2002 300M with Performance Handling Package. 135K miles.
Not-so-loud low-pitched "clunking" noise on uneven surfaces at low speed
-- e.g., when coasting (not necessarily braking) as I approach a red
light or stop sign.
Can't say that I've noticed the noise at higher speeds.
No suspension or steering parts have ever been replaced.
Where do I start looking? What might it cost me to fix? What special
tools would I need to tackle the job myself?
"Percival P. Cassidy" writes:
Suspension bushings. At the age of the vehicle, the inner tie rod
bushings are almost guaranteed to need replacement. You can either
spend a little bit of money at NAPA/Carquest/whoever for
Or spend a fortune on a special service tool and have a nightmare trying
to install the OEM replacement part. I did the latter once on my wife's
2000 Intrepid, and then learned about the former and did that the second
(note, while I'll predict without looking at the vehicle that you'll
need those bushings, there's a bunch of other bushings that may well
lets start by finding out if the noise is coming from front or back. tie rod
ends, strut bushings, and ball joints are all pretty worn at this point in
the cars life.
with the car sitting in driveway, try turning wheel back and forth and see
if you can hear a clunk from the front. I know you can hear it on "uneven
surfaces" but I was curious about side to side motion.
inner tie rods, and strut mounts were an issue on these and had TSBs issued.
also with that many miles you might also look at sway bar bushings.
inner tie rod bushings
The car was serviced exclusively by a Chrysler dealer quite a bit beyond
the expiration of the 70K-mile power-train warranty, and I don't recall
any mention of applicable TSBs other than one concerning the
transmission -- which was fixed.
With the engine off, I hear a very slight noise when I turn the steering
wheel, but it could be in the steering column rather than in the
I don't feel any movement if I try to turn the wheels from side to side
or push and pull on the tops of the tires -- with the wheels on the
ground, of course.
I have no idea if/when I might need to replace the struts, but I noticed
that all the after-market vendors -- NAPA, AutoZone, etc. -- say that
the ones they sell are not for vehicles with the Performance Handling
Package. Am I stuck with expensive genuine MoPar parts if I need to
"Percival P. Cassidy" writes:
You need to pick the wheels up off the ground. When I tried to check my
wife's Intrepid with the wheels on the ground I got no movement; when I
picked them up they were downright loose.
I just discovered an online forum where it was recommended strongly to
use OEM shocks even for non-PHP and non-Special vehicles, claiming that
even normally reliable shocks (e.g., Monroe) did not always do well on
As for when to change the shocks, somebody on that forum had done his at
about 80K miles, while another said his seemed to be fine at 160K miles,
and one or two others had had their shocks more or less fall apart due
I have the inner tie-rod end bushings (from NAPA rather than from
CarQuest, but they look the same and cost about the same), but now I
look at the service manual I see they say to use some special tool to
compress the bushings into the tie-rod ends. Do I really need the
special tool? -- so far haven't tried installing without.
Doh! I had put the kit away again after opening it and had forgotten
that the new bushings are split and therefore don't need the special
tool. Haven't done the job yet, but as I was driving around today it
seemed that the clunking was more under the car rather than merely under
the hood. Tie-rod *outer* ends?
I can't believe that (a) you've never read or remembered any of my
previous posts regarding suspension on my '00 300m, and (b) that nobody
else here has posted the obvious cause of your clunking:
-> Front Sway Bar Bushings.
Anyone with an LH-body car knows that you'll need to replace those as
often as you replace your front disk brake pads.
I've done mine 3 times.
Also, unless you've verified the state of rust of your front struts,
lower spring retaining plate, be aware that they will rust and fail and
cause the spring to bottom out on the steering link arm, possibly
causing the retaining plate to come into contact with your tire.
Definately something you don't want to happen during high-speed driving.
It happened to me 2 years ago as I hit a pothole at the bottom of a long
dip in the road, but I was only going maybe 25 mph and had just a
fraction of an inch clearance to the tire - and was able to drive home
and (later the next day) replace the strut (monroe quick-strut, which I
think was never right since day one in terms of clunking and will
probably change it again this fall).
A year later I replaced the other front strut - the lower spring
retaining plate was half rusted and could have failed at any time.
