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2003 KJ, loose upper control arm bolts?


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Greetings folks, new here. I found this site after researching knocking noises in Liberty Suspensions. Some good info here on ...

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Old 05-13-2018, 01:45 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default 2003 KJ, loose upper control arm bolts?

Greetings folks, new here. I found this site after researching knocking noises in Liberty Suspensions. Some good info here on tracking down problems and causes, but I've run into something different.

My boy has a '03 Liberty and has been driving it for about a year and a half. It developed a pretty nasty rattle in the front end you could feel through the floorboards on the driver side. I checked all the usual suspects, and all joints and bushings appeared nice and tight.

What I did notice however, is the upper control arm on the drivers side seemed to be loose where it bolts to the body. It seemed to move about 1/8th of an inch when I pushed / pulled on the tire and it did made a loud noise. We tore into it a bit, removing the battery mount to get at the bolts and the rear upper control arm bolt felt loose when I got a socket on it. I tightened it thinking that would solve it.

My boy drove it for a day and said it sounded worse. So, not knowing the state of things, and with upper control arms being moderately cheap, I ordered one and we swapped it out today.

With everything disassembled, the old upper control arm seemed in fine shape, but we still tossed in the new one. I inspected the bolts for wear and did not see any. I tried putting the bolts into the mount holes without the UCA in, to check for slop... and they did feel loose. Its hard to get a look in there but it felt like either there is alot of slop in the tolerance of the bolt to mount, or its worn against the mount and worn it / elongated the bolt holes.

So thats my question... how tight are the Upper Control Arm bolt supposed to fit in the mount holes? Has anyone experienced this? I cranked it down pretty darn tight with a 24" breaker bar and a 12" extension. I dunno if the bolt can get tightened down enough it stops the UCA from shifting around on big bump and potholes. I would expect alot of wear on the bolt itself if its been wearing against the mount.

We drove it a bit after the UCA replacement and its still knocking but not as much.

If the bolt hole has rounded out / worn... IDK quite how to fix it. Its pretty tight space to work, I possibly could weld a couple washers to the mount ... but then I worry about rust and other issues down the road.

Any experts here have 2 cents of advice? Thanks in advance


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Old 05-13-2018, 03:08 AM   #2 (permalink)
 
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You would have to bend the body to get it to press against the uca. I just did mine and didnt check for any play. There is a rubber bushing in the new uca i had to use a drift pin to get the bolt through. I had a knock replaced both arms and its gone. You have to get an alignment after.
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Old 05-13-2018, 03:33 AM   #3 (permalink)
 
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Did the bolts in your bushings for uca look somewhat like this one with a tab welded to the back end? It should have a lip like the one in the picture and the tab would be on the same side as the lip unlike the picture.

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Old 05-13-2018, 11:17 AM   #4 (permalink)
 
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Did you torque it with the full weight of the Jeep on the ground? They can make noises and fail early if they get torqued before having the full weight on the ground.
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Old 05-13-2018, 01:19 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks for the replies,

Yep I torqued it down with the full weight of the vehicle on the arms. I do plan to get it aligned but not until we track down / solve the issue. My kid only drives it a short distance each day to school and work. If any tire wear becomes apparent we can do the redneck alignment method to get us by. I'm thinking an 1/8th inch movement in the anchor point is enough to throw alignment out the window anyway.

As for the bolt itself, I wondered if it had the correct bolts and what it has exactly matches this one, so I think its correct:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/02-03-04-05...sAAOSwvg9XfXHz

I could always weld the bolt to the mount... and let the next guy worry about fixing the UCA... /evil laugh




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Old 05-13-2018, 10:23 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Could be many things.
Now if its been loose for a long time ( the upper control arm ) it could of wallowed it out some , but I doubt. Pretty thick right there. Have torn into over 55 of them and never had a issue like you are describing .
What I would be looking at for the noise is the sway bar links, the bushings for the clevis where it attaches to the lower control arm. Also a blown shock can create such a noise. How many miles and how sagged is the suspension. ( measure from middle of the wheel to bottom of the flare )
Give us some more info please
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Old 05-14-2018, 12:18 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by tommudd View Post
Could be many things.
Now if its been loose for a long time ( the upper control arm ) it could of wallowed it out some , but I doubt. Pretty thick right there. Have torn into over 55 of them and never had a issue like you are describing .
What I would be looking at for the noise is the sway bar links, the bushings for the clevis where it attaches to the lower control arm. Also a blown shock can create such a noise. How many miles and how sagged is the suspension. ( measure from middle of the wheel to bottom of the flare )
Give us some more info please

Sure thing, thanks.

The jeep has 178,000 miles. We've owned it for a year and a half, everything was fine until about a week ago (according to my boy). He doesnt off road at all... and its not been on very many dirt roads (to my dismay anyway, i keep telling him its a jeep, go 'wheeling kid! )

Its raining like crazy right now so being the smart dad, I sent my boy out with a tape to measure sag. Left is 20 1/4" and right is 19 3/8"

Like I said, I did put the bolt through the holes without the UCA and moved it around and it seemed quite loose. I would have expected noticeable wear on the bolt though if its been wallowing out the mounting hole, but they looked fine. Thats not to say the previous owner didn't replace them however.

Blown shock I agree could cause rattle, I'll have to look into that closer. Swaybar link bushings I could see some minor cracking of the rubble but no movement and nothing that looked like metal on metal contact.

When we drive it you can feel harsh contact of metal colliding through the floorboards... and with the rear UCA attachment point right there, and seeing movement, that was my guess to the cause.

We'll keep poking around. I should have pressed some sillypuddy into the holes, removed and looked at the wear pattern. I think I could run a weld into the back of the holes from inside the wheelwell to close it up some, then dremel off each face to square it up, then re-drill with the appropriate sized bits (bolt appears to have two sizes, threaded area and thicker near the bolt head). Then shoot it with some Krylon for rush prevention and bolt it all back up. Trying to square up any weld material on the far side of the rear UCA mount under the master cylinder will be a pita for sure.

Maybe tomorrow after work with a break in the rain we'll jack up the tire and see if we cant move something with a prybar that gives a better indication of whats wrong.

I am not a mechanic by trade, but have above average skills and tools to fabricate and work on stuff.


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Old 05-14-2018, 12:31 AM   #8 (permalink)
 
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Sounds like a blown shock absorber to me.
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Old 05-14-2018, 09:49 AM   #9 (permalink)
 
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I'd say blown shock too. Perhaps coupled with a shot mount.

Every time I've had a blown shock it's sent a bone jarring thump through the floor and seats when going over bumps.
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Old 05-14-2018, 03:08 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Alright, we'll R&R the shocks next and inspect bushings, mount etc. Thanks. I'll post results after we get that done.


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