Honda CRV Noises – Rubbing Clunking Clicking Roaring Sounds

10:08 am Drivetrain and Noises, Honda, How To Auto Repair

CRV in the shop

© 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.

CRV Stabilizer Link Problem

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. 

Grinding Noises

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.

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29 Responses
  1. Denise :

    Date: August 5, 2010 @ 11:53 pm

    Great info! Thanks for sharing. Can’t wait to read more.

  2. rod smith :

    Date: September 10, 2010 @ 8:01 pm

    Roaring from my crv 2001. Was told my tires are feathered or worn badly only 30 km on them. I had the front bearing replaced and now a friend says my transmission may be going, and others say its my tires. I don’t know which way to turn and the steering wheel vibrates at 100 km plus side to side. Any ideas?

  3. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: September 11, 2010 @ 4:00 pm

    Rod, CRV’s that are all wheel drive have a common issue withe the rear differential making a roaring noise. Changing the fluid is the best thing to try in that case.

    Worn tires can definitely make a roaring noise too. You could try rotating tires to see if the noise changes or just replace them is they are nearly worn out anyways.

  4. Jeff Kosmacher :

    Date: September 12, 2010 @ 11:51 am

    Recently I’ve begun to hear an occasionally clicking sound when braking our 2003 CR-V. And so far there’s no noticeable pattern, e.g. sudden braking, braking from higher vs. lower speeds. Cause for concern? Would appreciate advice from anyone who’s had a similar experience.

  5. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: September 12, 2010 @ 4:03 pm

    Jeff, an occasional clicking when braking is most likely from the brake pads shifting slightly. Could also be slightly warped brake rotors (may need to be machined/resurfaced). I would recommend inspecting the anti-rattle clips for the pads when checking the brakes. Nothing much to be concerned about, as long as the brake pads have 3/32″ of friction material remaining or above.

  6. Thomas :

    Date: December 18, 2010 @ 4:03 am

    I was getting clunking/popping sounds when going straight at low speeds over uneven roads. (not turning or at high speeds) The clunking was not in sync with the spring contraction either.
    Well just got back from re-greasing my bushings on the front strut bar and the noise IS GONE!!!

  7. Wilbert Lyamba :

    Date: January 31, 2012 @ 12:45 am

    I have my Honda CRV, it generates a continuous rubber sounds on the rear down when turning a car. What the problem?

  8. Jim Decker :

    Date: June 20, 2013 @ 10:42 am

    I am hearing a slight thumping sound from the rear drivers wheel. It is a repetitive sound as is it is keeping a perfect time. I believe it could be a bearing. Before I start taking apart the wheel assembly could there be another reason for the sound?

  9. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: June 20, 2013 @ 10:51 am

    Jim, if it is all wheel drive it could be coming from the rear differential. The wheel bearing could be worn or pitted. Or the tire itself could be cupped. Meaning that it may not be wearing smooth. If there are dips in the tread the tire could sound just like a bad bearing. I would jack the vehicle up and feel for side to side play (movement). There shouldn’t be more than a couple of thousandths of play. Also look at the condition of the tire. If the tire is suspected of making the noise, the tires could be rotated to see if the noise moves or stays. Obviously if the sound follows the tire, the tire is the culprit. Good Luck.

  10. malcolm :

    Date: October 18, 2013 @ 10:50 pm

    I just had new rotors and brakes pads on the rear of 2003 crv front wheel drive. There is scraping noise when just rolling the car. Should it make a scraping sound ?

  11. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: October 19, 2013 @ 9:37 am

    Malcolm, a very light friction sound when applying brakes is normal until the brake pads have had a little time to seat. The pads and the rotors will start to mesh better after several miles.

    A scraping noise right after doing a brake job could be a bent dust shield. This can make noise with the application of the brake pedal, just heard while the car is moving. It’s a common mistake to inadvertently bend the shield when working on the brakes. See if any part of the shield touches the rotor. Sometimes an anti rattle clip can be installed incorrectly. Look for scrapes on the new rotor as clue.

    A much less likely cause of scraping noises after a brake job is a reversed brake pad. I had an uncle one time that did brakes on my cousin’s car (Chevy Nova) and installed a brake pad backwards. The metal backing was facing the rotor and the friction portion (lining) of the brake pad was facing away from the rotor. He ruined a rotor. I’ve never heard of anyone else doing that before (or after). I suppose if you make a dumb mistake like that, it’s not really something you want to tell everyone about.
    Good Luck.

  12. Jesse :

    Date: January 13, 2014 @ 4:20 am

    Hi. I have a 1998 Honda CR-V all-wheel drive. There are instances when I increase speed that I experience a heavy thud which sounds like its coming from the rear differential. What could this be? Is this something major that needs immediate attention. Thanks a lot. Jesse

  13. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: January 13, 2014 @ 8:15 am

    Jesse, sorry not enough to go on. I suggest having a local auto technician drive the vehicle. They will have much more information than I do with just a simple, quick test drive. Good Luck.

  14. Benjamine :

    Date: February 12, 2014 @ 2:05 am

    My honda crv 97 model is making annoying noise like police siren even at 30km/h. It happens like every couple of days.
    pls whats the likely problem
    thanks
    ben

  15. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: February 12, 2014 @ 7:04 am

    Benjamine sorry not enough to go on. Could be brake warning sensors, IAC (Idle Air Control), wheel hub bearings or many other things. Once it starts making the noise more consistently, I suggest having a local auto technician drive the vehicle. They will have much more information than I do with just a simple, quick test drive. Good Luck.

