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2009 Mercury Mariner suspension rattle

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Dec 1, 2019, 5:46 AM

Post #1 of 14 (1439 views)
2009 Mercury Mariner suspension rattle Sign In

Hello everyone! First off let me introduce myself briefly before my question. I've been wrenching on my own vehicles for about 15 years now. Started out on my '99 Eclipse and that's where I did most of my learning as I was a big enthusiast in the "ricer/tuner" scene back around 2004/2005 or so, but have since just focused on more "family" vehicles now. I do most of my own repairs (and repairs for friends/family) to save some cash, but some things I'd rather just take to the shop because I don't want to screw with it. I'm no expert, but like to assume that I know enough that I can do my own work and/or help out someone else... But y'all may prove me wrong on here and that's ok! 😎

Anyhow...I've tried finding my issue on here, but it seems nobody else has a Mercury Mariner. Tried looking for my question using Ford Escape (same vehicle basically with some differences) but can't find information relevant enough. About a month ago I went in for a tire rotation and was informed my suspension was trashed as my tires were wearing down to nothing on the inner 2/3 so I limped it back home and replaced the relevant parts (plus a couple more) to fix that issue. All parts replaced in pairs (but not wheel bearing... That was one side only).

Replaced lower control arms (had 45k on them.......), Outer tie-rod ends (factory original 169k), inner tie-rod ends (only because the jam nut was rust welded to the outer and no amount of heat or PB blaster would help) and then put on new tires and had an alignment done. A week later, still had a rattle, so I had a local shop diagnose it and he showed me enough top/bottom play on my wheel to warrant a wheel bearing replacement (also factory original 169k)... So I replaced it. Still had a rattle so I replaced the sway bar links (cheap/easy part... Had 49k on them anyhow)...still have a rattle low speed over small bumps. Struts were replaced at 120k, so they have 50k on them now and I'd imagine they need replaced soon, but should still have another 25k or so I'd think. Always been advised to replace those every 70-80k. Bought a spring compressor and a top strut mount kit under the advice of another forum, came home took the wheels off to start and gave it one more inspection before turning any bolts, and that is where the mystery began. Returned the mount kit and spring compressor after discovering new information

Comparing driver and passenger sway bar links, I noticed an anomaly. Driver side has about 3/8" clearance MAYBE between the bottom of the sway bar link and lower control arm...passenger side has a good 1" or more clearance.... Both wheels were of the ground obviously and front end up on jack stands on the pinchweld, not on suspension. Mind you... On my vehicle, the sway bar links go up and attach to the strut assemblies instead of going down to the control arms. To me this seems like maybe my sway bar is bent, or something isn't right with my strut on the driver's side. Can't find a sway bar anywhere...not RockAuto, not Dorman direct, not Advance Auto, AutoZone or even O'Reilly. This is probably due to the fact that bar rarely, if ever, bends unless in a collision, which it isn't been at least since I got it in 2014, about 100k miles ago.

So my question is... Is my sway bar actually bent, or is my strut FUBAR'd and needing replaced, or is this clearance variation normal/within spec... Or what else could be causing this rattle I'm experiencing? I'm running out of ideas, and don't wanna keep throwing parts at it hoping one fixes it. Only have about 1 year of payments left and I've already spent more on repairs in the last month than the vehicle is worth on trade.

Any help would be appreciated.

Additional Vehicle Information:
2009 Mercury Mariner Base FWD
171,000 miles (owned for 100,000 of those)

Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
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Dec 1, 2019, 6:02 AM

Post #2 of 14 (1432 views)
Re: 2009 Mercury Mariner suspension rattle Sign In

You might be running out of ideas but you are also going to run out of money if you continue on this "throw parts at it" method of diagnosis.

It's one thing to do your own repairs but it's quite another to continue to use the "dartboard" method of diagnosis. You would probably be way ahead of the game now if you had this professionally diagnosed in the first place. The charges would have been minimal compared to constantly replacing parts that don't solve the problem.

Unless your anchor bushings are bad, the sway bar is not your problem. Sway bars are designed to twist with different suspension positions.

You won't find the answer to a noise from the Internet so I suggest you find a REPUTABLE shop in your area and let them hear the noise. Get more than one opinion before replacing anything.


We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
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Dec 1, 2019, 7:23 AM

Post #3 of 14 (1425 views)
Re: 2009 Mercury Mariner suspension rattle Sign In

! Quite the post Nighthawk! Sorry if I missed anything already said in it.

> You state parts as if some are used or I misunderstood? Not for "suspension" parts this isn't obsolete - can't be.

Other: Same as Hammer Time (aka HT) easy on the parts tossing. Plenty of new isn't as good as what you might have.

