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1999 Park Avenue Ultra Steering/Starting/Stopping Noise (Metal to Metal)

09-18-2008, 07:15 PM
My steering got loose, and in trying to determine what the problem was (before replacing the rack and pinion in desperation), I had someone point a noise I had been ignoring out to me and tell me they thought it was driver's side suspension (and I had just recently had the front struts replaced, but I think the noise started before that). I had the suspension checked and nothing was loose, so I had someone else listen to the noise, and they said it was the rack. I had the rack replaced, and it tightened my steering back up, but it didn't resolve the noise. Now my car pulls to the right, and I am concerned that maybe something is loose (allowing it to line up on the alignment rack without being lined up on the road), so I want to determine what this noise is. I have had it aligned multiple times since the pull started, and it is nothing so obvious as to have been detectable during those alignments (not to mention the front struts and rack replacements).

I think this noise started out very subtle and I ignored it because I assumed it was a nut or a bolt in the ash tray, as it only happened when cornering hard enough to make stuff slide around. Later, as it got louder, it began to sound more like the handle of a vice being turned and then dropped (a loose sliding handle). Really, it sounds like something is moving back and forth, as there are two distinct sounds (they both could be described the same way, but they are different, too). Sometimes it seems like whatever it is moves more freely than others, and it happens with most turns and stops as well as with many starts. Other times I have to turn pretty hard or brake pretty hard to hear it. The sound has gotten deeper over time as well, so it doesn't sound so much like a loose vice handle now, but more like some large cast pieces of metal making contact. There are really only two distinct sounds (that would fall under the same description). One of the sounds happens on left turns while the other happens on right turns, and one of the sounds happens when stopping while the other happens when taking off. I know it is consistent, but I don't remember which direction sounds the same as braking/stopping vs. which one sounds the same accelerating/taking out. I do know that if I turn left (or right) and hear the noise, then straighten out and turn the same direction again I won't hear the noise, at least usually not. One of the two noises might occasionally happen again without the other, but the other will not happen twice without the one happening between. I hope that makes sense, as it sounds a bit convoluted, but I guess the point is that it's very consistent in how it behaves (as well as to try to roughly convey how it behaves) while the sound itself has changed over time. Any thoughts on what this might be / does it sound familiar to anyone at all?

Edit: Replaced steering with turning in title

09-22-2008, 09:23 PM
How many miles do you have?

Sometimes you can get what is called radial pull on the tires. So an alignment will not detect a problem such as that. Have you tried rotating the front tires to the back and vice versa?

Is the noise more predominant when you turn left or right? Is it more of a metallic sound?

09-23-2008, 10:58 AM
The car has about 165K miles.

The pull has been consistent through three sets of tires, at least 4 alignments, and numerous rotations and cross-rotations (all in the last 20K miles, as I had other problems with the tires). The shop says it is just drift, but it wouldn't take long at all to be off the road, and I am pretty sure it didn't always pull near that much. Moreover, it definitely didn't pull that hard, as my wrists are often sore from steering where they never were prior this pull (though I am now wondering if that might not be related to the magnasteer more than the pull, see this thread: Regardless, there is a good chance that the pull and the noise aren't related.

I wouldn't say the noise is more predominant when turning one way over the other, just that it is different (a different pitch, maybe?), but consistent. It is a metallic noise, it certainly sounds like metal hitting metal, it's just that over time it has sounded like different types of metal hitting metal (progressively from what would be comparable to a metal screw in a metal ash-tray, to a metal handle in a metal vice, to cast metal).

09-23-2008, 02:13 PM
Thats interesting. The next question was your PA ever involved in an accident?

Really hard to tell what could be causing the noise. All the Magnasteer does is make the steering easier at low speeds and more firmer, tighter at higher speeds for better road feel and feedback. An actual fault would probably set off the ABS light. When a Magnasteer fault is set or occurs the steering gets firmer or stiff at low speeds or it feels like no Magnasteer at all.

It was a while back and maybe a stretch for you but we had a member that had a flaky bendix in the starter causing his metal on metal noise when turning either left or right but mainly to the left.

Did you check the axle shafts and CV joints?

09-23-2008, 03:21 PM
It has been in plenty of wrecks (at least one before I got it, and that was probably a big one, but it was 125K miles ago, and a few minor ones since then). However, this noise doesn't come close to coinciding with any of the accidents.

Regarding the ABS light, I had ABS and Traction Control lights coming on every time I drove in slush a few years ago, then after an accident they came on and stayed on. Apparently a wire somewhere broke, and the dealership doing the repair fixed it without charge or warranty because replacing the harness the wire was in would total out the car. After that, neither light came on for about a year and then they started coming on at random, at that point, the lights would come on immediately if either system was necessary as well. Usually popping it in neutral and restarting would reset them (random or engage failure), but once the Traction Control light stayed on afterwards. I recently (three weekends ago?) cleaned a ground for three wires, at least one of which seems to come from the front passenger wheel well. Since then, I don't believe those lights have come on.

I need to remember to pay attention and get a little more detail on the sound, in case that helps. It may happen more often in one direction, but whatever it is is so loose sometimes that it does it on every turn and stop (possibly except when turning in the same direction multiple times). What is a bendix?

Regarding the axle shafts and CV joints, the boot is fine on the driver CV joint, and there is no popping when turning (I'm not sure what else to check on the joint or axle shaft). The passenger axle shaft (and presumably joint) were replaced along with the A frame and rim in January after an accident (with the sound going on before and after that). I would suspect that accident on the pull, but the alignment shop doesn't think so. Additionally, both hub bearings have been replaced twice in the last few years (apparently Pep Boys uses cheapies, I don't know about the ones on it now).

09-23-2008, 05:14 PM
OK, so on the way home today I tried to sort out the noise a little better. It is a higher pitch when turning right or stopping vs. turning left or taking out. I think it only does it taking out when going uphill on days where it's pretty free (some days it does it on almost every turn, other days it's hard to get it to do it all). It also seems far more likely to do it at lower speeds, and it sometimes will do it on two right turns in a row or a right turn and a stop, but other times it wont do it on a second right turn or a stop after a right turn. I don't think it ever does it on two left turns in a row.

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