Volume III, Issue 4, Page 23

Those Annoying Squeaks

You can’t live with them, and you can’t find them, either

was driving my Nova over to a buddy’s shop recently and hating it the whole time. The car ran great, and the handling and brakes were working just as they were designed. From a technical point of view, I’ve no complaints at all. 

The problem was a squeak. I had noticed it earlier. It had come and gone a couple of times. But now, NOW, it was really getting on my nerves, irritating the hell out of me. When I got to my friend’s shop, we put the car in the air and went over the whole undercarriage, and lubricated all the suspension points, including all the heim joints. I went over all the grease fittings and put grease into all of them. Then I looked at every place I could think of that might have something rubbing. I didn’t see anything wrong.

Of course, after all that attention, the car squeaked all the way home from my buddy’s shop. 

For my next exercise in futility, I went over the interior to see if there was anything under the dash that might be rubbing and cause that damned squeak. My car has three separate “omit” panels (radio, HVAC, and glove box). I pulled all of them apart and looked for any evidence of rubbing. Nothing. I pulled the dash apart, and checked all the gauge mounts. Nothing there, either. I checked the pedals and tried to find some way of moving them to cause a squeak. 

After hours of taking the interior apart and putting it back together, I took the car for a drive. It squeaked the whole time.  I resisted the urge to drive the car into Lake Jessup and leave it to the alligators, but I did pay more attention to exactly when it squeaked. I thought maybe the squeak was equal to front suspension movement, but only while going straight. When I turned (either direction) the squeak went away but it came right back when I got the wheels straight again.

After that experience, I figured I’d take the front anti-sway bar out of the car and see how it was doing and see if it might somehow be the culprit. I hadn’t quite gotten the diameter on it right anyway.  It was supposed to be 0.990-inch diameter. The one I had was 1.125-inches and it made the car push a little bit.

I’d mounted the bar on the frame with bearings, as I’d had a lot of trouble finding suitable bushings, so I had gone with the bearings when I put the car together. I was pretty proud of myself, because they were an easy press-fit both on the bar and in the frame housing, and they held it in perfect alignment. But as soon as I unbolted the linkage arms, I could hear the squeak. It was coming from the bearings! Somehow moisture had gotten past the “waterproof” seals, and they were full of rusty brown sludge. 

Since bearings had been such a dismal failure, I figured I needed bushings instead, and that meant overcoming the original problem I had way back during the assembly of the car. After verifying that there still wasn’t anything I could buy, I glumly went to McMaster-Carr and ordered a big chunk of Delrin. I also ordered a new sway bar in the correct diameter from Stock Car Products. 

When the stuff arrived, I set up my little Enco machining center (my resident Chinese mill/drill). Surprisingly, I had two bushings machined up in a half day’s work or so.  I put the whole mess back together (including provisions to grease the bushings), and went for a ride. 

Oh, what a difference!  Finally, the squeak was gone, and I’m convinced the car somehow picked up horsepower.  It runs quiet, free, and easy and the world is a better place now. 

 

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