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Discussion Starter #1
Hi to forum, I placed this post of the Renault forum as well but have received no responses so.... I have a high mileage but very well maintained 2010 2.0 DCi115 Trafic II Passenger which I have converted to a camper van.
It started making a clonking sound in September, which only happens when setting off or braking. It seemed to be coming from the driver’ side and you can feel the clock through the pedals. It occasionally did it on full lock but only when moving off (forwards mainly but I can make it clonk in reverse too).
It passed an MOT in October, where you would think any looseness in ball joints or bushes, steering or otherwise would be picked up, but it passed the test and the examiner said how clean the vehicle was an well maintained. I fitted new discs, bearings and pads when I bought it 12 months ago. They are all still tight and working ok.
I checked the suspension on both sides and changed the following which were showing signs of wear: strut top bearings and rubber mounts, bottom suspension arm, drop links and a ball joint. None of which cured the clonking noise. The springs, shocks, CV joints on the driveshaft and carrier bearing all feel tight. I had a new gearbox fitted in October, after I started hearing the noise (the gearbox bearing failed as did an oil seal), and surely the garage would have spotted any issues with the gearbox mount or anything hitting anything (I was thinking exhaust but it looks to be ok and not loose or moving when engine is under load or braking ?) as they dismantled many things to get the gearbox out and in.
However as the noise seems to occur when the engine moves back or forward under acceleration or braking (but only once each time) I then changed the driver’s side engine mount and the two dog-bone shaped engine stabilisers. Still the clonking noise is there.
I have bought new anti-roll bar bushes and will change them this weekend but I am running out of ideas. It has been into two garages who acknowledge that they can hear/experience the clonk but can’t find anything wrong – hence my approach to swap out the lower costs parts one by one (many needed swapping out to be honest and the car drives better I think). I think the sub-frame bushes are ok and the two braces underneath seem tight.
I have read so many posts on the internet forums and watched so many Youtube videos that I can now identify any noise other than mine !! I am running out of ideas L
Again the clonk is loud, you hear it once just after you begin accelerating and just once when braking. At other times the van drives really well without noise at any speed.
HELP !!!!!
UPDATE: I had my local garage put it up on a lift and they couldn't suss it out either in the short time I had to let them have it. They said all the joints, bushes, mounts, steering parts looks fine and the exhaust is tight. I have had other thoughts - intermediate CJ joint (although they said it feels tight) or broken strut inside insert ?
 

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Driveshaft nuts nice and tight?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hi and thanks for response - yeah they are properly torqued. I replaced the top strut mounts when the noise started and torqued them as per Renault Manual. Still on tight. Splines through hub feel tight and look ok as well. Thanks again.
 

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It started making a clonking sound in September, which only happens when setting off or braking. It seemed to be coming from the driver’ side and you can feel the clock through the pedals.
Have you tried applying force to the top of a front wheel, backwards and forwards, to try and reproduce the forces when starting off and stopping?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Have you tried applying force to the top of a front wheel, backwards and forwards, to try and reproduce the forces when starting off and stopping?
Hi and thanks for the reply. I tried this manually but couldn't make it do it by hand or with a big nylon strap and neither could the garage. I am thinking of putting it on stands tomorrow, taking off the wheels and running it in first gear, hoping that it might clonk when under load or when hitting the brakes. If I sit by the front wheel arch I might be able to see or feel what is moving or clonking. It is doing my head in !!!!! I have even thought of fitting my Gopros and aiming it at the top strut area, subframe and inner CV joint.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Hi there, thanks for the response. The noise isn't the same as you get from worn ARB bushes, it is more a twang/clonk. There wasn't any movement in the anti-roll bar bushes when I checked them originally (when I did the drop links and strut bearings/rubbers), but I changed them anyway last week as I am running out of things to change ! Still the clunk/twang is there. The bushes were like new and I have saved them for re-use in the future (along with the engine mount/dog bones - which are also in good nick - but I changed them) ! I went through all the obvious checks at the beginning.

I have changed anything with a bit of slack in the suspension or anything that could be put under load when you take up drive or brake (except for driveshafts or the actual strut - which I might take off to check before ordering parts).

Again the clonk/twang only occurs when the engine/transmission is under load (when setting off in first and then when you brake) not during each gear change and it drives fine otherwise (except I think my thermostats stuck open as it is not warming up like it used to - just ordered a new one and a rear caliper is sticking a bit).

