Saturn Mystery


My daughter and her husband have a 2005 Saturn van that has developed a ‘clatter’ in the front wheels when she turns right or left. It sounds like plastic clacking against the wheels. They were originally told it was caused by ‘cupping’ tires, so they bought $500 worth of new tires after only 30k miles. That did nothing. They took it to the dealership that does the Saturn warrany work in MT (140 miles away!), and were told it was the sway bar links. Four days later, my daughter took the car home, and before she got there, the clattering started again. Again, it is only when she turns. Does anyone have any ideas? Is this a potentially a dangerous situation?

Cathy Ray

Roundup, MT


This could be a worn Constant Velocity (CV) joint on one of the front axles, although the vehicle is not really old enough for that. If the CV joint boot is torn or damaged, the lubricant leaks out and the joint starts making a clacking sound when turning and accelerating. This is easy to spot, however, and I think someone would have seen it by now.

Is it possible that some of the plastic fender liner is, in fact, contacting the tire when the wheels are turned?

Does this vehicle have plastic hub caps? If so, remove them and see if that makes any difference. They could also try switching the front and rear wheels. If the noise moves to the rear, it’s the wheels and not the suspension/steering.

If the tires were cupped, was the wheel alignment checked when the new tires were installed. If not, the new tires will start cupping, too, and that would be a shame.


CV joint, that would be my guess with the sound only during a turn, but that would be unusual with a car with 30k miles. Something rubbing up against the tire/wheel is also a good guess. Keep all of the records and make the dealership check and document everything.


Thanks for the info. My nephew also thought it was the CV joint–so why in the heck couldn’t a dealership spot that? I know the wheels were lined up as a first step, so they should be OK. I have forwarded this web page to my son-in-law and daughter. Maybe they can provide more details than I have.


That is pretty much it in a nutshell. Sounds like I should have then check the CV joint.