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Discussion Starter #1
I started hearing a slight squeaking noise coming from the front of my truck a few days ago, it slowly got worse and worse until I finally had a look today and let's just say it don't look too good... I personally don't have much experience when it comes to steering components but it is evident that what I think are my tie rod ends are rubbing on this piece in between my two control arms, wondering if this could be due to wear of some part or did I bend something


 

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Discussion Starter #2
Possibly just found the issue, looks like a bad idler arm


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Whether you knew it or not, you have an aftermarket Center link. The center link is the “dog-bone” shaped part that the tie rods, idler arm, and pitman arm all attach to. It appears to be a Grassroots 4x4 center link, I’ve got the same one. It’s a very common problem with the grassroots center link for some tie rod ends to contact the frame in that location. Some folks shave down the tie rod ends if there is a certain brand they want to use or they will just find one that is a lower profile and doesn’t hit. There’s a bunch of info on the xterra forums about this issue.

With that said, I’m not convinced that’s causing your squeaking issue. Though you should address the tie rod contacting the frame, it appears to be doing so lightly. I had the same problem with Moog brand greasable tie rod ends and it didn’t make a squeaking noise.

Can you give some more details about the conditions that cause the squeaking? Is it happening at full turn while going over bumps perhaps?

As a side note, the bolts that connect your center link to your idler arm and pitman arm should be installed with a castle but and cotter pin (like the tie rod end to centerlink has.) it’s a safety issue, to prevent the nut from coming loose and the bolt falling out, disconnecting your steering.
 

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Possibly just found the issue, looks like a bad idler arm


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That’s possible. The idler arms on these trucks do wear out, especially with larger tires. Also if the idler arm is worn out it could be contributing to the tie rod end hitting the frame.

Replacing the idler arm becomes a little less straight forward since you have an aftermarket center link. You’ll have to drill the new arm to accept a 5/8” bolt. Or replace just the idler arm bushings, assuming the shaft isn’t bent.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Whether you knew it or not, you have an aftermarket Center link. The center link is the “dog-bone” shaped part that the tie rods, idler arm, and pitman arm all attach to. It appears to be a Grassroots 4x4 center link, I’ve got the same one. It’s a very common problem with the grassroots center link for some tie rod ends to contact the frame in that location. Some folks shave down the tie rod ends if there is a certain brand they want to use or they will just find one that is a lower profile and doesn’t hit. There’s a bunch of info on the xterra forums about this issue.



With that said, I’m not convinced that’s causing your squeaking issue. Though you should address the tie rod contacting the frame, it appears to be doing so lightly. I had the same problem with Moog brand greasable tie rod ends and it didn’t make a squeaking noise.



Can you give some more details about the conditions that cause the squeaking? Is it happening at full turn while going over bumps perhaps?



As a side note, the bolts that connect your center link to your idler arm and pitman arm should be installed with a castle but and cotter pin (like the tie rod end to centerlink has.) it’s a safety issue, to prevent the nut from coming loose and the bolt falling out, disconnecting your steering.


Really appreciate the help, the squeaking nice only seems to happen as I turn slightly to the right, then it goes away. Leaving me to think that it is in fact my tie rod, as soon as it is out of the little grove that it has made the squeaking seems to go away.

I also jacked her up today and there is a decent amount of Play in my idler arm, still not sure if this is what is causing the tie rod end to rub


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You should adress the play in your idler arm and see if fixing that gets the tie rod away from the frame and gets rid of your squeaking.

It looks like you have an idler arm brace but I can’t tell for sure. If so, the shaft is probably not bent and you just need new bushings. 4x4parts.com used to have factory plastic replacement bushings and probably still do. I recommend getting bronze replacements from bandit4x4. They will last a lot longer, especially if you do any off-roading.

It’s a pretty easy fix and while you have it apart get new grade 8 3” long 5/8” bolts, washers, castle nuts, and cotter keys to replace the bolts at the idler arm and the pitman arm.
 

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I'm assuming you live somewhere along the New England coast by the look of your undercarriage. You might consider having your frame sanded and rhino lined to prevent frame decay. It's worth every penny.
 

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I'm assuming you live somewhere along the New England coast by the look of your undercarriage. You might consider having your frame sanded and rhino lined to prevent frame decay. It's worth every penny.
I've thought about doing this to mine. I wonder what it would cost?
 

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I don't recall. Seems like forever since I last lived in Maine. I believe it was around $200 for a couple frame welds and the coating. Just bear in mind that I didn't have it sanded down to clean steel first, which ultimately made the whole thing pointless.

And while I can't tell you how much all that will cost, I can tell you that two months later when the open trailer I was transporting my motorcycle in ripped off most of the rear bumper, tow hitch, and a good chunk of the subframe... that cost was much higher. Fortunately I was only doing about 35mph trying to avoid multiple frost heaves, so the trailer didn't have enough inertia to flip over when it took a nose dive into the ground. I got lucky that day.

Note: This was a 94 Pathfinder, which are well known for their poor frame design regarding rust, so it's unlikely that you'd experience anything quite this bad, but still... it is worth every penny :)
 
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