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Discussion Starter #1
I know this topic has been discussed before, but I am just wondering if anyone actually solved this problem.

I have a 2009 Nissan Versa (112,000 miles). When I turn and low speeds (5-10 mph) I can feel a sort of "clunk" through the steering wheel in the middle of the turn, especially uphill, and especially when first driven. I've read previous posts on this, anything ranging from bad upper strut mounts and bearings, to problems with the steering column.

Here's my story. I took it to the Nissan dealer when I first felt it, and they said my right lower control arm bearing was bad, so I got it replaced. The clunk went away for a month or two, but now its back. I took it to an independent, trustworthy mechanic, and of course it didn't do it when he drove the car. His guess was either the left lower control arm bearing or the upper strut bearing.

I also called the dealer again to see if they knew anything about this. He said the only majorly common problem with my model was the lower control arm bearings. However, my gut tells me its more in the steering column, like I've read on other posts.

I have two questions: First, has anyone actually had this problem and solved it? And second, in the interest of not fixing what isn't broke, what is the best (and hopefully cheapest) way to find out what is wrong?
 

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Anything clunking in the actual steering column itself should be repeatable while the car is not running and simply sitting. You should be able to find the looseness if it exists.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
That's kind of what I thought, too. Although some people have replaced the steering column (with mixed results) to fix the problem. As you said, though, seems like that should be a repeatable problem when not driving.

So maybe the upper strut bearing/mounts or the control arm bearing? Would it make sense to feel a problem like that through the steering wheel?
 

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Yes. If the upper strut mounts are loose and you have paid attention before, you can often tell the difference in car striking freeway expansion joints, loose mounts then let the spring bump up to throw down at the joints and they strike much harder than normal. Similar to a flat tire.

I am not familiar with parts availability on Versa yet but if changing just the bushing (bearing) and not the entire LCA then the ball joint in the LCA can be bad, typical is a slow roll turn to have it clunk one time only somewhere in the turn arc as car weight shifts the joint around in the looseness.

Tire jacked up in the air and a play check at 12 and 6 o'clock but using a lever to add force at 6, commonly they don't show the looseness by simply pussying around on them. You really gotta manhandle it.

Listen close, you should be able to determine the side, if the noise went away then came back at the bearing change, it may have modified it to indicate the side, but both might do it.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the advice. At this point, I'm guessing its probably the other lower control arm bearing going bad (I had a whole new control arm put on the right side because the bearing isn't a separate part). I'll post once (or if) I get anything figured out. Has anyone else had this problem and found the cause?
 

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If you have the same problem as me, this will help you. I have a 2008 Versa Hatch SL with 110,000 miles with a similar clunking issue that's been lingering for a while and finally solved it.

My problem turned out to be the intermediate steering shaft. Easy fix, but figuring it out was not straight-forward and was a process. As for the fix, I took out the part, lubricated it with white lithium grease and clunking was immediately gone. This was only 2 weeks ago so I don't know how long this will last. May only be a temporary fix, but at least I know exactly what the problem is now and it's also not too expensive to buy/replace yourself. If you are willing to DIY, it just might be worth your while. Just know that it is easy to take out and replace but not necessarily in EXACTLY the right orientation as before, so your steering wheel alignment may be off and you might have to try again (and again) after a test drive.

To give you more helpful details: My clunking occurred at slow speeds, only when wheels are turned, and often exactly at the point when one of the tires hits a change in elevation. This problem has existed for 2 years, when I first brought it to Nissan, but gradually got worse in the past 12 months. Nissan told me to replace my struts and TiresPlus said it was with my steering and I should take it up with Nissan.

First thing I did, I changed my struts (they were at 100,000 miles) but problem remained and gradually became more noticeable. When I try to replicate the problem with the car stopped, it didn't seem like I could feel anything, at least nothing even close to what I felt when the car was moving. This is why (at first) I too ruled out the steering system. I actually replaced my failing end links 1 month ago with high hopes but this did not resolve my problem and I was then considering replacing my tie rods just to see.

Then I decided to put the front of the car on jacks and got under the car to diagnose where the vibration was coming from. I had someone steer all the way from left-to-right, and they actually felt something, albeit very slight (I wouldn't call it a clunk, more like just a soft vibration in the steering wheel). When they said they feel anything/something, I actually felt a vibration somewhere on the steering rack and not the tie rods. This is when I decided to lubricate the intermediate steering shaft just because of Versa's history with this particular part. So I took it out and lubricated it (a lot) and that actually solved my clunk immediately. The part may be faulty (I think Nissan made a new shaft replacement), because I believe it's the upper U-joints hitting the inner shaft. I'm not sure why they made the inner shaft so long and I think lubricating it solved the problem (temporarily?) because the movement is much smoother now and the shaft is now able to "get out of the way" of the U-joints.

Hope this helps you.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Thanks, that helps a lot. So you don't need to replace the intermediate steering shaft, just lubricate it? My thought is that lubricating it is most likely a temporary fix, but possibly a good enough one to last a long time, and it may be worth just doing it ever few years.

