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Discussion Starter #1
All,

As you know, I have been dealing with a front end noise for a while now. I had the struts replaced a number of times, sway bar bushings, sway bar links, inner tie rod bushings, steering rack, power steering pump, front brakes.

This morning, I took it to the mechanic who did the struts (who has been giving me a hard time) and he said it sounded like a bad strut. He also said a while back that the noise was the subframe bushings, but let off that diagnosis when he heard the noise this morning.

Long story short, prior to this morning, he changed each front strut twice. Driver side is perfect, passenger side knocks like crazy when going over small bumps. Today, he kept the car all day, changed the strut TWICE (with 2 different brands), but the noise remains. He told me that there is nothing that he can do and that he won't work on my car anymore (he proceeded to use some rather course language as well). Basically, he ripped me apart and doesn't care (or want) me to come back. Jackass!

When I visited the dealership last week for the rack (got a great price on it and the p/s pump), they said that it was a bad strut on the passenger side. However, changing the strut twice in one day with no improvement makes me think it might be something else.

Could the subframe bushings be bad enough that I would hear this knocking noise even with all this other work being done? Is there any way I can inspect them myself to confirm that it is the case? When I started calling around this afternoon, multiple locations said it was approximately a $1000 job to do the bushings and it was a safety issue (if the metal shears away, I could drop the engine). Is this reasonable? I'd love to do it myself, but don't think I have the tools and I am kind of hurting for the cash after doing all these other repairs. I have also heard horror stories about broken nuts, etc while doing this repair.

Can anyone make a recommendation about my next course of action? I'm at a total loss here and I just don't want to hear that damn noise anymore. Is there anything else I need to check out to figure this out?

I'm located in Massachusetts and if anyone knows a board member or a good shop that can help out a fellow Trep owner, I am all ears.

Thanks.

Joe
 

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...When I started calling around this afternoon, multiple locations said...it was a safety issue (if the metal shears away, I could drop the engine). Is this reasonable?...
I could be wrong, but that sounds like an ignorant statement on their part. Not only is the engine mounted to the cradle (thru their mounts), but the front wheels (via control arms and tension struts) also. For them to just mention the engine falling out sounds like they don't understand the construction.

Wish I knew more to help you. How far are you from Toronto?

Wait a minute - what brand mounts and bearings do you now have on there?

This is starting to sound like déjà vu all over again.

If I missed where you said that you now have OEM mounts and bearings installed, I sincerely and profusely apologize in advance, but did not everybody and their brother here make it crystal clear that the only way to have any chance of resolving it is to have only OEM mounts and bearings on the struts? I think some have even said that the safe bet is OEM on the struts too (i.e., don't mix OEM mounts and bearings with aftermarket struts)?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The strut mounts are still the Autopart International ones. I spoke with their Engineers at the corporate office and they said that they redesigned the parts to match OEM ones (different mounts for both sides). I have not yet gone down the OEM mount route yet because the noise has been the same since before the initial strut replacement was done. It is definitely an option at this point, but since the noise has not changed AT ALL through all this, it seems possible that it could be something entirely different.

Lowell to Toronto...10 hours...

Thanks PEVA.
 

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The strut mounts are still the Autopart International ones. I spoke with their Engineers at the corporate office and they said that they redesigned the parts to match OEM ones (different mounts for both sides).
Are they their own brand, or do they make them for all the aftermarket companies? So far, all the claims by the aftermarket companies to have fixed the problem have proven not to have fixed anything. One question is are the ones you got before or after their fix (assuming their fix really was a fix)?

I have not yet gone down the OEM mount route yet because the noise has been the same since before the initial strut replacement was done. It is definitely an option at this point, but since the noise has not changed AT ALL through all this, it seems possible that it could be something entirely different.
You're thinking cradle bushings on that? Maybe.

Thanks PEVA.
You're welcome.

If you haven't already, you might read this thread from beginning to end:

http://300mclub.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=75&t=27578
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The engineers say that they are their own parts. THey said that they have never had universal mounts in their units. Also, their struts have the lowest return rate of all their parts for defects.

I'm thinking cradle bushings because that's what this mechanic was telling me all along. The dealership is telling me it's the strut, but after replacing the passenger side 4 times, I'm finding it very hard to believe that it can be that many bad units (if so, I have the worst luck of all mankind).
 

