Isuzu D-Max Suspension Issues Explained(+Top Issues and Tips)

In this brief article we are going to discuss the different Isuzu D-Max Suspension problems, what the causes are, and Troubleshooting Tips.

Top 8 most common suspension issues in the Isuzu D-Max? 

The most common suspension issues seen in the Isuzu D-Max are:

  • Clunking Noise in the Front End
  • Clunking Noise in the Rear End
  • Front Shock Absorber Strut Failure
  • Rear Shock Absorber Failure
  • Front Control Arm Failure
  • Front Wheel Bearing Failure
  • Tie-Rod Ball-Joint Failure
  • Rear Leaf Spring Bushing Failure

What suspension does the Isuzu D-Max have?

The Isuzu D-Max’s first 2 generations were based on the Dodge Dakota and Ram Pickup. The 3rd gen Durango was built on the same platform as the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Following the discontinuation of the Dodge Journey, the Durango is the only SUV sold by the Dodge Brand.

Front Suspension

The Isuzu D-Max has a Double-Wishbone type of Front suspension consisting of an Upper and Lower Control arm, shock absorber and Anti roll bar. This arrangement is mounted onto the front subframe.

Rear Suspension

The Isuzu D-Max has a 5-Link rear suspension with a Coil Spring, Shock absorber and a Rear anti-roll bar.

Clunking Noise from Front End

  • ‘Clunking’ noise during normal driving especially on bad and rough road patches that cause the vehicle to “Roll” more.
  • The same ‘Clunk’ noise reduces on smoother roads

Troubleshooting Clunking Noise from Front End

  • For most car suspensions, a ‘Clunk’ Noise is more related to the Anti-roll Bar assembly of the suspension
  • The two most probable causes are:
    • Anti roll bar Subframe mounting bush failure
    • Anti roll Bar End-link Ball-joint failure

Anti roll bar Subframe mounting bush failure

  • The Anti-Roll bar (ARB) bushings are the isolators between the ARB and the vehicle’s chassis. The bushings also ‘secure’ the ARB in place and restrict excessive movement so that the ARB can properly function.
  • The ARB-to-chassis bushing is a D-shaped Rubber part that is secured by a C-Clamp both in the Front as well as the rear of the Durango
  • The ARB is under torsional loads while the car is undergoing “Roll” motion either during cornering or Rough Roads. 
  • In these situations, when the ARB undergoes torsion, the mounting bushes also share part of the road loads.
  • Bushings that have aged, hardened, or simply worn out and become loose tend to cause noise as they allow unnecessary movement of the ARB.
  • You can easily check for Anti roll bar bush failure using a pry bar. Wedge it between the ARB and the subframe and try to lift the ARB. If it moves without much resistance and also creates a knock sound, then it means that the ARB bush needs to be changed.

Pro-Tip

  • While refitting the Antiroll bar subframe bushing use a good anti-seize paste at the contact surface between the anti roll bar and the rubber bushing
  • Anti-Seize application could be repeated periodically in order to prevent excessive wear, say, every 50K miles or so.
  • For improving handling, you could search in the aftermarket for the same bushing with harder material. The harness is generally denoted by the Shore ‘A’ hardness number.

Anti-roll bar End link Ball-Joint Failure

  • The ARB-to-suspension connection is done using ARB end links. 
  • On the front axle, the end links use a sealed ball joint design that has a significant range of motion sufficient for the various movements of the front suspension. 
  • The rubber boot that protects the end link Ball-joints can tear, allowing the joint lubrication to seep out and exposing the ball joint to corrosion. The result is a clunking noise from the worn joint. 
  • If the end links’ mounting fasteners have loosened on either end, it could result in clunking noise.
  • On the rear suspension ARB end links, rubber bushings are used instead of ball joints. These end link bushings can age and then start to squeak. 
  • Use of Lubricants injected into the ball-joint by inserting a needle through the rubber boot could temporarily solve the squeaking sound problem. But it is always recommended that new end links be fitted.

Pro-Tip

  • When changing the Anti Roll Bar End Links (also called Drop Links), Jack up both sides of the car. 
  • If you jack only one side at a time, there will be a twist in the anti-roll bar because of which you would find it difficult to align the anti-roll bar and end link at the bolt hole.
  • Aftermarket End-Links with Greasable Ball-joints can be considered as an alternative. These would offer an extended life as compared to the OE sealed type of ball-joints, as they are serviceable.

Clunking Noise from Rear End

Symptoms:

  • Rear Clunking noise while normal driving
  • Noise increases when going over bad roads

Troubleshooting Clunking Noise from Rear End

  • As with front suspension clunking (explained in this section) Clunking noises, in a majority of cases originate in the Anti Roll bar joints
  • The Rear Anti-roll bar can be inspected by using a pry-bar and trying to lift the bar leveraged against the subframe
  • You could also examine the linkages by trying to shake the Anti roll bar drop links by hand.