? Other #2: Not enough heat or PB to bust rust? Learn it as needed for "rust" be careful as all get out but Oxy/Acet knows no limits up to total destruction to deal with metals and start all over for an area or thing.

From plain subject line "rattle" that's annoying that is eluding everyone? It's old as the hills how about brake pad rattle or any new or old parts to brakes should quit if you drag them a little and come back about proves it or rules it out.

Easy to miss as they can work fine, look fine. Pads can be cut wrong, the metal, hardware just to stop rattle both side backwards - things like that.

Enough for now I can type like you can will shut up for now, Tom


Dec 1, 2019, 9:52 AM

Post #4 of 14 (1419 views)
Re: 2009 Mercury Mariner suspension rattle Sign In

Ok Hammer Time... I came here for some ideas, not grief.

Here is the issue with that post... I've taken it to a shop, 3 to be exact for answers. Smaller shops that don't charge an arm and a leg for a diagnostic. Everyone says "there is nothing wrong and no noise" And this is after replacing everything BUT my sway bar links. After all my other suspension replacements I was told "there is no noise" but it was there before sway bar links in the same intensity, and was after so I highly doubt the opinions will change. Perhaps I'm being hyper-sensitive to the sound and there really is nothing wrong, but it doesn't sound normal. The only suspension parts I replaced out of pocket were the tie-rods (inner/outer both) for $200... The wheel bearing for $175... The sway bar links for $40... And the rest was just my time on a weekend to do it while listening to tunes and having a beer. The control arms were under warranty...I haven't yet gotten to the point where I'm wasting money, but if I drop another $300 on struts for no reason, I will be at that point. The rest of the cost was 2 front tires and an alignment for another $400. Trade value is merely $500 hence my remark about paying more than it's worth on trade. Thanks to depreciation... 😔 The only thing I haven't done is pay a Ford dealership $500 just for them to drive it around the block once then put it on a lift. There is a reason a lot of car forums I've been on over the years refer to the dealership as "Satan".

Tom, thank you for being a little more helpful and respectful on your initial reply. Brakes were replaced at 153k, and Ford had the miraculous idea (using this phrase lightly, but I suppose it benefits me here) of installing caliper springs that hold the pads in place, so they aren't going anywhere unless those springs are shot, but when I had the wheels off yesterday nothing seemed loose. In regards to parts, none of them were used if that's what you were asking, all brand new "Duralast" brand from AutoZone. I do not have an oxy/acet torch set... The best I have is a propane torch. I'm not a mechanic by trade, I work in business Telecommunications, so I'm just a shade tree mechanic if you will. I don't know many guys who have oxy/acet torches in their garage unless they do this stuff for a career.

I'm typing all this from my phone, so you can only imagine how long and agonizing such posting can be...lots of edits because the screen is so small 😂

Any thoughts on the sway bar clearance? That doesn't seem right... One side at maybe 3/8" , the other at 1" or better? Shouldn't those a lot closer if not the same? I really think that clearance problem on the driver's side is the culprit as it's more than likely tapping on my control arm with each bump. But I'm here for other advice because all the highest rated shops around have been striking out here. Trying to avoid Satan at all costs primarily for the ridiculous price tag associated with a visual diagnostic.

(This post was edited by KnightHawkUSMC on Dec 1, 2019, 10:08 AM)

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
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Dec 1, 2019, 10:25 AM

Post #5 of 14 (1396 views)
Re: 2009 Mercury Mariner suspension rattle Sign In

Quote "> Brakes were replaced at 153k <"

That isn't what I asked unless this dang device has gone more FUBAR than it already is. Drag brakes WHEN you hear or know to expect the noise. Lots of plain lousy ideas for brakes out there some repeats of already know issues newbie makes them all over again on another model seen that till the cows came home.
Brakes include anything about them: Calipers and any hardware properly placed and lubed as indicated is obvious to professionals I'd need to see exactly yours to point it out. Spindle integrity and all parts that hold that no funky flaws.
It can't be just me but a LOT of so call new and name brand parts are HACKED and do NOT work as they should. Even a new car dealer may end up with them hard to know.

About heat as a tool: Propane is so slow you heat up an area rather than target a spot to glowing or if you needed cut it off without harm to surrounding things. It's a necessary skill dealing with rust especially and I do. Best if you want to really learn it in person from someone not some web crap doesn't do it. It's hot as hot gets, vehicles have greases and flammables all over are a bomb waiting for a mistake with that level of heat.

Saving bucks? That's why people start doing things themselves either have the knack to get it and some don't? Not everything saves you money DIYing things and not everything a so called pro might do is perfect either but it does cost it's seriously costly to do this stuff.

So - Nobody is finding it so try the test I said. It either changes the noise or doesn't that's all you should need for now then I'll search for something real that would happen to this exact model if found or the next place to test it out. NOISES and RATTLES are not normal!



