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05 Civic knocking squeaking and rattling

This is a lovely car with < 50k miles on it. I had it inspected when I bought it in Feb. The mechanic gave me a full report which I’ve kept. He noted that the front control arm bushings were cracked, which they are.

In the past few months, the car has started making noises. It’s driving me crazy because they seem to come and go whenever they feel like it!

There is a squeak. I think from the front, but hard to tell. First I only heard it when I turned. A few months later, I heard it constantly. Very loud, easily heard inside the vehicle. Immediately stops when I press the brake, stops quickly when I press the accelerator. I jacked the car up to look. When I took it down the noise had gone away completely.

There is a shush-shush, rattling noise. Like shaking a piggy-bank. It started after the first time I jacked the car up, quite loud, all the time the wheel is moving (doesn’t matter what direction). It gradually went away. Next time I jacked the car up (see the squeaking noise ^) it came back, but seems to be fading again.

There is a knocking. It happens when turning left. Knocks repeatedly for the whole turn, not only once. Makes me think of someone clicking their tongue.

What could this be?

The boot on the CV joint looks brand new. The front tires have a lot of lateral play, which people say is a bad tie rod, but the boots on the tie rods aren’t cracked. The dust plate behind my rotors are badly rusted and bent in, but the rotors and pads are great. There isn’t any roaring like a bad wheel bearing. There’s no thudding when I go over bumps.

Wheel bearings don’t always roar or growl. They can make a shush-shush noise too, usually at lower speeds, and often gets louder when turning one direction, quieter when turning the other. The first check for a bad wheel bearing is to see if you can grap hold on each side & tilt the wheel sideways or up/down when its jacked off the ground. Spinning the wheel and listening for scraping sounds is diagnostic too for faulty wheel bearings. If the wheels have ever been underwater above the middle of the hub, definitely think bad wheel bearings. Wheel bearings don’t like being under water, but it takes some time for the water to infiltrate the inner workings and damage them enough they fail. Sometimes when an area gets flooded the local shops will see a huge increase in bad wheel bearings 6-9 months later.

Tire problems can cause the shh … shhhh … shhhh … noise too.

Knocking or clicking when turning, esp when slow speed sharp turning after a stop sign, that’s often CV joint problem. CV joints with new-looking boots can still fail.

Beyond that suggest to ask your shop to do a basic suspension system inspection, checking for any unusual play in the control arms, the struts, and the tie rods. They do this all the time and know how to do it accurately & quickly. They can easily check the wheel bearings and CV joints at the same time. Once you know what all is wrong, you can decide to replace the parts yourself if you like.


Thanks for giving me some ideas, @George_San_Jose1. I took it to a mechanic yesterday and he said it looked great. We even went for a short drive together. The blasted car didn’t make a peep. I got 6 miles down the road and it started to squeak again.

I guess my only option, if I don’t want to spend a fortune on unnecessary repairs, is wait for the noise to become constant and take it back.

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If you have a squeak associated with wheel up and down movement… It is almost surely ball joints. The reason it will go away when the brake is applied is because it “torque loads” the spindle assy… Basically it cocks itself under braking load and takes up the play you are hearing in the ball joints in the front suspension.

Another key place a knock or squeak will develop up front is the sway bar (if equipped)… when the bushings hollow out it allows the bar to move and squeak within the bushing shackle … where rubber used to be.

But my money is on front ball joints… they do not last forever and are predominantly completely ignored by most people. They are extremely important however and when they fail completely…it aint pretty.

Jack up your front end and try to deflect the front wheel by holding the tire at 12 and 6 and try to deflect it… then do 3 and 9 position and again deflect it. Most times you will feel something… sometimes you need a long prybar to assist you in this endeavor.

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If your shop already checked for faulty wheel bearings, suspension system play, and steering play, wait-and-see is about all you can do. Eventually the sounds will get louder and/or more frequent.