Car squeaking worse than an old mattress

My 2001 VW Jetta TDi has had a number of odd problems since I got it in 2008. About the time I began owning it one of the windows fell into the door. The A/C was once held in with only one screw. And an earlier squeaking noise was caused by a loose exhaust pipe.

Now there is a new mystery problem, another kind of squeaking. This one comes from the suspension, or so I suspect, on the driver’s side: both tires, but chiefly the front. If the car is fully loaded (with passengers, stuff in the trunk, or both), or if it takes bumps sort of sideways or diagonally rather than straight on when not fully loaded, so that the car rocks from side to side briefly–under those circumstances the suspension works as it should, but groans or squeaks like an old (and maybe rusty) mattress and box springs would if I were five years old and jumping on them.

At the moment this doesn’t seem like anything catastrophic: it started at the end of a long road trip near the end of July, and has increased noticeably in volume, but the car hasn’t collapsed. The car has been in for repairs and maintenance several times since, but my mechanic looks at me as if I’m crazy every time I describe this problem to him. Do any of you lovely people have any idea what this could be, or where I should tell him to look or what to try?

For your windows: VW did a maintenance update on all 2001 Jettas (assembled in Mexico). The clips holding the glass in were made of inferior plastic, and broke. They upgraded them all. They’ll do it for free if you take it into a dealer. Give them a call and make sure it’s still valid, though.

For your creaking: It’s most likely the control arms or lower “A” arms (or even your torsion bars). The rubber in the bushings gets old and tired. You can try spraying them down with a liquid grease (I recommend against WD-40 for almost every application). If this quiets them down, then you’ve found the source of the noise, and the final fix is to replace the bushings.


that the car rocks from side to side briefly–under those circumstances the suspension works as it should

Actually if the car rocks from side to side then the suspension isn’t really doing its job. It depends on exactly what you mean - how long it rocks. There shouldn’t be any “bounce” in the suspension.

So I think you just need to take it to a good local front end/alignment/suspension shop. They can figure out the squeaking & tell you whether or not you ought to replace your front struts. The squeaking may very well be bushings of one kind or another as chaissos suggested. Or you could find that you have a broken spring one one of those struts.

Mileage on car?

In most cases a creaking or groaning sound from the suspension is due to sway bar bushings. With age the rubber hardens and will cause noise due to the rotation of the sway bar in the bushing and cold weather can bring this on. As an analogy, think of wetting a fingertip and dragging it across an inflated balloon.

Sometimes these noises can be stopped by spraying a lubricant up on them and (hoping) it works its way into the bushing rather than taking a few things apart and lubing or possibly replacing the bushings.

Better look into a cracked strut spring… Lots of things can squeak or creak…You need to look up close and personal at your suspension…not something to take lightly…

I guess I should say, the suspension seems to work as it should. And when I say “rocks briefly from side to side” I don’t mean that the car shifts left and right on the axles, but that it bounces first on one side, then on the other, for a second or two until it stops. But I could be making a distinction without a difference…

The mileage on the car is 210,000+. I inherited it from my father-in-law, who drove it back and forth across the country several times. Since I’ve had (174,000) it it’s made 7-8 long distance trips. I’ve had to replace the alternator, oil pan (my own dumb fault there), power steering pump, and (shudder) the rack-and-pinion.

Would this information alter/confirm any of your diagnoses?

Lots of aftermarket bushings are made of urethane and they tend to squeak badly.
Check to see if they’ve been replaced and re-replace them with the stock bushings.

I can’t tell what distinction you’re making, but the car shouldn’t be bouncing for second or two, nor should any bouncing be changing sides. If you push down on the car - front/back/side - it should just pop right back up & stay there. A tiny extra bounce, maybe.

Anyway, no matter. Just find your best locally owned, independent front end/alignment shop and have them look at the car. Do it now. If you did happen to break a spring at some point it very well might want to pop itself out & destroy a tire. If its just dry bushings, then nothing lost by being more cautious.

I’m with OK4450 on this one, although I’d add that any and all bushings are subject to sqeaking. The sway bar bushings that hold the bar to the chassis are in my experience the most common cause mainly because every time one or both wheels on a given end go up and down, the bar twists in the bushing hole. I’ve even seen one so bad that it had worn grooves in the bar. And when you remove the old bushings and compare the size of the holes to the holes in the new one, the difference is dramatic. Most bushing aren’t subject to nearly as much friction.

I have to add that I agree that it’s time that the car get a look-see by a good shop. But basically, the OP should know that doing away with the sqeaking may not be very expensive. Although I dred the day when I might have to replace my own front bushings…one needs to remove the engine cradle to get at them!