Honestly, I'm thinking upper strut mount, EVEN if they are new. I bought a pair from Rock Auto, one died a month later. Same clunking/rattling noise over bumps and anytime you get on off the throttle (nose of the car would lift and dive, causing the noise.)

Before you get into anything heavy, I'd replace the driver side upper strut mount and bearing, and see what you get.

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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-09-2014, 07:41 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by philrab View Post
Honestly, I'm thinking upper strut mount, EVEN if they are new. I bought a pair from Rock Auto, one died a month later. Same clunking/rattling noise over bumps and anytime you get on off the throttle (nose of the car would lift and dive, causing the noise.)

Before you get into anything heavy, I'd replace the driver side upper strut mount and bearing, and see what you get.
I really though it would be that, especially after reading so many of your posts where you talk about this. (I've spent probably 3-4 hours worth of time reading and searching on here!)

I did replace both sets of strut mounts and bearings (and even the bump stops, too) and it made no difference. I also double checked to make sure the parts are good, and they are. Note that I didn't have the clunking issue until after I replaced the axles, LCAs, and knuckles/hubs, so I know that the original mounts weren't causing a problem beforehand; in fact, the old mounts I took off were actually still in decent shape for their age. But I went ahead and replaced them anyway to see if that was the problem.

I thought maybe it was that I clocked the spring incorrectly, but I checked it multiple times and it is correct on both sides.

2006 Mazda 3s GT sedan whitewater pearl | 5-speed
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 10-13-2014, 06:51 PM
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I just replaced my rear trailing arm bushings with some new energy suspension bushings and OMG. Car drives like new.

I used to have a random clunk and I found out why.

I hope all 3 owners look at their rear trailing arm bushings since these were suppose to be vulcanize on.

https://tmpdmp.com/9e8e1ab23c286c87/35013e32845283a8


New Bushings. They are for ford focus but C1 platform is all the same.

https://tmpdmp.com/3e4a692bbad2a1ac/d05eeb492c40b335
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-02-2015, 04:48 PM Thread Starter
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Months later, I have no more clunk. Thankfully it was not drivetrain-related.

I replaced the struts/shocks with Koni Str.ts and when in there I checked and double checked that everything was lined up correctly, torqued, etc. No more clunk. Yay. So even though I thought everything was correct before, evidently it wasn't. And now I have a mostly new suspension.

2006 Mazda 3s GT sedan whitewater pearl | 5-speed
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-03-2017, 12:36 PM
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Did you find anything in there specifically? I just replaced struts, mounts, and sway bar link. Have a heavy sounding thud/clunk on the passenger side and everything is torqued down. I dont know what to do besides replaced the strut mount again. Its 2 weeks old now though. I bought them from ebay, could they just be bad parts? That strut was really hard to get into the knuckle, id hate to pull it out to replace a mount and put it back in just to have nothing change.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-04-2017, 12:25 AM
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I think im going to replace the control arm this weekend and see what happens. Its not the struts or mounts, and not the end link. I dont know what else it could be. There is a little play in the control arm rear bushing when i use a pry bar to wiggle it, but im not sure how much its supposed to have.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-11-2017, 12:34 PM Thread Starter
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It's been awhile, but I think part of the problem was a control arm was a little loose at one point where it bolts to the frame.

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