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Discussion Starter #1
I've got a 2001 5 speed with 240,000 miles, and I've noticed that I can hear a definite increase in the noise from the front tires compared to coasting and being on the gas. I can hear the sounds with my all season tires on, and it is even more pronounced with my winter Nokian set. It sounds as if the tires toe in as I accelerate, and this is generating a noticeable amount of extra noise. With that said, I've been probing around and inspecting all the bushings on the suspension from the lower control arms, to the inner and outer tie rods. I've been prying on things with a screw-driver, pulling on the wheels individually as my dad checks for odd deflection in any things, but I can't come up with a definite cause. None of the bushings appear to deflect too much, and there are no major wear signs on them that threw up any red flags.

Does anyone have any experience to which one is the likely cause? Aside from doing inner and outer tie rods with both lower control arms, I don't know where to start. I was hoping to nail it in one go so that I don't have to get an alignment after every changed part, but I'm not sure which set to change. Does anyone have some ideas as to which suspension item is the likely culprit for these things?

Thanks,
Tim
 

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I'm experiencing some of the same symptoms and was wondering if the front struts on these cars have a bearing and bushing at the top of the spring that may need replacing. I'll be following this post to see what advice others may have. If it were wheel bearings, wouldn't you have play when the wheel is lifted and jiggled side to side and top to bottom?
 

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I would suggest you get a professional to inspect the car 240k is a lot of miles at this point I would say the lower control arm bushings are shot and so are the struts and strut mounts as well as the tie-rods and lower ball-joints.
Wheel bearings make Noise when under load in a turn rumbling that goes away when the load is taken away So if you make a right turn and the left side wheel makes a noise and it goes away when you make a right turn it’s the left wheel bearing and vice a versa

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Discussion Starter #5
Wheel bearings.
Funny you mention that. I am getting noise from the front left wheel bearing as it is, and was already planning to replace the set while doing whatever else I found. So the wheel bearing, if bad, can account for the slop that causes slight toe in?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Not sure about the slop but certainly the noise.
I ordered Timken front wheel bearings and outer tie rods, since my rubber boots were looking a bit tired on those. Once I get those on and the care aligned, I will report back. I anticipate decrease wheel bearing noise, but I am dubious that it will fix the toe in issue that is causing the front tires to scrub the road a little.
 

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Off the top of my head, bad rearward control arm bushings would be the prime suspect for "slop." But you said you inspected all the bushings and they were fine... You sure about that? Those bushings are notorious for going bad. And when they are bad the control arms move all over the place. If I were you I'd remove the center bolt through that bushing, stick a big screwdriver into the 'hole' and torque it around (or you can use that bolt, you might have to remove the black bracket that holds it in place, too). If the bushings are good you shouldn't be able to move it around much; if it's bad you'll be able to tweak that thing all over the place, with little effort, and you'll probably see cracked rubber 'arms'.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Off the top of my head, bad rearward control arm bushings would be the prime suspect for "slop." But you said you inspected all the bushings and they were fine... You sure about that? Those bushings are notorious for going bad. And when they are bad the control arms move all over the place. If I were you I'd remove the center bolt through that bushing, stick a big screwdriver into the 'hole' and torque it around (or you can use that bolt, you might have to remove the black bracket that holds it in place, too). If the bushings are good you shouldn't be able to move it around much; if it's bad you'll be able to tweak that thing all over the place, with little effort, and you'll probably see cracked rubber 'arms'.
So that I'm not taking myself as having the last word on this, I recorded a video of the deflection when prying on it with a screw driver. There was a decent amount of force placed on the screw driver, so that deflection didn't seem abnormal to me, but let's hear what you guys think. There was minimal cracking in the rubber bushings. It wasn't visible unless twisting it, and it was very minor. Change the ".txt" too ".mov" to watch the video. If you have problems, let me know.
 

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^ I wouldn't be able to tell from your method of inducing movement whether the bushing were bad or not. My read is that you'd need to twist that bushing, like pivot as if the lower end of the screwdriver were a pendulum, to be able to tell if it were bad, rather than simply shifting it a little in the horizontal plane.

edit: I was looking for a post where someone described the observable differences when testing a new control arm rear bushing and an old, flaky one. Couldn't find it. But if you've got nothing better to do, here's a link to a post/thread about a DIY polyurethane bushing mod; there's a lot of talk sprinkled here and there that might help one understand how that bushing functions, its weaknesses, etc.: Bushing size in control arm?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for the feedback. I skimmed over the posted thread, and found it very interesting. I didn't realize anyone had actually done custom bushings for the lower control arms. Instead of toying with this one, which may take longer than I wanted to spend considering my unexpected flywheel replacement, I just opted to buy new ones. I bought Mevotech from RockAuto, and I will report back what I find, for those interested. Thanks for all the invaluable feedback to this point.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Just to provide closure to this thread, I ended up replacing front wheel bearings, tie rod ends, and lower control arms. The wheel bearing noise disappeared as did the toe-in scrubbing sound when hammering the gas. I imagine the lower control arms had most to do with that, and not the tie rod ends. Either way, problem is solved.

As a note for anyone else planning to do lower control arms, the Mevotech units were nice but had a castle nut that was useless. You could either add a large washer or reuse the original nuts that had a large washer built in. I opted to reuse the original equipment fastener.
 
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