Dec 1, 2019, 10:44 AM

Post #6 of 14 (1390 views)
Re: 2009 Mercury Mariner suspension rattle Sign In

I see now... have switched to my actual monitor so I can see better.

Dragging brakes does not remove the sound. Still happens, and resembles a slight tapping coming from driver's side. Only happens at speeds below 30mph, anything up and beyond that is quiet. Last time I had a similar noise, it was sway bar links... and it's entirely possible I got some junk ones this time around, who knows. I was gonna make another appearance at the shop that did my bearing this week if I can get out of work early enough. My biggest issue is that a lot of shops (big name, small time etc) close at 5pm and are only open Monday-Friday around here, and I'm not usually home from work until that time so it's difficult for me to get there unless they are open on Saturday, and around my area...the only shops open on Saturday are the tire shops like Discount Tire and Belle Tire and maybe the occasional full-service repair shop, but they are all currently booked 2-3 weeks out due to winter's arrival and crappy roads in Indiana and Michigan where I live. A lot of driving can happen in 2-3 weeks at the rate I've been going through on this car.

I do agree, some "new" parts are complete trash. I've had it happen in the past. Not ruling it out completely yet, but it's crossed my mind. I also agree that noises and rattles are not normal. It's just frustrating.

Plenty of places around here do free alignment checks, so if I can't find any solutions here soon from anywhere (here, there or elsewhere) then I'll just have my alignment checked every 2-3k miles until i get annoyed to see if anything pops out of spec.

Double J
Veteran / Moderator
Double J profile image

Dec 1, 2019, 11:20 AM

Post #7 of 14 (1380 views)
Re: 2009 Mercury Mariner suspension rattle Sign In

I'm confused...Was the noise there from the start before you replaced anything?
You went in for a rotation- then replaced parts....
"About a month ago I went in for a tire rotation and was informed my suspension was trashed as my tires were wearing down".....

Is the clearance still different with the vehicle on the ground, not on stands?...

Who installed the Control arms? Just curious....

Why not just remove the Drivers side sway bar link and take it for a test drive.
If the noise is still there, then its not the link hitting the control arm like you think.
If noise is gone, then you've isolated it.

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
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Dec 1, 2019, 11:40 AM

Post #8 of 14 (1369 views)
Re: 2009 Mercury Mariner suspension rattle Sign In

Same climate and roads most likely, I'm in MA, rock salt city and the weather you have right now leaving is over my head and waiting!

How to find this with what help? It will be the person not the brand of place he/she is working at. Odds are independently owned has the right techs and stands by their work without questioning customers or putting you off but each of anything is its own.

Can you find someone to ride with you make it happen when expected?
Sometimes leave that with a tech to use for a weekend or day by agreements and risk all yours IMO the only way.
You could spend hours searching the web for same problems if common to this exact model and year with luck find someone did a whole test how to pin it down and the fix.
MI like MA is strong about keeping hours and closed on Sundays also this long weekend HERE will be a nightmare with storm expected on top overload of broken everything no time for wasting looking for a hiding gremlin.

Side note: I got these impossible jobs from area shops if only pin down what it was as it was taking up too much shop time and I worked for myself my time is my choice and has been decades on end now.

How much? I don't care with some that tweak my interest just determined to find what nobody else did noises one of the most frustrating for shops, techs and time allowed who's paying or just gratis I'm determined to find this IDK if exists so much?
IDK if today's weather for you is good do as much as you can on your own. Trick to find things can be a rubber hammer on parts as vehicle sits and with wheel off one side at a time. Hoisted by frame and again hoisted by lower control arm whack it again with the rubber hammer on things.
Carefully pry on things that SHOULDN'T move this or that way and do.
One more for now is check any and all wheel trim parts, lug nut holes or flaws if visible to hub, studs or wheels.
BEARINGS new or old almost never do this without failing quickly by the time you could feel on while installed it's a matter of feet before a disaster just went thru one of those recently warned owners 6 months ago just riding in the thing not there to fix anything!

Don't give up it shouldn't be there you and or with help find it,



Dec 1, 2019, 11:55 AM

Post #9 of 14 (1358 views)
Re: 2009 Mercury Mariner suspension rattle Sign In

I wasn't the daily driver of it before I the tire visit. My girlfriend was the primary driver of it, but I did drive it once or twice about 2-3 weeks before the rotation. I also checked tread depth right with a depth meter around that time, because I noticed less traction on wet roads. All looked fine. She never tells me when I have issues on the car, and I've had trouble codes for weeks before I noticed because she didn't say anything. It's hard to say if the noise was there in the 2-3 weeks it took my tires to get severe wear. The fact that all that seemed to happen in that short timeframe suggest catesrophic failure of 1 or more parts.

