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Front driver wheel making a knock sound

Front driver wheel making a knock sound

Postby DeflatedNeon [OP] » Nov 21 2020, 4:01am

On a 2003 2500hd 4wd with all four wheels on the ground, I can grab the front driver wheel, rock it 3 to 9 and hear a knocking sound.

Without much effort, if I push the left half and pull the right half, very minimally the wheel and the steering linkage flexes just a bit as if steering to the right. Probably normal since it's very slight. What I don't think is normal is going back the opposite direction, I hear a knock when the wheel returns to where it was. It sounds like its coming from the caliper area but I don't know what would be moving there.

I've installed new:
  • idler arm & bracket
  • steering damper
  • inner & outer tie rods both sides
  • psc steering gear box & pitman arm
  • upper control arms with ball joints
  • sway bar bushings & end links
  • hubs both sides
  • alignment

The steering and overall ride of the front end has noticeably improved after all this, but the sporadic correcting I have to do makes me think the wheel is loose.

I'm not sure what to replace next.
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Re: Front driver wheel making a knock sound

Postby Chevy-SS » Nov 21 2020, 4:01pm

Wow, that's a lot of items replaced. You'd think it would be tight and quiet. If/when I have issues like this (which I've had many times), I jack up the truck under the lower a-arm on each side (so the suspension stays loaded). This requires two floor jacks to do properly, or a 4-post lift with a rolling jack (which I have).

Then I get a buddy to do the wheel wiggling for me, and I get a powerful light and look underneath (making sure it's 100% safe to get under there). I watch while he wiggles. Typically, this will reveal the problem area with either a little bit of movement, or some noise.

There should be no 'flexing' in the steering linkage. That indicates to me that something is loose and/or worn out. I would recommend doing the test (SAFELY!) as I described and watching/listening VERY carefully for that tiny bit of play/noise which will reveal the problem area.
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Re: Front driver wheel making a knock sound

Postby Walkers » Nov 21 2020, 4:38pm

Well, you either have a new part that has failed, or a bad lower control arm bushings or lower ball joint, or wheel bearing. Get it on jack stands and start wiggling.
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Re: Front driver wheel making a knock sound

Postby DeflatedNeon [OP] » Nov 21 2020, 8:18pm

I originally found this out when it was in the air, and I’ve had multiple eyes and ears on it. Full weight of the truck on the ground and it still doing it was something I hadn’t found out until yesterday.

So far it’s been blamed on the upper ball joint, tie rod, and pitman arm. I’m on my third pitman arm since trying this all, second set of tie rods, and everything else is on its first replacement. The only knock I hear comes from the caliper area but it doesn’t make sense what would be in there doing it.

I guess the lower ball joint could be the reason and the sound is traveling. I was avoiding the lower arms and bushings but at this point it looks like that’s all it can be
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Re: Front driver wheel making a knock sound

Postby Chevy-SS » Nov 22 2020, 1:16am

Lower ball joint will wiggle if jacked up as I describe above. Best way to get it to wiggle (if its bad) is to put a long crowbar or pipe under the tire (while its in air) and then try to lift tire up and down using the bar. If ball joint is bad, you'll feel the wiggle, or look underneath while someone else is lifting the bar and watch for movement in the ball joint.

Front end repair is usually easier than what you're going through. Proper diagnosis is the key. You say you've had "multiple eyes and ears on it".... are any of those folks actually mechanics, or are they just DIY'ers????? There's a big difference.
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Re: Front driver wheel making a knock sound

Postby DeflatedNeon [OP] » Nov 22 2020, 2:06am

It does knock in both directions where I previously said it was only on the right side motion. Only one mechanics opinion and that was the upper ball joint. The rest have been looking while I wiggle or while I look.

Holding the tie rod or the center link will silence the knock, but replacing the tie rod doesn’t change anything. I think it’s the lower ball joint. There isn’t any movement up and down with the tire, it’s only in the turning directions
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