Rattle in Front End When Going Over Bumps?

Diagnose & Fix

Do you hear a front end rattle when going over bumps? Do you hear a rattling noise under the car when driving? If you hear a rattling sound during any of these, it could mean you have a suspension problem which could include: a bad control arm bushing, bad ball joint, bad tie rod, bad strut mount, bad sway bar link, or bad sway bar bushings. In this video and below, we’ll explain how to test each of these parts to see which is causing a rattling noise when going over bumps.

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How to Diagnose What is Causing My Front End to Rattle Over Bumps

Perform a Bounce Test

Before raising and securing the vehicle with a jack and jack stands, press down on the vehicle a few times to mimic a bounce or shaking and listen for where the rattling sound might be. If the rattling noise is consistent during this test, it could be from a bad strut.

Check for Bad Struts or Bad Strut Bushings

Inspecting a strut
Strut
  1. Have an assistant press down on the car to mimic bouncing
  2. With gloves and without pinching your hands, feel the coil spring or the strut itself and feel for the rattling noise vibrating if you can’t hear it. If you feel rattling near the top, it’s probably the strut mount.
Strut bushing at the top of the strut
Strut bushing at the top of the strut
  1. With the hood open, gently shake the car and observe the strut mount. There should be some movement but no knocking noise.

Check the Inner and Outer Tie Rods for Movement/Play

Inner tie rod
Outer tie rod
Outer tie rod
Inner tie rod
  1. Raise and secure the vehicle with a jack and jack stands
  2. Gently shake the tire side-to-side from the 3 and 9 o’clock positions (Make sure the steering wheel isn’t the type to go back and forth, mimicking play when there isn’t any)
  3. While shaking the tire, check and feel for play and have an assistant watch the inner and outer tie rod ends for movement. If there is movement/play, you have a bad inner or outer tie rod end.

Check the Ball Joint for Movement/Play

Ball joint
Ball joint
  1. Raise and secure the vehicle with a jack and jack stands
  2. Gently shake the wheel in and out from the 12 and 6 o’clock positions
  3. Sometimes ball joints can feel like they have no play. Have an assistant look at the ball joint and see if it’s moving up or down to confirm
  4. You can also test ball joints with adjustable pliers by squeezing them and checking for play
  5. You can also test a ball joint by gently prying up with a pry bar and checking for play
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Check for Bad Control Arm Bushings

Control arm bushings starting to rot
Control arm bushings starting to rot
  1. Test the control arm bushings by nudging the end of the control arm with a pry bar and testing for play. If you hear a knocking or see significant movement, it’s time to replace the control arm.
  2. Check the control arm bushings for dry rot or cracking. If the bushings are overly rusted or cracked, it’s time to replace the control arm.

Check for Bad Sway Bar Links

Sway bar link, also known as stabilizer link
Sway bar link, also known as stabilizer link

Sway bar links tend to rattle or make knocking sounds when driving over bumps. If you usually hear a rattling noise when driving over bumps, there’s a good chance it could be the sway bar links.

  1. Grab the end of the sway bar link with both hands and wiggle it up and down. Listen for a clunking or rattling noise. If you hear a rattling noise, it’s time to replace the sway bar links.

Check for Bad Sway Bar Bushings

Testing a sway bar bushing
Testing a sway bar bushing
  1. Grab the sway bar and gently rock it up and down. If you can make the sway bar without much resistance and there’s excessive play, the sway bar bushings are worn and need to be replaced.

Replace Any of These Parts Yourself

If you find any of these parts caused a rattling noise while accelerating, find a how-to video specific to your repair and vehicle in 1A Auto’s how-to video library.

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