I have since replaced these:
- front sway bar links
- lower control arm (driver's side)
- front tension rod + bushings (driver's side)
- and like I said, front sway bar bushings (several times)
- have also replaced rear sway bar bushings (once)
I've not yet changed the outer tie-rod ends (that's not a job I'd look
forward to unless I know for sure they are worn and causing knocking).
But like I've already said, the first place to look for the cause of a
knock in the front while driving over slightly uneven pavement at city
driving speed is the front sway bar bushings.
Sorry, but I don't recall reading your posts about replacing sway-bar
bushings. In the meantime, however, I had bought new sway-bar bushings
anyway (as being easier to replace, perhaps, than the inner tie-rod-end
bushings, and because I could not detect play in the steering), but I
haven't yet installed them.
I did look at the struts when I was under the car changing the oil a
couple of days ago, and although the rubber pads at the bottom of the
springs were a mess, the struts themselves didn't seem to be in bad
shape. What struts did you buy? There don't seem to be any aftermarket
ones that are compatible with the Performance Handling Package, and I
see recommendations to use the genuine MoPar ones.
How many miles on your '00 300M?
Apparently, 300m with PHP had a front sway bar that was 1" in diameter,
while regular 300m the swaybar was something like 1/16" smaller. Hence
when you look up the part, you'll be asked if you had php.
Personally, I'd get the smaller bushing. It will take longer to develop
play because of a tighter fit. Will probably be half the price.
Have a look at this:
See the round lower plate that is holding up the spring? Either from
the top or the bottom, look at how that plate is welded to the strut
tube. It's very common for that weld or the part of the plate around
the weld to break down due to rust.
Monroe quick struts. They come fully assembled with spring.
A year or two ago I was reading a lot about this on a couple of the
chrysler / 300m web forums. I wasn't focusing on any differences
between regular and php, but honestly I think you'd be fine using the
regular struts. I *believe* there were discussions on those boards
about using the regular aftermarket struts on the php, but I don't
remember if there was a consensus that yes, the regular struts are ok
(from a size / fit pov).
What I do remember is that about a year or two prior to me buying my
first monroe quickstrut, there were many documented cases of these
struts either not being designed right or not being assembled correctly
at the factory. So a lot of people were down on them because of that.
I think there is something that is not quite right with the first one I
bought back in Dec. 2012.
After a lot of wasted time I finally found a couple posts for other cars
that had similar problems that came from Monroe not properly tightening
the top strut nut to anywhere close to 60ft/lbs. After fighting my way
to gain acess to the top nut I found that it must have just been put on
As of right now - 120k miles.
Subject: Re: '02 300M: When to replace struts?
Date: Sat, 11 May 2013 22:12:53 -0400
From: MoPar Man
I have replaced the two front struts and one rear strut on my '00 300m.
It has about 112k miles on it.
The rear strut was replaced because back in Dec. 2011 or Jan 2012 (I
forget exactly when) I hadn't yet put my snow tires on the back wheels,
and going down a slight hill with a slight bend I spun around and the
rear tire hit the curb flat-on and bent the rim (chrome Razor-Star
factory original) and bent the rear spindle down about 5 degrees. The
outer surface of the rim was deeply cracked for a few inches, but the
rim and tire remained air-tight. After the impact, that wheel continued
to turn true (no wobble) but the wheel/tire was riding on an angle
relative to true verticle (by about an inch at the top of the tire). I
continued to drive the car like that for almost a year (only
short-distance, inner city driving - nothing faster than 50 mph) until I
fixed it. It turns out that the bearing race had cracked, but the
cracked piece stayed put. I bought a new bearing, knuckle (with axle),
and quick strut. But I suspect that there was something wrong with that
strut before the impact.
To answer your question more directly...
One of my front struts failed some-what catastrophically this past Dec
24 - the day before a 100 mile highway drive to visit relatives. The
lower plate that the spring rides on had become detached from the
strut-tube due to rust, and the spring forced the plate into contact
with the steering arm and torsion-link arm located about 1 inch down the
tube. Those arms are very strong and prevented the plate from
contacting the tire (just barely). I bought a Monroe quick-strut that
day, and by 10 pm Dec 24 I had the new strut mounted and ready for the
drive the next morning.
