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Old 09-26-2011, 06:57 PM   #81
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This is a totally different problem and should not be included in this thread as it will just confuse people. What you are experiencing is likely your rear shock mounts. Totally different end of the car.
No, he's from Australia. If his car was here, he'd have your issue!

Mango, have you isolated it to shock mounts in front? That's what Del concluded I thought, and I thought he 'tested' that theory by removing cap to struts and spraying grease into that bearing.
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Old 09-26-2011, 07:00 PM   #82
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This is a totally different problem and should not be included in this thread as it will just confuse people. What you are experiencing is likely your rear shock mounts. Totally different end of the car.
That's fine. I just though I'd let people know that it is not just the front end that is prone to ship-creaking.
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Old 09-26-2011, 07:13 PM   #83
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No, he's from Australia. If his car was here, he'd have your issue!

Mango, have you isolated it to shock mounts in front? That's what Del concluded I thought, and I thought he 'tested' that theory by removing cap to struts and spraying grease into that bearing.
I'll check my grease. The Meyle bearings do NOT work with the OEM caps and do NOT come with caps of their own so it's sitting there exposed. Maybe the grease dried up. I'll check.
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Old 09-27-2011, 02:22 PM   #84
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Did you guys ever figure out whats making the pirate ship sound? My car has a totally brand new suspension for 10k miles including struts, shocks, strut bearings, sway bar end links, control arms and control arm bushings. All. new. even bolts are new. My car has been creaking for the past two weeks as I turn the steering wheel in low speed parking lot maneuvers. the sound goes away when cool but rears its ugly head when hot/dry. All my parts are new, so how/why is this happening?!
Check for a bent brake dust shield at the corner(s) in question. Really! Check! If for nothing more than to rule it out.

A bent dust shield can cause all sorts of noises if they make contact with anything during suspention travel or during wheel turns.

Last edited by GCoop; 10-17-2011 at 01:33 PM.
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Old 10-16-2011, 05:46 PM   #85
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SOLVED: On my car it was the worn outer ball joint on the driverside control arm!

Once the control arms were replaced the sound and gritty steering and braking feel went completely away!

The thing is I realized over the years is that the sound does indeed tend to go away and return periodically but the gritty steering and brake feel is always there if the issue isn't fixed.

In light of that, I realize that the real diagnosis of where the issue is will have to come from driving the car, windows down, on a perfectly smooth flat road in a quiet place and feeling for the source as you accelerate, brake hard, brake soft, turn left/turn right (both at slow and fast speeds) to figure out where the issue is.

For me now that I have new ball joints and control arms I immediately have a sense that something was wrong the whole time on the worn ball joints.





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Old 10-16-2011, 08:05 PM   #86
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Nice, Olaf!

BTW, Rich (the mechanic at IMG that helped Olaf do his control arms today) commented on how impressed he was with both you and Jake. I'm glad I helped you get the chance to do some work on your car with the security of mechanics behind you. They've got some nice tricks, don't they? LOL My favorite is that trick for lengthening wrenches...I'd just picked that one up myself a few weeks ago from Enoc!

Really nice meeting you today. I hope we get the chance to meet again soon!
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Old 10-16-2011, 08:10 PM   #87
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Nice, Olaf!

BTW, Rich (the mechanic at IMG that helped Olaf do his control arms today) commented on how impressed he was with both you and Jake. I'm glad I helped you get the chance to do some work on your car with the security of mechanics behind you. They've got some nice tricks, don't they? LOL My favorite is that trick for lengthening wrenches...I'd just picked that one up myself a few weeks ago from Enoc!

Really nice meeting you today. I hope we get the chance to meet again soon!
Doug is definately the coolest and most knowledgeable person I met in 2011 and definately gets my vote for member of the year (2011).

Everyone at IMG was cool as well. Enoc will be seeing my car for the waterpump.
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Old 10-16-2011, 08:58 PM   #88
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Doug is definately the coolest and most knowledgeable person I met in 2011 and definately gets my vote for member of the year (2011).

Everyone at IMG was cool as well. Enoc will be seeing my car for the waterpump.
Nice, Olaf, now everyone is going to know about our gay Internet romance! Way to be discreet!

So, just to be clear about this, though. You think the pirate ship creaking was the ball joint, not the bearing on the strut? That was your last conclusion, I'd thought...but I'm NOT rereading the whole thread!

I'm sorry you haven't met anyone more knowledgeable than me...and hope you haven't just hurt Jake's feelings too! LOL

You made a nice impression at IMG too, Olaf, and that goes a long way there. Many pretend to know stuff from the Internet and can really be annoying (like me!), but the guys at the shop have a very low tolerance for BS, and appreciate when someone knows a lot, but knows they know little.

