DIAG clicking/thumping when turning, Sway Bar End Link, But is Good?

05 Toyota Camry.

I hear a thumping/clicking/dinging sound while turning the steering wheel slowly. Recently replaced inner and outer tie rods on both ends, as well as both sway bar end links (which was actually awhile back before I had this sound). Sound still persists after replacing tie rod ends. Was ready to about to replace the CV axles, but decided to DIAG further.

Removed outer tie rod ends from both knuckles. Turned steering wheel and is silent.
Rotated knuckle on both sides, and sound persisted.
Removed top nut from sway bar end link to McPherson strut assembly on LHS. Needed a braker bar. Boot was full of grease.
Rotated LHS knuckle and silent. Rotated RHS knuckle with RHS sway bar end link still installed and RHS outer tie rod removed from knuckle, was silent.
Reinstalled top ball joint in sway bar end link on LHS to McPherson strut assembly, rotated knuckle and sound was back.

I think I found the problem. With the LHS sway bar end link installed thumping/clicking while turning knuckle, without it installed sound goes away.

I removed the LHS sway bar end link, thinking I found my problem, required a braker bar on the bottom ball joint as well. Boot was full of grease. Ball joints were very stiff, could not rotate with my hands. But I don’t think too stiff. There was no play. I was able to rotate the part with the top nut off, with the bottom installed in the car, using the length of the part as leverage, so they do rotate! Seen some really bad ones, where I could rotate the studs of ball joints with the strength of nothing but my two fingers, this was very far from this.

So I considered the LHS sway bar end link to be good. I was thinking that maybe the sway bar bushings were bad. But they looked good. No cracks or nothing. I grabbed ahold of the sway bar and tried to wiggle it to check for play, and there wasn’t any.

Well I’m confused. thumping/clicking sound while turning RHS and LHS knuckles with both outer tie rods removed. Remove LHS sway bar end link and sound goes away, but the sway bar end link seems to be ok. Not sure what could be causing my sound?

Thanks for any help.

I’m thinking the problem is at or in the vicinity of the strut’s top bearing. But I have no explanation how/why that is affected by removing the sway bar link.

Just take this thing to real mechanic and when you are done with it just salvage it because I can’t see this vehicle ever being road safe.

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Isn’t this the same problem you asked for help on a while back, and if so WTH are you starting another thread about it for??? …

Ah my bad.

It seems like the force of the sway bar end link is putting stress on either the CV axle, McPherson Strut assembly upper mount, or lower ball joint.

I guess the next thing is to remove the fasteners from underneath the lower control arm holding the lower ball joint to it. Rotate the LHS knuckle with the lower ball joint no longer attached to the lower control arm, so lower ball joint is no longer rotating, the whole lower ball joint assembly would just rotate freely with the knuckle. See if sound still persists…

If it does take CV axle nut off and push it out of the knuckle, and well at that point it’s just McPherson strut assembly upper mount that is rotating.

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Maybe bad left hand contol arm bushings? Maybe a cracked weld in the arm, or the left hand swaybar mount?


I double checked the front sway bar link bushings. They are not cracked or anything. Had someone rotate the LHS knuckle with the LHS sway bar end links attached the strut assembly getting it to click. I noticed no jumping or movement in the sway. Suggesting that the bushings are ok, and the mounts holding them to the front subframe. Grabbing ahold of the front sway bar and pushing and prying, and I’m not able to move it.

So I unfastened the three fasteners holding the LHS lower ball joint to the control arm. I pried away the lower control arm from the lower ball joint assembly. I rotated the LHS knuckle with the LHS sway bar end link attached, and clicking persisted. I unfastened the the LHS sway bar end link from the strut assembly and rotated, it was silent. I refastened the sway bar end link to the strut assembly.

I unfastened the axle nut from the LHS side. Pushed the axle out of the hub. I rotated the LHS knuckle with the axle not fastened to it, the lower ball joint unfastened from the lower control arm, and the sway bar end link attached to the strut assembly, only thing rotating is LHS strut assembly upper mount and bearing. Clicking sound persisted. Unfastened the sway bar end link from the strut assembly, and noise went away.

