Diagnosing suspension rattle

Got a 2007 Saturn Vue V6 AWD and I’m having trouble diagnosing a suspension rattle. Seems to be coming from the front passenger side suspension, and it happens going over small bumps. I watched a video going over how to inspect struts, sway bars, control arms, tie rods, and ball joints (which I will link below in case there are other ways of diagnosing these parts that he may not have gone over). I first lifted the car and tried moving the tire back and forth at 3:00-9:00 positions (didn’t seem to feel any play going side to side), also tried 12:00-6:00 positions and didn’t feel any play at all. Then I took the wheel off and inspected the other parts; sway bar links had no play and looked fairly new, control arm bushings didn’t seem to be cracked or in poor shape, and there was no play in the inner/outer tie rods (although I did twist the outer tie rod back and forth and I am not sure if they were okay, as there was a little knocking sound if I twisted it it all the way over). Lastly, I inspected the ball joints and the right passenger side one seemed to have some grease on the outside of it in that area like it had been leaking. I am a bit confused as there didn’t seem to be any play going back and forth with the wheel. I also tried to shake car up and down when I lowered it and the struts seemed fine/no rattling sound. I will include a picture of the ball joint, but is there anything I might be missing/could test differently such as the ball joint?

My equinox rattles too. They have related chassis issues since gm was involved with their designs.
Does sound change when you apply brakes going over bumps?
Could be caliper guide pins. Could be from rack and/or steering shaft knuckle. No way to know for sure if strut mount is good.

it seems to only rattle going over small bumps (regardless of brakes being applied), and I just changed the calipers/pads/rotors a few weeks back. is there any other way of testing strut mount, or is it something that has to come off to inspect it? also here’s a video of the outer tie rod

I’ll try and take a look at the rack/steering shaft knuckle in the meantime.

when in doubt . . . buy and use Chassis Ears


This is not spam . . . Tommy and Ray used to mention this all the time

I can professionally attest this takes the guesswork out of chassis steering and/or suspension noises

And the best part . . . the tool isn’t outrageously expensive and it’s really easy to use.


Took my former rig to shop. Tech said struts. As they had 150k miles. Fixed issue. My different similar rig has new struts and is noisy. So, tech might say something else.

That seems like it’d be a good investment since I live in NY and the suspension takes a beating on these roads. Although I wonder if any place rents a kit. Thanks for the suggestion!

Do you have any noise turning wheel left/right quickly?
A rattle could be in knuckle or rack itself

Have you googled it . . . ?!

They’re not that expensive

And I believe there are also cheaper kits that use an app and your smart phone . . . along with the clamps, of course

no noise turning, only the rattle going over small bumps in the road

I did! $85 was the cheapest I saw, definitely doable if it’s going to be used more than once

Just a guess but check your brake rotor dust shields. They’re generally cheap tin, at the right age to be rusting off and make a heck of an annoying rattle going over any bump.

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Was this noise present before you did the brakes? If not, you might recheck calipers to make sure they are not flopping around and that the caliper yoke is securely mounted.

The tie rod end is supposed to rotate back and forth like that. It does seem to move a bit freely but that may not mean anything.

yeah the sound was present before doing the brakes.

and that’s what I thought with the tie rod end, but wasn’t sure if it was moving too freely

it seems a bit too loud for it to be the shields. it sounds exactly like when my sway bar links on my last car were on their way out

You’d be surprised how much noise a loose piece of sheet metal can make banging on your suspension. It only takes 5 minutes to check and you can do it with the wheels on.

I lean towards strut mounts. It it could be other things

Check exhaust shields too.

sorry its taking me a bit to respond, been working lots this week. just checked the dust shield, seems solid. I totally agree it can make a lot of noise, but this sounds exactly like my old car when the sway bar links were on their way out. lots of rattle going over small bumps. also checked the exhaust shield (same thing)

I popped the hood and pushed down on the car to see if there was any movement in the strut mounts, same story. everything seems solid. any over way of checking strut mounts?