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Creaking noise when in 4WD after lift

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Old 07-17-2017, 07:54 AM
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Default Creaking noise when in 4WD after lift

Hi folks,
Last year after installing my lift (2in Mopar) and then going offroad for the 1st time, I noticed a creaking noise from the front every time I climbed up a small hill or the suspension did any type of flex. I inspected the front and found my front TB was coming in contact with one of the fins on my Solid front diffy cover. So I ground that fin down this spring to fix that clearance problem.

I went to my cousins this past weekend who owns 70 acres of wooded property, where we did some exploring of his property forging our own trails in my Jeep. I found that creaking noise was still there. My cousin previously was a CJ owner, and said that sounds like your CV joint, are you in 4wd? Yes...I am. I took it out of 4WD, and sure enough the creaking noises went away.

When I originally lifted, I used adjustable LCAs for caster correction and when I did an alignment check, my caster came in at L/F=2.9deg, R/F=2.5deg. Which is lower than what I was aiming for and have been meaning to lengthen those arms to push it closer to the 4.5-5deg range.

My questions are....
Is it likely that the creaking sounds I'm hearing is my front CV joint?
Does it make sense that having the lower caster could be causing my CV joint to creak when in 4WD and flexing?
If I extended the length of the front LCA's, and raised the caster, could that fix the creak noise issues I'm hearing?

Last edited by Rednroll; 07-17-2017 at 08:01 AM.
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Old 07-18-2017, 04:53 AM
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Unlikely man, have you visually inspected the front driveshaft near the transfercase? The stock driveshaft (which I'm assuming you're running up front? on the mobile app so can't check) can operate at some pretty crazy angles; it's more forgiving than an aftermarket double carden.

If it's spitting grease near the transfercase or the u-joint near the diff has play, then it's toast. Usually a bad CV is more of a clicking noise than a creak.

Can you post a video replicating the noise?

Another way to check would be to swap driveshafts with a buddy and give it a go. I don't think it's your axle u-joints either, those would be a clicking/clunk for sure.

But to answer your question about the caster and not adjusting it being the potential source of a failed cv: no. Since adding caster back means extending the lowers, all that does is actually change both driveshaft angles to be more extreme. That's why people who run aftermarket shafts always face the dilemma of caster vs. driveline vibes.

Good luck, I had a mystery clicking noise for a while that only happened in 4wd. Turned out to be my REAR driveshaft (I was just as confused).
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Old 07-18-2017, 05:31 AM
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I’m agreeing with BoraBora on this one. It’s a bit hard since we all describe sounds differently. I’ve had that CV joint fail on a factory shaft, and it is definitely a “clicking” sound…..and I can’t see that very common sound being confused as “creaking”. Also, when I had factory shaft, that sucker performed at some extreme angles during offroading, and I never heard any kind of creaking under stress at said angles. Also what BoraBora said…..raising your caster is actually going to increase the angle at the CV joint…which would seem to make matters worse under your theory, not better. Have you crawled under there to ensure you’re not spitting grease under the tub above that joint? Typically that’s an issue on higher lifts than your 2”, but I have seen a buddy on 2.5” lift that never left the pavement have the same DS failure there, so you never know. Maybe it’s just on it’s way out.

Unfortunately these dang sounds are hard to record. Can you duplicate it at all putting it in 4WD on flat ground? Is it only during offcamber terrain? Happen when going both forwards and backwards? Possible to have someone else in the driver’s seat while you listen right next to the jeep? Outside of a visual inspection spotting something like spewed grease, I think you’re gonna have to find a way to reproduce the sound regularly at which point you’ll probably be able to pinpoint it or at least describe exactly the scenario it make it in.
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Old 07-18-2017, 06:56 AM
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I need to crawl under there. I was planning on adjusting my arms this weekend, so I'll inspect that CV joint while I'm under there. I was hoping I could kill 2 birds with one stone by adjusting the arms if the CV joint isn't already messed up. Hoping I'm not having to replace the CV joint or drive shaft as well.

Yep, the sound is hard to describe. It sounds like an occasional creaking noise. Kind of like one of those old scary movie haunted house doors creaking. I wasn't doing any major flexing. I didn't even bother to disconnect my front sway bars. Typical fire trail kind of stuff. It happens when one of my tires drops into something the size of a small pot hole, or a small bump and also climbing up small inclines, like a 6 foot tall hill with a 20 degree slope. It doesn't happen when in 4WD and driving on a flat surface. Only when in 4WD and driving off road, over small bumps/holes.