The van is a former airport minibus that when I bought it had a replacement engine fitted (100k on it but had the timing chain, injectors and clutch changed before it was put in). I have converted into a camper. It looks to have been well maintained (260k miles on it !) and on previous MOTs it passed with few advisories. When I had it MOT'd a few months ago it passed with flying colours and the MOT tester said it was very clean and asked if I wanted to sell it him !.

A few other people posting on forums like this quote the exact same symptoms but don't then post what the problem was when fixed, and I have PM'd a couple of the original posters but not had a reply. The chap who owns the garage I took it to last week and with whom I talked him through the symptoms, heard and felt the clunk and I showed him how to make the noise and create it himself. He checked every joint and bush up front as I did and could find no unacceptable movement. As it is a van and heavier than a car he said that it is not always easy to replicate the suspension/drivetrain noises when it is on a ramp and we tried in different ways but to no avail. He said he would have changed the parts I had changed first and most of the parts were beginning to show a little wear and were not expensive as I changed them so no labour costs. He did ask if I checked the strut insert was working properly when it was out for the bearing change (I stupidly didn't test it) so wonder again if it is broken inside the strut end. It just doesn't seem to waggle around at the top nut end as you would expect and I can't force it to move by hand.
 

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These kind of noises do my head in and I've sold a car before because of it, so I feel your pain. I hope you get to the bottom of it and please post here when you do.

Any kind of twang would put me straight towards the strut and spring, and your feeling about the insert makes sense to me. Do you know how old these are?

If you decide to inspect that it's worth also comparing left and right springs to make sure they are the same length and type. If there is a tiny bit missing from either end it can do some unusual things.

Using the go pro first is not a bad idea at all, just make sure to set the frame rate to maximum as these things happen in the blink of an eye. Don't know if yours has lighting but if not, strapping a head torch in place will vastly improve the quality.

Other random ideas, check every subframe bolt is done up to correct torque. If it's coming through the pedals check the UJ for the steering column for play and make sure the steering rack bolts are torqued right.

Random but I've had banging from the fuel tank on brake/go when one of the bolts was a bit loose. On that note it can't hurt to start checking non suspension items in general, radiator, intercooler etc. At that mileage some brackets might have rusted away.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for the email and the good advice. I spent some time jacking it up and crawling under it yesterday. I checked the springs again and watched everything move as my wife set off backward and forwards to make it clonk, hitting the brakes each time to make it re-clonk, whilst I had my head inside the open engine bay ! I also checked the tightness of every bolt and bush on every bracket underneath but they all seemed ok. My gearbox mount (the only one I have not changed - on the passenger side - flexed a bit but the noise seems to come from the drivers side.
I did notice that the two pipes going into the air con condenser radiator had both fractured and broke loose (I wondered why the air con wasn't getting cold or clearing my screen quickly !) so am going to investigate why at the weekend in case it is linked. Moving the pipes and the radiators didn't produce the noise though. The AC was working fine until the last week or so and I have had the noise for about 4/5 months, so I don't think they are linked.
I filmed every thing I thought might cause the twang/clonk with a magnetic torch illuminating each element and then when I reviewed the videos last night the picture was missing - just had sound ! I think my GoPro might have died through nil use.
I even added more grease to the CV joints but it still makes the noise.

Today when returning from work I did a few tests and made the following deductions:

Remember it only makes the noise once when setting off (say 5mph and once when braking at speeds below 20 mph), it is a loud noise that you can hear in and out of the van and you feel it through the steering and pedals sometimes.

1. It doesn't make any noise when going over small or big speed bumps, so the strut is presumably moving up and down, but makes a noise if I roll into the kerb. The strut does seem to be working over bumps and the ride height/gaps between arches and tyres seem the same.

2. It doesn't make any noise when you turn the steering from lock to lock unless you are setting off slowly in first gear or reversing which I think is caused by the engine slightly twisting under load (or driveshaft/strut etc) but not the steering, which feels taut and responsive.

