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Discussion Starter #1
Good morning and thank you for your interest in helping me figure out an issue with my car.

I have a 2012 Smart Fortwo Passion, gas model with an automated manual transmission. I've had it now for almost a month and bought it from a used car dealership who told me they had done some work on the brakes. It has never been in an accident.

I test drove it and it did a great job so I bought it.

That same evening, I took my partner on a drive in it and it started to squeak. I'm going to explain the ways that it squeaks and the situations in which it squeaks, and please keep an open mind while we consider them because so far, it's been incredibly frustrating.

At first, I would have sworn up and down that the squeak was coming from the rear driver's side. Now it's hard to tell which side it comes from, or maybe it alternates.

At first, the squeak would happen at slow speeds, typically when braking while approaching a stop light OR when you let off the brake and first started driving away from a stop light. The squeak was typically kind of a sigh, like a school bus or big truck. Now, especially after you've been sitting at a stop light or in traffic, the sound kind of chirps, which seems like it's connected with something in the car that rotates. And it doesn't really stop once it starts unless you bring the car back up to higher speeds.

Once, it started making kind of a singing noise when I was going about 40mph, which sounded kind of like when you play a wine glass with your finger - again, very rotational. I have not been able to replicate this sound.

Originally, the sound was always the same pitch regardless of speed or other factors. Now, it will sometimes alternate higher and lower pitches.

One thing that really throws a wrench into things is that it squeaks when you step out of the car (SOMETIMES), and that sometimes, you can make it squeak by pushing down on the back end, but not always.

So far, it has been back to the dealership for them to take a look at it. They claimed they could not replicate the squeak (hogwash - I can't drive it without it making this sound, and my commute is a whopping 2 miles), and once they finally claimed they made it happen, they claimed to "check everything" and couldn't figure it out. They claimed to have re-lubed and bled the brakes (though possibly only on the passenger side, which - again - I think it alternates sides or is somewhere more central - it has become impossible to tell).

I'm concerned about the wheel bearings? My partner called another auto shop and they got stuck on the fact that we can sometimes produce the sound by pushing on it, so they think it's a bushing, but symptoms of bad bushings don't really align with everything else that's happening.

I would accept that maybe more than one issue is going on with it, but I'd love to hear any ideas.

Also, if anyone has recommendations for good mechanics in Indianapolis.
 

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Your concern sounds like suspension, rear shock absorber or exhaust hanger bushings. I would also check the engine mounts as well. Best way to diagnose this is to put the car on a drive on rack like an alignment rack & J ounce & rebound the suspension & listen for the squeek. Check the drive belts & pulleys as well. Make sure the front electric condenser fan is also not squeeking.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you for your response.

The mechanic at the dealership claimed that they tried to replicate the squeak from bouncing the car while it was jacked and were never able to make it squeak that way, only by driving. Do you think that a suspension issue would be that inconsistent?

Also, would an issue with the suspension only make the sounds at lower speeds and seem to coincide so strongly with something rotating?

I am not mechanically inclined, though I have tried to put in the research, so getting hands on with my machine is going to be difficult for me and not tell me much based on my lack of confidence there. I'd mostly like to have some confidence going in to an appointment with someone so I know what the discussion is about and I can tell if they seem to be on the right trail.
 

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You can't bounce the car while on a jack. Our can do it yourself with all 4 wheels on the ground. Hard to say when the squeek could occur. Depends on frequency. I would inspect the brakes again & sand the braking surfaces. You may want to go to a brake & suspension specialist & ask them to diagnose & correct your concern. As a last resort, some shops (mostly dealerships) have an electronic ear consisting of several microphones that can be placed in suspected areas on the chassis. You can then drive the car & select the various microphones to see if they pick up the squeek that you are hearing. Other thing to do is drive it, turn the radio up & if it persists, you will eventually discover the source.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
My concern with driving it is that I don't want to irreparably (or expensively) break something on it. It is also definitely loud enough to hear over the radio, unfortunately.

Thanks for your insights.
 

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Sounds like your brake rotors, are singing. The pads have metal fibers embed into them. The rotors have lots of grooves from the metal Pads rubbing on them. From braking. The rotors are acting like records on a turntable. That singing noise, is emulating from them. My car, did that, for years. I changed out the brake pads, with ceramic ones. Replaced the rotors, with new ones. check out that first.

If the noise is downing out the sound of you radio. That loud. You might have bad wheel bearing. A alternator with its bearing failing. Will produce squealing sounds like that too. Check out your accessory belts to the alternator and AC compressor.

good luck.
 

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The squeak could also be a dry thrust bearing at the top of one of the struts. Basically, the top of the front struts mount with a nut and bolt in the shock tower, accessible by removing the front cover. There is a “plate”
under the nut that can become dry and make a lot of noise. The struts can swivel a little bit as the car moves, and the dry “plate” vibrates along its mating surface. Getting a good coaxing of grease then there can alleviate the problem.
 

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My concern with driving it is that I don't want to irreparably (or expensively) break something on it. It is also definitely loud enough to hear over the radio, unfortunately.

Thanks for your insights.
I believe my 2009 has the same problem. I suspect it may be the front shock absorber(s). I am believing that the rod that fixes the top of the shock to the car may need lubrication. I need to get the car on a lift in order to get to the shocks. I will post to this forum if it works.
 

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Gonna agree with the brake pad/rotor interface. The calipers, pad backs and pins need a tiny amount of grease to dampen the harmonic vibration. Also if you always hear it the caliper pistons are likely not retracting so the pads stay in contact. It could be a similar deal with the rear drums if the shoes don't retract.
The fronts can be disassembled and lubed the reinstalled.
The suspension squeak in unrelated. It just happens to be there to confuse you. That's the nature of things mechanical.
 

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I put my 2009 up on a lift yesterday and I was able to replicate the squeaking noise I am getting. I'm 98% sure my problem is A-Arm Bushings. Next question is-are they worn out or just dry. My car only has 30k miles and I believe the problem is not wear but a need for lubrication. Replacement bushing are cheap but I'm concerned about things being installed under tension. Anyone have any knowledge changing these bushings? I have tried drowning the area in spray lubricant and plan on driving to see if the lubrication works its way into the bushing. I'm also thinking of just drilling a hole and installing a couple of zerk fittings. Anyone care to weigh in?
 

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This is interesting since my new to me 2010 just developed a squeak in the front for me to fix.
The confusion is how did your squeak change with speed unless you were traveling a washboard road?
Like I mentioned just because you find one squeak it doesn't mean other things are not compromised.
 

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Also I doubt youd be able to install the zerk fittings with the car assembled without great effort and at least a 90 degree drill. (I could be wrong) but that is strong steel in difficult angles. But for sure it is desireable if you can do it.
 

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Bushing or Control arm replacement is the only proper way to correct your concern. Using a lubricant will result in more rapid bushing deterioration.
 
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