On the other hand, replacing it with an identical part (even thought its new) seems kind of pointless because the issue would probably come up again shortly. But if Nissan actually made a better part for it, as you suggested, that might be worth it.

I'll probably start with doing what you did: lubricating it and seeing what happens. How hard is it to remove the steering shaft? (I'm somewhat of a DIY guy...by necessity, not mechanical ability).

Edit: Unless I am way off base, I think I can see the whole intermediate shaft right behind the gas and brake petals without taking anything apart. If so, surely I would've been able to pinpoint any noise if it was right there at my feet, right? (Although it often is more of something that's felt). Also, do you think I could lubricate it enough without taking anything apart?
 

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Having not got under to look but I can pretty much say that any u-joints in a steering shaft assembly better NOT be hitting ANYTHING AT ALL. I would be modding anything like that instantly to be impossible to happen.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Yes, the proper fix would be to replace the intermediate steering shaft. I believe Nissan has come out with several iterations of new replacement parts, because apparently they didn't get it right the first (or second or third) time.

From what I can read, its a pretty well-documented issue, and the noise usually is the intermediate steering shaft (although not 100% of the time, which is odd). If it is just barely rubbing something occasionally that it shouldn't be, I don't really see too much harm in seeing if a little lubrication would work. (Some people have actually said their mechanic recommended this). I've been driving it like this for about two years, and although its gotten a little worse the past month or two, I don't really see it is a major safety issue (yet), just annoying.

In an ideal world, I would a) have a spare couple hundred dollars to pay someone to fix it, or b) be an expert mechanic and do it myself. Since neither a) or b) is true, I think I will be trying solutions starting with the cheapest one. Besides, I'm kind of scared I would screw it up more if I tried to take it out myself.

By the way, for those who have tried the lubrication fix, it is enough to put it around the upper and lower connections (at the u-joints) or do you need to take it out and expand/contract it to lubricate the whole shaft?
 

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You can try just the U-joints first to save on labor, but my guess is that it won't solve the issue. If we have the same problem, you're going to have to take out the entire part to get to the most important point of lubrication. Lubricate everything that moves, but especially the contact area between the inner and outer shaft. Consider wiping off any of the old grease that's visible there prior to adding new grease. If you want to get it exactly right, the top bolt requires 26 ft-lbs and bottom 22 ft-lbs.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Just to update (if anyone is still reading this). I tried lubricating just the u-joints, which didn't help at all. I also replaced the front strut assemblies (spring, bearings, mounts, and everything) because they needed it anyways. That didn't help at all either.

But I had to get an alignment after the strut job, so I told the guy to check the tie rod ends, control arm bearings and all that. He said everything was fine. He also said from what I described that he is "99% sure" that it is a dead spot in the teeth in the gears in my rack and pinion.

Then I got rear-ended by some idiot at a red light, so my car is currently in the shop. I will try the intermediate shaft lubrication when I get it back.
 

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If you have the same problem as me, this will help you........... May only be a temporary fix, but at least I know exactly what the problem is now and it's also not too expensive to buy/replace yourself.
Hey jersey08, how has this been coming along? Any noise? My car has been doing this since about 60k and I'm at 85k. I'm not sure what (or where) I need to start on for fixing this although I'm starting to find some other topics around the web. Yours was a helpful suggestion.
 

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Sometimes if my floor mat is shoved up under the dash I can feel the mat rubbing the steering shaft as I wheel the wheel around.

To me, clunks are CVC joints. Thats what I think it is.
 

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Quick update: so it seems my problem has been solved, as the noise I described went away immediately and still has yet to return. I'm quite confident that my solution is adequate to resolve my clunking. I'd definitely give it a try if you think you have the same problem. It's a no-brainer cost-wise (if you have the tools already).
 

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Ex tech, college instructor.
2012 hatch, classic clunk in steering on bumps, slack/clunk on moving wheel side to side. Checked for slack in steering column and intermediate shaft. U joints all tight but clamp connecting intermediate shaft to steering column (top) had the pinch bolt under tightened. When slacked off and torqued to 26 ft lb, all clearance and slack is gone. I will be speaking to the dealer on Monday to see what is the service record on the car as someone deserves a rocket for failing to properly tighten that pinch bolt. Fortunate that I happened to drive my elderly mother's car and noticed the clunk.

Don't get me started about what I'm going to have to say about this one. Reminds me of some court testimony I did on service...

If anyone has any doubt at all, it's simple to lean under the dash, slack off each pinch bolt and retorque.
 

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Has Nissan acknowledged this ? I have exactly the same clunking sound when turning at low speed (2009 Versa hatchback, 86000 miles). I am not a mechanic so simply taking my car to someone (or the dealership) might result in some temporary repair but I prefer this to get fixed on the first try.
 

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Has Nissan acknowledged this ? I have exactly the same clunking sound when turning at low speed (2009 Versa hatchback, 86000 miles). I am not a mechanic so simply taking my car to someone (or the dealership) might result in some temporary repair but I prefer this to get fixed on the first try.
Did you ever get this resolved?
 
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