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Discussion Starter #1
In the last week my car has developed a horrible creaking sound coming from the drivers side front suspension. It's mostly noticeable at at slow speeds going over uneven pavement and when turning the wheel to the left and back to center from the left. No sound when turning right or back to center from the right. Also if i push down on the front left of the car there is some creaking.

From searching I'm guessing it's either the front strut mount or control arms/bushings. The car has 115k and the control arm bushings were replaced around 60k. Installed coil-overs at 95k.

My plan is to order the level one suspension rebuild kit and Meyle front strut mounts from ECS Tuning.

If anyone has any definitive solution to this problem that would be great. Or other possible parts causing the problem. Most things I found here were mainly guesses or people replaced multiple parts and it went away. Also any alternatives to the parts i listed that would be better would be great to know.


If people show interest I'll replace each part separately and take a test drive to find out which part caused it and post it here.
 

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In the last week my car has developed a horrible creaking sound coming from the drivers side front suspension. It's mostly noticeable at at slow speeds going over uneven pavement and when turning the wheel to the left and back to center from the left. No sound when turning right or back to center from the right. Also if i push down on the front left of the car there is some creaking.

From searching I'm guessing it's either the front strut mount or control arms/bushings. The car has 115k and the control arm bushings were replaced around 60k. Installed coil-overs at 95k.

My plan is to order the level one suspension rebuild kit and Meyle front strut mounts from ECS Tuning.

If anyone has any definitive solution to this problem that would be great. Or other possible parts causing the problem. Most things I found here were mainly guesses or people replaced multiple parts and it went away. Also any alternatives to the parts i listed that would be better would be great to know.

If people show interest I'll replace each part separately and take a test drive to find out which part caused it and post it here.
From what you are describing you are correct that it is most likely your control arm bushings. As you also mentioned, our Meyle HD Level I suspension rebuild kit is available as a great solution.

However you might also want to check your sway bar end links, as these are also a common culprit for front end noise.

You can find all of these options available below...

Click HERE for more information.


Please let us know if you have any questions! Feel free to shoot me a PM or email.

Best,
Joe
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Ordered the parts today.

Suspension rebuild kit level I, Meyle front strut mount, and also some RTABs since they most likely need to get replaced at this point anyways. I'll start working on the car the Friday after I get the parts and will post the progress and hopefully the solution here.

If anyone in the Bay Area has an RTAB tool they would let me borrow/rent let me know.

If this doesn't solve the creaking I'll probably get new sway bar end links, like ECSTuningJoe mentioned
 

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My bet is on the top strut mount in that dome. I got the exact noise in my pillow ball mounts on my camber plates. WD-40 and some cleaning and havn't heard it since. Take the cap off and spray some grease in there and see if it goes away. Might as well do an overhual while your there.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
My bet is on the top strut mount in that dome. I got the exact noise in my pillow ball mounts on my camber plates. WD-40 and some cleaning and havn't heard it since. Take the cap off and spray some grease in there and see if it goes away. Might as well do an overhual while your there.
If you mean the little plastic cap that you get to from under the hood I already tried that. It worked last time I had the creaking noise, last summer but this summer it did almost nothing. I think it's just time for me to get new mounts and they aren't to expensive at $36 each.
 

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Mine did this exactly as you describe. It was the outer ball joint. I replaced the lower control arms ( complete with new ball joints) and the noise stopped. I also replaced the front control arm bushings, but it was absolutely the outer ball joint that was the source of the noise in my case.
 

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It's NOT the bushings!

I did a thread a few months ago on this (and there is like 3 or 4 older threads going back as far as 2002 in the general help section).

http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=775256&highlight=pirate+ship

The end results after a few separate in dept visit to the dealerships where everything was inspected (and all the tie rods/control arm bushings checked out fine) leaving the culprit to be the upper strut mount rubber ring seals that wear out over time or initially came defective and wear out prematurely on new cars. When the seal wears out the metal parts contact each other when the wheels are turning and/or the spring compresses.

The seals are like $2 bucks each (they are basically large rubber washer rings that plumbers use) BUT the labor to replace them is the same as you pay to replace the entire suspension because everything NEEDS to be removed to get to the seals. And you gotta tack on realignment to that fee.

My creaking comes (more prevalent and loud during hot dry spells) and goes (disappears when it rains or the temps get cooler). I am waiting to most likely replace them when I do my suspension next year. Since the labor will already include the rings.

For mainly folks with all wheel drive or for other rare cases of the creaking there is a separate diagnosis for creaking sounds followed by or preceded with a click-click-click clicking sound. This is usually found out to be tie rod ends.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
It's NOT the bushings!

I did a thread a few months ago on this (and there is like 3 or 4 older threads going back as far as 2002 in the general help section).

http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=775256&highlight=pirate+ship

The end results after a few separate in dept visit to the dealerships where everything was inspected (and all the tie rods/control arm bushings checked out fine) leaving the culprit to be the upper strut mount rubber ring seals that wear out over time or initially came defective and wear out prematurely on new cars. When the seal wears out the metal parts contact each other when the wheels are turning and/or the spring compresses.

The seals are like $2 bucks each (they are basically large rubber washer rings that plumbers use) BUT the labor to replace them is the same as you pay to replace the entire suspension because everything NEEDS to be removed to get to the seals. And you gotta tack on realignment to that fee.

