Honda CRV Noises – Rubbing Clunking Clicking Roaring SoundsJuly 31, 2010 10:08 am Drivetrain and Noises, Honda, How To Auto Repair
© DenLorsTools.com Summary: This auto repair blog covers 1996-2001 first generation Honda CR V’s which are making unwanted noises. Suggestions on what to look for when experiencing noises like thumping, grinding, rattling, clanking etc. Diagnosing the source of unusual noises coming from any vehicle can be very frustrating – knowing some of the common issues can help to make short work of troubleshooting the problem.
To state the obvious, noises are best diagnosed when the general area from which the noise is coming from is determined. Certain noises occur only under certain conditions. If the owner can determine these two things, prior to searching for the cause (or taking the car to a mechanic) much time can be saved. Simple really… front? Back? Left or right? Does it make the noise upon turns, parking lot speeds or over bumps? Answers to these questions may seem trivial, however they can mean the difference in diagnosing a noise in hours – or minutes. Below are some common sounds and issues with Honda CRV’s including 1996, 1999, 2000 and 2001. Some of the symptoms and solutions may be the same for other Honda cars like Civics, Accords as well. Clunking Noise Over Bumps Clunking noises over bumps may be caused by worn trailing arm bushings, ball joints, bushings, strut mounts or stabilizer (sway) bar links. Ball joints are easily checked for looseness. Raise the car by jacking it up – place jack under the sub-frame. Don’t place the jack under the control arm or the ball joints cannot be checked properly. The tire/wheel can be shaken by hand to check for movement in the joints. A large pry bar can also be placed under the wheel and pried up to check for worn ball joints and bushings. A visual inspection for worn, cracked or split rubber bushings may also reveal a problem. There is a TSB (Technical Service Bulletin) on replacing the upper control arm bolts in the front suspension, however most likely, this problem would have surfaced already and been addressed when the car was 1-4 years old. A much more common issue with clunking in the front on CRVs that have 100,000 miles or more, is the stabilizer links. Stabilizer links may cause noise when going straight over bumps or more pronounced when turning and going over bumps at slow speeds. Speed bumps in parking lots are a great place to check this problem out. If the noise only occurs when driving and there are no obvious signs of anything loose, the problem can be much harder to diagnose. Professional repair shops use electronic chassis ears to help pinpoint the source of steering and suspension noises when they cannot duplicate the noise when car is at a stop. Obviously, if the noise can be duplicated with the car sitting still it is much easier to find the source of the sound.
Mechanics will sometimes rock the vehicle from side to side as hard as possible. It may take a couple of people to rock it, to duplicate the sound and one to look and feel for the noise. Once the noise is being made (by rocking the car manually), a tech can feel with their hand on different components. The “thump feel” is always the strongest and most pronounced at the worn part. Start by feeling the upper strut mounts. Then feel each ball joint and move on to each stabilizer link, control arm, tie rod, etc. Care must be taken NOT to be pinched by any moving parts as the vehicle is being rocked. As mentioned before, if the vehicle only makes noise when it is being driven, electronic chassis ears may be required. The clamps (or transmitters) of the chassis ears act as the mechanics fingers. Instead of feeling the vibration of the noise, the listening device transfers the sound to head phones that the tech is wearing. Different numbered channels are used with corresponding clamps or transmitters that are attached to different points on the suspension – Channel #1 may be an “upper strut mount” #2 ball joint #3 stabilizer link #4 tie rod and etc. The channel is selected on the control unit and each channel is listened to carefully. The process of elimination and the act of moving the clamps or transmitters around helps to pinpoint the source of the noise.
Stabilizer link in the center of the picture sounded like a bad upper strut mount.
Scraping and Clanking Sounds
Scraping sounds, most of the time are from worn brakes – more on that in the Grinding Noises section below. Scraping can also be from looseness in wheel hub bearings. In extreme cases, if the hub bearings are loose enough, the brake rotor can actually rub the caliper bracket. This is easily checked by looking for scrapes on the rotor and caliper bracket. Backing plates may also rub the caliper causing a rubbing or scraping noise. This is common after a CV 1/2 shaft or brake pads have been changed and the shield has been intentionally bent out of it’s normal position during service. If a clanking or clicking noise is heard, particularly upon turning and accelerating, a common cause is a worn CV (Constant Velocity) joint. Look for obvious signs of a grease leak from a CV boot, the outer ones near the front wheels are most common. Note there does not have to be a grease leak for the CV joint to be worn and noisy.
If a grinding noise is heard especially when braking – the most obvious thing to check is the brakes. Brake pads worn into the metal can cause a grinding noise in any car. If the brake pads are worn unevenly, the caliper guides (slides) may be sticking or seized. It is a good practice when possible to disassemble the guides and lubricate them with Silglyde silicone paste or brake lube when performing a brake job. This will help to insure even brake pad wear and proper release when the brake is not applied. Calipers may also stick causing more rapid brake pad wear – it’s always good to check the dust boots condition in the caliper and ease of pushing the piston back in.
Rubbing or Roaring Noise
Honda CRVs with AWD (All Wheel Drive) are notorious for noises from their rear differential. The noise may be heard while driving straight and sometimes more prevalent when making turns. The clutches in the rear end require certain friction modifiers. As the modifiers are broken down over time the clutches tend to make excessive noise. Most times, changing the fluid with OE (Original Equipment) differential fluid can be enough to make the noise go away. It’s certainly worth a try. If the noise continues after a fluid change, the differential may need to be rebuilt or replaced.
Finding noises is not always an easy job, hopefully by reading our tips and following the suggestions in this repair article diagnosing the cause of unwanted noises will be made a little easier.