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Front Suspension Squeak - Lower Control Arm? What else?


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I have a 2001 C4 Cab with 62k miles.  I already ordered outer tie rods because the ball joint bushing is split, but I have been waiting for the right chance to install them.  In the meanwhile (over the last month) a progressively louder squeak has developed with any vertical motion of the front left wheel. When I push down on that fender, it squeaks. So any help appreciated with these questions:

- Does the squeak sound like lower control arm? 

- If I pop the wheel off, will I be able to move the unloaded suspension by hand enough to find the squeak?

- If I am in there anyway, would it just be prudent preventive maintenance to replace the lower control arms (on both sides of course) and get it all done before a new alignment?

- anything else I should be doing while I am in there? 

- Pelican Parts says to jump off bumper to see if it oscillates for bad shocks but I am not liking the stand on the car part. Any other approaches? 

 

many thanks

 

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It's probably the ball joint.  The whole lower arm will need to be replaced, you won't be able to move it by hand with the wheel off.  You can open the hood and use the frunk as a point to load instead of the bumper.  I had the problem a while back, if you search wou might be able to find my post.  I forget if it was here or rennlist.  I haven't had a problem with the other 3 corners, luckliy. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

So I replaced the outer tie rods because the ball joint bushings were split and as JFP predicted they were pretty much toast. I was sure that was the source of the squeak because it was totally silent with new outer tie rods with much driving and pushing down on fender. So i go get the $250 alignment at the dealer, and then today the squeak is back as loud as ever. Inner tie rod ball joints felt fine and every visible bushing looks ok. stumped. Any guidance appreciated. If i replace the lower control arm would I need another realignment?- holding out hope that there is no adjustment there so I would not need aligmnent done again. If i replaced sway bar bushings would i need another alignment? $500 in alignments would really be a bummer.

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I DIY'd my mounts.  It isn't hard if about and hour and a half per side.  I did the one side by myself and had a second set of hands for the other.  Coil clamps a must and air ratchet helps out ...

 

As for the realignment ... I think yes since you need to loosen the control arm and the new mounts are firmer than the old mounts ... Mine is getting new front tires and an alignment tomorrow

 

The toe should be the same since you don't need to loosen toe bars ... the camber may change if you do not place back the mounts exactly where they are.  For me my toe is out and I need new tires so I need an alignment. 

Edited by stutzchris
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OK for the benefit of the next guy who is chasing down a squeak that comes from vertical motion (pressing on the fender), here are a couple things I learned replacing the control arm.

- To diagnose the source I had my son press on the fender to make the squeak, by reaching around tire and feeling the vibration from the squeak source it was unmistakably that the control arm that was the source of the squeak, as opposed to strut mounts or sway bar bushings.

- There was not enough room to get either kind of ball joint tool in there to pop the ball joint, even with grinding away parts of the tool to get in on further. and disconnecting all the other joints to swing it down , and turning the steering wheel.   I hated the idea of the pickle fork and wasted way too much time trying to avoid it. Should have just listed to Wayne Dempsey's advice and go with the pickle fork - four easy hits and it was off.  

- Second PITA was trying to tighten up the bolt that holds the control arm to the chassis - you can only do it when the wheel is 95% loaded to align the indicator marks, which means almost no room to get under there with a torque wrench and get enough leverage for 89 ft/lbs, even when lowering the wheel onto blocks as high as my jack would go - so my Rube Goldberg solution was to zip tie a ratchet extension with a 22m crows foot to the bottom frame to counter hold the nut from the front with no hands, and then get a ratchet on the bolt from the rear to tighten it, but could not get enough leverage, so I slipped a webbing strap around the bottom of the wrench handle through the wheel gaps and did a rowing pull with my feet against the tires on the strap wrapped around the wrench, and I got the click! Absolutely Ridiculous - but very relieved it all worked.  Just waiting to hear the easy way I should have done if I knew what I was doing. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I was tempted to do that to buy a little time, but was dissuaded by knowledgable posters, and it was a good thing.  Turned out that the control arm bushing that looked fine was actually split on the interior side - I only looked at it from front and back and it was actually a touch rusty when it did an autopsy on the joint. I just did a new left control arm as advised and problem solved.  Having just paid $250 for an alignment after doing inner tie rods and then discovering I still needed to do a control arm - I can't bring myself to pay $250 again after just replacing the control arm on one side. any advice appreciated if this is not a good move - does not seem like toe would change at least? ps. also just noticed that there is supposed to be a front splash shield - it is missing on mine and that cant help with exposure and wear all winter. Will order that with my new water pump and T-stat to get my car out of the 106 centrigrade  it is hitting all the time in summer

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