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frozen suspension?

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Old 01-13-2011, 07:41 AM   #1
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frozen suspension?

so, last sunday to monday, we had about 5 inches of snow and from monday to wednesday, the overnight temperatures have been below zero and the day time temperatures have been in the teens. so, driving through all the snow (the office park where i work is not plowed) and having the low temps has cause a ton of ice build up on my truck. (the attached image shows an icicle dripping from the bottom of the fender to the ground. also notice the other icicles from underneath the truck).

on tuesday, i started noticing alot of popping, grinding, banging, and creeking in the suspension. and sometimes, it was LOUD. i could feel it on the floor of the truck; almost like i hit something in the road.

when i got home, i looked under the truck and at the suspension and everything seemed intact as it should be. but i did notice that all the suspension components were caked in ice. the coils, the shocks, the control arms, and even the ball joint on the total chaos's.

so now that we are in the 40's, all the noise is gone. the suspension is as smooth and quiet as its always been.

so has anyone ever experienced this before?

i was trying to think what part of the suspension could have been causing this crazy noise and grinding.
are the shocks gas filled? could the gas have been becoming a solid?
could ice have actually got inside the ball joint on the total chaos's?
could the grease inside the UCA bushings be frozen?
could the noise come from the ice breaking off the coils?
could the lower mount point of the shock be frozen tight?
what else?

its so odd....
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Old 01-13-2011, 08:03 AM   #2
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Things will obviously ice up and some of the noise could have been the ice breaking off the truck as everything moves. One thing to be careful of is ice build up between the bed and the cab. They move separately and the ice can scratch or dent the cab (usually the ice breaks before it dents the cab but it can happen). I've had my brakes freeze up before but you notice that right away because that wheel won't turn then, bang and it's free. It's usually a very loud noise, to the point where you think you broke something. Keep an eye on things in the winter, water gets in everywhere and when it freezes certainly can damage parts if wedged in correctly. Most of what you're hearing is probably just ice breaking away from the truck.

To answer some of your questions specifically, I'm not sure if your shocks are air or oil filled but you will not turn the gas to a solid. If it gets that cold, kiss your ass goodbye, you won't survive it. If they're stock, or 5100's they're oil filled but it sounds like you're upgraded. Oils thicken up when it gets cold and metals become more brittle. If you take a big enough hit when things are really cold, it's possible to blow a shock. You'd notice this though because your handling would be off.
The grease will thicken up slightly in the cold but won't freeze unless there's water in there. That's why you should apply fresh grease often. It forces out dirt and water and keeps it from wearing out the joint.
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Old 01-13-2011, 12:12 PM   #3
NetMonkey [OP] NetMonkey is offline
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thanks for the feedback, guys
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Old 01-13-2011, 03:22 PM   #4
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Yeah, it happens. When your vehicle warms, it melts ice buildup, which then runs down on to the suspension and re-freezes when you park. Just drive like normal. It sounds like hell, but the ice will break long before anything on your truck.

It's also not uncommon for ice accumulation on suspension to make it seem as though your alignment is out (pulling) or your tires aren't balance (vibration).
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