Pro-Tip:

  • When inspecting for suspension noises and anti-roll bars, always jack the chassis/body and let the wheels hang
  • When jacking up only one side, the anti roll bar applies downward pressure on both side wheels and it becomes difficult to check joints because they become extra tight.

Front Shock Absorber Failure

Symptoms:

  • Rattling Noise going over any rough patches
  • Front end bouncier than normal
  • Changes in handling behaviour; Vehicle not feeling stable at high speed cornering

Troubleshooting Front Shock Absorber Failure

  • The Bouncy Ride symptom points to the Shock Absorber as a probable cause.
  • If your vehicle has crossed 50K miles, then it could be due for a shock replacement. Due to long-term internal wear, the shock starts becoming ineffective over time.
  • If the front strut shock has started leaking oil due to a failed oil-seal, then it means that the shock will no longer be effective.
  • One good way to tell if your shock has failed or not is to do a “Bounce Test”. Put all your weight on one of the front corners of the vehicle pushing it downwards. Keep oscillating the corner till you feel that it has reached its maximum height. Once you take your hands off the corner, observe how it settles. If it takes more than 2 oscillations to settle, that means the damper has failed.
  • In the Isuzu D-Max, the strut top mount is located just above the Upper Control arm

Rear Shock Absorber Failure

Symptoms:

  • Knocking and Popping Noises from the Rear going over bumps
  • Rear end feels bouncier

Troubleshooting Rear Shock Strut Failure

  • The Bouncy Ride symptom points to the Shock Absorber as a probable cause.
  • The noises coming from the rear are partly due to the failed shock absorber allowing the bump stops to contact more often. And also the noises partly come from the worn out shock mounting bushes that allow the shock to move and hit against the mounting brackets.
  • If your vehicle has crossed 40-50K miles, then it could be due for a shock absorber replacement. Due to long-term internal wear, the shock absorber starts losing its damping action over time.
  • You could either choose to keep or replace the springs depending on the condition. If your vehicle has already done 80K plus miles, the spring would also soon be due for replacement. So, it would be better to simply replace the whole strut assembly.
  • If the rear shock has started leaking oil due to a failed oil-seal, then it means that the shock will no longer be effective.
  • One good way to tell if your shock has failed or not is to do a “Bounce Test”. Put all your weight on one of the front corners of the vehicle pushing it downwards. Keep oscillating the corner till you feel that it has reached its maximum height. Once you take your hands off the corner, observe how it settles. If it takes more than 2 oscillations to settle, that means the damper has failed.
  • Once the Strut Shock absorber has been dismantled, there is one more way to see the shock condition for yourself by way of a ‘Compression’ test. 
  • You can simply apply force on the top of the shock and compress it. If it can come back up on its own, then the shock is in fairly good condition. But if it takes too long or doesn’t expand on its own, it’s confirmed that the shock absorber has failed.
  • It is always recommended to either loosen or tighten the Lower mounting bolts of the rear shock absorber only when the rear axle has been supported either using a Hydraulic jack or a jack-stand.

Pro-Tip

  • As per the Shock absorber manufacturer, a new shock absorber must always be ‘Started’ before it is fitted. To ‘Start’ a shock absorber, you must oscillate it 3-5 times by hand.
  • The reason for doing this is that when the shock absorber was stored lying down, in the fully compressed or expanded condition, the hydraulic fluid may not have flowed completely to one side of the piston. When this happens, the shock absorber will jerk during operation. ‘Starting’ will help to avoid this sort of jerky operation.
  • While fitting a new shock absorber, always, Tighten the Top mounting bolts first and then the Lower mounting bolt.

Front Upper and Lower Control Arm Failure

Symptoms:

  • Poor handling; the car seems to be drifting
  • Steering seems vague while Lane Changing
  • Uneven Tire Wear pattern
  • Knocking Noises while going over Rough Patches

Root Cause:

  • Due to a Tire wear issue, it can be inferred that the alignment of the front suspension is outside of the recommended settings. But this is still a symptom.
  • The cause for alignment change points to the Upper and Lower control arm Bushings and Ball-joints that may have got worn or damaged

Troubleshooting Front Control Arm Failure: Upper and Lower Control Arm Bushings

  • The Control Arm bushings wear out over time and cracks due to age.
  • Use a Pry bar and try to lift or move the control arm at each bushing location and watch how it moves. If the movement is loose then it means that the control arm has failed.
  • Also, when inspecting the Lower control arm after removal, tears and cracks in the rubber portion indicate that the bushings have failed
  • A Worn out Control arm bushing will allow the controls arm to move around and sometimes hit the subframe causing noise
  • The Control arm movement due to bush wear-out disturbs the wheel alignment settings.
  • Hence the handling of the car feels poor.