If you do come down again, please let me know when, as I'd love to talk fanatics with you live!
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Old 10-16-2011, 09:25 PM   #89
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Hey Doug,
Yeah in July 2010 I took the car to BMW Of Manhattan to get the sound checked out and they told me -on a best guess- it was the upper strut mount seal that was worn and needed to be replaced. The seal is a $3 rubber ring that sits at the very top of the strut tower and "can" wear prematurely and is documented to be a source of creaking or metallic grinding when turning the wheels at slow speeds. The labour of course to replace the seals on both sides was $658.97 as quoted to me by them. Naturally I realized they were sort of quoting me labour to replace the entire front end shocks since they need to remove everything to replace the seal.

I doubted this "best guess" and did some anoraking online to find that a lot of brand new VW Jettas and Subarus STIs had this very"pirate ship creaking" issue discussed at their respective forums. These were new cars still under warranty and had to be returned for inspection. The solution was replacing worn strut mount seals. There was also a YouTube video by Expert Village on these hidden yet noisy seals. So at that point I believed what BMW Of Manhattan said and wanted to change the seals.

However, to keep $658.97 in my pocket a litlle longer, I choose to wait to do the seals until I was going to do the shocks. Coincidentally right after that summer as soon as the colder weather set in the sound went away.

But my steering and breaking still felt "gritty" and I just wrote it off as a symptom of having old worn tires that would get replaced eventually.

This year in the spring/summer after taking my car out winter storage I replaced the tires and brakes and in doing so realized the outer ball joint was rusty and worn and found much play on the front driver side tire.

This was definately the source of the "gritty" steering and braking.

Also this summer on the hot days the pirate ship creaking came back but not as loud as before.

Also the creaking was more random and would creak at anytime when the car was moving and not just when I was driving slow and turning the wheel.

Today when I left IMG, with new arms, bushings and sway bar links, I drove about 20 miles back to Manhattan. 50% of that trip was quiet local roads and 50% smooth to rough highway (with a bit of pot hole ridden driving thru midtown).

I realized two things right away.

1. The gritty feel I had when braking, steering and accelerating was gone!

2. The pirate ship creaking was gone and I felt like it was gone for good because the gritty feel which accompanied the creak was gone.
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Last edited by delmarco; 10-16-2011 at 09:40 PM.
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Old 10-17-2011, 01:30 PM   #90
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Since you said it makes the noise going over bumps as well without turning the wheel give this a try. Have someone turn the wheel while you try and feel where the noise is coming from. When you are close there will be no doubt where its coming from. I think maybe its a ball joint on your control arm.

I only say this because I have the same sound on my xi. happens over bumps and turing the wheel sporadically. I tracked this down on my XI to the inner ball joint. When I had my hand on it and someone was pushing down on the front end I could really feel it.
Was right about yours but wrong about mine. It wasnt actually the inner ball joint on mine but was indeed the outer ball joint just like yours. I just replaced the CAs on mine last week because of this. (really did "feel" like the inner at the time though)

I will elaborate a bit on how my condition manefested itself so that it may help others who may stop by researching their "creaking" noise.

Mine started out just like Del's creaking noise on bumps, when turing, bouncing the suspension by hand, etc. The noise became sporatic and eventually disappeared so I thought nothing else about it as I could not wrangle any play out of the ball joints/suspension then. Fast forward to late this spring on a 2.5 hour return trip from surfing. Iin stop and go traffic I noticed an ever so slight tick,thump,bump upon inital braking and sometimes on accel after braking. Fast forward once more to a few weeks ago and the slight ticks and bumps had graduated a full fledged Clunk on braking sometines on flat with wheels straight and ALWAYS with wheels turned and on uneven ground. After ckecking it out doing the 3 & 9 wheel shake by hand (Vehichle in air of course) it was very obvious that the outer ball joint was toast. Total time elapsed from creaking to toasted ball joint was roughtly 18 months.

Glad you got your issue sorted Del and hope our combined experiences helps others out.

Last edited by GCoop; 10-17-2011 at 01:32 PM.
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Old 10-18-2011, 10:31 AM   #91
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Was right about yours but wrong about mine. It wasnt actually the inner ball joint on mine but was indeed the outer ball joint just like yours. I just replaced the CAs on mine last week because of this. (really did "feel" like the inner at the time though)

I will elaborate a bit on how my condition manefested itself so that it may help others who may stop by researching their "creaking" noise.

