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DougK, at 201k miles you are probably due to replace most of your front end components including your ball joints. The primary cause of clunking in these suspensions is worn out sway bar end links and inner bushings. The second cause is worn out strut mounts. A messed up coil spring like mine is pretty rare.
 

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Hi there!

I stumbled onto this thread while also researching a leaking steering rack issue on my 07 LE

So by the last comment it appears that if I replace those three parts, then my intermittent clunking should stop.

Does anyone have any new info regarding this issue?

Much thanks!!
 

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Clunking when going over bumps .. might be ball joints.

In modern cars, it is not possible to grease ball joints. They come from the factory "lubed for life," which really means lubed until the grease dries up. Age rather than miles is the main issue for drying up. After 10 years, they can be dried up. (My 2004 does not yet need ball joints, but it wouldn't surprise me if that happens in the next few years.)

Your mechanic can easily test whether the problem is the ball joint by putting the car on the lift, grasping a wheel with both hands, and trying to rock it to see if there's any free play.

A couple of web pages about this:

http://www.cartalk.com/content/dont-gamble-ball-joints
http://www.wikihow.com/Check-Ball-Joints
 

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I have the same problem with the steering column noise. So, now I'm going to grease-up the u-joint. I'll let you know how it turns out.
 

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I had a similar issue when just turning the steering wheel at a standstill. Took it to my suspension shop and they mentioned a bad strut tower bearing. I plan on doing it the next time I have to change my struts.

Bingo. This was exactly my problem. It's not at all difficult to remove the plastic panel under the windshield wipers. This will allow you to see the top of the struts, and you'll be able to see what condition they are in.

I posted some photos of mine in this thread. Might help to look it over.
 

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The thing that initially started my front-end replacement saga was the sway bar links clunking. I had a front-end clunk. Initially, I thought I just needed struts because the front was sagging a bit and giving a somewhat harsh ride.

You can know 100% if those are the issue by just jacking up a front wheel, reach your hand behind the tire and shake it. It will almost certainly be flopping around. For reference it should stiffly move with pressure applied but should not really be even the slightest bit loose. When you look at the ball joints, you will probably see the boot cracked and dry, crusty grease coming out.

In my case, I read the instructions that said, when replacing the struts, plan to replace the sway bar links because the only way to get them off is to cut them off. They were the primary source of my clunk. In the end, I replaced the whole strut assembly, the sway bar links, ball joints, were replaced too. In the process of the repair, the passenger side half-shaft fell apart, so it got replaced as well, which required a trip to the shop so they could torch the half-shaft bearing carrier off.
 
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