Troubling Creaking Noise From Front End

  • 64 MILES
My car started making this sort of low pitched creaking noise at the front end that I can just barely feel through the floor and within the gas pedal. It does not matter whether I am decelerating, accelerating, cruising, turning. It continually makes it. However, because my engine is so loud, it's more pronounced in the lower gears, such as going from 2nd to 1st or vice versa. The noise becomes more apparent the longer I drive, and eventually can be heard even in the 4th gear. At one point my car seemed to have trouble accelerating as the noise was occurring, making it difficult to switch from 2nd to 3rd for instance (i.E. Normally I switch to 2nd when the car reaches 10 mph, to 3rd when it reaches 25 mph, and 4th when it reaches 35 mph. However, in this particular instance it felt as though there was a pull occurring and I wasn't able to transition from 2nd to 3rd until I reached 40 mph.) Also at one point during my drive (when the noise was really bad!) The car was behaving as though I'd gotten a flat tire on the right front end, like a square peg in a round hole sort of feeling if that makes sense, in which I'd pulled over to make sure it wasn't a flat (and it wasn't). I just replaced the brakes on my front end 2 months ago, and don't think they play a role in this issue. Please help!
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Tuesday, April 30th, 2013 AT 8:49 PM

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Actually the brakes are a good suspect. A sticking caliper will cause the thumping flat tire effect you're describing. The clue is the car is hard to accelerate, won't creep downhill by itself on a slight incline, and the wheel will get real hot. I just had this suddenly occur to my '88 Grand Caravan last week but in that case the fix takes less than a minute.

The first thing to do when the brakes lock up again is to loosen the steel lines at the master cylinder. Lets hope they don't release there. If they do, we have to talk about the brake fluid being contaminated with a petroleum product. That's a very expensive repair.

Next, open the bleeder screw on the sticking caliper. If it releases, brake fluid is being trapped by the rubber flex hose. On mine that was due to rust buildup inside a metal bracket where it was crimped around the hose. It took less than five seconds to spread it open with a large screwdriver. On yours the two common causes are rust inside one of the crimps on the end of the hose, and allowing the caliper to hang by the hose while you're doing brake system repairs. That tears the inner liner and can turn it into a check valve.

If the caliper still doesn't release when the bleeder screw is opened, there is a ring of rust or dirt on the piston and it's causing it to stick under the rubber square-cut seal. It is no longer economically practical to clean and rebuild a caliper, especially if you have to replace the piston. Instead, replace both calipers with inexpensive rebuilt units to maintain even braking.

Caliper problems occur most commonly shortly after the brake pads are replaced. As the old pads wore, the pistons worked their way out to self-adjust. Any dirt or rust pitting would not cause a problem until the pistons were pushed back in to make room for the new pads. That's when that rust and dirt get stuck under the seal.

Creaking and squeaking noises must never be ignored on Ford products. They have WAY more trouble with steering and suspension parts separating leading to loss of control and crashes than all other manufacturers combined. In particular the tie rod ends and lower ball joints must be inspected for play, tightness, and wear. If you don't know how to do that, have the steering and suspension systems inspected at a tire and alignment shop.
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Tuesday, April 30th, 2013 AT 9:20 PM

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