My daughter has a '98 Cavilier. I’ve replaced the struts and brake pads recently. I thought the clunking when I hit the brakes was coming from the worn out strut but it didn’t go away when I replaced them. 4 months later it’s even worse. Could it be a ball joint?
I would check for play between the calipers and backing plates and also check the lower control arm bushings. Does it also clunk when you accelerate from a stop? If so, you could have a bad engine mount.
It only does it when I hit the brakes. It feels like it’s at the front left wheel. I tried to simulate it with the wheel off and having someone gentle apply the brakes. I couldn’t get anything to “clunk”. I’ll check the lower control arm bushings along with the lower ball joint this weekend too.
I think this car has a swaybar that also serves as a strut rod. The bushings on the end of this sway bar may be worn. If it has a separate strut rod, then it could have loose bushings, could have been left loose after a front end alignment. I very much doubt that it’s the lower control arm bushings. The brakes don’t have much affect on that end of the control arm and they would knock every time you hit the slightest bump.