Johnny Joint Clunk / Front End Clunk

MaximusLJR06

Jeep Green LJR Addiction
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York, PA
Looking for some ideas from everyone. I've had a clunk coming from the front end of my jeep for awhile now and have not been able to pinpoint it yet. I am 99% sure it is coming from the drivers side front. The last time I had a similar clunking sound was when the joints on the old rubicon express control arms were shot. At higher speeds there is no clunking and the jeep rides smooth as glass up to 75 MPH, high speed bumps there is no noise and everything feels solid. Speeds 20 - 40 MPH I would say everything feels solid and no issues 98% of the time, but every now and then the right bump will cause a clunk. Under 20 mph is when you really experience the clunking, most roads everything is smooth and no issue except for a bump here and there where it clunks, but I just got home from the the mountains and have been running old logging roads and dirt the last week and it was bad the amount of clunking I experienced.
At home i can replicate the noise when I turn left into my driveway and my driver side front tire hits the slant curb. Below is everything that i have replaced and when and what my thoughts are on possibilities.

Replace 2 years ago before a long roadtrip:
Control Arms - Savvy
Ball Joints - Dana / Spicer
Unit Bearings - Timken
Axle U-Joints - Spicer
Shocks: Savvy Fox Shocks
Sway Bar Ends - JKS

Replaced last 3 months:
Front Track Bar: Currie
Steering: Currie
Rear Track Bar: Currie

I would say the clunk has been present for over a year and wasn't as bad before. I also thought is was coming from the JKS sway bar end links hitting the frame and it was just occasional. Well I finally readjusted those while in the mountains this past weekend to see if that stopped the clunk and it didn't. The steering and track bars were just installed the other week and i was hoping that was going to solve the problem but it didn't either. I checked the torque on all the control arms as well when i installed these components the other week and they were all good. When my jeep was inspected a couple months ago I had them check the ball joints and the unit bearings for play and they said that they are good to go as well. This leads me to believe that one of the johnny joints is making the noise because i don't no what else to check. The only other bushings that havent been changed are the upper control arm axle side bushings.

Any help is appreciated, haven't seen many threads about johnny joints making a clunking sound though.
 
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I've had to find and deal with two front end "clunks" before. Both could be heard and felt at low speed. One was my axle side track bar bolt came loose, which was easy enough. The other was in my differential, which is still an open carrier. I pulled the cover and figured out that my spider gears are worn out and causing a low speed "clunk". This clunk happened/was noticed when making turns or direction (R-F) changes after making a turn, like backing out of a driveway. My band-aid fix was to just raise the oil level, and that took away the clunk sound.
 
I've had to find and deal with two front end "clunks" before. Both could be heard and felt at low speed. One was my axle side track bar bolt came loose, which was easy enough. The other was in my differential, which is still an open carrier. I pulled the cover and figured out that my spider gears are worn out and causing a low speed "clunk". This clunk happened/was noticed when making turns or direction (R-F) changes after making a turn, like backing out of a driveway. My band-aid fix was to just raise the oil level, and that took away the clunk sound.

Track bar bolts are all good on mine. I've had the clunk for over a year and just replaced the only JKS track bar with a currie one 2 weeks ago. Mine is a rubicon so I'm not sure about the possibility of it coming from my differential and its when hitting bumps or riding on rough roads.

I've had instances at low speeds in reverse and hitting the breaks hard I can feel something shift in the front end. Which also points me to a johnny joint in the arms being bad, but I don't know. I don't have to the johnny joint disassembly tools either. Which leads me to another point, the savvy arms have been on my jeep for 2+ years now and I've never greased them, thought maybe that could have lead to some wear on them.
 
Mine is a rubicon so I'm not sure about the possibility of it coming from my differential and its when hitting bumps or riding on rough roads.

It's a differential, there are parts in there that can wear out. Lift one tire and rotate it back and forth, see if you can make the noise doing that. I think I'd also examine the driveshaft and pinion while doing this.

I've had instances at low speeds in reverse and hitting the breaks hard I can feel something shift in the front end.

After doing the above, you could chock-up the front tires and see if you can replicate the noise by rocking the Jeep back and forth.
 
Rare for that new of a Johnny Joint to be making any noise. I'd be more suspicious of a bad rod end joint on the drag link or tie rod. With the tires on the ground have a helper do repetitive quick short left right turns while you closely watch the steering system for sideways slop at the rod ends. There should be no sideways play. Rotational play is normal and required.
 
Rare for that new of a Johnny Joint to be making any noise. I'd be more suspicious of a bad rod end joint on the drag link or tie rod. With the tires on the ground have a helper do repetitive quick short left right turns while you closely watch the steering system for sideways slop at the rod ends. There should be no sideways play. Rotational play is normal and required.

Just replaced the steering with new currie setup about a month ago. Clunk was there before install and still there after install, I'm pretty sure those are ruled out now.
 
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It's a differential, there are parts in there that can wear out. Lift one tire and rotate it back and forth, see if you can make the noise doing that. I think I'd also examine the driveshaft and pinion while doing this.



After doing the above, you could chock-up the front tires and see if you can replicate the noise by rocking the Jeep back and forth.

I've messed with spinning the wheels already and there is no sound that mimics it from the differential. The front driveshaft is an Adams that is good to go and the pinion is tight with no play in.

I have tried pushing on my jeep from the side and it didn't make the noise. I will try chocking the tires and doing forward an back this weekend.

It's been driving me crazy not being able to find it, especially after replacing parts that could be the culprit. The only similarity I've had with a clunk like this was back when the joints in the old RE arms I took off and those were mainly noticeable on logging and dirt roads in the mts as well.

