Clunking suspension

Hello everyone. I have a 2002 accord 4-cyl with a 5-speed with 89,xxx miles. Just a few months ago, I noticed a clunking sound coming from the front suspension when I go over certain bumps. “Certain” bumps are usually wavy pavement or dips (not wide dips, but short/concise ones), and sometimes certain speed bumps. Sometimes the sound happens regardless of the types of bumps though, but the aforementioned ones usually bring the noise quite consistently. The sound hasn’t really gotten worse, but it hasn’t been getting better either. A while back when I had my timing belt done, the mechanic stated that one (or more) of my engine mounts were worn. Is it possible one or more of my engine mounts is the source of this issue (from the engine “rattling” around in the compartment. I’m not sure if that’s even possible, just a hypothesis) or is it purely suspension.

PS. The sound isn’t quite a sharp metal on metal sound. Its more of a “thump” or “clunk” coming from the front end (left or right) as if its bottoming out or a bushing or spacer has worn off. Its just loud enough to drive me crazy, and sometimes I can feel it through the floor.

Any thoughts are appreciated, and thank you all in advance!


By far the most common sources of these types of clunks are bushings and heat shields. Yes, an engine mount is also a possibility.

The only way to find it is hends-on…preferably with a lift.

Yea, I suppose it won’t be damaging if I leave it unfixed for a while? I’m a poor college student so I have very little money… As long as it isn’t a safety concern, I think I’ll leave it be for a while.

There’s no way to know for sure if it’s a safety concern without looking.

Let me suggest that you pick up some ramps at the store, drive the car up on them one end at a time, and slide under the car on a sheet of corrgated cardboard. Shake things around by hand and see if anything clunks.

Be sure the car is off, in park (or reverse if a manual), with the parking brakes secured and chocks on the unlifted wheels. Safety is paramount.

Sounds great! Thanks a lot for your response.

Or else the front struts need replacement. Short depressions will cause the kind of sound you’re hearing, not because the coil spring parts of the struts are not doing their jobs, but because the struts themselves are weak or blown. What may be happening is the front end is not bottoming out but the car body is rebounding after these short depressions in the roads and the spring is bouncing the frame when the weak struts reach the end of their stroke without sufficient resistance. The coil springs absorb energy from potholes, bumps, waves, etc. from the road, and transfers that energy into the struts, which absorb and moderate the wave into much longer durations so that the ride feels smooth and so you can drive the car at high speeds over uneven roads. Without struts (or shock absorbers), on an uneven road, ALL of the energy from the coil springs would be directed into the frame.
It sound like your struts are just weak at this point, or one is good and one is blown. That scenario would allow some absortion of the impact after hitting a long bump, but not enough to prevent the frame from smacking upward into the body.
Still, it could be the motor mounts.

You can and should test for a broken motor mount.
One way of checking for a blown motor mount is to have someone rev the car in a low forward gear with the brakes engaged while you watch the motor, and then again in reverse. If either mount is broken the engine will move a lot in one direction or the other, forward or reverse. In which case you need both motor mounts replaced.
It might even be that both problems are going on. This is a good car and worth the cost to repair it.

Good point, however your way of checking motor mounts isn’t possible because I have a manual transmission. I’m planning on taking my car to my mechanic and ask her if she would do a thorough check-up on everything. I have a bit of budgeted money to put to the car for just these problems. I just wanted to be armed with the knowledge of what might be causing the problem before I present it to my mechanic.

You can still eliminate motor mount failure as the cause of your problems if you have anyone available to let out the clutch in first gear and reverse while you watch the engine. It doesn’t matter if the engine stalls. What you are looking for in a failed motor mount is a very sharp movement of the engine, in one direction. You really can’t miss it. It’s not subtle.
OTHERWISE, what I DO think is happening is you have bad struts. That is my first answer. That is how you should spend your money first.