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Clunking sound from rear end - 1997 Chevy Lumina

For the last couple of weeks I’ve had a clunking sound coming from the right rear end of my 1997 Lumina when I drive over bumps. Took it to a garage the other day and discovered that the area around the right rear shock (strut?) mount is severely rusted. I assume that other probably causes were checked, but the mechanic was suggesting that this was the reason for the noises I’ve been hearing. From what I saw, and what the mechanic said, the shock mount is integrated into the wheel well of the vehicle. There’s little good metal left in order to support the shock and coil spring, so obviously this situation needs to be addressed, but can this really be the source of the noise? His idea of a fix was that I would have to find a donor car with good metal and use that to replace the rusted wheel well on mine. Not something that his shop can do, but I’m sure there are others in my area that can. I plan on going to another shop this morning for a second opinion. Has anybody had experience with this kind of problem?

Yes…it’s probably the source of the noise. My niece had a nice Oldsmobile Ciera that she loved and I inspected it for her to find the source of an intermittent “clunk.” It turned out to be a badly rusted right rear shock area as well. She had to part out the vehicle and then junk it because no reputable shop would take on the task of repairing it. Get a second opinion for certain but be prepared to sell the vehicle for parts or to junk it.

Thanks for the reply. Why would it not be repairable? Or is it simply a liability issue?

It’s a liability issue. A mechanic will not due this job. Take it to a body shop this is what they do. A new/used shock tower will be needed to be welded into.

I agree that a body shop is the appropriate place for this repair…if you can find one that is willing to do it.

It is very possible that finding “good” steel on which to weld the new shock tower could be difficult. With a 17 year old car, it is very possible that the rust damage is so extensive that they would not find any steel in that area that is in good enough condition to weld anything onto it.

If this were the only area rusted sufficiently to compromise safety (and this DOES compromise safety), I’d suggest cutting out the tower and welding in a new one, as your mechanic did. But I’d also be so amazed that I’d begin to believe in leprechauns. IMHO this car is getting ready for its final trip… to the crusher. It’s time to go shopping.

There comes a time in every car’s life where it can no longer be patched up and still be safe. When a cars strut towers rot out, that time has arrived.

Update on my situation- went to a body shop near me, and the fella there says they wouldn’t do it. Gave me the name of a welder not too far from me. A friend of mine had recommended this same guy last year when I had structural issues on my previous car. Ending up scrapping that car, but I plan on taking the Lumina to him in about a week. Thanks for all the replies.

I’ve welded in a few of these in my day.

http://s7d9.scene7.com/is/image/GenuinePartsCompany/NWMDC?$Product=GenuinePartsCompany/1472503

Any shop that has someone who knows how to weld can repair the rusted strut tower.

Tester

Had a plate welded in once, seemed to work fine for the next 5 years till I upgraded.

If there’s enough solid metal to weld on one of those plates, I’d go for it

It’s worth a shot, before giving up on the car

I had the welding done last week and so far the repair seems fine. The left side was beginning to fail also, so I had both of them patched. Cost me $400.

That’s a pretty good deal to get both sides welded and fixed for $400. I suspect you don’t live in the SF Bay area, as I’d have guessed the bill would be closer to double that. Or more. Good for you for getting it fixed. And at such a good value.

@ramblinman‌

Glad to hear you’re back in business!

I hope it buys you a few years more years with the Lumina

George- I think it was a good price, too, but really close to my limit on what I wanted to spend on a car 17 years old. db4690- Thanks- I hope it buys a few more years, too. Drove my last car almost 20 years, so I’ve done pretty well so far. BTW, the repair did not require a “donor car,” as the one mechanic suggested. This guy patched it in with metal he cut and fitted for the job.

@ramblinman‌

Look at it like this . . .

Hopefully you can drive the car at least 2 or 3 more years

Every month, try to set aside some money, for the next car

Is the car reasonably well maintained, and are there any other major problems, that you’re aware of?

It’s really good that you found somebody willing to do the job . . . I suspect many guys would have turned it down. Maybe this car was smart, because you just might recommend him to your friends or relatives, if they run into a similar problem

Did the struts have to be removed to do this repair?? $400, unbelievable…

I had this done to my minivan. it has lasted 3 years so far. it was actually a cold weld with epoxy and stuff. good luck. mine is still solid.

Isn’t “cold weld” an oxymoron? Of course, it does sound better than, “They glued my car back together.” ;-]