3.The gap at the top of the strut washer/nut to the wing opening seems large again on the drivers side. When I swapped the rubber seat and bearings over (the first thing I did) it sat lower. I can't remember if the noise went away for a day (which it has done a couple times oddly) or it was still there all the time. I have a recollection that it might have been quiet for a day or two but might have dreamt it ! I actually dream about the noise as well now - gulp. I bought the rubber seats and the bearings from AMAZON (supposedly QH) and was sure I had fitted them the right way according to the Trafic manual I have, but might take the strut off again and check that and the strut insert shaft to see if something has broken inside. Again though it does seem to absorb the shocks. I should have checked the strut when I had it off. I was trying to swap them over quickly and was sure the bearing was the problem.

and finally 4. I should have spent more and bought a VW T5 like my mates and converted that. He has fitted one set of tyres, serviced it and that is all. It never misses a beat, is gorgeous to look at, is nicely fitted out and showed mine up when we went to France and Holland last summer. But I love the look of the Trafic/Vivaro and mine is so nice after fixing it up and converting it. I don't want to get rid of it but am really fed up with it now !!!

Thanks again for the advice from everyone it is much appreciated.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
UPDATE: Just ordered a new strut to fit and test. If the noise disappears then I will buy another for the other side and fit that too. Driveshaft next I suppose !!!! We are travelling to Lake Garda in it in June so it has to be right...…..
 

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A T5 ain't that great from experience, I'd never buy a VW again and my Viv is a much better drive and no scene tax or extortionate part prices. And pokey after conversion.
"If only everything was as reliable as a VW". Yeah right!
 

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I do love my Trafic ! I spent ages looking for the right one (for me). I like the look of the T5/T6 though :)
 

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Not sure if this will resurrect the post (sorry if it doesn't) but have only just today swapped the strut and the bearing. The strut seemed ok actually but I swapped it anyways, the top bearing (fitted in September-ish last year) was damaged and when swapped and I put it all back on and tried it out, it still had the damn noise !! I stripped a few things off the engine to have a look and see if there was anything non-suspension/engine mount loose - but again couldn't find anything. Am really fed up now...… In addition - the pipes to my air-con condensor have both snapped, my van still runs cold, the coolant appears to be leaking from the thermostat (I have a new one to fit when weather improves), the glass in both front windows seem lose in their tracks and my bloody fan motor was died.
 

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Hi Toneb

can you check the wishbone bushes with a bar to see if theres movement, when you pull away or brake there maybe enough force to pivot on the wishbone front bush forcing the back to up or down,
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Hi and thanks for your contribution. I put a brand new control arm on the side the noise is coming from and checked everything again yesterday with a pry bar when I fitted the new strut and bearing. I still wonder if it might be the central joint on the drivers side driveshaft. That might be next ! I am just reading up about the LH gearbox mount - that is the only mount I have not changed but I am sure that when I had a new gearbox fitted 4 months ago the garage would have told me if they found it defective. Thanks again.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Hi again - I had a friend sit in the van, driving it forwards and backwards slowly over and over and then braking to make the noise, which we can do everytime, and noticed that the front wheel seems to jump forward a little when the noise occurs. I replaced the control arm with a brand new one so doubt it is the bushes or ball joint (I think the subframe bushes are ok - was thinking the drivers side one might have perished allowing the frame to move and then the control arm. The driveshaft on the drivers side is supported by a central bearing and I wouldn't think it would cause this to happen, but it seems to do so when under load on setting off and then clonking when braking suggesting it is something to do with the drivetrain. CV joint failure, hub failure, bearing but the only play is when you spin the wheel/tyre round forwards and backwards which looks normal. I can't replicate the noise or movement when the wheel is in the air. If you let the van run down the drive into cul-de-sac it doesn't make the noise - it only makes it when you put it in first and then drive say 2/3 yards then it clonks ! Ideas ? At least we don't have to fix it for June when we were supposed to be heading down to Lake Garda in it. Keep safe and well.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Change of direction - having just watched so many videos about subframe bushes, and bearing in mind the (new) control arm connects to the subframe and the wheel is moving forwards under load and when braking, it can only really be one or more of the subframe bushes failing/failed, causing the clonk (growing louder each day) when you set off and brake.

I am going to try and lever each joint to see if I can make it clonk and if so will have a go at swapping the bushes over. I bought a Laguna subframe bush removal tool which you can use to remove and press this bearing back in (check link to this Youtube mechanic who is very informative
). Will let you know the outcome asap.
 

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When using the bush removal tool grease the threads and bearing surfaces it makes it so much easier, it's still very hard to get the bush moving at first.
Grease the new bush & housing also.
Good luck
 
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