Front end noises, solved them all

Jayyu

Buick Newbie
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Buick
Hi to all,

It's been about six months that I have been dealing with front end noises. My 2006 FWD RDV has 200,000 kms and they all seem to hit around the same time.

1. Front hub bearings. These sound like you are driving on marbles when they fail. You may also have intermittent ABS application when not required. Had to replace them twice. I bought SKF first, did not last, replaced with AC Delco (first line) 5 year warranty and have been happy so far. My cost was $300 for the AC Delco pair (got refund on SKFs). Do NOT buy cheap no name hub bearings, they last less than a year. BTW not difficult to replace, remove ball joint nut, three bolts hold hub onto the assembly. A small cordless impact gun (dewalt) is awesome for this.

2. CV axles had clicking sound on sharp turns. Started occasionally, within a few weeks really loud. Purchased rebuilt ones from local shop, lasted a few months, lots of vibrations and some noise. Don't buy rebuilds. Returned and purchased GSP new axles http://www.gspnorthamerica.com/. They are stocked by AC Delco. They are Chinese made but the company is from California and they have a quality product and lifetime warranty. My cost was $160 for the pair. The driver side is too tight to remove the CV axle using pry bars. The passenger side has an external seal, do not pry on the seal or you will need to replace it. Ask me how I know!. You will need a CV axle removal tool. I made my own for less than $15. The real ones cost $150. Here is my video on how to make your own CV axle removal tool: https://youtu.be/EPR0R86rvuc

3. Strut mounts. Still had front end noises so I checked the tie rods, ball joints, all seemed Ok, but the noises seemed to be coming from the top of the strut tower. Tested my struts and springs by pushing down on the fender a few times and releasing, all seemed ok, one or two bounces and then the vehicle stopped moving. Noticed the plastic on the strut mount was in rough shape. Purchased new strut mounts from Rockauto for $20 a side. The problem is the install. You must remove the wiper motor assembly to access the strut mounts. I have another post about this on here. I tried without removing it and it's not worth it. Spend the 20 minutes removing the plastic shield on the base of the windscreen and removing the wiper motor assembly. Not that difficult. Then you can access the strut mounts easily. Three nuts on top, two on the strut tower, out comes the strut. If you have any problems beyond the mount I highly recommend you replace the complete assembly with Quick Struts. A little more money, but makes install really easy. Also, you don't have to worry that some other component is causing noise beyond the mount. If you are replacing just the mount or the mount and the strut you will need a spring compressor. If you haven't used one before watch some Youtube videos on how to use them. Not super difficult, but it is tricky the first time you do it.

4. Lower control arm bushings. Still had front end noises. Getting frustrated. Took it to my trusted front end shop. They checked the ball joints and tie rods, used a pry bar on various components to check for looseness and found the front lower control arm bushings needed to be replaced. They replaced them for $350, ouch! Should have checked into it before I went ahead. Here's why. 1. It is not difficult to remove the control arms on a RDV, 2. You can buy a complete control arm from a variety of companies including the ball joint and both front and rear bushings. Cost is $100 a side, and that is for Moog. If you replace the entire control arm you know the noises are not coming from there. If any component fails on your control arm replace the entire arm, do not pay a shop to replace specific components on it. Left the shop $350 lighter, still had front end noises.

5. Sway Bar. Returned to the front end shop a week later. They test drove the vehicle with me and said they didn't know where the noises were coming from. Specifically I had noise when going over bumps and driveway curbs. It sounded like the front end was cracking and creaking. I also had knocking sounds when accelerating and stopping coming from the lower right and left areas of the vehicle. It also sounded like there was a knock coming from the steering column. BTW I was pretty sure it was not one component causing all this, but I was determined to solve them one by one. The senior tech named Scott took me under the vehicle went over everything with me and suggested I replace the sway bar. His tip was to remove the sway bar first and test drive the vehicle. About a week later I did that and all noise related to going over bumps was gone. The front sway bars on RDVs are hollow. I am sure there is a reason why GM does this, but eventually they crack inside and make a racket going over bumps. Our sway bar is used on many GM vehicles. I purchased a 927-100 Dorman sway bar that came with end links and mounting brackets. It is solid metal, not hollow. My cost was $150, but you can buy them for even less. Lifetime warranty. http://www.dormanproducts.com/gsearch.aspx?year=2006&make=Buick&model=Rendezvous&origin=YMM&parttype=Suspension%2520Stabilizer%2520Bar

6. Lower control arm bushings, again. Still had front end noises when going around turns, when accelerating from a stop, and when braking. I mistakenly believed that the control arm bushings were OK since the shop replaced the front ones and didn't mention any problems with the rear bushings (the front end has two bushings, a front one and a rear one). After some research found a video on on how to check your control arm bushings. Basically someone puts the vehicle in drive and reverse while you look under the vehicle and see if the control arm shifts slightly. It should not shift at all. Mine had some shifting during this test. Removed the bolt holding the front bushing, removed the bolt holding the rear bushing, removed the sway bar end links, and let the control arm drop while still connected to the ball joint. I then used a ball joint remover kit (I own one, but you can borrow them for free from most parts stores) not to remove the ball joint but to push the rear bushing out of it's sleeve. An impact gun really helped make this easy. Reassembled and torqued the bolts to 72 ft lbs. All noises related to acceleration and braking were gone. Turning was mostly without any noise. My cost was $30 for Moog replacements buy the split bushing ones, a lot easier to install.

