Ford F-150/F-250: Why is My Suspension Creaking and Popping?

Broken suspension components will often make noise before they fail completely. Luckily for your F-150 or F-250, a "creak" probably doesn't mean imminent doom. It does mean you need to inspect your truck's suspension hardware. Use this guide to find the cause of your creak.

By Pizzaman711 - October 20, 2014

F-150's and Super Duty's have pretty stout suspension, but rust is an ever present challenge. Sometimes, struts and bushings and joints wear out. Most of the time they'll fail slowly while making a whole lot of noise in the mean time. Creaking is is always a sign of broken components. The real challenge is figuring out what exactly is broken . This guide will help you pinpoint the problem. The good news? Whatever your problem is, there's a good chance you can fix it yourself if you're a handy person.

Step 1 - Visual Inspection

Visually inspect the suspension for broken, worn, or loose parts. Tighten any loose bolts and grease all bushings that have a grease fitting.

Step 2 - Coil Springs

Inspect and replace any damaged/broken springs immediately. Broken springs can cause excessive body roll and make the truck unsafe to drive. This is normally caused by excessive weight on the truck, harsh driving, and excessive rust.

  • Figure 1. This spring was rusted all the way through
  • Figure 2. It snapped at the bottom too
  • Figure 3. You can see that the spring broke in two places here.

Step 3 – Check Your Sway Bar End Links

While these may not appear broken, they can often break off inside the sleeve. They unbolt easily, so it’s best to take them apart and check for any damage. If the bushings or the bolt is broken, it’s best to replace them. They’re relatively cheap and are necessary to help control the body roll.

Figure 4. The bushing in this picture (in blue) has been completely worn out. This will creak and "knock" while driving as the sway bar moves up and down the link.

Step 4 – Wheel Wiggle Test

Lift the truck and support by the lower control arm with a jack.

  • Grabbing the tire at 9 and 3, try to wiggle it while watching the tie rod ends. If there’s play, they may need replacing.
  • Grabbing the tire as 12 and 6, try to wiggle it while watching the upper control arm and ball joints. If there’s play, the ball joints, control arm bushings, or hub may need replacing.
  • With a pry bar under the tire, try to lift up on it. If there’s vertical movement at the ball joints, they are in need of replacing.

These parts wear out over time, and a bad alignment can accelerate the wear. I recommend replacing all ball joints at the same time as well as all tie rod ends. It costs more, but will help keep the old parts from wearing out new parts faster. Worn out joints in your suspension are frequently the cause of creaking and popping noise.

Step 5 - Leaf Springs

Check for broken leafs, you’ll need to replace the entire leaf pack if you find one. Try to look in between the leafs to see if the pads are worn or missing, if they are, you’ll need to rebuild the pack to replace them. If the bushings are dry and cracking these will need replacing as well. Cracked leaf springs tend to creak as the suspension moves up and down.

  • Figure 5. The leaf spring above has a completely split. This should be replaced.
  • Figure 6. This pack of leaf springs is missing a leaf.

Step 6 - Tailgate

While it’s not suspension, it can develop a suspension squeak sound that can cause confusion. Wiggle the tailgate and listen for a squeak, if you hear it, the tailgate pivot points will need to be greased.

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