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have the sway bar links ever been replaced,, after being pulled apart 4 times in sure there sloppy
 

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I have a few pictures here that might help with the whole strut mounting plate issue that's been plaguing many members with noises and such. A couple weeks ago I had the unique opportunity of doing a pair of struts for a guy who wanted to do it the "Mopar Way". In the pics that follow I took a few moments to help identify what the actual differences were between right and left.

From the top, a Mopar mounting plate has two part numbers engraved on it. This shows the numbers ending in 019AB for the left application and 018AB for the right.


Next we see what the "Black" and "White" actually stand for:


You see that? Yes, that little white dab of paint over the part number indicates this top plate is a 018AB or RIGHT SIDE. the black part number, 019AB is LEFT SIDE.

Since aftermarket plates apparently do not have this simple paint scheme to identify which top goes on which strut it becomes hard to tell if there is a problem with the plate. This is where dis-assembly became helpful. The tagged plate in the pictures is the left side plate:


As you can see, there is just no difference in these plates from a top view besides the white / black paint spot. But if you flip them over the difference becomes clearly visible:


From what I can see, the clocking of the bushing is where the whole difference is made. I don't know if aftermarket plates are made this way but, if they are then it should be fairly simple to identify if the struts are assembled for the right or left side. (Of course, this does require the strut in question be dis-assembled too.)

EDIT: BTW, the bearings are the same left or right so, the upper plate is all that is different. (Excepting of course the strut itself.)

Hope this helps!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Sway bar links were replaced with original strut job.
 

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When I started calling around this afternoon, multiple locations said it was approximately a $1000 job to do the bushings and it was a safety issue (if the metal shears away, I could drop the engine).
Complete nonsense!

Note the photo below: This was my 3.5L engine being dropped. They had the car hoisted five feet in the air and took a torch to all four cradle/sub frame bushings. At that point, the entire cradle required a crow-bar and a few yanks to get it to "drop". Once it dropped full weight from the body it was still suspended by the strut towers. I can guarantee you right now there is literally no more danger to doing cradle bushings then the danger you face crawling under your car at any other time for fun or other maintenance.

You only replace one at a time. The kit's are about $50, and they'll do one side each, so two kits all together. Comes with the bushings and new bolts. Common sense and standard procedure would be placing a jack stand on the cradle where you're working on removing a bolt. Besides that it's pretty basic (I believe there is a How-too?). Rather frustraiting a shop would charge you such a rediculous amount for $100 in parts and two hours max of labor.

In my honest opinion, considering you've replaced literally every potential part that is either a common failure on a LH or any make or model, and in some cases multiple times with multiple brands, your more then likely facing a subframe bushing issue.

 

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Discussion Starter #12
Resolution in sight...

Sorry for the long post/rant, but here we go. The Service Manager from the Dodge dealership (who, I am going to say has taken great care of me in terms of honesty and price) just called me. He is the one who did my rack for <$500 parts & labor. I dropped off my Trep yesterday and here is the diagnosis:

Issue 1) He asked me if I had worked on the driver side subframe bushings at all in the past few months. I replied no, and he said that there has been some very recent work done on these, including putting in some cheap spacer in there and filling the gap with some expanding rubber "stuff" (his word, not mine). The passenger side bushings are OEM and are totally "rotted out". The rubber crap on the driver side needs to come out and all bushings need to be replaced. He will be removing this crap and replacing the bushings (parts & labor discount will be applied). He says that this looks like a test job that the other mechanic did to try and kill the noise. Sounds fishy as the original mechanic has been trying to force his $1500 bushing/subframe repair job on me all along (other places wanted $1000). Looks like the original mechanic was trying to pad his wallet by putting this crap in there and then will tell me that it needs to be removed (and he would not know how it got in there) to get rid of the persistent thunking noise.

Issue 2) Both strut control arms and bushings need to be replaced as well. He found that the driver side was replaced a few years ago (outside mechanic in #1) and it was installed improperly. The bushing is is totally destroyed. On the passenger side, the outside mechanic told me he replaced the bushing for free as part of one of his "fixes" a few weeks ago...but apparently, he only replaced HALF the bushing, only the front rubber part, and not the metal insert or rear rubber part. This is also causing part of the thunking noise. I am only paying for parts on this one (with my discount as well).

