Mazda Tribute This low-priced SUV allows the driver the versatility of an SUV without the big fuel bill of many of the vehicles in the SUV class.

Front End Clunk: None of Usual Suspects

Old 04-07-2019, 06:41 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: Victoria
Posts: 1
Exclamation Front End Clunk: None of Usual Suspects

The ever-present front-end Mazda Tribute "clunk." It's been with me seven years but only this week did it get bad enough that I am scared for my safety when using the vehicle. Left side produces a dangerous sounding clunk when going over even mild bumps, particularly on roads that are continuously bumpy. This was first noticed when I went up a logging road with a friend and we both noticed a distinct clunk from front end. The sound is not reproduce able by rocking the car, turning the wheel, etc. The only way to produce the sound is to drive the car over a bump or a dip on the front left.


Known Issues:
  • Severe clunk when turning steering wheel in opposite directions, but no noticeable play.
  • Severe clunk in left front area when passing over bumps (including small bumps or continuous bumps on a rough road). Also can be felt through floorboards lightly
  • Severe inner wear was noted on the two front tires prior to replacement.
  • Rear right shock blown (awaiting parts).
Previous (resolved) Issues:
  • Worn tie-rods causing clunking (6 years ago) - Both tie rods replaced.
  • Damage-caused play in steering wheel from brute force (5 years ago) - Steering wheel lock pin re-seated as it had been dislodged.
  • Catastrophic failure of front right ball joint (4 years ago) - Both ball joints replaced.
  • Catastrophic failure of all external brake lines (1 year ago) - All external brake lines replaced.
Relevant Parts Previously Replaced (<5 years):
  • Sway Bar Links (Excellent condition, well lubricated)
  • Ball Joints (Excellent condition, well lubricated)
  • All Brake Lines (Excellent condition, free of cracks) and pads (excellent condition, rotors showing even wear)
Parts Checked (OK) for Play:
  • Control Arm
  • Sway Bay Links
  • Ball Joints
  • U-Joints
  • Brake Components
  • Strut (both Shock and Spring OK, as far as I can tell)
I spent the morning with the front wheels off the car prying and hauling on everything I could reach in the wheel well, nothing budged. Even kicking parts didn't reveal any kind of play in any components. The clunk is not reproducible and it's driving me absolutely mad. I'll be taking it to a mechanic tomorrow to be looked at, but in the past no mechanics were able to locate the source of the clunk (some claimed it didn't exist). All suggestions are welcome, even if you're just asking for more information. That I can provide.
Old 04-07-2019, 09:36 PM
simonsi's Avatar
Senior Member
Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: Auckland
Posts: 209

Check for play in the swayer mounting bushes - they produce a good clunk over uneven ground when worn and you haven't listed those. Quite easy to swap with access from each wheel well.
Old 04-24-2019, 09:00 PM
Adt is offline
Junior Member
Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: Arizona
Posts: 4

My car was making a clunking noise. Changed all 3 motor mounts. Clunking noise is gone!
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