Popping noise (just replaced control arms)

  • 2001 FORD ESCAPE
  • 6 CYL
  • 4WD
  • 126,000 MILES
I just replaced both sides, lower control arms because my ball joints were going bad. The clunk noise I was hearing before I replaced them is gone, however I'm now experiencing a popping sound when accelerating, and braking. I really don't want to drive it because of potential dangers. So I'm really desperate for help at this point so I can feel better about it and get back out on the road. I'm guessing perhaps there's play within the bolts? Or somethings too tight or loose. I'm very uncertain. If you could help I'd very much appreciate it thank you.
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Monday, August 17th, 2015 AT 10:18 PM

1 Reply

The first thing to consider is the car has to be sitting on the tires and at normal ride height when you tighten the bushing bolts. If the car is supported on jack stands with the suspension hanging down, tightening the bolts that way clamps them in that position, then, when the car is set on the ground, the bushings will be in a permanent twist. That will lead to early bushing failure from being over-stressed. All you have to do at that point is crawl underneath, loosen, then retighten the bolts. Be sure those bolts are tightened to specs. A click-type torque wrench should be used although I'll admit, most mechanics go by feel.

The car needs to be aligned when this type of suspension part is replaced. The people who do that are experts at finding the sources of noises and vibrations. The most important area, as far as safely driving it to the alignment shop, are the ball joint studs. Look at the dust boots to be sure they're fully-collapsed, which means the studs are all the way into the spindle. It's not unheard of to have a stud not fully-seated. Also, if either stud was loose on the old ball joint, (meaning where it went into the hole on the bottom of the spindle), that will make the hole oblong. The spindle has to be replaced for that, otherwise the new stud will wobble back and forth and eventually snap off.

If all else fails, there is a tool you might be able to borrow or rent from an auto parts store that borrows them called the "Chassis Ear". It is a set of six microphones, a switch box, and headphones. You clip the microphones to suspect points, then drive around while listening with the headphones. You can move the microphones around to zero in on the source of the noise. Be aware that many mechanics have never seen or even heard of this tool. Suspension and alignment mechanics use it to find rattles, squeaks, and other noises.
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Monday, August 17th, 2015 AT 11:51 PM

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