2001 Oldsmobile Alero rattles and clunks around town

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?

Your CV joints should not clunk. The top of the struts have a bearing and it can make a rattling noise over bump/washboard roads. My 99 Camry does this and there is a SB covering it.

I think you need to look at the intermediate steering column. Many GM vehicles have this problem

UPDATE: I replaced the hubs and the offending tie-rod end. I replaced the hubs because there were idiot lights coming on sporadically indicating ABS, Brake and Check Engine. An article mentioned the sensors/wires in the hubs. All is fixed now. The general rattle and idiot lights are gone. However, about 100 miles later the car is back in my workshop because the water pump decided to vomit all over the street. This job looks a lot less fun.


Thanks for update . . . and congratulations

By the way, were these ABS and brake lights coming on when you first posted in December?