My sway bar, bushings, noisy front-end story.....



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Thread: My sway bar, bushings, noisy front-end story.....

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    My sway bar, bushings, noisy front-end story.....

    First, a heart-felt thanks to all contributors here. Reading many of these posts and replies has been very helpful in keeping the van moving.

    I, too, began hearing a thumping, banging, rattling (choose your sound) in my front end about a year ago.

    After reading here, it was clear the first suspect would be the sway bar bushings. I got a gander at them, and were definitely egg-shaped in the hole's appearance, so I thought replacing them would quell the noise. (Incidentally, the noise sounded to me like it was coming from the high driver's side.)

    I managed to replace them, the drivers side was a bit of a problem as the backside was difficult to get a tool on. Nevertheless, after replacement, there was no change - still the same noise.

    In doing that work, I also saw that my tie-rod ends were pretty loose and squirrely, so I thought that maybe they were contributing. I replace those the following weekend (new ones actually had grease zerks on them, thankfully). The front end felt tighter, like it had when the van was newer, but still the same noise.

    At this point, I figured a modest investment in the sway bar end links might help, but I was having a nagging feeling it was strut-related. I had read on this forum about how a worn strut bushing might cause this sort of noise. Since my struts are original, I was leaning that way.

    Anyway, I replaced the driver sway bar link first. The lower ball/socket was pretty loose and it had a little ball-to-socket play in it. I drove the van - same noise, which led me to believe replacing the passenger side link, which I intended to do, wouldn't silence the noise.

    As I worked on the passenger side, the torx/stud on the upper side would not budge, and I ruined a 40T socket I had bought; it stripped out. I then thought maybe I could drill out the stud at the nut and work it off that way. Forget that. Finally, since the rubber boots were in tatters, I managed to get a set of vice-grips on the back side and managed to break the nut. It came off easy then, and the bottom nut, having been previously 'broken' during the bushing swap was a piece of cake.

    In installing the new link, I noticed the studs were now about an inch to long in lining up with the strut mount hole and sway bar. I didn't recall having that problem on the driver's side, but I used a clamp to pull the sway bar down so they'd align better. After getting everything tight, I took it for a spin, but didn't expect there to be a difference.

    I was both surprised and relieved when the front end returned to its normal quiet self.

    Anyway, thought I'd share my experience.

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    01GCSE (02-28-2011), MyMamaDrivesAVan (03-22-2011)

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  4. #2
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    I admire your determination to chase down the problem. Every time I've replaced the sway bar bushings on my own, they still make noise. So a few months ago I broke-down and had my trusty dealer replace the stabilizer bar end links AND bushings. ... a little over a month later, I started hearing a loud chirp/squeak noise every time I went over a bump, exactly like what I had before. Now I'm wondering if my tie-rods are shot, but the van tracks straight as an arrow and doesn't wander all over creation. It really makes for a very noisy ride and I don't want to have to pay to have the sway bar bushings and endlinks done again, but I just might have to take it to the dealer again to see what's wrong... I know it's not the struts as both entire front strut assemblies are brand-new....
    1996 Chrysler Town & Country LX [My lovable Daily-Driver]
    2000 Chrysler Town & Country Limited [Yes, it's still around!]
    2000 Chrysler 300M [New kid on the block...]

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    I am about to embark on the same journey in quest of a loud new squeak; it started after replacing the steering gear this winter but I have traced it to the sway bar using my trusty mechanics stethoscope. Can either of you please tell me if the cradle really does have to be dropped to reach the bushing retaining nuts? I'm going to do the links and bushings at the same time, but I just re-torqued the cradle bolts to 135 and that is a hard pull on my torque wrench that I would love to avoid.

    Thanks
    2008 Subaru WRX
    2002 T&C 3.8L
    2000 A4
    1999 T&C

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    When doing the sway bar links, and especially so if both wheels weren't off the ground at the same time, or not on ramps, the nuts are not likely tight enough and you will hear a familiar clunk some days/weeks later.

    SWAY BAR LINKS have a reputation for the nuts not being tight enough and/or backing off after installation. Make sure the sway bar is in a neutral position (not being twisted due to one wheel being higher/lower than the other) when tightening or re-tightening the nuts.

