Going to try and make this as legible as possible with a splitting migraine.
2004 Buick LeSabre. 122,000 miles.
Has FE5 suspension, some new parts, some parts off a low mile 05 GXP from Morad.
I'm going around and around with this car, and I can't fix the vibrations I'm getting from the front end. Every single part that can be replaced (with a couple exceptions) has been replaced. And not one single thing has been able to get rid of this. In fact, some have made it worse.
Feels like: tires out of round, but only at times, getting some brake pulsation, but only at times. It feels very planted, it doesn't wander and it tracks straight. But honestly, it feels like a wheel is gonna fall off!
I've done both bearings, 3 sets of CV axles (stockers, GSP aftermarkets, then Dorman), New rotors twice, new outer tie rods, new upper strut mounts, full set of new tires that were road force balanced, old tires were balanced at 3 different shops and I still have the same result with the new tires.
You can feel it going down the road, light corners make it worse, heavy corners actually make it better (gotta love the FE5!.. handles like a slot car).
I can't pin point down where this exactly started. I've done pieces of the FE5 in stages. Although changing out suspension parts shouldn't seem to affect this. But the last step, the anti roll bars, seemed to really amplify the whole thing.
One constant, I get a clunk from the driver side when shifting reverse to forward, or the opposite. Every time. None of the axles have taken away that noise, though it would seem like a CV joint popping. I can have my foot completely on the brakes, and it will still pop when changing gears.
I've had 3 shops look at it, and they seem to think its fine. But they don't push the car like I do. I put the FE5 in there for a reason. I drive twisty mountain roads to work everyday, and I love tossing it around. I get no tire squeal, no wander, no instability (no it doesn't have the stabilitrack system). I can point it into a corner, and it just goes. Again, the harder I push it, the more the problem goes away.
I just get sick of hearing "well, its a 6 year old car, its not gonna drive like a new car... its not a Mustang, you can't expect it to corner like one". Even though the problem really isn't in the cornering ability at all. They take one look at it, listen to what I've done, and attribute any harshness or vibrations to "well, its gonna ride harder with that setup". Well, yeah, but it shouldn't vibrate my teeth out going down a fresh paved road at 30mph, either!
I feel like I'm loosing my mind, because I'll throw parts at it until the end of time, and it will never be right. It was fine when I first bought it. That was back in November last year. The main difference is that back then, I was driving 30 miles a day to work and back. Now its more than double that. When I started this new job, I started to see the changes. At first I thought it was maybe the roads, but its not. I've taken my Cruiser down the same road, my dads caravan down the same roads, and yes there are spots that "washboard", but its not like that on the whole road.
I'm not sure where else to go with this. I could easily swap FE1 back in, but honestly, I don't think the problem is with the stiffer suspension.
If I had $800 lying around for a pair of new GM axles, I'd buy em, just for piece of mind, but I've already been through 2 sets of aftermarkets, and neither has done squat.
I haven't done much of anything with the rear end, except the FE5 specific parts. But the problem is definitely up front, even slight braking sometimes gets a pulsation, and the clunk from the left is obviously in the front, being drivetrain related.
So... whats next? New trans, new diff? I'm just tired, and broke from throwing parts at this car, plus not having any shops around here that cater to "non-stock" problems. Every one of them wants to call foul on my FE5. Some don't even want to touch it (ie, dealer.. "You put parts on a car that wasnt meant to have them, of course you're going to have problems". (Service advisor, and head tech, after listening to my problem).
Anyone have ideas? Tests? A shop somewhere in central NY that has some idea what they are doing with a car that knows more than "well, try this. no, okay. try this then. Nope, that aint it. Lets just keep spending money and throwing parts on it, eventually it will go away..."
A true mechanic is a dying breed. Everyone working on cars now is just a parts changer, and can't diagnose their way out of a paper bag.
Help. The more I drive this car, the more I hate driving it, mainly because I know there is so much potential there. If I hadn't spent all this money tracking down this problem, it would have a top swap right now! Its almost like a nagging migraine headache that wont go away (!!!) I love the car, but this whole mess is making me start to hate it.
I'm seriously considering taking time off, going to see Jack Cotton, and having Jack and his son look at it, because honestly, Im sick of parts changers, sick of people who don't have any idea how to work on a car besides throw parts at it, and Jack is really the only place I know of that has treated me well in the past, and could care less if you throw a bunch of non-stock crap together. His place is one of the few left I know of that will "diagnose" a car, not just replace parts until the customer'* wallet is empty. Problem is, Jack is 4 hours from me. But, if it has to go to that point, then so be it. He'* done great work on my Turbo Regal, and I'd trust him with anything from a Cavalier to a ZR1, knowing its in good hands. If thats what it takes to get this car right, then thats what it takes. But I'd rather do as much as I can on my own before I resort to that 4 hour ride that my car might not even make.