1989 Chrysler Le Baron Creaky suspension?

  • 4 CYL
  • FWD
  • 33,000 MILES
I have a 1989 LeBaron (2.5L AJ body type) with low miles. It has been driven very little hte last few years and was garaged. I inherited it from my father in law so it is "new" to me. One of the first things I noticed with the car is that it "creaks" a lot. It is especially noticeable when first moving from a parked position. I don't know what it is that is making the noise. It does not appear to be related to the steering or braking so I suspect it has something to do with the suspension. I'm not sure what to check and what parts of the suspension might cause such noise. Any advice is appreciated.
Do you
have the same problem?
Sunday, November 22nd, 2009 AT 4:44 PM

1 Reply

One common thing, especially if you live where they put more salt than snow on the roads, is the inner anti-sway bar bushings. Salt and water gets in there and forms rust which tears up the teflon coating on the inside of the bushings. There's a simple fix. Remove the four bolts that hold the two brackets in place, and pull the bar and bushings down. The bushings are split so you can peel them open. Wipe out the rust powder, and spray on a little Mopar "Spray White Lube". Chrysler says to not use any lubricant on these bushings because it will deteriorate the teflon, but in this case, the teflon is already gone. Chassis grease will rot the rubber; the Spray White Grease is a lithium grease that won't hurt the rubber. If you crawl underneath and listen or put your hand on one of the bushings while someone bounces the car, you should be able to tell if this is the problem. It's pretty common up here in WI where we put a pound of salt on every ounce of snow.

A less common problem that can be very hard to find is a binding inner tie rod end ball and socket. They will make a banging noise as they break free, usually when starting to move from a dead stop, after the car has been standing still for a minute or two such as at a stop light. I've run into this three times; twice on Caravans, and once on a Dynasty. LeBarons use the same system. To find this, the car must be on a drive-on hoist or you will have to slide under it so you can put your fingertips around the inner tie rod end which is hidden under a rubber accordion-style boot. You will feel it snap when someone lifts the front of the car or bounces it. Typically it will be quiet after that initial bang. To solve this you must remove the rubber boot and smear grease in the ball and socket of the tie rod end. You should also disconnect the outer tie rod end so you can rotate the ball and socket and swing it around to distribute the grease. This was a permanent cure on the three I worked on.

If you can't find the cause of the noise, have the suspension inspected. Many shops do this for free while doing other services such as oil changes. Another method mechanics use to find noises is to install a "chassis ear". This is six microphones attached to various suspect points on the car. They drive it while listening with a receiver in the car and switching between the six mics. By moving them around, they can zero in on the location.

If rubber bushings are suspect, particularly inner control arm bushings, you can spray them heavily with Mopar "Silicone Spray Lube". This make rubber parts slide over metal parts REAL easily until it evaporates. Works dandy for installing tight heater hoses. It is not a permanent cure for noisy bushings, but it will quiet them down for a few hours.

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Saturday, November 28th, 2009 AT 4:33 PM

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