View Full Version : "Harsh" Front-End Sound At Low Speeds

12-07-05, 10:27 AM
2001 non-Sport ...

I have none of the steering/tire wear/darting issues that seem to be common (thankfully) ... in fact, I can drive along with 1 finger on the wheel and she runs down the road perfectly straight. What I do experience, however, is a "harsh" (for lack of a better description) sound coming from the front end when going over road dips at slow speeds (it's fine at faster speeds). It sounds like the tires are rubbing the wheel wells, although I'm pretty sure this isn't the case (tires are perfectly fine). I'm running 32-33 lbs. tire pressure. Since I have no steering or alignment problems, I'm thinking it's probably not the infamous lower control arm bushings. Any ideas? I did a search and saw this phenomenon mentioned before, but didn't really see any suggestions as to what causes it. Thanks for the help...

12-07-05, 11:22 PM
It could either be the control arm bushings or the sway bar links. I had both in my 97 Catera replaced and it solved the issue you were describing

12-08-05, 08:16 PM
Do you have mudflaps or are some of the clips broken or missing on the wheel well.

12-09-05, 09:28 AM
Good thought, but no. No mudflaps, and the wheel wells look normal. It seems to be worse when it's really cold, too, which it has been.

12-12-05, 03:49 PM
I have the same kind of harsh sound and i am thinking it is the struts although my sound is more like a squeak and is louder in the cold weather. The control arm bushing i just had replaced so i doubt that is the cause unless they are just squeaking but they seemed to be well greased.

12-15-05, 10:18 AM
I'm the initiator of this thread, and wanted to add an update...

Now that the weather has warmed a bit (low 30's vs. single digits when I wrote the post), I don't hear the "harsh" front-end sound like I did. Are there bushings, etc. that are liquid-filled or something that would act differently when extremely cold vs. when at a more reasonable temp? Just curious...

12-17-05, 08:09 AM
A quote from an other Catera site-
"Lower Control Arm Bushings
This vehicle utilizes silicone-filled hydro-bushings in the front lower control arms. This
specially calibrated bushing improves control while braking by causing a precalibrated
level of toe-in to occur at the relevant wheel under heavy braking. This independent toe
angle change at each wheel improves control when braking with split-road friction
conditions (dry pavement one side and ice on the other). The hydro-bushings also limit
the impact of road input and/or tire imbalance."

If the control arm bushings were the problem, I would think you would have tire wear issues and some minor handling problems.

I have a 2001 with a low speed knocking/rumbling sound coming from the driver side front wheel. I had a tire/alignment shop look at it and they found that the sway bar link was the problem. They demonstrated the problem, by lifting the car on a platform lift so the car is still resting on the tires, and had a person bounce the front end and I could see the ball joint of the sway bar link poping and shifting. The sway bar link ball joint housing is made of plastic and the link cost about $105 each.

You can check it yourself by laying on the ground with your hand on the sway bar link and have someone bounce the front end. You sould be able to feel it pop and shift if they are bad. The link has two identical ball joints top and bottom, so check both ends. It is my lower end that is bad. I have not replaced mine yet and the noise is getting worse. I will do it myself soon, the shop wanted like $60 for labor. Hope this helps.


12-17-05, 10:31 AM
You can probably get the sway bar link at a much lower price from GM Brasington. It's pretty easy to replace because i did it myself. Regarding the bushings, you can also have them checked if they need replacement. Because just like in my case, I had the torn bushings like the one's posted at Yahoo's site so i had them replaced as well.

12-17-05, 11:30 AM
Can someone post the procedure for replacing the sway bar links? It sounds like this is a job that can be done at home, but I'd like some advice. I just ordered the service manulas ... will the procedure be in there?

