Horrible clunking from front wheel area

TTManUK

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Hi gents - with typically poor timing, I had planned to drive down to Cornwall on Xmas Eve, and when I started my car and set off, a horrible noise immediately started emanating from the front driver side wheel area. I could only describe it as clunking, but that's probably not the best description. The noise is fairly constant, gets faster as road speed increases, and makes the noise regardless of going straight or turning, and whether in gear or in neutral. To me, at low speed, it almost sounds like the same sort of rubber pinging noise you might hear when inflating a tyre and it pops over the bead. I managed to find a garage that was open for a half day who quickly got it on a ramp, nothing obviously wrong with a visual inspection, they also jacked it up on the ramp to test for play in bearings and all seemed fine, no movement and no noise when spinning the wheel. I then tried to get a mobile mechanic to look at it, who diagnosed it as a failed wheel bearing. In my previous experience, this would normally have shown itself as a humming/grinding noise long before the sort of catastrophic failure that it sounds like now, and would show even with the car in the air so not under load. I ordered a new bearing before Mercedes closed for the Xmas break just in case, and will fit that when it comes, but frankly I'm not confident that will fix it. Wheel bolts are tight, coil springs do not appear to be broken, and visible components like drop links and ball joints appeared to be ok. Does anyone have any idea what this might be or has experienced this themselves? Thanks in advance
 
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TTManUK

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Bump for visibility
 

mioba

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have you checked the gaiters on the drive shaft.

Had a failed drive shaft in my W251 and that was a clunking noise.
 
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TTManUK

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It's RWD so I don't think I have drive shafts/CV joints at the front?
 
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TTManUK

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I'm going to take everything off tomorrow in prep for fitting the new bearing, I'll check the brake dust plate thanks. It's not really a grinding noise which is what I would expect from that, but can't hurt to check. What I don't understand is it just appeared overnight out of seemingly nowhere
 
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MancRick101

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Sounds like you’ve checked all the usual culprits. Only other thing I can think of, but would have expected the garage to have checked this, is the front shock absorber mount. They cause a clunking sound when they go bad.

I had a similar noise from the rear and all appeared grand on visual inspection. It turned out to be an internal fault inside the shock absorber and apparently it’s a common issue.
 
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TTManUK

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So this did turn out to be the bearing, despite there being no play, and it making no untoward noises when being manually spun on the ground. Weird, but just glad it is fixed
 

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