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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First off, I'm going to admit being lazy and I should do more checking but only because I'm up against a deadline to get a house cleaned up and ready to sell.

Backstory - Car is a 2003 2wd 5MT with 255k miles. I bought it a few months ago from a long time friend who did a lot of work, including replacing the lower front ball joints, prior to me buying it. I've known this guy 15 years and he routinely does a lot of work on VW's, including timing belts and full suspension swaps, so I trust him to do this (and almost anything else) properly.

It has a rattling noise somewhere in the front end when going over bumps, drives fine otherwise. I test drove the car before buying it and this noise did not exist, so it developed after the front end work was done. He told me the noise existed after the work but I needed a car to get to work (totaled my other one hitting a deer) so I took it as it was and he was more than reasonable with the price.

It needed tires so it has new tires and a fresh alignment. They needed to slot something up front and get cam bolts from Honda to get it aligned properly. Nothing was mentioned about issues with anything in the suspension and the web reviews indicate these guys inspect thoroughly with the intent to sell additional services.

However, the noise remained after this work and it drives well except for the noise.

I started shaking things today and it appears that the drivers side front wheel has a little play and creates what I believe to be the same noise when grabbed at 9:00 and 3:00 and shaken in the steering axis, even with the wheel on the ground. I imagine it's worse with the car in the air but I'm driving it constantly getting stuff for the house so I haven't made time to check.

Could someone please give me an idea of what they think this may be, keeping in mind I did not hear it on the test drive before the lower front ball joints were done?

Thanks very much.
 

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Inspected the sway bar link? Turn on car. Turn steering wheel to full lock on one side, look behind the front wheel towards the back. Should be about mid wheel. Turn wheel to opposite side and inspect other side.
 

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2007 EX AWD AT (two!)
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Lug nuts tight?

Moving the wheel with the vehicle on the ground wouldn't attempt to move the sway bar links. It would however attempt to move the tie rods, so the same inspection technique as above would work; turn the wheels all the way one direction (not quite against the stops), then grab at 3 and 9 and move the tire/wheel back and forth while watching the tie rod end. If you can get it to make the noise without the knuckle moving at all, then it could be the wheel bearing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the replies.

I probably should better describe the noise. It's a chatter or mechanical clatter when the wheel goes over a bump, maybe a quick double knock taking clearance out of something as it moves vertically. It honestly drives pretty well for a car with 250k but I don't have anything to compare it to at the moment. This one has Megan Racing springs so it is lowered 1.5" and probably handles better than usual but again, I don't have a comparison. (That will change next monday when I go to Knoxville to buy another 2003 that is exactly the same as mine, but nicer, but that's another story).

Wheel and lug nuts looked like they moved together and I gave them the finger test so they should be tight but I'll check for real. I've driven maybe 500 miles like this and it's not gotten much, if any, worse.

It should be something that was disturbed when the lower ball joints were installed, because the noise wasn't there beforehand. I don't know FWD suspension well enough to know what that would be. Other than replacing shocks and other bits of old school RWD stuff, I don't typically mess with suspension. I don't have spring compressors.

I will get my truck put back together today so I have something else to drive and park the Element so I can do a proper inspection with the front end raised.

I'll report back when I figure out what it is.
 

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2004 Element EX-S AWD 6MT = “Zippy”
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Compliance bushings on the inside of the lower arms? (one vertical screw, one horizontal screw through rubber bushings)
I didn't see that in the list of work done (I may have missed it?)
That's were I had noise coming from... They didn't look bad until whole arm was out, when the sleeve dropped out of the bushing I was confident I had found the noisy bit...
In my opinion, other than the annoying noises, it's not going to cause more problems for a while... 🤷‍♂️

I could see that also leading to the requirement of the cam bolts during alignment...

Good luck!
Brad
 
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I was going to suggest compliance bushing next like @KargoMaster. Particularly since you have lowered the car on coilovers.

On a normal-height E, the compliance bushing kind of rocks back and forth along the bolt axis (which is vertical) as the suspension arm goes through it's motion. It's this twisting motion that eventually destroys that bushing. It's a bad design by Honda and I forget which models it was (maybe the E as well?), but they eventually changed the design to orient the bolt axis horizontal rather than vertical.

When you lower the car, you're basically pre-loading a twist into that compliance bushing. I don't know if you "clocked" your bushings when you installed the coilovers but the way Honda designed the compliance bushing, it can't really be clocked correctly and so when you lower the car it's constantly putting a twisting force on that compliance bushing which basically wears out the bushing faster.

If you haven't clocked your bushings you should look into it. Will save your other bushings from some wear and tear and may make the car ride better as well.
 

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2004 Element EX-S AWD 6MT = “Zippy”
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That's a good one...

EricTheCarGuy as well... (I'm a sucker for epic car battle involving someone else :ROFLMAO:)

"Seemed harder than it needed to be..." -Eric (twice in this episode)
Might be my favorite quote...

(To be clear, I have the tools that he has, and I bought new arms... :geek: (y) )

Cheers,
Brad
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the replies, I will check these out. I typically drive VW's and complete control arm replacement is common, cheaper and easier than the bushings.

I bought the car with the springs already installed and they are just springs and not coilovers. I assume they have been on there quite a while because the orange "powder coat" is coming off of the springs and my buddy had the car for 3 or 4 years and he did not install them.

I've never driven an Element with stock height suspension. Mine gets blown around quite a bit in crosswinds so I can only imagine what a stock height car will be like.
 

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2004 EX AWD AT in Orange
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That's a good one...

EricTheCarGuy as well... (I'm a sucker for epic car battle involving someone else :ROFLMAO:)

"Seemed harder than it needed to be..." -Eric (twice in this episode)
Might be my favorite quote...
Between ErictheCarGuy and Sue from 1A Auto, E's are pretty well covered thankfully! :LOL:
 

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Every time the guy started a nut with his impact made my butthole pucker. :LOL: Then at the end he had to fix a cross-threaded lug stud :unsure: Good vid otherwise, glad he noted to orient the bushing correctly and to sit the car down for final tightening.

FYI - the OEM compliance bushing is discontinued. ACDelco's version, their picture shows it is made in Japan so I am trying their version out. I ordered the bushings and arms. With how cheap the bushings are I figured may as well order them and rebuild the old arms at my leisure for future use. Just keep swapping arms, lol.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I've noticed that there is some noise also evident when the steering wheel is turned with the car stationary and more over bumps than before so whatever it is seems to be getting worse and it all started when the lower ball joints were replaced. The car tracks and steers pretty well regardless of what is going on, except for a stretch of I-75 that is grooved concrete, that can be a little like driving on ice, especially in a strong crosswind, which has been common around here this year.

I'm headed to Tennessee monday to get another Element, I will be swapping wheels/tires between the two of them before putting this one up for sale so I'll check everything out then. I need to fix whatever this is before selling it, also have an exhaust leak somewhere to deal with.

I never start any kind of threaded component with a tool, always by hand. I was thought that by an old toolmaker when I first started building stuff a very long time ago.

I used Sue's video to do the emergency brake rebuild to see what all was hiding behind the hub but figured out a faster way on wheel number 2. Can't remember it sitting here but probably would if I had to do the ebrakes again, which I hope never happens.
 

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FYI - the OEM compliance bushing is discontinued. ACDelco's version, their picture shows it is made in Japan so I am trying their version out. I ordered the bushings and arms.
Just got the parts in. The ACDelco bushings are made in India. Not worth it to return so I'll be using these on the old arms once they come off. If I remember, will try to update in 100,000 miles or so, lol.
 
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