    A retightening of the nuts a few days after installation is a good preventative practice.

    Chris: This may be your problem exactly.
    2007 GC SXT - Magnesium - S&G - 3.8L - 100,747 kms
    2002 GC Sport - Stone White - 3.3L - 303,050 kms
    2003 Jeep TJ Sport - 4.0L - 244,100 kms

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    Quote Originally Posted by MyMamaDrivesAVan View Post
    I am about to embark on the same journey in quest of a loud new squeak; it started after replacing the steering gear this winter but I have traced it to the sway bar using my trusty mechanics stethoscope. Can either of you please tell me if the cradle really does have to be dropped to reach the bushing retaining nuts? I'm going to do the links and bushings at the same time, but I just re-torqued the cradle bolts to 135 and that is a hard pull on my torque wrench that I would love to avoid.

    Thanks
    No , you do not need to dropped the cradle to get to them. Dropping it only gives you more room to work but, not, dont need to lower it. I recently replaced the control arms, thats when it really needs to be remove.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wfhinnc View Post
    As I worked on the passenger side, the torx/stud on the upper side would not budge, and I ruined a 40T socket I had bought; it stripped out. I then thought maybe I could drill out the stud at the nut and work it off that way. Forget that. Finally, since the rubber boots were in tatters, I managed to get a set of vice-grips on the back side and managed to break the nut. It came off easy then, and the bottom nut, having been previously 'broken' during the bushing swap was a piece of cake.

    In installing the new link, I noticed the studs were now about an inch to long in lining up with the strut mount hole and sway bar. I didn't recall having that problem on the driver's side, but I used a clamp to pull the sway bar down so they'd align better. After getting everything tight, I took it for a spin, but didn't expect there to be a difference.

    I was both surprised and relieved when the front end returned to its normal quiet self.

    Anyway, thought I'd share my experience.
    First, congratulatios on a job well done. Thanks for sharing your experience.
    A couple of comments:
    - bushings can be replaced without undoing the links, atleast that's so on the 4th Generation. The bolts for both bushings should be loosened up enough though so the sway bar can be moved away from the body. Makes life easier.
    - the alignment problem you had was, I think, because the sway bar wasn't in a neutral position and was in torsion. I am assuming your wheels were not at the same elevation off the ground. Otherwise you may have different length links for some unknown reason.
    - the nuts should be retightened to torque specifications in a few days after installation. They do back off or don't tighten up well initially.
    2007 GC SXT - Magnesium - S&G - 3.8L - 100,747 kms
    2002 GC Sport - Stone White - 3.3L - 303,050 kms
    2003 Jeep TJ Sport - 4.0L - 244,100 kms

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    Quote Originally Posted by MyMamaDrivesAVan View Post
    I am about to embark on the same journey in quest of a loud new squeak; it started after replacing the steering gear this winter but I have traced it to the sway bar using my trusty mechanics stethoscope. Can either of you please tell me if the cradle really does have to be dropped to reach the bushing retaining nuts? I'm going to do the links and bushings at the same time, but I just re-torqued the cradle bolts to 135 and that is a hard pull on my torque wrench that I would love to avoid.

    Thanks
    The Haynes Manual says to do such work, the reason possibly being that they are talking about replacing the sway bar completely. No work on the cradle required to replace just the bushings or links.
    2007 GC SXT - Magnesium - S&G - 3.8L - 100,747 kms
    2002 GC Sport - Stone White - 3.3L - 303,050 kms
    2003 Jeep TJ Sport - 4.0L - 244,100 kms

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  12. #8
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    Thanks, All !

    I was able to switch out the bushings pretty easily with the van on my rhino ramps and a couple of jackstands underneath for good measure. It took me about 1 1/2 hour all together. That got rid of some, but not all, squeaks, so I then tackled the links. A bit harder here with the cramped quarters and lack of an 18mm wrench, but I eventually finished the passenger side link before the rains started. A quick test ride revealed almost no remaining noise (although I'll do the driver side link once clear weather returns because it, too, is in horrible shape).

    Thanks again for the help.
    2008 Subaru WRX
    2002 T&C 3.8L
    2000 A4
    1999 T&C

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