Last week while I was out for a ride in my ’74 Firebird, I noticed a clunk beneath my feet in the driver’s floorboard. My first thought was that the polyurethane subframe bushings I installed a couple years ago were making a racket somehow, but I had checked them for tightness in the spring. Needless to say, I began formulating a mental flow chart from the moment I switched off the engine. What I found made me chuckle, in a good way.
First, I pulled out my “Wireless ChassisEAR” kit. This is not a cheap tool, but I’m lucky enough to be a 43-year-old man whose mom still buys him tools and car parts for holidays. Merry Christmas to me!
The chassis ears have helped me find a noisy leaf spring eye bushing (a new one, sadly) in the Firebird, a clunking steering rack in my wife’s Mustang, and any number of rumbles and squeaks in my whole fleet. They’re easy to use: The transmitter and receiver are both battery powered, and you clip the transmitter to a part on the car that you suspect is making noise. The body of the transmitter is magnetic, but the kit also comes with zip ties and velcro so you don’t lose anything out on the road. The kit comes with four transmitters, and the receiver will pick up their channels individually. I’ve had all four attached at once before, and I was able to flip through the channels and listen for noises at different parts of the car. Neat!
Luckily, I was able to stay in the garage this time. The car made the clunking noise when I vigorously pushed up and down on the front end. My chassis ears indicated noise in the subframe, but not in the mounting bolts themselves. After a little poking and prodding, I found these two stones wedged between the floorpan and the subframe right under where my feet ride. They look like they’ve been there awhile, so there must have been just the right (or wrong) amount of jostling to create that troubling clunking/popping sound.
I was expecting to inspect the subframe bushings today, or maybe find a compromised floorpan; after all, my almost totally original car has 10 out of 10 floors considering that it’s lived in Michigan its whole life, but only 6 out of 10 floors anywhere else. Fortunately for me, a few wayward rocks simply jammed themselves into the wrong spot, and their removal completed my job in the garage.
Back to the question of the day: What was your easiest or strangest repair job?