I have no explanation for this, other than that the sway bar end link is putting some sort of force or stress on the strut assembly mount or bearing, causing it to click or shift in some way (that I’m not able to observe).

If anyone doesn’t have any other ideas what to check or anything, I’m going to consider it to be the strut assembly mount being the issue. I have the original struts with 210k miles on them. So I think I’m going to replace the front struts while I’m there, along with the mounts, and just re use the coil springs. I’ve seen posts that aftermarket struts are not too good, and it’s best to just use OEM. Are aftermarket strut mounts ok?

Thanks for any suggestions or ideas.

Make life easy on yourself by not reusing your springs. You can buy complete strut, mount and spring assemblies ready to bolt right in. Considering the age of the car, most any of these sold will last as long as you need.

I wonder if you could remove the strut just enough to access the top bearing/mount, and apply a little lube there as a test. If the sound then greatly diminishes , pretty good chance that’s the problem. There’s a similarly configured bearing on bicycles called the headset, and when that bearing goes bad (usually rusted) you often hear a notchy, scraping-sound when turning the handlebars.

How about you just replace the sway bar links, like most people would have done several days ago already . . . ?!

He’s thinking about it, give him a week or so!

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I replaced the original Toyota FLHS sway bar end link at around 182k miles with Mevotech TTX and am now at roughly 210k miles. Have never ran it low on grease. Ball joints are hard to rotate and seem to be fine. Little to no play. But I get the point. Spend the $15 to be sure before replacing the whole strut assembly.

If sound still persists, then the only conclusion is that the force the sway bar end link is putting force on some worn out part on the McPherson strut assembly. It could be the mount, bearing, spring binding into something, or possibly something worn out in the strut itself. Since replicating the sound requires me to have the sway bar end link attached to it, and nothing is obviously visibly wrong with the assembly with it in the car, just best to replace the whole assembly with an aftermarket quick strut assembly.

fwiw . . . I consider Mevotech parts to be very mediocre

New Mevotech parts are clearly better than worn-out factory parts

But in my experience Mevotech parts don’t last nearly as long as the factory parts

They’re fine to install on a vehicle you won’t be hanging onto for very long

But I’m not sure I want them on a vehicle I’ll be driving for several more years

The TTX line seems to be beefer than the originals.

What I think going to do, because both the front sway bar end links are identical. I’m going to take the RHS and put it on the LHS, instead of the buying another to see if I still hear the sound.

Both installed and sound is there
LHS installed only and sound is there when rotating left knuckle.
RHS installed only and sound is not there when rotating right knuckle.

Ok so I did one additional troubleshooting step

I took the FLHS sway bar link from the FLHS and installed it on the FRHS, and the noise traveled from the FLHS McPherson strut assembly to the FRHS McPherson strut assembly

So it looks like the only thing that it could be is the FLHS sway bar end link has gone bad. However there is no to little play in the sway bar end link ball joints. The ball joints do rotate, but are very stiff. I guess they can be to stiff? They do rotate, when I use things as leverage. I have never ran it low on grease. I can’t make sense of this. It’s clearly the part making the noise, but it appears to be ok? Any thoughts? I think it is pretty much confirmed that my FLHS sway bar end link is making the noise, which is a Mevotech TTX sway bar end link.

(1) Detached both tie rod ends from both knuckles
(2) With (1), rotated the FLHS and FRHS tires and noise persisted
(3) With (1) disconnected the FRHS sway bar end link and noise no longer present when rotating RHS knuckle, but present when rotating the LHS knuckle
(4) With (1) disconnected lower ball joint from lower control arm and rotated LHS knuckle, noise still present
(5) With (1) and (4), pushed out LHS axle from knuckle and rotated LHS knuckle, noise still present
(6) With (1), (4), and (5), disconnected LHS sway bar end link and noise gone
(7) Took FLHS and FRHS sway bar end links off of vehicle, put the FLHS sway bar link and attached to the RHS knuckle. Rotated FRHS knuckle and noise is now on the right

I believe everyone told you that SEVERAL DAYS AGO

The capital letters were no mistake

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