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Front End Clunk Noise Repair Procedure
Project: Front End Clunk Noise Repair Procedure
Author: bt2580 - bt2580's Forum Profile
Models:
  • 2002 Nissan Altima
  • 2003 Nissan Altima
  • 2004 Nissan Altima
  • 2005 Nissan Altima
  • 2006 Nissan Altima

Unfortunately, there are numerous things that can cause a 'clunking' noise in the front end of the Gen3 Altima. These noises can come and go, but are mostly evident over bumps. The following are known to be prime suspects;

-Worn bushing in upper strut mount
-Bad strut
-Bad spring
-Worn ball joint
-Worn motor mount
-Loose bolts on the factory strut brace

This is being written to address the last item in the above list, the factory strut brace. When you open the hood of the Altima, it is not visible since it is located under the black, plastic cowl below the windshield. To get to the brace, you will need to remove the windshield wiper arms and the plastic cowl piece.

TOOLS NEEDED
-3/8 ratchet
-10 & 14mm sockets and extension (s)
-Flat blade screwdriver
-Needle nose pliers
-Wiper arm puller??? Lisle p/n 54150
-Crayon

WINDSHIELD WIPER ARM REMOVAL
-Start by using a crayon to mark the center point of the wiper blades on the windshield glass. This is for realignment later.

Nissan Altima Front End Clunk Noise Repair Procedure
Click image to see it larger

-Open hood
-Remove caps on top of wiper arms with small flat blade screwdriver
-Remove 14mm nut with ratchet & socket
-Close hood
-Pull wiper arm away from windshield to relieve pressure (bend it at the hinge), and it should be able to be removed with a little manipulation. If it is stuck on there hard, you may need a wiper arm removal tool. Use of the tool will necessitate the hood being open.

Nissan Altima Front End Clunk Noise Repair Procedure
Click image to see it larger

COWL REMOVAL
-Remove clip in center of cowl with flat blade screwdriver by prying up on it

Nissan Altima Front End Clunk Noise Repair Procedure
Click image to see it larger

-Remove (2) clips on each side of cowl, under the hood, with a screwdriver. Pic here shows them removed.

Nissan Altima Front End Clunk Noise Repair Procedure
Click image to see it larger

-Unclip wiper washer hose on passenger side
-The hose needs to be removed from under the foam piece. The foam piece is held in place with adhesive, or a slit can be cut in the center.

Nissan Altima Front End Clunk Noise Repair Procedure
Click image to see it larger

-Remove weather stripping on top of cowl
-Lift weather strip to locate clips
-Clips are a 'T' style clip and tear the weather stripping easily, so use caution
-Pull gently upward and to one side to expose one side of clip. Same method to other side to free weather stripping from clip.

Nissan Altima Front End Clunk Noise Repair Procedure
Click image to see it larger

-Once weather stripping is free of all clips, use needle nose pliers to remove the clips

Nissan Altima Front End Clunk Noise Repair Procedure
Click image to see it larger

-At this point, it is time to remove the cowl. Reach hand under one side and pop it up. There are still some clips attaching it from the bottom up by the windshield. Work your way across the car until it is sitting loose.
-Removing the cowl is kind of a pain, but not terrible. Pay attention to the 2 little rubber dams on each edge.
-Remove into engine compartment, working one side through, then the other.

Nissan Altima Front End Clunk Noise Repair Procedure
Click image to see it larger

-Couple pics of cowl off of car, and how rubber end pieces attach

Nissan Altima Front End Clunk Noise Repair Procedure
Click image to see it larger

Nissan Altima Front End Clunk Noise Repair Procedure
Click image to see it larger

TIGHTENING STRUT BRACE
-This is the easy part.
-Tighten all bolts shown here with sockets on them. They are all 10mm. Use some care to avoid stripping them out, but most should be able to turn at least a little bit.
-Driver's side

Nissan Altima Front End Clunk Noise Repair Procedure
Click image to see it larger

-Passenger's side

Nissan Altima Front End Clunk Noise Repair Procedure
Click image to see it larger

BLACK FLAP
-There is a black flap that most will find just laying in the cowl trough. This is the location it belongs in...Near the triangular shaped brace that is below the windshield on the passenger's side of car. The flap's purpose is to stop debris from going into that cavity behind it.

Nissan Altima Front End Clunk Noise Repair Procedure
Click image to see it larger

PUTTING IT BACK TOGETHER
-This is basically a reverse of the disassembly
-Pay attention to the rubber pieces at edges of cowl...
-Insert all clips into weather stripping before installation. Look closely, and you will see that all the holes only line up one way...

Nissan Altima Front End Clunk Noise Repair Procedure
Click image to see it larger

-Make sure to align wiper blades with crayon marks on windshield...
-Take car for a test drive to see if it solved your clunking problem. If it did, great. If not, look to the other common causes at the beginning of this post.

Thanks bt2580!

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