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Dodge Challenger rear rattle/thunk

Hello all,

In July I purchased a 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T automatic with approx. 94K miles. It now has around 99K miles.

There is an odd rattle/clunk that comes from, I believe, the right rear of the car. It only happens over bumps or rough spots in the road, and to add to the frustration, not every bump or rough spot in the road. You can hear it clearly with the windows down. It’s definitely a “metallic” sound. When the windows are up, you can hear kind of a dull clunk coming from the same area.

I believe the noise is related to the brakes somehow, because whenever you press the brake while going over a bump, the noises go away.

I took it to a shop, and they are convinced it’s the caliper pins, which is apparently common on a Dodge Challenger/Charger. They wanted to replace both right side calipers for $250. I declined, as I wanted to look at it myself.

So far, I’ve checked the following, with no luck in stopping the noise:

Brake pads are fine on both rear brake sides. I’ve applied grease to the caliper/piston side on both pads. I’ve also used a c-clamp to compress the right rear caliper piston in an attempt to “reset” it.

Right rear rotor appears to be fine, although I don’t have a way to measure the thickness.

I’ve replaced the anti-rattle metal brake pad clips.

The right rear shock/strut appears tight both at the bottom and top mounts.

The tension strut (or what I believe to be it) has no play, and best I can tell the rubber bushings are fine.

Earlier today I replaced the right rear caliper pins with brand new ones, new grease, and I also applied a little grease to the anti-rattle clips, where the brake pads are held.

I’m about at my wits end, as well as the limits of working in my garage. Everything appears solid, yet the noise is still there. Any thoughts or guidance would be most appreciated. Thanks!

Check the rear stabilizer bar bushings for wear.

When these wear out, they can look good, but make all kinds of noises when going over bumps.


There’s no play when you push/pull on the calipers right? Or push on the pads? If so, I think you may be chasing a red herring on the brake-thing.

Look for cracked springs on the struts. That can sometimes be difficult to spot, so use good lighting. You may have to test for play using two different lifting configurations. Jack the frame, letting the wheels hang. Then lift the car by the tires. I expect the problem is a suspension bushing problem like mentioned above, or a broken strut spring.

That said, I have no knowledge of systematic problems for Dodges or for this vehicle, so the mechanics could still be right about the need to replace the calipers. But I’m guessing that’s no the problem.

Check the muffler clamps and holdings along with the heat sheilds, my guess.

Thanks, all. You’ve given me a couple of new things to check.

There’s no play on the calipers or pads; they seem solid. However, I have noticed a little play in the rotor when I take off the wheel; the noise it makes sounds a lot like the clunk/rattle I’ve described. But wouldn’t the wheel, held on by the lug nuts, prevent the rotor from moving around during driving?

Yes, the wheel wold hold the rotor on tightly. If it moved around the wheel studs would shear off.

Noises like these can be maddening to find. Since the rear strut mount is only about $10 or so, I’d suggest replacing both IF you have the proper tools to remove it without injuring yourself with the spring. These type mounts are notorious for noises exactly like you describe although the applying the brake is a bit of an oddity to make it quiet.

IMHO the best way to check sway bar bushings, like those in tester’s photo, is to make absolutely certain that the car is safely and securely elevated, get under it, and shake the bars vigorously. If the bushings are worn, they’ll thunk. They are perhaps the most common source of thunking. The bar constantly rotates within the rubber bushing as you drive, and it wears the hole bigger that it should be. Metal rubbing on rubber wears the rubber.

Thanks again everyone; I owe you a (virtual) beer. :beer:

I’ll check into all of your suggestions. Please share any other ideas you have. I’ll keep you posted.

Everyone here has given some good ideas to the Op on where to concentrate their efforts.

One thing not mentioned, and may be a long shot, is checking the trunk for something that is rolling around.

I rode with my mother once on a short trip and every time she braked I heard a thunk that sounded like it was coming from just behind the right front tire. After hearing this for the first hour I looked under the seat and found a can that had been rolling around under the passenger seat. When the brakes were applied the can would roll forward and hit the seat frame and when you sped up it rolled to the back of the seat, but the sound was muffled by the carpeting.

I don’t recall what the can contained anymore…WD40, peas, or a can of coke, but it sure had me thinking there was more to the problem.

Just a thought!!!


Sometimes the simplest solutions are overlooked.
As they teach medical students in regard to diagnoses, “If you hear hoof-beats, and if you are in The US, start thinking in terms of horses, rather than zebras”.

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When the noise goes away while the brake is applied the problem is usually with the brake pads or caliper. Take a close look at the front brakes also, the area that the noise is coming from is not always easy to identify.

Thanks again for the responses. I hadn’t thought to check the front brakes; I’ll do that this week.

Just yesterday I secured the spare tire in the trunk, as it occurred to me that could be rattling around. Right after I bought the car I realized it didn’t have a spare tire. Apparently Dodge has been kind enough to exclude a spare tire or hardware kit for some time now. Because tire never go flat…at night… in bad neighborhoods…ever…Anyway, I did get a spare tire from an junked Charger to fit into the trunk well, but I hadn’t strapped it down. We’ll see how that works out now.

I’ll keep everyone posted.

Follow up to this:

Last week I ordered some new anti-rattle clips for the front right brakes. Just now had a chance to install them. I was stunned; the brake pads were something near freely moving in the old clips, so that clued me in.

After a good drive around the neighborhood… total silence. Places in the road that would usually cause the clunk/rattle result in…no noise. I’m cautiously optimistic, and will keep everyone posted. Thanks again for the help!


Thanks for letting us know. Always good to hear the fix.

Nice work!
And sincere thanks for the follow up post.
Happy motoring,