I remember when i put the savvy arms on and went to the mountains I was amazed at the smoothness and no more clunking.
 
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Noises can be a bitch, especially when they travel and make noise in a different area.

For sure. I thought about disconnecting my front sway bar and going for a drive in my development to see if I can definitely rule the sway bar out. For the amount of noise generated by the clunk you would think it would be obvious what's wrong. I know I took a family member for a ride in the mts the other week and they even questioned what was wrong with it.
 
Rare for that new of a Johnny Joint to be making any noise. I'd be more suspicious of a bad rod end joint on the drag link or tie rod. With the tires on the ground have a helper do repetitive quick short left right turns while you closely watch the steering system for sideways slop at the rod ends. There should be no sideways play. Rotational play is normal and required.

Something else related to this. I originally did think it was one of the tie rod ends because you could feel the clunk in the steering wheel when it happened. At least I thought I could. Now that the currie setup is installed, you can no longer feel the clunk in the steering wheel. I noticed over the weekend its more felt in the floor of the jeep. My thought process there was that its suspension related and traveling through the frame.

The shifting that is felt sometimes is hard to describe. Best way I can describe it is, if you came to a stop on a steep incline at say a red light. As soon as the jeep stops and the load comes off the front suspension, you can feel a slight shift in the body. It's as if the axle stops and stays in place but the rest of the jeep shifts back a little. I thought this was fixed with the new currie track bars but it still seems to be present some, but not like it used to be. Old track bar was a JKS unit.
 
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Something else related to this. I originally did think it was one of the tie rod ends because you could feel the clunk in the steering wheel when it happened. At least I thought I could. Now that the currie setup is installed, you can no longer feel the clunk in the steering wheel. I noticed over the weekend its more felt in the floor of the jeep. My thought process there was that its suspension related and traveling through the frame.

The shifting that is felt sometimes is hard to describe. Best way I can describe it is, if you came to a stop on a steep incline at say a red light. As soon as the jeep stops and the load comes off the front suspension, you can feel a slight shift in the body. It's as if the axle stops and stays in place but the rest of the jeep shifts back a little. I thought this was fixed with the new currie track bars but it still seems to be present some, but not like it used to be. Old track bar was a JKS unit.
That almost makes it sound like there is a bolt that is no longer at proper torque...
 
With his Savvy control arms, there would be a JJ, not a bushing, on both ends.

Are you sure about that? The front axle side are the only bushings he hasn't replace.

"The only other bushings that havent been changed are the upper control arm axle side bushings." Quoted from above. Why wouldn't a 20 year old bushing be bad? What condition are they in and how much play could be in them? He says he feels the popping through the floor, why couldn't the upper arms be transfering the vibrations?
 
That almost makes it sound like there is a bolt that is no longer at proper torque...

I retorqued all the control arm bolts 2 weeks ago when i installed the new currie track bars. None of them were loose.

Bad or loose body mount? Frame rust where the body mounts bolt to it?

I'll add this to the list of items to check, but I've never had those bolts out. And there is no rust anywhere, frame or body.

How old are the upper control arm bushings? Why couldn't those be the culprit?

Original to the jeep. So 17 years old and 68K miles on them. I have wondered if they could be the culprit too but not sure what would clunk on them.

With his Savvy control arms, there would be a JJ, not a bushing, on both ends.

Uppers only have JJ on the frame side. Original bushings are in the axle.

Are you sure about that? The front axle side are the only bushings he hasn't replace.

"The only other bushings that havent been changed are the upper control arm axle side bushings." Quoted from above. Why wouldn't a 20 year old bushing be bad? What condition are they in and how much play could be in them? He says he feels the popping through the floor, why couldn't the upper arms be transfering the vibrations?

Based on what hasn't been replaced, the upper control arm bushings are the only thing that hasn't been touched. Besides that I'm left with a JJ being bad, the ball joints being bad or a unit bearing. If it was a unit bearing I would suspect it wouldn't have lasted this long clunking and would have shown other signs by now of being shot. Plus my mechanic checked them and the ball joints 6 months ago and said they were tight and not the issue.
 
This is intriguing for sure. I’ve been dealing with a clunk myself.
Recently replaced sway bar links and track bar. The Jeep shop said my tie rod end is shot as well as ball joints. The boots don’t look that’s bad though.

Funny thing, when taking a look I saw that every piece under there is greaseable. Needless to say I went to town with the grease gun. Took it for a spin and it’s quiet as a mouse. If anything truly is bad that grease will work it’s way out of there quick and then I’ll replace it.

That being said, could it just need grease if the parts are greasable?
 
@MaximusLJR06 I had very similar shifting, even each time I would hit the gas at slower speeds up until 4th gear... I believe it to be a bad rear shock bushing. I had someone on the back bumper jump up and down and you could clearly see the shock mpving around the bolt. I have new ones from Dirk, just haven't had time to put them in.
 
That being said, could it just need grease if the parts are greasable?
Everything has been greased about a month ago

Is the Trackbar hitting the pumpkin?
I'll double check this, but i am 99% sure it is not.

@MaximusLJR06 I had very similar shifting, even each time I would hit the gas at slower speeds up until 4th gear... I believe it to be a bad rear shock bushing. I had someone on the back bumper jump up and down and you could clearly see the shock mpving around the bolt. I have new ones from Dirk, just haven't had time to put them in.
I will check these as well. I have savvy fox shocks that were installed about 2 years ago now. It would have to be one of the front shocks if that matters.