Clunking noise from car

I haven’t been on here for ages! Anyway, I have a mark 2 Renault clio 1.2 Litre 02 plate and it’s just started to make a clunking noise at the front. I’ll be taking it to the garage later to get it sorted so I won’t use the forums for a definitive answer, just for suggestions/advice/thoughts.

I was driving to a restaurant with my boyfriend to get lunch before his next exam at University, I put the AC on (quite a hot day today) and I got this intermittent clunking noise each time I stopped, started off again and occassionally while still accelerating. My boyfriend recalls feeling the clunk in the area under his feet in the front passenger foot well. Each time I tried to re-create it, nothing happened. At first I thought it was something to do with the AC but I tried it without the AC for 5 minutes and it still happened. When I was driving back from the restaurant to drop my boyfriend off, I went to change down into 2nd gear to go round a tight corner and into the car park and I remember feeling a grinding sensation through the gear stick once 2nd gear had engaged.

I do recall getting the same clunking noise yesterday, only it happened once and very quitely and I thought I’d just kicked up a stone into the left front wheel arch or something. The car doesn’t feel different, the steering is fine, the acceleration is fine, the car doesn’t feel weird to drive. When I start the engine in the morning the car judders and I get a lot of smoke coming from the back, but my garage said this is normal for a 1.2 litre engine when it first starts, it needs slightly more revs to keep it from stalling. It had it’s last MOT and service in February. I Googled about and a lot of places are saying ball/struts and suspension related stuff. According to WhatCar, the things to watch on Clios are the suspension, brakes and something else, I can’t remember the last thing.

Any thoughts? Please say if more information is needed.



First of all, get yourself a new garage. It’s not normal for ANY car to judder when it starts, or produce lots of «smoke», especially in this weather.

Having found new garage, take car there, and have them look at it — could be the drive shaft couplings or similar that need replacing.

😮 Well this is the first I have ever heard of this. It’s normal for a car to judder and throw out smoke? What sort of garage is this?

I would suggest you find a competent garage.OP.

Edit. I see Susie said similar (Susie’s post was not there when I posted)

Well, as its a Renault, the bad news is it could be anything..
The good news is, as its a Clio, and reasonably old, parts should be very cheap. the trick is finding a good garage that will charge you for the job, not by the hour.

My grandfather owned motor dealerships and I grew up in them, I’ve traded cars and I used to change my own very 6 months or so, so I’m reasonably informed..

The 1.2 engines in the Clio’s are typically only good for about 80 / 100k miles, depending on servicing and oil changes. Unfortunately, being a budget car popular with young people, they dont tend to get that well looked after which doesnt help their rather fragile build and quality..

If your car has reached this kind of mileage, it wont be uncommon for your car to smoke a little and judder, although it isn’t ‘normal’ and requires putting right.. this could mean a good service or, more rarely, a partial engine rebuild.. not as expensive as it sounds if the right garage does it. However, having to keep the revs up to stop it stalling points to a different problem.

The combination of smoke, having to keep the revs up and juddering suggests your headgasket may be on the way out.. and this could be very expensive if you warp your cylinder head !. Check your car isnt over heating, check your water / coolant level and make sure there isn’t discolouration or shiny bits of oil in your coolant. Then check where you top your oil up and make sure there isnt a creamy or foamy sludge on the inside of your oil cap or inside the bit of engine you can see where you pour the oil.

Given your description of the main problem and based on experience, I’d suggest the first place to look would be the gearbox. Renaults have poor gearboxes amongst other things, although automatic Scenics are the most likely to experience problems. Normal signs include strange noises which vary depending on road speed and the gear being used, or problems selecting a gear.

Next, steering and suspension CAN cause similar problems
to those you’ve described but often these can make the car feel different to drive. However, as this is normally caused by wear, you dont tend to realise until you drive it once its been fixed the you experience the difference suddenly. Steering problem can be trickier and more expensive than suspension problems.

Finally, exhaust problems may also cause similar issues, expecially around the manifold.

Hope that helps.

Whoa Smess83 :eek:, thanks for all that! Thanks all the rest of you too, I will apologise here as I will mention that the judder only occurs during the winter months, it’s completely stopped ever since we got out of the big cold snap we had. I should’ve mentioned that, I’m so sorry . I was in a bit of a hurry to finish the post and stupidely missed out a bit of information. Please excuse that. The amount of information I know about cars I can fit on a pinhead, the amount of information my mechanic doesn’t know about cars they can fit on a pinhead :rolleyes:. The garage that I go to is a very trusted garage, my boyfriend and his parents have had their cars serviced and fixed there for years and the quality of work is excellent and reasonably priced. They don’t charge through the roof for a small spare part for example. Again, sorry for that fudge-up there. I’ve had the car since March 2009, bought second hand and it only had about 17k on it. It now has a little over 21k so it’s done good. I get what you mean about general usage and build quality, my boyfriend’s Vovlo S40 is 10 years old and has nearly 90k on it, and it still runs like a dream. Different cars, different mileage etc

I’m now going to update: I took the car out around the block for 10 minutes or so, going at 30mph and then less than 10mph in a clear back road, did some stopping and starting and some tight turns, all in a long but very clear and quiet back road and I couldn’t re-create the clunking. I then drove back to my boyfriends and he offered to get in with me and try and feel for the clunking as well as hear it. We did the same thing around where his house is and still no clunking. So I guess it’s a problem that fixed itself, but I will watch it just in case obviously. I remember in about January time, a month before it’s last MOT/Service I had a problem where each time I changed up a gear, the car would judder and nearly stall but it was very subtle. This lasted a day or so before I could get it to the garage, but it stopped happening before I could book it in and never came back before it’s MOT/Service in February. It’s this, and that I couldn’t re-create the problem that is making me think that the car just has it’s «time of the month» sometimes so to speak where something weird happens and then corrects itself. I did ask my mechanic after the last MOT/Service in February if there was anything unusual about the car when they drove it around and checked it out and the juddering in the cold didn’t come up so it must’ve been the sheer cold that caused the engine the sputter a little bit.

I’ll update you with any new developments as it might be helpful for others with similar problems and possibly interesting. Thanks all, and again sorry for the boo-boo Take care!