7. Intermediate steering shaft. The last remaining noise was an occasional faint knock near my knees coming from the steering column. Not on every turn or movement, but occasionally. Turns out many GM vehicles have problems with the intermediate shaft on the steering column. This short shaft at the bottom of the steering column goes through the firewall and connects to the steering rack. It has a u joint in it and when this joint gets worn it will start to make noise due to play in the joint. The early RDVs were recalled due to this problem. Some joints failed, which means the driver lost steering control and some vehicles flipped over. Imagine driving on the highway, you have no steering control and your wheels turn sharply to the right or left. No good outcome here. Although Dorman makes this part for many GM vehicles they don't make it for the RDV, they also had to recall some of their parts for premature failure. That leaves GM as the only place to buy this part. My cost was $150. Install is not particularly difficult but make sure you place your seatbelt through the steering wheel before disconnecting the shaft. You must connect the steering wheel at the same point so you are not twisting all the wires inside the steering column more than they were designed to.

So at the end of all this. I could have drove the vehicle with all these noises, but that's not something I wanted to deal with and I don't think it was safe. I don't think any shop would have found all these problems on one attempt. The cost would have been astronomical at a shop and this vehicle probably would have ended up in a scrap yard. The vehicle has been rustproofed every year, the engine and transmission run perfect, interior is still very nice. I just couldn't scrap it for front end noises. Luckily by doing most of the work myself it cost me a total of $300+160+40+350+150+30+150=$1,180. Had I replaced the complete control arms instead of letting the shop replace the front bushings it would have cost me $200 instead of $350+30=$380 for the shop fees and then replacing the other bushing. My total cost would then have dropped to $1,000.

If you have some or many front end noises I hope this post helps you out. I have learned that suspension and steering issues can be expensive even when you buy your own parts and install them yourself. Keep in mind that I still have my original struts, shocks, and springs. I have also not replaced my steering rack which is a common problem on the RDV. If those needed replacing too this vehicle would have been scrapped or parted out.
 
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ls973800

Junior Member
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Buick Ownership
Buick
Nice write up and description of what the problems were and how they were fixed!

My son's 2004 FWD has 238000 miles on it as of today. My wife purchased it new and gave it to him sometime in 2010 with 80000 miles on it. Several weeks ago he let a friend borrow it because his friends car was broken down. His friend had just dropped his son off at an appointment and was driving home and fell asleep. He sideswiped a telephone pole and damaged the right side of the Rendezvous.

I was able to replace the front fender and both driver's and passenger's doors with matching paint and body side cladding that I found at a junkyard. The doors included the same color interior, all glass and power windows and mirrors, and everything was under $200.00 for the body parts! The outer tie rod was snapped off, so that had to be replaced. When doing that, I noticed the front lower control arm bushing was shot, and was going to just replace it. However, when I took the LCA off, the hole was actually deformed. I did end up buying two control arms, one for each side, for under $100.00 each brand new. They came with new bushings and new ball joints as you said.

The front hub took a pretty severe hit, so I replace it and the other side also. Got them from Amazon, and they were $33.00 each with very high reviews. The aluminum wheel was damaged and got a good one from the same Pull-A-Part yard I got the doors and fenders. It was $20.00.

I had also found a set of 4 like new Bridgestone Ecopia tires on Craigslist for $240.00 with less than 1000 miles on them. They were the exact factory size and still on steel wheels, which the seller included. Had the tires remounted onto the aluminum wheels which were original to the car.

The front struts are still the original ones and one of these days I will replace them. I was inspecting the rear suspension before I gave the car back to him, and found the knuckle bushings on both sides completely shot, a broken coil spring, and the rear shocks were also still original. I replaced the knuckle bushings. First one I pushed out using a ball joint removal kit from one of the local auto parts stores. I had to use a four pound hammer at times to turn the clamp in order to get the bushing to move. Took about 30 minutes in 90 degree weather with 85% humidity! Next day I found a car repair shop that pressed the other bushing out for me for $20.00, well worth it in my opinion!

Replaced both coil springs and both rear shocks also. Just had a 4 wheel alignment done and the car drives straight and smooth, even with 238000 miles and original front struts. Between my wife and my son, they definitely got their monies worth out of it. Hoping he can get through this winter and then will replace it in the spring.
 

Jayyu

Buick Newbie
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1
Buick Ownership
Buick
Hi, glad my advice helped you by choosing to replace the entire control arm. Saves time, hassle, and labour costs. Sounds like you did a great job repairing the vehicle for very little money. Hope it holds up well for your son.

As a follow up to my previous post I still had a clunk when accelerating from a stop and braking to a stop. It sounded like it was low on the left and right in the front end. It also started making the same sound when going on an on-ramp or off-ramp on the highway. I took it to an alignment shop, and then a general shop with young mechanics, and no luck. They could not find the problem and suggested I replace various parts, but they were guessing, not sure. Took it to a third shop with mechanics in their 50s and 60s and they solved my problem in less than 30 minutes. The rear subframe bushing bolts were loose. They are located below the firewall around the driver and passenger's feet. One was 1.5 turns loose the other was 3/4 turn loose. He said these bolts need to be tight. He also checked the front bolts for the subframe, but didn't say if those were loose. Test drove the vehicle and it was quiet. Cannot believe that this mechanic found the problem right away and solved a problem 2 other shops could not. Getting a second, third or more opinion is well worth it if your mechanic is stumped.
 
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