My creaking comes (more prevalent and loud during hot dry spells) and goes (disappears when it rains or the temps get cooler). I am waiting to most likely replace them when I do my suspension next year. Since the labor will already include the rings.

For mainly folks with all wheel drive or for other rare cases of the creaking there is a separate diagnosis for creaking sounds followed by or preceded with a click-click-click clicking sound. This is usually found out to be tie rod ends.
I actually read through that thread a few times trying to figure out what exactly finally solved the problem. And since I have over 100k on the front mounts I'm just replacing the entire mount instead of just the seals. Correct me if I'm wrong but replacing the hole shock mount would include the seal right?
The reason I'm also doing the control arms and bushings is mainly because I'm already taking out the entire suspension and the parts have 115k and about 55k on them. Also doing the RTABs. After driving my brothers competition package e92 my car just didn't feel right anymore:( The creak is what finally pushed me over the edge to do a suspension refresh.
 

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I actually read through that thread a few times trying to figure out what exactly finally solved the problem. And since I have over 100k on the front mounts I'm just replacing the entire mount instead of just the seals. Correct me if I'm wrong but replacing the hole shock mount would include the seal right?
The reason I'm also doing the control arms and bushings is mainly because I'm already taking out the entire suspension and the parts have 115k and about 55k on them. Also doing the RTABs. After driving my brothers competition package e92 my car just didn't feel right anymore:( The creak is what finally pushed me over the edge to do a suspension refresh.
Yeah that is actually the smartest solution because the labour to replace just the seals is the same as labour to replace the entire suspension.
 

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Check your spring pads.

I have a new suspension, control arms & bushings, RTAB, sway bar endlinks, etc. The only rubber that hasn't been replaced in the car is subframe bushings and engine mounts.

I still get the pirate ship creaking. ONLY when it's cold, and only the first time I turn the wheel after the car sits.

Lately I've heard creaking right after braking.... sounds like the springs/shocks are decompressing.

So, I jacked up the car and had a look. My spring pads (front and rear) are no longer sitting correctly. They can easily move/twist each time the car is jacked up.

If these have shifted, rent a spring compressor, remove spring load and re-align the pads. 5 minutes per wheel and no alignment required.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Check your spring pads.

I have a new suspension, control arms & bushings, RTAB, sway bar endlinks, etc. The only rubber that hasn't been replaced in the car is subframe bushings and engine mounts.

I still get the pirate ship creaking. ONLY when it's cold, and only the first time I turn the wheel after the car sits.

Lately I've heard creaking right after braking.... sounds like the springs/shocks are decompressing.

So, I jacked up the car and had a look. My spring pads (front and rear) are no longer sitting correctly. They can easily move/twist each time the car is jacked up.

If these have shifted, rent a spring compressor, remove spring load and re-align the pads. 5 minutes per wheel and no alignment required.
I'll look into that too. Seems like a possibility since it's only coming from one side.My problem is a little different though. My creaking is loudest when It's hot out and actually gets worse after driving and is quieter when i first start the car in the morning.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Just wanted to update this thread.

I replaced the parts individually and the cause of the creaking was the strut mounts. I replaced them first and went for a test drive. Creaking was gone and the steering felt smoother than before. Replacing the control arms and bushings also noticeable helped feel but had no impact on the noise since it was already gone.

Also it is important to get an alignment after doing these. My alignment was noticeable off after finishing the install. The camber was fine but toe was completely off.
 

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cold weathercracking only on left front side

Check your spring pads.

I have a new suspension, control arms & bushings, RTAB, sway bar endlinks, etc. The only rubber that hasn't been replaced in the car is subframe bushings and engine mounts.

I still get the pirate ship creaking. ONLY when it's cold, and only the first time I turn the wheel after the car sits.

Lately I've heard creaking right after braking.... sounds like the springs/shocks are decompressing.

So, I jacked up the car and had a look. My spring pads (front and rear) are no longer sitting correctly. They can easily move/twist each time the car is jacked up.

If these have shifted, rent a spring compressor, remove spring load and re-align the pads. 5 minutes per wheel and no alignment required.
I just changed all the front suspension components, 100% new bmw struts & hardware & mounts, Meyle HD CAs and End Links, and installed myself - it wasn't creaking - took it shop which aligned it and afters I noticed when I turn steering wheel to the right when going from a dead stop I hear the creak - the dreaded pirate creak - as I've seen it described here on E46. So yeah - sounds like I'm hearing rubber rubbing not metal on metal grinding. So I can believe the jacking up caused the brand new rubber strut seats to shift just enough to cause this new SOURCE OF FUN. So I'll jack it up and look to see for myself.
 

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SOLVED: On my car it was the worn outer ball joint on the driverside control arm!

Once the control arms were replaced the sound and gritty steering and braking feel went completely away!

The thing is I realized over the years is that the sound does indeed tend to go away and return periodically but the gritty steering and brake feel is always there if the issue isn't fixed.

In light of that, I realize that the real diagnosis of where the issue is will have to come from driving the car, windows down, on a perfectly smooth flat road in a quiet place and feeling for the source as you accelerate, brake hard, brake soft, turn left/turn right (both at slow and fast speeds) to figure out where the issue is.

For me now that I have new ball joints and control arms I immediately have a sense that something was wrong the whole time on the worn ball joints.





 
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