How To Repair Noises From Your Imperial's Front End


Imperial Home Page -> Repair -> Suspension -> Noises

Question from Quint (1953):

When I drive my 1953 Chrysler Custom Imperial, at times, when I am making a turn or a bend in the road and or I drive over a bumpy spot in the road, I hear a hollow noise, like something is rubbing against some hollow metal, like a trash can would sound if it were rubbing against metal. That's the best description of the noise that I can give. It happens intermittently, not all the time. At first I thought it might be the car bottoming out and I was in need of new shocks. I was ready to buy a set of four gas shocks but decided, after reading so much good advice on the IML, that it would be prudent for me to put this on the IML site and let you all take a shot at diagnosing the problem. Heck, maybe it isn't the shocks at all...although I'm pretty shore I have to replace the shocks anyway. Anyone have any ideas of what may be causing that noise?


From Chris:

Check your exhaust system for contact with the driveline or axle.

From Chris:

With the car cold, crawl underneath with a flashlight. Look for things that can move that are close to other things, and then look for shiny metal indicating that contact is being made. For example, where the exhaust routes over the rear axle. Or where the suspension parts approach other items. That'd be where I'd start...

From Keith:

Seems like we may share a similar problem! I will tell you what I have found and maybe it will help you. I have a '70 LeBaron that I broke two motor mounts (damn lead foot!) so I followed the advice of Car Craft magazine and fabricated a brace. It worked amazingly well = ) All was fine till I replaced my transmission mount (most of the rubber fell out). Instead of replacing the entire mount (which was not in stock) I replaced the insert (saved me some money and was in stock). Then I noticed several things at about the same time: 1) A noise that you described quite well but only when I make a hard left (damn lead foot), 2) trans mount insert shifted out of the mount, 3) Right behind the first u-joint my driveshaft is hitting the floorpan!!!! Before I replaced the trans mount I never noticed the noise so it must be that! I also noticed that my exhaust rattles on something when I am idling in drive.

From William:

If it's from the rear, it could be shock mounts (deteriorated rubber bushings) or perhaps the exhaust pipe being too close to the shock(s) as the suspension moves up and down. If, perhaps, one of the shocks has leaked out an amount of fluid, that might cause a rattle too. Might also be something like the rear door latch strikers needinig some tweaking for a tighter fit of the door(s)? Depending on the exhaust system hangers, it could be one of them that has deteriorated/failed, letting the pipe(s) drop down too far.

While you're under there, with the car safely parked and supported with sturdy jack stands, you might check the exhaust system for movement by lightly hitting it with the heel of your hand or taping on the shock absorber body with your finger or a mallet--trying to duplicate what you're hearing.

Question from Bill (1959):

Yesterday I applied white lithium grease to all the suspension joints on my Imperial, and thought I had solved my problem, but when I took it out today the creaking noise was still there, only not as pronounced, and it went away after a brief drive. It is most audible when first driving it for the day, and comes when I step on the brakes, and the front end dives forward, but I don't think it has anything to do with the brakes, since it also occurs without brakes applied when going over a speed bump, but is the loudest when the front end dives while braking. Any ideas would be welcome. I also armed myself with a new can of white lithium, so look out under carriage.


From Mikey:

I would suspect the control arm bushings, the upper ones on mine were worn and the car had a pronounced tendancy to creak under brake application. The left side bushings were worn more than the right, and that also gave the car a tendancy for the car to pull (Since the control arm bushings were worn, the front end on the worse side deflected more as the brakes were applied, hence the pull). You may also want to check the strut rods and bushings, they help keep the lower arm from moving fore and aft .....though I have not seen them creak nearly as much as I have upper control arm bushings.

Be careful about lubricating the front end parts, obviously the joints and such with grease zerks need it, I recall that the rubber parts do not, I would check the FSM on that....oils have a tendancy to attack rubber parts over a long time period, main reason motor mount and trans mounts turn to mush. You can probably use NAPA's balkamp product called Silglyde rubber lubricant, its a silicone type of grease. I dont have the FSM for my car here at the computer for once, but I do recall there is something mentioned about those rubber enclosed parts.

From Kenyon:

Is white lithium a good penetrant? I would go in with a more liquid lubricant and one with a red straw wand. (And no, I wouldn't use WD40.) ZEP?

There are two rods that go from the lower control arm at an inward, upward angle to the frame. They end in a large bushing that is vertical in the frame behind the bumper. Checked those? Get between the bushing and frame - both sides, as well as between the busing and washer, and washer and nut. Soak and wipe off with a rag.

There's a bushing at the top of the shock towers.

There's a bushing at the bottom of both shocks.

There's a set of bushings at the pivot points for the upper control arms.

Both upper and lower ball joints have a zerk fitting in them for squeezing fresh grease in that forces the old grease out between the rubber dust guards. This is a good thing to do on principal if you have not done so already.

The control arm linkages between the steering box and the wheels have 6 pivots that have rubber and can be done.

My bet is the front-most bushings on the frame that Imentioned first.

From John:

It sounds as its most certainly the strut bushings that are worn. When they wear through, the end of the strut rubs against the front crossmember & eventually will wear deeply into the strut, rendering them unsafe.


This page last was updated June 4, 2004.  Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List - Online Car Club