Mine started out just like Del's creaking noise on bumps, when turing, bouncing the suspension by hand, etc. The noise became sporatic and eventually disappeared so I thought nothing else about it as I could not wrangle any play out of the ball joints/suspension then. Fast forward to late this spring on a 2.5 hour return trip from surfing. Iin stop and go traffic I noticed an ever so slight tick,thump,bump upon inital braking and sometimes on accel after braking. Fast forward once more to a few weeks ago and the slight ticks and bumps had graduated a full fledged Clunk on braking sometines on flat with wheels straight and ALWAYS with wheels turned and on uneven ground. After ckecking it out doing the 3 & 9 wheel shake by hand (Vehichle in air of course) it was very obvious that the outer ball joint was toast. Total time elapsed from creaking to toasted ball joint was roughtly 18 months.

Glad you got your issue sorted Del and hope our combined experiences helps others out.
Yeah your time line is almost identical to mine. My ball joint went from creaking to toast in around 18 months.

I'm still shocked that something so tiny on the suspension could create such a racket and instability in the suspension.

But that said while replacing the control arms I did realize that the tiny outer ball joints on the control arms seems to be the "keystone" for the entire thing. Steering, Braking, Shock vibrations, Acceleration (wheels pulling the car), all seem to rely on that one tiny ball joint.
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Old 01-03-2012, 07:24 PM   #92
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Thread revive.....sorry guys

I did something potentially stupid when I installed my strut bar a few months ago, and think it might be causing my pirate shippery. One of the holes on the strut bar end plate was verrrryyyyyyy slightly off and kept it from fitting, so I did the redneck thing and tapped the strut bolt a few times with a hammer in the direction I needed it to go. I only moved it ~3mm, but does anyone think that would cause my noises coming from the high seas? The noise is definitely coming from the right side, only happens on cold days, and only happens when I turn to the right.

P.S.: I replaced CAs and CABs with Meyle HD units last month, and recently installed Eibach sways set to full stiff. Car has 88,000 miles.
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Old 01-03-2012, 08:40 PM   #93
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...you can get every part for every bmw ever made.
Who told you that?

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...and recently installed Eibach sways set to full stiff
Retorque the endlinks with the suspension compressed. Also, did you use Syl-Glide on the bushings? I doubt knocking a bolt into position caused a creak...definitely not good technique, though.
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Old 01-03-2012, 08:57 PM   #94
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Retorque the endlinks with the suspension compressed. Also, did you use Syl-Glide on the bushings? I doubt knocking a bolt into position caused a creak...definitely not good technique, though.
I like your thinking, I guess the best way to re-torque them under load is with the wheels off and a jack pushing up on the hub? I didn't use Syl-Glide on the bushings, honestly I've never heard of it before so I'm gonna look into that.
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Old 01-03-2012, 10:10 PM   #95
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Any lubricant would work I guess, but that stuff is supposed to be good for poly bushings, such as what I assume your sways came with. I found it at NAPA.

I'd use ramps or a few pieces of wood.
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Old 01-03-2012, 10:22 PM   #96
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Any lubricant would work I guess, but that stuff is supposed to be good for poly bushings, such as what I assume your sways came with. I found it at NAPA.

I'd use ramps or a few pieces of wood.
Ohhhhh, when you said bushings I automatically thought you meant CABs. I got the Eibachs used (privately), so didn't get the lube that comes with them. I picked up some white lithium grease and used that for the sway bar bushings.
I have race ramps, so if it's easy to reach the end link bolts from underneath then I'll just use them for re-torquing.
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Old 01-03-2012, 10:48 PM   #97
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Pirate ship creak is almost always the outer ball joint on one of the lower control arms.

EVEN IF THERE IS NO WHEEL PLAY, the sound can still come from one of the ball joints.

Use a mechanics stethoscope and some ramps so you can drive the car up and have an assistant turn the wheels while you listen for the sound at each of the joints. It will be immediately obvious when you find the sound if you use one of these...

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Old 01-04-2012, 07:30 AM   #98
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Who told you that?
Okay, you got me. My dealer parts guy told me that I could get any part I need for any bmw ever made.

Later, when I quizzed him, he clarified that he meant for any BMW "I" have. He might not be able to do it for you, but I believe he could for me! LOL

You need a part you haven't been able to get? Let me know, I'll use my power of good on your behalf!
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Old 03-25-2012, 08:00 PM   #99
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So are the ball joints the verdict on this? The creaking just started on mine today. Ironically, last night I was thinking how "good" the car has been lately and I go to back out of the driveway this morning, and there's the creaking.
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Old 03-25-2012, 08:12 PM   #100
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So are the ball joints the verdict on this? The creaking just started on mine today. Ironically, last night I was thinking how "good" the car has been lately and I go to back out of the driveway this morning, and there's the creaking.
Yeah! It is 100% the outer ball joints which creates the pirate noise.

In effect the entire control arm right and left should be replaced as well as the bushings and/or lollipop brackets at the onset of any pirate ship creaking.


On the e46 the pirate ship creak is the outer ball joint and not the strut mount tower seals as the dealership lead me to believe.
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