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2002 Mazda Protege5: mystery noise

I drive a 2002 Protege5 with about 125K miles. The suspension (struts and mounts) and brakes have been recently replaced and, with the arising of the Mystery Noise, checked by a mechanic as of last week. The noise sounds like a creaking or bumping in the front end of the vehicle, and comes primarily when slowing to a stop, when the brakes are applied or not. The pace slows as you stop. And it is not always predictable: the mechanic could not recreate the noise, but my wife and I hear it all the time.

I’m just speculating, but should we be looking at the bearings, axles, CV joints… or is this going to get even more expensive? What should I ask the mechanic to look at on this thing?



bump. Any takers?

If you have plastic wheel covers remove them and see if the noise goes away.

The struts and mounts were replaced? Did the noise start exactly when these components were replaced or slightly after? The struts on the front of the car also have a bearing assembly so the strut can turn. Did they replace that also? I have seen the top strut mount nut not get tightened and make some strange noises.

Also after some of this type work I have seen the swap bar bushings get slightly bound up and cause some creaking. Also if the lower control arms were pushed down too far during the strut removal that could be in a bind now. Sometimes just releasing the bolt pressure and re-torking at ride height fixes some of these issues.

Thanks for the useful information!

The struts and front mounts were replaced more than 20K miles ago. The rear ones were replaced maybe two months back, along with the brakes (an expensive day). This noise is much more recent than that. It’s also weirdly intermittent: the mechanic couldn’t reproduce it, and even when I took him for a ride, it was gone… until later that afternoon.