Bottom line, I have been totally screwed by this outside mechanic from day one. In the end, the strut job may have been done right (if it was even necessary in the first place), but his people messed up my subframe bushings and control arms, requiring a lot of additional repairs. I get it, that some of these are necessary with time as the parts wear out (and with Massachusetts being in the rust belt). However, to half-a$$ a job just to stick it to a customer and make more money off them, that I can't stand. No one can understand how ticked off I am. I have already started telling my friends and family that go to the mechanic about this - why should he get repeat customers from me if he could potentially screw them over too.
:angrymob:

The Dodge Service Manager is keeping the parts for me so I can see them and in case I want to take them back to the other mechanic. It probably won't do any good, so why waste my time and breath. In the end, I will have a fully functional, quiet Trep, and the knowledge that I can go to this dealership and they won't try to rake me over the coals.

Thanks to all for the advice and support.

Joe
 

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...Issue 2) Both strut control arms and bushings need to be replaced as well. He found that the driver side was replaced a few years ago (outside mechanic in #1) and it was installed improperly. The bushing is is totally destroyed.
Most likely he tightened the control arm-to-cradle bolt before dropping the car onto wheels and tires. This causes the normal ride height and suspension movement to over-twist the heck out of the bushing and literally shear it into two pieces. I always try to warn people here getting ready to replace the control arms about not tightening that bolt until the weight of the car is on the tires.

On the passenger side, the outside mechanic told me he replaced the bushing for free as part of one of his "fixes" a few weeks ago...but apparently, he only replaced HALF the bushing, only the front rubber part, and not the metal insert or rear rubber part.
Weird. No reason not to replace the whole control arm. They don't sell the bushing in pieces like that anyway,

...The Dodge Service Manager is keeping the parts for me so I can see them and in case I want to take them back to the other mechanic. It probably won't do any good, so why waste my time and breath.
Yep - sometimes you just cut your losses and walk away, but you have to decide.

In the end, I will have a fully functional, quiet Trep, and the knowledge that I can go to this dealership and they won't try to rake me over the coals...
There ya go.

They'll probably do it anyway, but you might have them replace the sway bar bushings while they're doing the work if they haven't been done - not expensive.
 

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Sounds like you have a decent dealer. So many times we hear dealer complaint stories. Glad to hear I am not the only one with a good dealer/service department.

Old Colony Dodge, Mansfield, Ma 02048 FTW have been with me since 60,000 miles-now over 800,000!! Not near the cheapest but usually get it done right the first time.

Hope small dealers like OCD can survive the large whorehouse shops suck. Oh and I see a 13 Dart SXT Rallye (turbo) on their site.................
 

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For sure, not all dealers are bad, my wife had some work done at a fairly large car repair retailer. Thier work failed rather quickly. So the Honda was taken to the dealer. They identified the shoddy work, made the repair correctly and signed a statement that the place that had performed the substandard work were responsibe for the failure. She used that statement to get a complete refund!
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Service manager just called me. He sayd that the car steers, rides and sounds like a brand new car. No more noise! YAY! I can't wait to pick up the Trep tonight and start her on the next 125,000+ miles! He also gave me a $150 discount on this last job (subframe bushings and control arms). Not bad if I do say so myself!

Also, sway bar bushings were already replaced.
 

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Service manager just called me. He sayd that the car steers, rides and sounds like a brand new car. No more noise! YAY! I can't wait to pick up the Trep tonight and start her on the next 125,000+ miles! He also gave me a $150 discount on this last job (subframe bushings and control arms). Not bad if I do say so myself!

Also, sway bar bushings were already replaced.
Great news!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
So.....I picked up the car and I still hear the noise, although it is not as bad. Car feels like new though. I am planning on calling them in the morning to see what I can do. :-( I don't know what else I can replace in this car.
 

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I have a 98 Intrepid ES and after changing the struts in the front I also had the rattle/knocking sound. The culprit was a simple strut rod bushing. Change those and the noisy rattle/thump should stop.

If it remains......Not sure what else it could be.
 
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