I have done quite a bit of work on the clunk issue since I have the problem on my CTS-V. The problem comes from the soft rubber torque coupling and the drive shaft center bearing mount. Both of these parts are made with rubber that is very soft to reduce road and gear noise inside the car. The clunk occurs when the clutch is suddenly released when there is torque on the drive shaft. The large amount of torque created on the dirve shaft in low, second, and reverse twists these rubber components like a rubber band. When you push in the clutch quickly this torque is suddenly released and the rubber parts quickly unwind. GM calls this torque reversal, but it is not actually a reversal. The clunk noise actually is not made by the drive shaft. The clunk comes from the ring and pinion gear in the differential box. When the drive shaft unwinds suddenly the pinion teeth impact the ring gear teeth and you hear the noise. The noise is loudest if you stand outside near the rear wheels. The noise is comming through the axles and into the wheels, but it is all caused by the soft rubber in the drive shaft. Some of this sudden unwinding is caused by the drive shaft itself since it appears to made from aluminum. Aluminum has one third the stiffness of steel so this causes some of the problem, but I think 90% of the problem is from the rubber. I have had emails on this subject going through the Southeastern Cadillac service rep to power train engineers at GM. Here is their response:
"The CTS-V driveline has a few "normal" operating characteristics that some customers may find objectionable. Obviously this is because the driveline was designed with high speed performance and durability as the primary criteria, pleasability issues that normally rank as high Cadillac priorities were relegated lower because this car is not like other Cadillac's. We know torque reversal in the driveline will cause an audible clunk and this can occur under various common driving/clutching conditions."
"Torque reversal is a result of normal axle backlash, the driveshaft rubber isolation flanges, the center support and the dual-mass flywheel working together. This phenomenon has been thoroughly evaluated by engineering and has been validated as not detrimental to durability or high performance usage. It is normal and no repairs should be attempted."
They will not give me the e mail address or the phone number of the engineer. Please send an e mail to: email@example.com and complain about this problem. Mike is the service manager for the Southeast and he will forward your comments.
You can create the clunk without moving the car. Put the parking brake on. Shift to first gear. With the engine at idle (about 1000 RPM) slowly let the clutch out until the engine bogs down to about 600 RPM. The very suddenly push in the clutch and you will hear about three clunks. Do not give the engine any gas when you are doing this. Just idle speed is good enough.
I actually blocked the car up very safely and got under the car. I trained my wife to go through this procedure while I was under the car, and I could see the drive shaft clunking back and forth.
In my younger days I was a power train engineer for off highway equipment so I know something about this issue. To me it is an unacceptable defect in the design of the CTS-V. So far Cadillac will not try to correct the problem. If you complain it will help. They tell me I am the only one complaining. The solution is to make these rubber parts from higher durometer (stiffer) rubber.
Please give me a call and I can tell you even more about trying to relsove this issue. My daytime phone numbers are 803-822-7400 or 803-429-7000.