Pro-Tips:

  • For Rusted Bolt connections that are hard to Break-open, do not try repeatedly using hand or pneumatic tools.
  • Always first soak it for 10-15 min after spraying a good Rust-penetrant.

Troubleshooting Front Control Arm Failure: Upper and Lower Control Arm Ball-Joints

  • In any type of front suspension, the control arm ball-joints are subject to wear and tear
  • The deterioration is usually initiated as a crack or rupture in the rubber boot around the ball-joint
  • This leads to loss of lubrication and finally to complete wear out or, in some cases, Rust.
  • The wear out causes play or movement accompanied by knocking noise. The play in the ball-joint is one of the reasons for the vehicle steering feeling vague
  • You can easily check for Ball-joint condition by this simple procedure:
    • Get the car on a Ramp
    • Lock the steering wheel
    • Hold the front tire with both your hands in a 6 o’clock position and try to move the wheel up and down
    • If you hear a ‘Knock’ or ‘Click’, then it is very much likely that the noise is due to a play in either or both of the Ball-joints
  • Ball-joint failure could also lead to steering shake or wheel wobble at high speeds
  • The D-Max Upper and Lower ball-joints area Bolt-on type and can be replaced independent of the control arm

Pro-Tips:

  • For Bushing damage, it would always be better to change the control arm since it is complicated to press-fit new bushings
  • For a low mileage (40-50K miles) vehicle it may not be necessary to replace the whole control arm in case of ball-joint damage.
  • For a high mileage (80-100K miles), it might be wiser to change the whole control arm since both the bushes as well as the ball-joint would have reached the end of their service life.
  • The upper control arm chassis bracket has eccentric holes because this is how the Camber setting is adjusted. So, when removing the Upper control arm, before loosening the nut, make sure to mark the bolt position on the eccentric bracket hole.

Front Wheel Bearing Failure

Symptoms:

  • Droning noise above 30 mph speeds
  • Sound is louder with increasing speed

Troubleshooting Front Wheel Bearing Failure

  • Droning noise is generally associated with one of the wheel bearings depending on where the noise is coming from
  • In the Isuzu D-Max, the wheel bearings generally have a life of 50K miles, after which, on deterioration and noise happens
  • In the Isuzu D-Max, the wheel bearing is housed within the Knuckle and the Wheel Spindle. It is of a single-piece design.
  • The Wheel Hub assembly has a split serviceable type of bearing that needs to be greased at the right intervals
  • In order to remove the wheel hub assembly, if it seems to be too hard then you may need to use a 3-leg Gear Puller

Pro-Tips:

  • In order to avoid Bearing failure, one simple way is to check the front wheel bearings every 30,000km
  • Thoroughly inspect the bearings and then either re-grease the bearings or replace them
  • While replacing, make sure to buy only the OE recommended bearing manufacturer and part number

Front Tie Rod Ball Joint Failure

Symptoms:

  • Knocking Noises during normal driving
  • Steering feels vague and difficult to keep steady

Troubleshooting Front Tie Rod Ball Joint Failure

  • The deterioration is usually initiated as a crack or rupture in the rubber boot around the ball-joint
  • This leads to loss of lubrication and finally to complete wear out or, in some cases, Rust.
  • Once the ball-joint wears out, the joint has a lot of play or looseness
  • One can easily check for tie rod failure by hanging the wheel and holding the wheel with both hands in a 9 o’clock, 3 o’clock position and trying to rotate it. 
  • If the toe rod ball joint has failed then you can feel play or looseness and knocking sounds while trying to rotate the tire

Squeaky Rear Suspension

  • Rear end squeaks during normal driving
  • Squeaking increases when the truck is unloaded as compared to when it is loaded

Root Causes:

The Squeak could be due to:

  • Interleaf friction
  • Failed front Hinge Bushing

Troubleshooting Squeaky Rear Suspension

  • The leaf spring pack works together to provide the required suspension stiffness
  • In this process, the leafs contact and cause friction and noise
  • The manufacturer provides rubber spacers to reduce noise, but these wear out over time
  • One solution would be to replace the rubber spacer pads that are fitted in between the leafs
  • The other would be to regularly apply grease to the interleaf contact surfaces
  • Check also the condition of the leaf front hinge/hanger Rubber bushing. This consists of a steel bearing tube with 2 conical rubber bushings fitted around the tube.
  • There is one pair each on the top and bottom hinge of the spring rear shackle
  • The shackle plates are tightened around the rubber bushings

Pro-Tips:

  • If the bushing does not come out easily, you may need to use heat and melt it or use a drill with a Reaming tool
  • If the press-kit is not working, then you could you could use a torch and heat up the eye of the leaf spring just enough to melt the rubber and push it out

Conclusion

In this brief article we have discussed the different Isuzu D-Max Suspension problems, what the causes are, and Troubleshooting Tips.

For any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch with us.

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