Matrix clunking when turning hard at first start-up

My '03 Toyota Matrix (base) is a manual transmission with about 95,000 miles.

When I first leave the house in the morning, doing a hard turn out of my driveway, I’m getting a series of clunking noises from the right front of the car, and it feels like I have a flat tire. In fact, one time I actually got out of the car because I was convinced that I had a flat.

I’m going at quite a slow speed when this happens, and it does not happen during regular driving/turning. No other symptoms – no shaking, no pulling to one side of the road or the other, no clunking at other times.

I’m taking it into the shop ASAP, but I’m curious whether this sounds more like a CV joint problem, tie rod end problem, or something else?

Thanks in advance!

Have the lower control arm inspected.

CV joint is a good possibility. So too is a wheel bearing. The morning association is likely from cold grease that isn’t lubricating well - but it will likely mean new parts either way.

As an update, the first mechanic I took it to “couldn’t replicate the problem” and therefore wasn’t willing to put it on the lift. (This was my first real job for this mechanic, and I’m surprised by this attitude.) I’ll take it to another on Monday.

It is also possible that turning the wheel has nothing to do with the situation, and that the OP is merely hearing the ABS self-test.

In order to test out this possibility, park the car in the street instead of the driveway. In the morning, after driving approximately the same number of feet as you usually before turning the steering wheel, see if the same noise is produced when driving straight ahead. If the noise is comparable, then you are just hearing the ABS self-test.

To clarify, would the ABS self-test make me feel like I’ve got a flat tire? The sound is actually minimal – the discomfort and unevenness of the drive is the primary symptom.

The effect varies from one make of car to another.
On some, it is nearly imperceptible.
On others, it is very noticeable and in some cases could possibly be mistaken–for a moment–for a flat tire.

Can you clarify for us how long you have owned this car?
If this car is new to you, that reinforces the possibility that it is merely the ABS self-test.
On the other hand, if you have had the car for quite a while, but this sensation is new, that would probably rule out the ABS self-test.

I’m the original owner. I’ve had it since Sept. '02. This has been occurring for maybe 3 weeks.

In that case, then you can rule out the ABS self-test.