The good thing is that I recently completely repainted my under carriage. So if it's something else, hopefully I can just find where the fresh paint is worn off.

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Old 07-18-2017, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Rednroll View Post
I need to crawl under there. I was planning on adjusting my arms this weekend, so I'll inspect that CV joint while I'm under there. I was hoping I could kill 2 birds with one stone by adjusting the arms if the CV joint isn't already messed up. Hoping I'm not having to replace the CV joint or drive shaft as well. Yep, the sound is hard to describe. It sounds like an occasional creaking noise. Kind of like one of those old scary movie haunted house doors creaking. I wasn't doing any major flexing. I didn't even bother to disconnect my front sway bars. Typical fire trail kind of stuff. It happens when one of my tires drops into something the size of a small pot hole, or a small bump and also climbing up small inclines, like a 6 foot tall hill with a 20 degree slope. It doesn't happen when in 4WD and driving on a flat surface. Only when in 4WD and driving off road, over small bumps/holes. The good thing is that I recently completely repainted my under carriage. So if it's something else, hopefully I can just find where the fresh paint is worn off.
Honestly it might be that you didn't disconnect, those sway bar bushings are under a lot of stress when one tire travels and the other doesn't.

Now that you mention it, mine does the same thing if I'm connected and driving a fire road. Disconnect the front and give it a go?
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Old 07-18-2017, 08:07 AM
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Originally Posted by BoraBora View Post
Honestly it might be that you didn't disconnect, those sway bar bushings are under a lot of stress when one tire travels and the other doesn't.

Now that you mention it, mine does the same thing if I'm connected and driving a fire road. Disconnect the front and give it a go?
I was thinking roughly the same, cept that in the OP he said it was creaking, took it out of 4WD, and the creaking stopped. I guess there is just that tiny bit of coincidence the terrain flattened out at that moment, but what seemed to trigger it was being off camber and not on flat land which is what was making me question it. Will be curious to hear.
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Old 07-18-2017, 03:22 PM
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Thanks for the advise.

That's why I'm currently leaning towards something in the front drive shaft connections between the T-Case and the axle, because when I took it out of 4WD, it all went away. It actually got kind of embarrassing since there were a couple ladies riding along with us and every time it creaked they would let out a gasp and ask, "Is something going to break?". It seemed it was creaking going over every little bump where I decided to just put it in 2WD unless I found myself in a situation where I absolutely needed 4WD. It really did go from frequent creaks to absolutely no creaks when switching back and forth between 4WD to 2WD. So that's why I'm leaning away from the things like sway bars, Track Bars and such, which shouldn't make a difference if it's in 4WD or not.
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Old 08-10-2017, 07:28 PM
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Ok, I revisited this some more.

To me, my CV joint looks ok.


So I did some more driving while in 4WD on some small grassy knoll hills around my house. It seems like something is binding when I steer. So when I turn my wheel, then drive on some terrain that is off camber while in 4WD, then the creaks can be heard. Take it out of 4WD and drive on the same area, creaks are gone.
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Old 08-12-2017, 10:48 AM
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Anyone have any thoughts of what to look at?

I'ld like to put a camera under there to see if I can find out more of what's going on. I have no real clue of how I'm going to mount the camera, or what to point it at. Currently, I'm guessing maybe a front double cardan drive shaft may be in my future mod plans based off of it only making the sounds when in 4WD and during turning/flexing.

When I adjusted my front LCA length recently, I loosened up all the front control arm and TB bolts, bounced on the front bumper and re-tightened them down to eliminate any type of possible suspension binding. None of that fixed this problem.

I'm going to check my front diffy fluid level today as well.

Last edited by Rednroll; 08-12-2017 at 10:59 AM.
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Old 08-12-2017, 12:37 PM
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U joints? If either the front axle u joint or drive shaft u joints were just starting to go bad? U would get binding and creaking. I know they click when they fail but I've had them bind and squeak when they are just starting to go. I didn't see if you said where the noise is coming from? Maybe have someone walk next to the jeep while u drive and try to isolate the area.
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