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Dan
Dan, Auto Service Technician
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Experience:  GM ASEP A.A.S. 14 years GM experience. Mark of Excellence and Professional Guild awarded.
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2003 Saturn Ion: clunking noises sometimes when I..bushings..sway bar

Customer Question

I have a 2003 Saturn Ion that makes clunking noises sometimes when I go over speedbumps or pot holes. Based on what I''ve read, this is a common problem with the bushings or sway bar. Is this something you''ve found to be true?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Car
Expert:  Dan replied 6 years ago.
#04-03-08-006B: Steering and Front Suspension Noise Concerns - Clunk, Rattle, Knocking, Pop, Shudder, Vibration (Diagnosis and Perform Necessary Repair) - (Aug 27, 2007)

Subject:Steering and Front Suspension Noise Concerns -- Clunk, Rattle, Knocking, Pop, Shudder, Vibration (Diagnosis and Perform Necessary Repair)

Models:2005-2008 Chevrolet Cobalt
2006-2008 Chevrolet HHR
2005-2006 Pontiac Pursuit (Canada Only)
2007-2008 Pontiac G5
2003-2007 Saturn ION

 



This bulletin is being updated to add models, model years and additional conditions. Please discard Corporate Bulletin Number 04-03-08-006A (Section 03 - Suspension).


This bulletin provides information on six different steering/front suspension noise conditions.

Condition #1

Some customers may comment on a rattle or knocking noise that is heard in the front of the vehicle while driving at low speeds (5-15 mph [8-24 km/h]). This condition may be more noticeable while making a slow turn or on a loose/rough surface.

This condition can be duplicated by the technician using the following procedure:

  1. On a rough or loose surface (i.e., gravel parking lot), make a sweeping turn (either direction) at 5-15 mph (8-24 km/h) to load the steering column, I-shaft and steering rack/gear mechanisms. (The testing on a rough or loose surface will allow the wheels to oscillate slightly and will make the rattle/knocking noise more evident and repeatable.)
  2. Release the steering wheel while making the turn to take load off of steering components. This should initiate the rattle/shudder noise which is generated by backlash in the steering assembly as it is in a no-load float condition.
    Object Number:(NNN) NNN-NNNN Size: SH
    Click here for detailed picture of above imageidth=
  3. Remove the 60 amp EPS fuse (1) in the underhood fuse block.
  4. Test the vehicle as in Step 1. Since the EPS motor is no longer powered, only the I-shaft and steering gear/rack will be loaded as you make the turn. If you hear the rattle/knocking noise during the turn, then the noise is being generated by the backlash within the steering column (assist motor gear mechanism).
  5. Replace the 60 amp EPS fuse and repeat Steps 1 and 2 to verify that the rattle/knocking noise disappears when turning (loading steering mechanism) and can only be heard when releasing the steering wheel.

Correction #1

If the steering column is identified as the source of the rattle/knocking noise in the above test, replace the steering column.

Important: The noise in the steering column is generated from the metal to plastic gear backlash of the assist motor mechanism and will have a different sound than that from the steering gear. If the customer comments that they still hear a noise, it may be a different sound from either the I-shaft or the steering rack.

If the steering column is not identified as the source of the rattle/knocking in the above test, continue to diagnose the vehicle according to the diagnostics in SI.

Parts Information #1

Part Number

Description

15914408

Kit, Steering Column (Cobalt/ G5/ Pursuit)

15806195

Kit, Steering Column (HHR)

15832557

Kit, Steering Column (2003-2004 ION)

10392742

Kit, Steering Column (2005-2007 ION)

Warranty Information #1

For vehicles repaired under warranty, use:

Labor Operation

Description

Labor Time

E7680

Column Assembly, Steering -- Replace

Use Published Labor Operation Time

Condition #2

Some customers may comment on a whine/hum noise from the steering column while making right hand turns at 5-15 mph (8-24 km/h). A slight whine/hum noise is considered to be normal for EPS so it will be helpful to compare to another like vehicle. If the vehicle exhibits excessive feedback/noise when compared to another vehicle, follow the correction procedure below.

Correction #2

Important: DO NOT replace the steering column.


Object Number:(NNN) NNN-NNNN Size: SH
Click here for detailed picture of above imageidth=

Pull the 60 amp steering fuse (1) in the underhood fuse block. If this eliminates the whine/hum concern, contact the Technical Assistance Center for further information in order to repair the vehicle. If this does not eliminate the noise, continue to diagnose the vehicle according to the diagnostics in SI.

Condition #3

Some customers may comment on a clunk type noise coming from the front of the vehicle during a turning maneuver. This condition can also be felt through the steering wheel when the vehicle is stationary and the wheel is rotated from steering stop to steering stop. Typically, the clunk noise will be heard once for every 90° of steering wheel rotation in either direction. This clunk noise may also be noticed during low speed acceleration or deceleration, typically in light turns of the steering wheel.

The following are characteristics of this noise:

This noise is very random.
This noise is independent of the steering wheel angle and independent of the bumpiness of the road.
This noise is a low frequency dull one and can be felt in your feet.
This noise can normally be heard from the driver seat.
This noise can be felt upon touching the steering gear from outside of the vehicle.