When I went in for the rotation, that is when I first noticed sever tread wear. They took me out to the shop to see first hand so I didn't have to take their word on it. Sure enough, they were approx a week or 2 from wires showing.

I replaced the parts because the shops quotee me parts and labor at nearly $1000 for control arms and outer tie rod ends alone. Seems very steep... Much higher than it used to be. So I pulled the parts and got "new" from AutoZone. Control arms were under the lifetime warranty, tie-rods I paid for and installed. Tightened everything to torque spec.

As for clearance, I just checked (didn't think of that at first, thanks for the suggestion) and it's fine... 2" easy both sides when resting on ground.

So now this brings me back to square one... Struts? Or did I get bad control arms by chance? Easy way to check either? To me everything "looks" normal, but I my eyes aren't as trained as my ears (which are still far from professional or perfect).

Struts have 50k miles on them..."new" control arms have 2k as of right now.

I can take pictures and post hosted links if it helps you to get eyes on it.

(This post was edited by KnightHawkUSMC on Dec 1, 2019, 11:58 AM)

Double J
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Dec 1, 2019, 12:14 PM

Post #10 of 14 (1345 views)
Re: 2009 Mercury Mariner suspension rattle Sign In

Just some thoughts....

Control arm bolts are torqued with vehicle on the ground, at ride height.

Remove the sway bar link and drive it anyway, see if noise is gone

Also, With vehicle on ground, open hood , Jounce the vehicle and observe struts,looking at the center bolt.
Looking for possibly a broken strut mount/spring seat

With vehicle on jack stands, take a jack and jack up under the suspect side control arm , careful in case it clears the jack stand, and then see if link is loose/not tightened properly.

I'm sure you know its the front, but throwing this out there for what its worth. Escapes/Mariners have issues with rusted out rear wheel wells where rear shocks mount to


Dec 1, 2019, 12:46 PM

Post #11 of 14 (1331 views)
Re: 2009 Mercury Mariner suspension rattle Sign In

Hmm now that is interesting. My service manual says to torque the control arms while it's still lifted 😮

I will torque while resting on ground and report back, thanks for that. I will write that note in my manual (I knew I should have bought a Chilton instead of a Haynes).

Front end passes the bounce test. That was the first thing I tried when I suspected struts.

But yes it's definitely coming from the front, or it's one heck of a noise travel from the rear.

Double J
Veteran / Moderator
Double J profile image

Dec 1, 2019, 1:07 PM

Post #12 of 14 (1325 views)
Re: 2009 Mercury Mariner suspension rattle Sign In

If you do it while lifted, you first have to jack up under the control arm and load the suspension to the proper ride height...
Always measure the ride height first

If you want to invest in a tool, look for a tool called Chassis Ears
Great help in locating problem suspension noises
Or call shops to see who has one


Dec 1, 2019, 1:29 PM

Post #13 of 14 (1318 views)
Re: 2009 Mercury Mariner suspension rattle Sign In


All 3 bolts on control arms met torque while rested.

I double checked the torque on strut mounts and the driver's side damper shaft nut was 3/4 turn off torque at 76 ft lbs (spec according to my manual).... Passenger side was spot-on. Retorqued it and tested...

Took it for a drive around the block and now after that the "rattle" is nearly non-existent. It's definitely not as pronounced as it was before that. It used to be clearly audible, but now I have to really really listen hard. Maybe my mount bushing is going out? Or is it normal to lose torque? These were loaded struts, so i didnt think anything of it when installed 50k ago. Thanks for that advise to check!

If the bushing is indeed going bad, that is something I'll just let a shop do. Not too enthused about using a spring compressor for that. I don't feel comfortable with my own skillset to tackle that project, and would like to live at least a little while longer. I've heard bad bad stories about strut springs turning into lethal projectiles... Even with a compressor.

For now given the fact that my noise is almost entirely gone, I think I can safely say it's resolved for now. If the bushing is bad, it will need replaced real soon.

(This post was edited by KnightHawkUSMC on Dec 1, 2019, 1:31 PM)

Double J
Veteran / Moderator
Double J profile image

Dec 1, 2019, 1:46 PM

Post #14 of 14 (1303 views)
Re: 2009 Mercury Mariner suspension rattle Sign In

No, not normal to lose torque

I have had a few problems with the loaded struts

Had a Kia Sportage, got loaded Monroes , noisy as hell

Called Monroe, they sent me out replacements right from their warehouse. The springs weren't even properly positioned in their perches properly. You would think they would QC them before sending them out since I had a problem with the first ones.
I took the first ones apart and reassembled them and noise was gone.

You could do it but I wouldn't trust those cheap rental spring compressors. Get a quality one or take the struts off and run 'em over to a shop or machine shop and have them do it for like $40 bucks

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