12-17-05, 12:09 PM
I don't think you need a procedure to do the job, just jack up the car and identify the sway bar link, it's being held by two nuts at both ends of the link. All you need is the proper wrench size which if I am not mistaken is 18 mm. You will have to have two wrenches, one to turn the nut, the other to hold the bolt in place and not let it turn with the nut. Be sure to use a jack stand. And of course, you will have to remove the wheels to give you better access. I suggest that like for all other screws, use thread locker. Goodluck

12-17-05, 05:47 PM
Sounds easy enough. I'll give it a go as soon as I get a chance. Thanks for all the input!

12-17-05, 07:14 PM
Can someone confirm that this is the sway bar link, other wise known as the "stabilizer" bar link? (see the link below)
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/CADILLAC-CATERA-FRONT-STABILIZER-LINK-GM-OE-1098_W0QQcmdZViewItemQQcategoryZ33591QQitemZ802227 9147QQrdZ1QQsspagenameZWDVW

12-18-05, 12:38 AM
Yup, that's look like it. But i suggest that you contact GM Brasington first and ask them for a quote. If I am not mistaken, they are about the same price as that link and you would get the exact part number for your car and won't have a problem. And you get the warranty as well.

12-18-05, 12:40 AM
And I also suggest that you replace both sides if you hear the harsh sound on both front wheels.

12-19-05, 10:46 AM
Two questions ... can I replace these links with the car on the ground, or does it need to be on a lift (with no weight on the wheels)? Also, where is the best place to place jackstands om a Catera?

12-19-05, 08:58 PM
But i suggest that you contact GM Brasington first and ask them for a quote. If I am not mistaken, they are about the same price as that link and you would get the exact part number for your car and won't have a problem. And you get the warranty as well.

I called Brasington a few months ago to get a price on the sway bar link and they quoted my $104. Do you have to mention the yahoo site to get the discount?

12-19-05, 09:06 PM
When you are calling Brasington, tell them that you saw their add online. Because for some reason, they only give the discount to online buyers. It's weird but after they hear you saw them online, you'll get the discount. And about the other question about whether it's possible to take off the link without jacking the car, well, it's not possible because you will have to remove the wheel to get a good view of the link and secondly, the pressure on the link when the car is on the ground is too much and won't let you remove the link by hand. Just put the jack stand right under those metal supports under the car, you can see it close to where the original jack is suppose to be. Just look under and you'll see those square moldings under the car, that is sturdy enough to support the weight of the car. You can actually just jack one side at a time.

12-20-05, 09:46 AM
Check out this link. It has the best price I could find on the stabilizer bar link, $71. http://www.trademotion.com/partlocator/index.cfm?action=getLocator&siteid=214086&chapter=DR1BK97&appSectionid=2512&groupid=51856&subgroupid=2544&componentid=0&make=5&model=Catera&year=2001&graphicID=BK97143&callout=5&catalogid=2

12-21-05, 12:37 AM
The price might be lower than that of Brasington but check out the shipping and handling charge that they put on and compare it to what's Brasington has to offer. Did you give them a call already? You can actually make a request for a quote on the part online, that way you will surely get the discount. When i was shopping for my "link", I also found another site selling it cheaper than Brasington, but then after checking out, I found that they will add a big shipping and handling charge to the price total and after comparing it with that of Brasington, i went to Brasington. Here is the link to their website http://gmotors.com/.

01-04-06, 11:56 AM
Just wanted to update on this problem. I replaced the stabilizer bar links (easy and fairly inexpensive - about an hour and $150) and it seems to have taken care of the "harsh" sound. I am reserving total judgement until it gets REALLY cold again here in Chicago, since that's when it seemed to really sound bad. But it sounds a LOT better now:)

Unfortunately, it didn't seem to take care of the "wobble/vibration" I feel in the steering wheel between 50-60 mph. Any ideas on what to check/replace next? I have no alignment problems, tire wear, etc., just a vibration.

01-04-06, 09:26 PM
That wobble or vibration you feel on the steering wheel could either be caused by unbalanced wheel or you might need an alignment of the wheels. It could also be an un-even inflation of the tires. Make sure that you follow that 32 psi recommendation. During cold weather, you will have to add some air as the air inside the tires becomes compressed. And do the measuring when the tires are cold.