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cant figure out steering clunk/pop

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Hey everyone, just looking for some advice on this problem my cars been having. 1976 280z, the steering will make a pop/clunk noise when I turn either right or left. Sometimes I dont have to turn too much to get it to clunk, and sometimes I have to turn the wheel almost completely over. It will only do this when the car is moving, and only at low speeds as far as I can tell. (It totally might do it at high speeds but i havent turned the wheel enough for it to do so at high speeds). If I turn the steering wheel from lock to lock while the car is not moving, there are no problems and everything functions normally, no matter whether the front wheels are on the ground or in the air. I have already replaced front wheel bearings (NTN), outer tie rods (Moog), ball joints (Moog), sway bar bushings and end links (poly), tc rod bushing (rubber) all other bushings are poly and in good shape. I don't think its the inner tie rods because it only happens when the car is moving. I'm thinking maybe I could have somehow fucked things up on the swayer (although it looks fine), so I might try to take that off completely and see if that affects anything. The other thing i could see it being is a loose bolt or something somewhere causing this, because there have been many other things loose on my car causing me issues. Anyone got any other ideas/advice? It could totally be something obvious that I'm just overlooking somehow. 


Other random thing: does anyone know where this blue wire plugs into and what the fusible link looking things are for in this picture? They are under the driver side dash and I can't find where to plug them in. My dash lights don't work and I'm guessing this is probably why. Can't seem to figure it out by looking at the wiring diagram.IMG_8650.pdf


Thanks for the help! repost since I accidentally posted in faqs

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You can just remove one sway bar end link and then it will flop along and not be doing anything and shouldn't make any noise outside of maybe bushings squeaking. Easier than removing the whole thing. If it stops and you think it's around the bar/frame mount, pull it all the way off and inspect the frame rails where it bolts on. Aftermarket bars tended to rip up the frame rails when these things were new and not rusty. 

How about the rag joint in the steering column? OG rubber, or did you upgrade that one too?

Sorry, can't help with wiring part.

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Gotcha, I'll try removing one end link tomorrow and see how that effects things. I've removed it before when I was replacing the bushings and there is no damage to the frame where it attachs, rust or rips. Not sure if its an aftermarket bar or not. For some reason I only have a front sway bar, no rear.


As for the rag joint, I believe its been replaced with polyurethane by the previous owner. I'm not 100% sure its poly, but the rag joint is definitely in good condition just from looking at it.


All good, im not too worried about that but I figured I might as well ask while im here.

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Yeah, that needs replacing for sure. Think you probably found it!

If you don't mind the vibrations, get a poly or plastic one. People have also drilled hockey pucks and used them, if you happen to have one.

Edited by JMortensen
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  • 3 weeks later...
On 4/28/2024 at 3:46 PM, kaibiagi said:

Here is a video of me moving the steering coupler bushing thing around.

Oh, yeah...that's loose....REALLY loose.  Silly question, but did you try tightening the 4 bolts that secure the coupler?  You usually need to experiment with the right combination of box -end and open-end wrenches (because of the tight clearances and angularity of the joint). 


It also makes the job a lot easier if you rotate the steering shaft to get full exposure of each of the four nuts/bolts, as you tighten them.  I do them in 180 deg pairings (like you would your lug nuts)....probably not necessary...just my engineering obsessive/compulsiveness.


Glad you found the issue, and that it seems to be something cheap & easy to fix!

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I haven't done anything yet. The car is actually in storage for the summer at my college and I'm on a ship for the entire summer, so it's gonna be like a first thing as soon as I get back. Thanks for the tips, I will certainly do that. I'm also glad it looks cheap and easy, its too bad I found it after replacing basically all the wear components on the front end of the car though haha. They needed to be replaced anyway though, even if they weren't the source of the noise.

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