92 SSE Front End Crunch! - GM Forum - Buick, Cadillac, Chev, Olds, GMC & Pontiac chat


1992-1999 Series I L27 (1992-1994 SE,SLE, SSE) & Series II L36 (1995-1999 SE, SSE, SLE) and common problems for the Series I and II L67 (all supercharged models 92-99) Including Olds 88's, Olds LSS's and Buick Lesabres Please use General Chat for non-mechanical issues, and Performance and Brainstorming for improvements.

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Old 12-19-2002, 02:11 AM   #1
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Default 92 SSE Front End Crunch!

I just found this site, quite by accident. I've been looking for other Bonne lovers for a long time. This seems like a fine site for even an old timer like me!

I hope someone out there can help me. Here is the problem with her. She has about 180K miles, and I've babied her all her life:

For about 2 years I have been hearing a crunch noise ONLY when my car is making a left-hand turn (steering wheel stationary). The noise is getting slightly worse as it ages. The noise (and some feeling in the steering wheel) occurs if the wheels are cocked to the left each time I make any type of left-hand turn either going forward or backing. It is as if the inertia of the body against the wheel, in a turn, has bound something up and then lets go with that crunch noise. The noise sounds like someone is hitting the driver'* side front of the chassis with a very hard rubber hammer! The noise does not occur when the car runs over rough road or bounces up and down after hitting a dip in the road. It is only when THE WHEELS ARE TURNING AND THE STEERING WHEEL IS COCKED TO THE LEFT. The MacPhersons appear to function the same as when the Bonne was new- 1 push down on all 4 corners and she rebounds only once! Nice and tight. The tie-rods appear to be tight. There is no noise when turning the steering wheel from lock to lock when the car is stationary. I've taken a crow bar to the ball joints and all appear to be tight. The sway bar bushings appear to be okay. On a hunch I've sprayed every rubber or silicon thing under there with WD40 and Silicon, trying to see if the noise abates.....no change. Oh, both bearings and rotors are relatively new.

I've NEVER had to take any of my cars to the shop. Always been able to fix them myself, even electrical. Any other ideas before I break my record.

Anyone out there experienced this problem before and found the cure?

Oh, one other thing, a couple of days ago I though I began hearing a mini version of the same noise every so often on a right-hand turn.
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Old 12-19-2002, 01:26 PM   #2
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This sounds like your struts are going out. I have had this exact probelm on many cars from many manufactures and its always the struts. it starts out like you described with a crunch noise and gets worse and worse. After a while the strut freezes completly. none of mine lasted for 2 years however but I averaged about 6k miles/month on these cars. i would say between the time I first notice the noise and complete failure of the strut I have about 18k miles.

I have had this experiance on a '94 grand am, '93 bonneville, '86 topaz, '92 continental, and '94 eagle vision.
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Old 12-23-2002, 12:05 AM   #3
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sstewart -

I've thought long and hard about your strut suggestion. What type of mechanical action is the strut going through to produce a clunk/crack whenever the wheel has a lateral load.........and only 1 clunk per turn. The steering wheel has to reversed direction and then return to a similar left-hand turn position before the sound repeats.

There is no noise in strong up and down motion. Also, turning the steering wheel from lock to lock while the car is stationary does not produce the sound/feel. Additionally, with the weight off the wheels I cannot reproduce the noise by pushing, pulling or attempting to lift the tire in a vertical direction. There appears to be no play other than the Bonne rack slop I've felt in any Bonne I've worked on. I've heard that a seized rack bearing can cause a crunch sound but this typically occurs AS the steering wheel is being turned, and then the crunch is heard because the bearing finally "lets go" causing the spring to snap to the position that it is supposed to be in.
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Old 12-23-2002, 10:43 AM   #4
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I am not sure of all the geometry of the front end. however I do know that as the wheel turns the lower half of the strut moves with it and the upper part stays stationary. I am also sure the angles change a little bit but I am not sure where.

On the failures I have had the noise was first heard when backing out of the driveway or turning into a parking lot. in other words slow moving while turning. I to could bounce the car and turn the wheel when not moving and not notice a sound at all, for a while. But eventually the failure was total. I once had to drive a grand am for almost 200 miles with struts that were totally siezed (read very bad ride).

I am very sure based on what you have described this is a strut first starting to go out. Its not going out the way people usually think of them as going out where they quit dampening the bounce but rather they are starting to sieze and will eventually totaly sieze.
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Old 12-23-2002, 07:46 PM   #5
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Thanks for your comment steward. I appreciate your help. BTW, I typo'd. That was strut bearing, not rack bearing.
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Old 01-04-2003, 09:28 PM   #6
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the strut is actually your upper ball joint. the shaft of the ball loint stays stationary when turning and the strut body turns. there is a chance that the strut is broken inside. and with the weight of the car, would hold it together. you might want to take it to a shop and have them put it on a lift where the wheels are suspended. i have seen broken struts come apart when lifted and there is no way to get them back together without replacing the strut. also when they come apart like that in a shop. you will hear the tech get mad because they are a pain to get the strut out and avoid getting hit by the spring.

also, one way to check a bearing plate is to take the car for a ride, make a hard left turn and then go straight. see if it pulls left then. now make a hard right turn and then striaght again, see if it pulls right now. if it does, this is called memory streering. this is caused by a bad bearing plate not turning freely allowing the spring to load as you turn and loading the steering with the spring. i suggest replacing both struts and bearing plates at the same time since there is no additional labor involved. just the part.
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Old 01-09-2003, 10:17 AM   #7
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You may have this problem now that the coil spring has been shifted in the accident......
http://www.friedpoodle.com/ba/viewtopic.php?t=406

Another thing to look for is "sagging" coil springs (look for rubbing as in the TSB). If your coils sag, they can shift & cause a noise.
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