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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So far the problem was always caused by sway bar bushings going bad every 80k miles or so. But this time, that is at 230k miles, the clunking did not go away after replacing sway bar bushings. I cannot tell 100% if the sound comes from the front or rear.

Stats about suspension:
Balljoints are new.
Rear struts replaced some 12k miles ago, rubber mounts at the top looked OK, so I left them be.
Rear suspension arms bushings are old.
Rear sway bar links are new.
Front sway bar links are a bit dodgy I guess.
Front control arm bushings are old.
Front strut mounts are unknown condition.

I wonder where to start looking, what is most likely causing the clunking?
Sway bar links, rear/front suspension/control arm bushings or perhaps strut mounts? I suppose all of them could but which one is the most likely culprit?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
So I finally managed to get to a shop to diagnose the suspension.
Indeed, the control arms bushings were a mess. I will be upgrading all the bushings to polyurethane. I'll let you know how it turns out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I finally got around to changing the bushings.
Ordered the bushings from www.superflex.co.uk
They came with assembly lube and steel sleeves. Parts fitted like a glove.
So far I have done only the front control arms. New bushings and new sway bar links.
The new bushings are a serious improvement. The car feels soooo crisp and turns in like a dream.
Now, I know that 90% of it is probably just a placebo, but honestly, the feeling is just awesome:) and that is definitely real.

A whole lot of the clunking disappeared too. Whatever is left comes from the rear.
 

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1994 Corolla DX
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I finally got around to changing the bushings.
Ordered the bushings from www.superflex.co.uk
They came with assembly lube and steel sleeves. Parts fitted like a glove.
So far I have done only the front control arms. New bushings and new sway bar links.
The new bushings are a serious improvement. The car feels soooo crisp and turns in like a dream.
Now, I know that 90% of it is probably just a placebo, but honestly, the feeling is just awesome:) and that is definitely real.

A whole lot of the clunking disappeared too. Whatever is left comes from the rear.
Interesting. At some point I'll probably replace some of these front end parts on my Corolla too... control arm/control arm bushings, ball joints, tie rod ends, and perhaps front wheel bearings. They all check out fine as-is, but for each year that passes the rubber parts and grease get that much older... to the point where it's just scary to think how old they are! They've already lasted way longer than I'd expected.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Now a few details about the install. Bolts (front) for the control arms came out nice and clean w/o rust cancer. The same for the nuts (rear fitting of the control arm) and bolts for the bracket that holds the rear bushing.
Sway bar links had to be cut. From my experience the chances of getting the links off in one piece are slim to none. I have replaced 6 of them on different Corollas and not even one came off w/o cutting.

Once the control arm is taken out there are different options for taking out the old bushings, they can be drilled, cut and peeled out. I just set the rubber on fire, let them burn a bit and banged them out. The brackets need a bit of sanding and cleaning before putting the new bushings in.

The rear bushing can be pressed into the bracket with a large vice, it is not too difficult, no need for a dedicated press. Put some of the supplied assembly lube on the bushing to make pressing a lot easier.
Put more of the lube inside the bushing and on the steel sleeve for the bolt. Push the sleeve into the bushing AFTER the bushing is installed in the bracket.

Refitting the control arm requires some patience and time. Make sure to have a floor jack available to help aligning the front of control arm with holes for the bolt in the crossmember.
Whatever you do DO NOT FORCE the bolt in. There is a nut, welded inside the crossmember. You DO NOT WANT under any circumstances to break off that nut. There is no access to it whatsoever. You would have to cut open the crossmember to weld it back on or I don't know what.
If it takes a million retries and all day to get the bolt back in so be it.
I was not patient enough so I tapped the bolt with a hammer a little. I almost got a heart attack when I noticed that I bent the nut at an angle thus making it impossible to thread the bolt in. Fortunately Toyota welded it good enough so I could bend it back w/o breaking it off but I consider it a real miracle to have saved it this way.
Do not tighten the front bolt and rear nut fully. Use the floor jack to bring the control arm roughly to the normal ride height. Then tighten the bolt and nut. The front bolt is rather tight, roughly same torque as the front axle/wheel bearing nut.
If you tighten the bolt with unloaded suspension the bushing will squeak like mad once the car moves about its normal ride height.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
They all check out fine as-is, but for each year that passes the rubber parts and grease get that much older... to the point where it's just scary to think how old they are! They've already lasted way longer than I'd expected.
Yeah, definitely the rubber and grease:) They last only so much, that is true.
I do support preventive maintenance do not get me wrong, but with these particular cars the original parts actually may very well outlast any replacement you put in. Especially if they are not OEM. Sometimes even todays OEM parts are weaker than original parts.
As for wheel bearings they give plenty of warning in due time. I would not bother replacing them until you actually feel some play or hear questionable sounds.

I did replace a 15 year old original radiator that started leaking a little from 1 or 2 ribs. Granted, the replacement was not OEM, but the thing was rotten to sh1t already after 4 years! True, it costed half the price of OEM so I guess I should not expect more than half the lifetime of OEM but that is like 7 years not 4.
 

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with these particular cars the original parts actually may very well outlast any replacement you put in. Especially if they are not OEM. Sometimes even todays OEM parts are weaker than original parts.
OEM parts from the junkyard are often better than McParts store parts!
 

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1995 prizm
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This is good to know. My '95 prison clunks like mad over even fairly small bumps. It has gotten steadily worse from 250,000 miles (when I got the car) to the present 270,000 miles. Less than 20 miles ago I put new front struts in. They were quick struts complete with mounts, etc. I just KNEW that was going to get rid of all the clunking. It didn't make much difference, maybe a little. Now I know that it might be my control arm bushings. I swapped the control arms out with some from a junkyard a year or two ago because they had the front swaybar tabs on them. I seem to recall not replacing the bushings because they looked good. I bet I'll find that was a poor decision if I ever get around to checking them out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I finally got around to changing the bushings.
...
A whole lot of the clunking disappeared too. Whatever is left comes from the rear.
Just did the rear bushings. Or rather just a single one. The clunking disappeared altogether.
I had some play on the LR wheel which I suspected was bearing related. Upon closer inspection it turned out that the outer rear bushing where the control arm attaches to the hub carrier was badly loose.
I got a complete set of bushings for all of the rear suspension, fortunately that was an overkill.
I unbolted just the rear control arm. The inner bushing (one that attaches to the crossmember) was still solid so I left it alone, plus I did not have a replacement. Surprisingly the inner bushings are different from the outer ones.

Taking out the outer bushing was a royal PITA as it seems to have an outer steel sleeve that was unseparable from the control arm plus the inner sleeve would not fall out of the outer.
I had to cut the inner sleeve and then grind the outer sleeve to have big enough inner diameter to fit the new bushing.
Removing the front-rear control arm is much more cumbersome as you have to drop the fuel tank to be able to remove the bolt which attaches the inner control arm end to the crossmember. That and the fact that the bolt on the hub carrier end is frozen mad and impossible to move.
I was planning on doing the trailing rods bushings as well, but since the clunking is gone it is just too much pain removing the old bushings.

No more clunking, no more play :)
Only thing left is a weird rattle in left front which goes away in wet weather, go figure.
It sounds like some loose plastic connector hitting the body. I had the door apart and splash guards in the wheel well, but did not find anything.
Perhaps something fell into the area under the wipers or something. I don't know, but it has to be something outside since rain makes the sound go away.
 
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