The Idle American: If it’s a clunk, it must be a clunker

Kedren, who solved the automotive problem that baffled the experts, with the Newbury’s rescue Dachshund.

The “clunk” occurs on corners or when brakes are applied. I care not a whit; my wife cares many whits.

Things that go “bump in the night” bother me no more than mosquitos buzzing about. As long as they’re buzzing, they aren’t biting. Mine is a “live and let live” philosophy–no harm, no foul.

Brenda, my wife of 52 years, feels differently, however. To her, foreign sounds are precursors of something worse. The buzz of a single mosquito portends thousands more nearby, all eager to bite ‘cause they’re hungry.

The stage now set, I will describe an ongoing problem, one causing year-long consternation and mild arguments. The story concerns a noise–occurring night or day, at home or away–in our 2011 Camry. Once we reach “school zone speed,” the “clunk” occurs on corners or when brakes are applied. I care not a whit; my wife cares many whits….


   “There’s that noise again,” she almost always says, within a nanosecond of the occurrence. (Admittedly, she sometimes says “clunk” or “bump.” It’s as predictable as sunrise.)

The next sentence–always ice-coated–threatens: “We’ve got to get It fixed, or get another car.”

I wince–though not audibly–thinking how ridiculous to replace a perfectly good car because of a tiny noise–one I’ve grown to consider a friend, but now my wife’s archenemy.….

Don Newbury

I’ve made modest attempts to cure the problem. A neighbor drove our car around the block, observing that we “clearly have a problem, and that the car should be repaired professionally.”

A mechanic friend at church heard the “clunk,” offering a probable repair estimate between $100 and $500.

I winced again–this time audibly….


   A few days ago, we heard the “clunk” repeatedly en route to Tyler, a drop-off point for our rescue dachshund Sailor. (He’d rather stay with our grandchildren than in a kennel while we are away on a Carnival Vista cruise from Galveston.)

I mentioned the noise to our son-in-law Kyle, who can “fix” anything but horse races. He interrupted his current project of adding another room and bath to the Penney home to “take a look” (and a “listen”) at our car woes.

He confirmed the analyses previously made by the mechanic and would-be mechanic.

Yep, we definitely had a foreign sound, seemingly from the air vents….


    Things soon were to get better. First, he located a cabin air filter behind the dropped-down glove compartment. I didn’t know it was there, but made a trip to the parts store for a fresh filter.

Kyle reassembled all the dangling wires, tubes and glove box, unconvinced that the noise would go away. I clung to the hope that somehow the old filter somehow was causing the “clunk.”

It wasn’t….


   We took a final spin around the block, only to hear the same old “clunks.” This time, however, Kedren was along with us. He’s our 12-year-old grandson who blew out birthday candles during our overnight visit.

He was “riding shotgun” as Kyle drove.

I was weeping in the backseat….


   After the first turn, Kedren reached above the mirror to open the little compartment designed to store eyewear. He extracted a pair of sunglasses my wife thought she had lost last fall.

Voila! The “clunking” sound disappeared, and my wife has her favorite sunglasses back. How great this will be in the sunny Caribbean!

We proceeded to Galveston. It was a quiet trip. With no “clunks,” there wasn’t much to talk about….


   Upon return home, I’ll contact my auto dealer friend, Dwain Bruner, telling him about the design flaw. I’ll explain that if the eyeglass compartment were reduced by a single inch in each direction, there’d be no more “clunking.” My fear is that his response will suggest that when eyeglasses are properly encased when storing, this, too, will eliminate offensive sounds.

Now, though, my conscience is bothersome. I probably should give Kedren $100–the lowest repair estimate–and maybe I will.

Before you ask, my wife’s sunglasses are rose-colored….


Dr. Newbury is a former educator who “commits speeches” round about. Comments/inquiries to: [email protected]. Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: Twitter: @donnewbury. Facebook: don newbury.

Don Newbury is the author of humous, inspirational, and autobiographical When the Porch Light’s On. Please click HERE to find the book on Amazon.

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