I’m trying to fix an 2001 Alero that has no obvious problem other than being driven hard through potholed Seattle streets. The steering is a bit sloppy and there are mechanical rattles (not like loose tin, but heavier metal objects). Similar noises are made over speed bumps and large gaps between the slabs on concrete roads. It doesn’t feel dangerous and my mechanic says it’s fine. It makes the car feel its age and has a low WAF (wife approval factor).
I’ve read about potential things like the struts, mounts, strut bearings as well as the sway bar bushings. When I grab and jiggle these I get zero play or noise. I do, however, get subtle metallic noises from jiggling the passenger side tie rod end (driver side does not jiggle) as well as both CV axles. I’m going to replace the tie rod end because it looks easy enough, but I’m concerned about the CV axles.
Question 1: Should the CV axles have a little (1-3mm) of play, jiggle and general clunk when grabbed and shook while attached?
Question 2: Is it possible the struts/mounts or sway bar could still be at fault even though I can’t make the sound?