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Honda Accord EX 1990, just bought.

When I make a tight turn, I sometimes hear a rhythmic clunking sound. This is supposed to be a tell-tale sign of a worn CV joint. But how do I know which side it's on?

When I had the front wheels off, I inspected the axle boots on both sides. I couldn't find any holes, but the axle assembly on one side is visibly older than the other. So I'm thinking that the old one is the prime suspect, but is there any way to be sure?

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does the clunking sound happen when you are stationary and at full lock? if so could also be the power steering pump. –  Mauro Sep 21 '11 at 7:54
    
Does it happen either way you're turning? –  jensgram Sep 21 '11 at 8:00
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2 Answers

I'd get someone to stand outside the vehicle while you test it in a parking lot and see if they can hear which side it's coming from. Or you could strap a recording device on each side and compare the loudness.

If you can't find the problem after doing that, I'd just let it go for a while until it gets worse. This would be bad advice if you want to fix the joint, in which case fixing it early would avoid further damage, but when rebuilt axles with a lifetime warranty cost about $60, I can't see why you'd want to go to the trouble.

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If It remember correctly, it is usually the inside wheel - i.e. if the noise is louder on sharp right turns, it's the right hand joint and vice versa.

The best way to tell is to jack up the car and support it on stands. Grasp the wheel in one hand and the driveshaft in the other, and try to rotate them in opposite directions. The worn one should feel 'looser' than the other. You can also try putting the wheel on full lock while the car is up, and rotating it by hand to try and feel the clonking.

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That's correct. The inside wheel is turned at a sharper angle (on a typical configuration) and therefore has the most difficult load to handle. That will usually make it the louder one (but there's no absolute guarantee). –  Brian Knoblauch Sep 21 '11 at 12:05
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Nope. It was the other way. I could hear the noise when turning left, and it turned out to be the right axle that was bad. –  Mike Baranczak Feb 22 '12 at 6:24
    
Just fixed this problem in my car and it was like Nick said: the outer CV joint of the inside wheel was worn down. –  vlsd Jun 11 '12 at 19:25
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