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Clunk noise when I turn left when accelerating

There is a loud clunk when I turn left only when accelerating. If I push in the clutch and just turn the wheel there is no noise. The sound is coming from the left front wheel. I have a Volkswagen Golf VR6 2002 front wheel drive with 85,000 miles with 17" wheels that came with the car when I bought it. I live in Phoenix so its always hot. I don’t know if it is temperature related. Could this be anything else besides the inner CV joint?



I have changed the left outer CV joint and also the tie-rod on the left side.



The sound has increased after a few turns and a few clunks. Now whatever makes the noise is definitely broken more.

Check for a worn ball joint at that wheel.

Tester

I checked the ball joint when I replaced the outer CV joint. It seamed fine. It would stay in place as I moved it around, the movement was smooth, and I could feel a little resistance as I tried to move it. Also, the seal looked good as well. Would a ball joint explain the noise only when I accelerate into a left turn? I would think that if it was a ball joint, that it would make the noise whenever I turned regardless of acceleration or not. The fact that it only happens when I press the gas pedal during a left turn leads me to think of the left drive shaft, probably the inner CV joint. What do you think? Also, I put the size of my wheels on the original post because I heard that a larger size tire could lead to premature CV joint failure. Is that true as well? Thanks for your input so far. Although I think it is the inner CV joint, I want to make sure this time. Most posts I read said to replace the outer CV joint because it is the first one to go, so that is what I did.

You have to unload a ball joint to see if it’s worn. To do this, place a floor jack under the control arm of the ball joint you want to check. Jack up the vehicle so that the tire is off the floor 5"-6". Take a 4’-5’ long pry bar or 2 X 4 and place one end under the tire. While someone observes the ball joint, lift up and release the tire repeatidly. If the ball joint is worn, it will be seen moving up and down in it’s socket.

Tester

I see what your saying. Thanks for posting an actual test. I will probably have some time to do that later today or tomorrow. So far though, I did have the tire off and the ball joint disconnected from the extension arm of the vehicle but still connected to the wheel hub. That is when I was playing with it and moving it around.

Ok, I somewhat tried what you said but I don’t think I did it right. I jacked up the car so both front wheels were off the ground. Then I put a pry bar under the tire in question and tried lifting on it. I couldn’t get the tire to budge that much. Since I had the tire’s off the ground I decided to do a few more checks. I started the car and moved the steering wheel back and fourth. Then I put it in gear and let the tires spin at idle. Safety precautions were taken! Then I moved the steering wheel back and forth. I couldn’t get the noise to reoccur. Then I dropped the car back to the ground and drove it around a little more. The sound does not happen when I turn the wheel to any degree to the left as long as I do not press the gas peddle. If I press the gas pedal when turning more than 15 degrees left I will hear the sound. Depending on how much I press the peddle for speed is how loud the sound will be. The more speed I give it the louder the sound. Hey, if I can’t find it I will probably find it when I eventually break it!

So to clarify what you said before, you would like me to put a jack directly underneath the ball joint? Then use a pry bar to see if the wheel moves up and down or rather the ball joint moves up and down?

Also, does the added information I just provided help out?

If you could clarify how to set up the ball joint test a bit more I would appreciate it! Thanks for all the help so far.

Three possibilities come to mind, but there are surely others:

  1. Ball Joint
  2. Broken motor mount
  3. Broken strut mount

I think most problems that would cause a clunking noise when turning are things that you would want to find and fix promptly even if it meant going to a shop.

Is it possible the left outer CV joint that you replaced is bad? I would keep your mind open to the possibility.

Another diagnostic step:
If you raise the front end of the car, remove the tires, have someone start the engine, put car in gear, turn the steering left, then apply pressure simultaneously to the brakes and gas, can you get the clunk to reproduce itself?

You want to jack the vehicle up by the lower control arm for that ball joint. It doesn’t have to be directly under the ball joint. If you jack the vehicle up by the sub frame or at any other point it doesn’t unload the ball joint.

Tester

So, when I jack up the control arm the McPherson strut will begin to compress and the wheel will begin to move up. Is this correct? I am trying to imagine this. Then I keep jacking until the wheel is off the ground. Should I jack up the car first and put a stand on the same side? Then jack up the ball joint until it has no load?

Ok, I jacked up the left lower control arm so the wheel was off the ground and the ball joint was not loaded. There was no sound and I could not pry the wheel in any up or down motion. I would guess then if the ball joint is bad that I could easily move the tire up and down and would probably hear the clunk.

The probability that the out CV joint I put in is also bad is quite low. The same identical sound is heard after I changed it out. I would think that another bad CV joint would not make the EXACT same sound or make the sound in the same pattern when I move the wheel and accelerate. So I will hold that idea off until I have exhausted all others.

Since the car passed the ball joint test, I don’t know where else to go except the inner CV joint. In fact, I think I will replace the entire drive shaft with both CV joints since they also sell it in the configuration. I will wait out the weekend to see if anyone responds with another idea. Thanks for all the help so far. Let me know if I can test something else or provide some more information.