Groaning from the front suspension
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  1. #1
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    Groaning from the front suspension

    I know there have been many threads about suspension noises, but I couldn't find any that matched my symptoms exactly.

    Over the past few days, I have started hearing a groaning noise coming from the front suspension of my 99 Passat. It happens when the car is both cold and warm. I only hear the sound when going over rough terrain at low speeds and most noticeably when I apply the brakes gently. It doesn't appear to occur when driving at speeds of about 35 mph or faster.

    It sounds almost exactly like the sound of a brake pad that is down to the metal. However, I know it can't be because I just got new pads & rotors last month.

    I have been lowered on the Eibach Pro-System (shocks and springs) for the past 19,000 miles. I also got new upper control arms around 19,000 miles ago. My driver side tie rod was replaced within the last 10,000 miles (the passenger side was inspected and diagnosed as fine). The lower control arms were inspected by the VW dealer last summer during the recall and they were also "fine" at the time.

    Does anyone have any idea what it could be? I have bolded the lines which I think are the most relevant. Thanks in advance.

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  3. #2
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    1. What type of pads and rotors did you put on?

    2. Is it possible that some rust has built up on the rotors causing them to scrape when first applied? Does the sound go away after a few hard brake applications?

    3. Are they Mintex "red" pads? There have been a few posts about the pad material debonding from the pad backing plate.

    4. Is the groaning constant, or does it only occur when you hit bumps?

    5. If it is not brake related, it may be a ball joint, etc. Is it more noticeable in turns, etc.?

    Think specifically about the circumstances when it occurs, and post more detail if you can.

  4. #3
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    Also please post a more detailed description of the groan. Is it related to a particular side? Is it related to loading the suspension (as hitting the brakes loads the front suspension, you can test this by gently applying weight to the fender above the wheel well)?
    I have done all manner of suspension repairs to get the noises to stop and at this point my suspension is QUIET! perfectly quiet. No dash creaks, no groans... of course my steering rack is now groaning but alas...

  5. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveW
    1. What type of pads and rotors did you put on?
    Stock pads and stock rotors (I know there are better alternatives, but it's sort of a long story)

    Quote Originally Posted by DaveW
    2. Is it possible that some rust has built up on the rotors causing them to scrape when first applied? Does the sound go away after a few hard brake applications?
    I don't think it could be rust. The shop did a really good job cleaning up that area of the car during the install. The sound does not go away after a few hard brake applications.


    Quote Originally Posted by DaveW
    3. Are they Mintex "red" pads? There have been a few posts about the pad material debonding from the pad backing plate.
    Nope.


    Quote Originally Posted by DaveW
    4. Is the groaning constant, or does it only occur when you hit bumps?
    After spending a little more time driving the car today, I've gotten a better understanding of when the sound occurs. Going over bumps or applying the brakes seems to trigger the sound. Then it would groan for a few seconds afterwards. It might stop and then resume again depending on the roughness of the road.

    It also makes the noise if I am parked on an incline facing downward, put it into reverse, and start inching backwards (in this case, it doesn't need a bump in the pavement).


    Quote Originally Posted by DaveW
    5. If it is not brake related, it may be a ball joint, etc. Is it more noticeable in turns, etc.?
    It does not seem more noticeable in turns.



    Quote Originally Posted by Spirare
    Also please post a more detailed description of the groan. Is it related to a particular side? Is it related to loading the suspension (as hitting the brakes loads the front suspension, you can test this by gently applying weight to the fender above the wheel well)?
    I have done all manner of suspension repairs to get the noises to stop and at this point my suspension is QUIET! perfectly quiet. No dash creaks, no groans... of course my steering rack is now groaning but alas...
    The groan has the frequency of a bed spring creaking, but the pitch is much deeper.

    If I park the car a certain way, I can reproduce the sound by pushing down repeatedly on the driver-side fender. It seems to go away after the first few oscillations of the pushes, though.

  6. #5
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    If the "groaning" is sort of a creaking sound, it could be the lower control arm ball joints drying out. There is (was) a recall on those if they are worn to the point of being loose. Ours did the creaking driving slowly over any type of unevenness. I could also recreate the noise pushing down on the fender. It was more noticeable when it was warm outside. I was able to relube the LCA ball joints and get rid of the noise.

  7. #6
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    It sounds just like what was happening to my '02 GLS. The lower contro arms were replaced under warranty and the noise went away.

  8. #7
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    Yup sounds like the inboard side of the lowers. The rubber may be slightly cracked around the bushing and creaking under stress. It sounds the most likely but that is only my guess.

  9. #8
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    What's a reasonable amount of labor to expect to be charged if it turns out to be the lower control arms?
    Last edited by DrivinAJetta; 04-01-2006 at 09:13 PM.

  10. #9
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    The lower control arms are not difficult to change and you may want to consider doing them yourself. BTW, I am selling two brand new never ever used Febi control arms which I purchased from ECS a while ago. I will sell them for $50.00 each plus actual shipping (not to exceed $11.00). Let me know if you are interested.

  11. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveW
    If the "groaning" is sort of a creaking sound, it could be the lower control arm ball joints drying out. There is (was) a recall on those if they are worn to the point of being loose. Ours did the creaking driving slowly over any type of unevenness. I could also recreate the noise pushing down on the fender. It was more noticeable when it was warm outside. I was able to relube the LCA ball joints and get rid of the noise.
    how did you lube the ball joints?

    did you remove the rubber cover first or something?

    I had a look and couldn't figure it out.

  12. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by jwmh
    how did you lube the ball joints?

    did you remove the rubber cover first or something?

    I had a look and couldn't figure it out.
    Disclaimer: Doing this wrong could lead to LCA damage and subsequent breakage, and could cause a wreck, so do this at your own risk. Unless you know what you are doing, don't attempt this.

    I cleaned the area with brake-clean. Then I drilled 1/16" holes in non-stressed locations (area where the LCA is not being loaded in bending) in the ball joint area of the LCA's. Since the LCA is aluminum, the race is Nylon (or something similar) and the ball itself is hard, you can feel when the bit has hit the ball. I then tapered the entrance to the hole to ~1/8" dia. with a countersink. I cleaned out all shavings. I then injected moly chassis grease into the hole with a pointed attachment on a grease gun. I then cleaned off the surface at the hole, and sealed it with RTV silicone. On one LCA, it took three different holes to get one location where grease would actually enter the joint.

    Again, DO NOT DO THIS unless you completely understand the consequences of doing it wrong!!!

    As a side comment, I did this ONLY because VW said there was nothing wrong with the LCA ball joints, EVEN THOUGH THEY WERE OBVIOUSLY CREAKING!

  13. #12
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    Thanks guys. It turned out to be a lower control arm. It's all fixed now.

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