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Discussion Starter #1
so I have been battling with suspension issues since I bought this car a year and a half ago. Now every once in a while it makes a sort of popping noise when going over bumps and when I turn the wheel I hear a creaking noise. I have checked the balljoints myself by trying to pull and pry on the wheels while jacked up, but I get no movement. Maybe I am doing it wrong????
 

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1997 Thunderbird 4.6, 1998 Mark VIII LSC
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Sway bar endlinks are also very common culprits for such noises. There's no real way to check them while they're on the car that I know of. About $45/ea. from Ford.
 

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Noises

My 1995 had TONS of noises coming from all over the place (suspension wise) and I systematically changed everything to quiet it down. Upper/lower ball joints, control arm bushings, sway bar end-links, tie-rod ends, you name it.

The last 2 noises I had to deal with were the following:

One of the new rear sway bar end links I put in the end got bend on a stump or something, and the rubber bushing broke and fell out, so I had to replace it again.

The passenger front upper control arm assembly (you can't get just the ball joint, you have to change the whole UCA/ball joint as a unit) that I got from Napa was just bad out of the gate and started squeeking right away after I had replaced both driver & passenger sides. I changed it under warranty and fixed that noise.

Final verdict: rides like a new car!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
One of the new rear sway bar end links I put in the end got bend on a stump or something, and the rubber bushing broke and fell out, so I had to replace it again.
Thats where the nose is coming from in the rear....... Not half as bad as the front, but nonetheless figured out.

Well the popping is getting worse, it happens mainly when I turn the wheel (to the right only) - I hear a pop, and after that the wheel kind of sticks to the right and I have to jerk it to the left to get it to straighten out.

And, of course, a new problem has developed. Whenever I use the brakes, and the front end of the car kind of dips to the ground, there is a very loud creaking noise coming from the front end, this same noise also happens when I turn the wheel at slower speeds (turning it either way.. Maybe the springs???)

This is my dd, so I don't just wanna go replacing parts on a whim,,, It would be nice to get some idea on what's going on in the front, or maybe this has happened to somebody? (i'm sure it has lol) I will be putting new brake pads on this weekend, so further inspection will be done then.
 

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1997 Thunderbird 4.6, 1998 Mark VIII LSC
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Sounds like lower ball joints to me. How many miles, and were they ever replaced before? Lower ball joint failure is not something you want to risk.
 

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sounds lie strut rod bushings to me... have you had anyone turn the wheel while you look?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
as far as i know they have never been replaced i wouldnt know how to check..... the car has prob around 175k on it ( odometer dosent work)
how would i check the lowers? would that cause the creaking and popping noise?
 

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1997 Thunderbird 4.6, 1998 Mark VIII LSC
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The lower ball joints failed at about 160k on my mom's 93 many years back, the precursory indications being creaking sounds on turns and over bumps. To check them, raise the front of the car and set it on jack stands. Then jack up the car at the lower control arm just enough to get the weight off the one side's jack stand. Then have someone grab the tire and rock it back and forth while you watch for movement in any of the suspension components. If you see the lower ball joint moving, it's shot. Likewise for the upper ball joint.

http://forums.tccoa.com/showthread.php?t=98597 is what you don't want to happen.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
The lower ball joints failed at about 160k on my mom's 93 many years back, the precursory indications being creaking sounds on turns and over bumps. To check them, raise the front of the car and set it on jack stands. Then jack up the car at the lower control arm just enough to get the weight off the one side's jack stand. Then have someone grab the tire and rock it back and forth while you watch for movement in any of the suspension components. If you see the lower ball joint moving, it's shot. Likewise for the upper ball joint.

http://forums.tccoa.com/showthread.php?t=98597 is what you don't want to happen.
I've tried that a few times, actually, over the course of me having the car, and I try moving the tire and can't get it to budge an 1/8th of an inch.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I think I got this probllem figured out,,,,,, I just replaced my front brakes, and while doing the passenger side I noticed that the sway bar endlink had seperated at the top. I'm not sure what would cause this unless I got the wrong part sent to me a year ago when I did them last. Would this cause my problems? Here are some pics of what I found



 

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1997 Thunderbird 4.6, 1998 Mark VIII LSC
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That could cause some strange handling characteristics, but look at your lower ball joint in the first picture, how the rubber boot is all shredded. The ball joint is shot. Also, if the rubber boot is broken or cracked on the top ball joints, you'll need new UCAs as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I know, I noticed that as well. I found a shop that will do it for $283, which I don't think is too bad. The boots on my UCA's aren't torn, but the ones for my tie rods are.
 

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You should find out what brand of parts your shop will use. The only acceptable replacements are Moog and Motorcraft (TRW).
 

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I just remedied terrible front end noise today by replacing the upper and lower control arms (moog), and sway bar end links (TRW). They were replacements for OE brand parts that had been in for ~9 months, that stuff is absolute garbage. I know it's been said PLENTY of times on here, just trying to reiterate for anybody considering using this stuff.

Damon
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks for that info - I was unaware. I did put new Moog endlinks in and will definitly buy the LCA's when I have the cash. Until then, I think the safe choice would be to park the bird for now, as I have a 60 mile (one way) commute everyday and having bad ball joints and driving 80 mph down the interstate dosen't seem like a smart idea.
 

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having bad ball joints and driving 80 mph down the interstate dosen't seem like a smart idea.
Only if you're suicidal or homicidal.

When it breaks, it will bend your fender, and dig into the pavement.

There's a post somewhere here where someone recently took out a highway divider when one broke... I won't ride that ride, lol.

Please get them fixed before you drive it.

Otherwise, best case, you'll be changing them out in a parking lot. It's really hard to get a jack under the car when it's sitting on the LCA.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
Although the popping and clunking stopped, the squeaking still remains, but It's parked, for now. Gonna DD my truck for a while, there's a plus to driving that gas guzzler over the bird though............... My truck has A/C :D
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Took the car to the shop today to see what their diagnosis would be. Inner tie rod on the drivers side. After I replaced very broken passengers side sway bar endlink, most of the noises stopped. I still heard a little noise (haven't replaced the rear endlinks yet) out of the rear, but the front had stopped. They said my balljoints and other bushings checked out just fine. Gonna replace the inner tie rod myself, as well as the rear endlinks, then get a 4 wheel alignment done.

I have never replaced tie rod ends before, and hope the job isn't too bad.
 

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I had a similar noise from the rear, turns out the bushings on my rear shocks were shot. I replaced them and havent had a problem since. And the inners are not bad at all. just have a big adjustable wrench and you will be fine.
 

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I took a look at my front suspension today. I have similar symptoms as the OP. When driving, I have a creaking noise coming from the front, passenger side. I cut the wheel and took pictures. This is what I found.

Passenger side


passenger side, looking down slightly.


Driver's side
 
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