  16. wheelie59 :

    Date: March 18, 2014 @ 10:54 pm

    Hi,I own a ’96 Honda CRV.During the time I have owned it,(barely 12 months),there has been present a worrying grinding transmitted through the steering wheel and also felt in the cabin when making sharpish turns to left and/or the right.The cv joints on both sides are fine, tires in A1 condition ,wheels balanced and suspension is in good shape as well so I am somewhat puzzled as to the cause of this problem.A mechanic told me that I haven’t done enough hard off-road driving which might be contributing to my problem.Does this make any sense?I would be grateful for your comments.

  17. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: March 19, 2014 @ 11:07 am

    There are many things that can cause noises, unfortunately without the benefit of having a test drive or more specific details on when the noise occurs, when it gets louder etc. It’s really difficult to give good direction. If the noise can be heard while at a stop and turning, it might be in the power steering. If it only is heard while driving and turns cause it to get louder it could be hub bearings. Hard off road driving does nothing that I’m aware of to quieten any noises like these…. Perhaps you can take it to a different mechanic for an opinion. An experienced technician that can drive the vehicle and hear and feel what’s going on in person, will be much better equipped to point you in the right direction. Good Luck

  18. Tigerlilly54 :

    Date: April 23, 2014 @ 10:42 am

    I have a 2007 Honda CRV AWD. It is making a pinging sound loud enough to hear on the inside. What do you think it is. I have 85K miles. Thanks.

  19. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: April 23, 2014 @ 10:50 am

    Not enough information to go on. Pinging from the engine could be spark knock. Pinging from front axle when turning and accelerating could be CV joints. Noise like the artless covers could be from the rear axle. Good Luck.

  20. Lisa :

    Date: April 23, 2014 @ 10:27 pm

    I have a 99 cr-v fwd. When I first bought the car I noticed it wld pull hard to right . A week after that it started making a clicking noise only on left turns. Then I made a sharp left turn and sounded like something broke . And now it’s a constant clunking noise no matter how I drive or what speed I go. What could this be? Thank you.

  21. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: April 24, 2014 @ 7:19 am

    Lisa the pull is most likely from a tire. Could switch the front tires from side to side (left front to right front) and see if the pull goes away or if the car pulls in the opposite direction. The clicking and now the the clunking is most likely from a worn CV (Constant Velocity) joint. The grease boots can break causing the joints to wear due to lack of lubrication. The wear symptom, is starting to click on turns while accelerating. Then the CV joints get worse and louder if the problem is ignored. The CV joints and shafts, together called 1/2 shafts are what transfers power from the transmission to the front wheels on a FWD vehicle. The joints, if not replaced, will eventually come apart leaving the vehicle disabled. Good Luck.

  22. Hassan :

    Date: May 23, 2014 @ 2:30 am

    My 2003 CRV is making light grinding sound when slow and cold on bumpy ride? any clue?

  23. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: May 23, 2014 @ 7:36 am

    Hassan, without driving it myself I could only guess. If it makes noise when the brakes are applied it’s most likely brakes. If it makes noise only on bumps it could be suspension related. Mostly on turns, possibly steering linkage or steering rack related. Noises are difficult to diagnose sometimes. If the noise cannot be duplicated without the vehicle moving; a listening tool like the Steelman Chassis Ears can be very helpful. It’s a not really a DIY tool because of the price, but for a repair shop it can pay for itslef many times over. You may need to find a shop that has this type of tool if it’s not easily diagnosed. Good Luck.

  24. Tony :

    Date: June 29, 2014 @ 1:42 pm

    I have a 2008 Honda CRV that makes a crazy noise when I am driving or sometimes right after I driven the car and parked it. I would get this loud noise in the back like something heavy has dropped, yet there is nothing in the back to make that kind of sound. What’s interesting is that this noise can happen at any given time while driving. The sound resembles a car wheel hitting a pot hole or the a car wheel dropping off of a curve.. Any idea what this might be? I would take it to the dealer but it never makes the sound when I am headed that direction.

  25. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: June 29, 2014 @ 4:00 pm

    Tony, not enough info for me to try to guess. It’s best to have a tech test drive it. With customer’s permission, sometimes shops will allow techs to drive cars home in cases like this to help diagnose intermittent noises and other problems. Good Luck.

  26. Evey :

    Date: August 19, 2014 @ 10:00 am

    I have a 2002 Honda CRV and the problem occurs when I go from a stop and excelerate fast (push gas pedal hard) for quick speed there is a grating/grinding noise with lack of power. After it shifts into gear it seems to go away. If I SLOWLY excelerate then I do not hear the noise. Occurs when turning sometimes too. Only when turning to the left at a slow speed. Can also produce same grating/grinding at higher speeds to if pushing gas pedal hard for speed. Again if I maintain an easy exceleration then there is no grinding/grating noise at all. ONLY when excelerating fast.

  27. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: August 19, 2014 @ 4:48 pm

    Evey, Could one of many things. I would drive the vehicle and listen for where the noise is coming from. I’d also put the vehicle on the lift, raise it up and check for loose wheel bearings, suspension and steering parts etc. I would use an electronic device called Chassis Ears to help pinpoint the problem if needed. A technician in your area would be able to do these things to find the issue. Good Luck.

  28. tom :

    Date: October 11, 2014 @ 12:43 pm

    I have a 2001 crv. When I step on the brake, estimate going 40 miles or less I hear a sounde in rear like if you have a car with bad shocks. Only happens going forward and no sound over bumps. What can this cause the sound?

  29. dennisb - Auto Tool Sales :

    Date: October 13, 2014 @ 8:30 am

    Most of the time if you hear a noise only with the brakes on, it’s related to the brakes. I’d check the brakes and at least do machining if the linings are good. Also check the overall condition of the suspension components while it’s up in the air. Good Luck.

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