About 2 months ago I replaced the other front strut because I noticed
that about half of the weld holding the lower plate to the strut tube
was basically gone - again due to rust.
So here's a picture of what a new strut looks like:
The lower spring-seat is the round plate under the spring. It is welded
to the strut tube. That weld is what will rust away. It will be easier
to see that weld if you jack up the front of the car and slide the
corrogated protector tube up to get a clear view of the weld.
My 300m has some surface rust along the bottom edge of some of the
doors, but otherwise I wouldn't have thought that there could be any
place on or under the car that would be suffering rust dammage to that
extent that I saw on those struts.
I've already replaced the front sway-bar links once a few years ago, and
the front sway bar bushings. During all this work I replaced the front
sway-bar bushings a second time - and found the new set to be too loose
so I had to modify them to fit better. I also replaced the rear sway
Since I still have a noticable knock in the front end, I'm going to
replace the lower control arms next, and the front tension-bar to frame
bushings while I'm at it.
At some point this year I'm also going to replace the front wheel
bearings, but those axle nuts are going to be a bitch to take off...
So what I've done regarding the front sway bar bushing - I get more life
out of them by doing this:
When you look at them from the side, they look like a big, fat letter C,
with almost no gap on the righthand side. I cut the gap bigger using a
band saw, then I take a piece of hard pastic that's about 1/16" thick
and cut it so it matches the size of the bottom of the bushing (about 2"
x 3"). I use that as a spacer and place it under the bushing when I
re-install it. The extra height caused by the plastic spacer means that
as you tighten down on the metal bushing retainer, the retainer will
squeeze the bushing down a little more than it ordinarily would, and the
wider gap that I cut into the bushing allows it to close down tighter
against the sway bar.
I have the inner tie-rod-end bushing kit, but I decided to start with
the sway bar bushings. The bolts for the driver's side came out fairly
easily, and once they were out the sway bar moved freely and I was able
to remove the old bushing (seem,s worn more one side than the other) and
fit the new one. I don't know how to judge the torque accurately, as
there's no room to get my torque wrench in there -- was I supposed to
remove the wheel? Or maybe I can get the torque wrench in there when the
car is down off the ramps and I can turn the wheel to the left.
The first (rear) bolt on the passenger side came out fairly easily, but
the front bolt was a real pain to remove -- felt like 60 ft. lbs. to get
it to move just about all the way even with liberal applications of
Screw Loose, When I did get it out, I found that the bottom part of the
bolt had additional metal caught up in the threads, so now in what
condition are the threads into which it screws? Will merely replacing
the bolt solve the problems?
Unlike the driver's side, the passenger's side end of the sway bar does
not want to move, and the old bushing is pinched tight against the
frame. Jack up that corner and take the load off the suspension that side?
I have jack stands, but they are the wrong shape to fit the jacking
points on the car. And where would I place the jack so the jack stands
can support the car in the right place?
Why did one end of the sway bar move freely and the other not?
Anyway, I got the old bushing out and installed the new one, but the
bolt that brought other metal out with it -- after cleaning up the
threads of both the bolt and the part into which it screws -- does not
grip. I'm thinking of trying to find a longer bolt with the same thread
and putting a nylock nut on the bottom.
"Percival P. Cassidy" writes:
I made some pads to put on my jack stands so I could use them under my
Good question -- though the way I'd phrase it would be "why did one side
work?" That the other didn't is no surprise at all.
I have a torque wrench - but the only time (recently) that I've used it
was to replace the front wheel bearing nut. I figured it was important
to set the torque of that nut to factory specs.
Other than that, I use a liberal amount of torque, as judged by hand, on
any bolt I reinstall.
So in other words - no need to get all bent out of shape trying to
torque each and every bolt according to the book.
Looks like (based on your next post) that bolt was stripped at the
I'd just try to install a bolt with SAE thread (english thread - not
metric). Would probably work at least once. Next time you'll probably
have to tap new threads.
I use a small bottle jack to lift the sway bar if I need to reposition
I've used a bottle jack to pop the outer tierod end out of it's hole
when I was replacing one of the front struts.
I've also used a bottle jack placed at the end of my ratchet (or wrench)
to turn some stubborn bolts. It's a little tricky and unstable, but it
works when you need it.