Note that you might also notice a slight scrub-type noise when turning the wheel back and forth. This type of noise is considered normal and repairs will not eliminate it.

Cause #3

This condition may be caused by inadequate lubrication of the steering intermediate shaft.

Correction #3

Important: DO NOT replace the steering gear or steering column assembly.

Replace the intermediate shaft.

Important: If the vehicle has already had a steering intermediate shaft replaced for a similar noise concern that the dealer duplicated, determine from the customer if the noise went away for a period of time and came back, or if the service shaft made no change. If the noise was gone for a period of time and came back, have the dealer replace the shaft again to verify we do not have a defective service shaft.

If this does not eliminate the noise, continue to diagnose the vehicle according to the diagnostics in SI.

Parts Information #3

Part Number

Description

15800140

Shaft, Intermediate Steering (Cobalt/G5/Pursuit)

15799676

Shaft, Intermediate Steering (ION)

22730246

Shaft, Intermediate Steering (HHR)

Warranty Information #3

For vehicles repaired under warranty, use:

Labor Operation

Description

Labor Time

E7700

Shaft, Steering Intermediate -- Replace

Use Published Labor Operation Time

Condition #4

Some customers may comment on a rattle/clunk type noise coming from the steering column when driving over bumps.

Correction #4

The following steps have been found to be very effective in removing this condition.


    Object Number:(NNN) NNN-NNNN Size: SH
    Click here for detailed picture of above imageidth=
  1. Check for the possibility of the PCM and the TCM rattling/clunking together. If there is contact between these two modules, insulate the modules from each other using a small piece of foam.
    Object Number:(NNN) NNN-NNNN Size: SH
    Click here for detailed picture of above imageidth=
  2. Check that the retaining clip on the engine coolant surge tank is fully seated. If not, push down to seat.

Rattles/clunks in this area of the engine compartment may be heard as coming from the steering column while driving.

If this does not eliminate the noise, continue to diagnose the vehicle according to the diagnostics in SI.

Warranty Information #4

Labor Operation

Description

Labor Time

E9458*

Repair to Correct Rattle/Clunk Noise in Front of Vehicle

0.2 hr

* This is a unique labor operation number for bulletin use only. It will not be published in the Labor Time Guide.

Condition #5 (FE1 Suspension Only)

Some customers may comment on a clunk, thump or rattle noise coming from the front suspension while driving over rough road conditions or when braking.

Cause #5


Object Number:(NNN) NNN-NNNN Size: SH
Click here for detailed picture of above imageidth=

This condition may be caused by the lower control arm rubber bushing (rear) coming out of its steel sleeve (1). This will cause the lower control arm to make hard contact (2) with the body structure. This condition may be more prevalent in regions that use road salt during the winter months.

Correction #5

If the rubber bushing has moved out of the steel sleeve, replace the lower control arm bushing. Do not replace the bushing if it is still centered in the steel sleeve.

If this does not eliminate the noise, continue to diagnose using chassis ears to identify the source of the noise.

Parts Information #5

Part Number

Description

15240087

Bushing, Front Lower Control Arm (Cobalt/G5/HHR/Pursuit)

22688205

Bushing, Front Lower Control Arm (ION)

Warranty Information #5

For vehicles repaired under warranty, use:

Labor Operation

Description

Labor Time

E3550

Bushings ad/or Shaft, Front Control Arm Lower (Right) -- Replace

Use Published Labor Operation Time

E3551

Bushings ad/or Shaft, Front Control Arm Lower (Left) -- Replace

E3557

Bushings ad/or Shaft, Front Control Arm Lower (Both) -- Replace

Condition #6 (Saturn ION Only)

Some customers may comment on a squeak, rattle, pop, or clunk noise coming from the front of the vehicle during suspension movement.

Cause #6

This condition may be caused by the interface between the front stabilizer shaft, the front stabilizer shaft insulators (bushings) and the front stabilizer shaft mounting clamp.

Correction #6

Replace the front stabilizer shaft insulators (bushings), if necessary, using the following procedure.

  1. Verify the customer comment. Use Chassis Ear (SA9217NE or J39570) or a similar tool to determine the source of the noise. Refer to Noise Diagnosis - Front Suspension in SI.
  2. If the noise is coming from either the front stabilizer shaft insulators (bushings) or the clamps:

    Important: Check the Service Parts Identification label in the rear compartment (trunk) to determine the vehicle's suspension system type, then obtain the correct insulators (bushings) corresponding to that suspension system type.

     

    On vehicles built after VIN breakpoint 4Z125195, replace both front stabilizer shaft insulators (bushings). Refer to the Stabilizer Shaft Insulator Replacement procedure in SI.
    On vehicles built up to and including VIN 4Z125195, replace the front stabilizer shaft insulators (bushings) and clamps. Refer to the Stabilizer Shaft Insulator Replacement procedure in SI.
  3. Verify the repair by repeating Step 1.

Parts Information #6

Part Number

Description

Qty

15820162

Insulator, Front Stabilizer Shaft (2007 FE1 Suspension)

2

15820163

Insulator, Front Stabilizer Shaft (2007 FE2 Suspension)

2

15820164

Insulator, Front Stabilizer Shaft (2003-2007 FE3 Suspension)

2

22722387

Clamp, Front Stabilizer Shaft

2

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