Holden Commodore VE Suspension Issues Explained(+Top 7 Issues and Pro Tips)

In this brief article we are going to discuss the common suspension issues that occur in Holden Commodore VE and what causes these failures.

The Top 7 Most Common problems with Holden Commodore VE Suspension are:

  • Creaking Noise from Rear End
  • Rear bump Stop Rubber deterioration
  • Rear End Drift at high speeds
  • Noisy and Bouncy Front Suspension
  • Rear Clunking Noise
  • Front Knocking Noise
  • Front Clunk Noise

Holden Commodore VE Suspension

The Holden Commodore is an executive sedan car by Holden (General Motors) sold in Australia. In the International markets, the Commodore was also known by the names Chevrolet Lumina, Chevrolet Omega and Pontiac G8. 

The Commodore range also included the luxury segment models Holden Berlina (VE) and Holden Calais (VE) and utility segment model Holden Ute (VE). The Commodore VE platform was manufactured from 2006 – 2013. The VE was succeeded by the VF platform.

The Holden Commodore VE Front suspension is a MacPherson Strut with Lower control Arm and a Strut Bar attached to the control arm instead of the conventional A-arm with Anti-roll bar. This arrangement is mounted onto the front subframe.

The Holden Commodore VE’s Rear Suspension is a 3 – Link set up, namely 1 Upper Control Arm, 1 Lower Control Arms and a Trailing Arm, all assisted by Coil Springs, Dampers and Anti Roll Bar.

Front Subframe mounting bush failure

Symptoms:

  • Knocking noises while normal driving
  • The noise is mostly not correlated to going over a bump; more like an occasional Knock

Troubleshooting Front Subframe Bushing Failure

  • The best troubleshooting method would be to go through all the bushings and ball-joints first
  • Once it is confirmed that you have no issues at any of the suspension joints, the next thing to look at is the suspension subframe-to-body mounting bushes, since these have flexible mountings to the body
  • The subframe bushes tend to wear out beyond ~50K miles and beyond that they start to create Knocking noises.
  • To confirm that they are fully worn, it would be best to use a pry bar and try to move the subframe at the mounting bush point. More movement means that the bushes have worn out.
  • Generally, at this point they would need to be replaced. 

Pro Tip

  • The Subframe bush is press-fitted into the Subframe. In order to replace the bush, you would need to remove the entire subframe along with the steering gearbox.

Front Shock Absorber Strut Failure

Symptoms:

  • Rattling Noise going over any rough patches
  • Front end bouncier than normal
  • Changes in handling behaviour; Vehicle not feeling stable at high speed cornering
  • Explained as seen on the Holden Commodore VE 2 (C65)

Troubleshooting Front Shock Absorber Failure

  • The Bouncy Ride symptom points to the Shock Absorber as a probable cause.
  • If your vehicle has crossed 50K miles, then it could be due for a shock replacement. Due to long-term internal wear, the shock starts becoming ineffective over time.
  • If the front strut shock has started leaking oil due to a failed oil-seal, then it means that the shock will no longer be effective.
  • One good way to tell if your shock has failed or not is to do a “Bounce Test”. Put all your weight on one of the front corners of the vehicle pushing it downwards. Keep oscillating the corner till you feel that it has reached its maximum height. Once you take your hands off the corner, observe how it settles. If it takes more than 2 oscillations to settle, that means the damper has failed.

Front Strut Top Mount Bearing Failure

Symptoms:

  • Knocking Noise while going over Rough Road Patches
  • Bumping/Knocking Noises when trying the lock steering in parking
  • Explained as seen on the Holden Commodore VE 2 (C65)

Troubleshooting Front Strut Top Mount Bearing Failure

  • The Top Strut Mount contains a Bushing as well as a bearing that allows the strut to rotate while steering
  • Generally, when the Top Strut mount is damaged, both the bushing as well as the bearing fail and restricts the strut from rotation during steering. 
  • The bearing failure causes the knock and creak noises while locking the steering.
  • The Bushing failure causes the Knocking and Popping noises driving over a rough patch.
  • The Strut top chassis attachment is in the form of a large Rubber washer held by a retainer washer and Nut.
  • The Strut Top Mount is assembled with the Front Shock Absorber Strut. So for removing this, you would need to disassemble the Front Strut.

Pro Tip

  • In the interest of safety, Always use a safe method to compress and Decompress the Spring while dismantling the front strut assembly.
  • It is preferred to use a Hydraulic or Pneumatic Strut removal fixture
  • If that isn’t available, then use a Lead-Screw Type of Spring Compressor

Rear Shock Absorber Failure

Symptoms:

  • Knocking and Popping Noises from the Rear going over bumps
  • Rear end feels bouncier

Troubleshooting Rear Shock Failure

  • The Bouncy Ride symptom points to the Shock Absorber as a probable cause.
  • The noises coming from the rear are partly due to the failed shock absorber allowing the bump stops to contact more often. And also the noises partly come from the worn out shock mounting bushes that allow the shock to move and hit against the mounting brackets.
  • If your vehicle has crossed 40-50K miles, then it could be due for a shock replacement. Due to long-term internal wear, the shock starts losing its damping action over time.
  • If the rear shock has started leaking oil due to a failed oil-seal, then it means that the shock will no longer be effective.
  • One good way to tell if your shock has failed or not is to do a “Bounce Test”. Put all your weight on one of the front corners of the vehicle pushing it downwards. Keep oscillating the corner till you feel that it has reached its maximum height. Once you take your hands off the corner, observe how it settles. If it takes more than 2 oscillations to settle, that means the damper has failed.

Pro Tip

  • When tightening the Shock bottom bolt, make sure that the vehicle is at its normal ride height.
  • If this bush is tightened at any other ride height, the Bush  always rests in a twisted condition at normal ride height and will result in a reduced Bush service life.

Front Lower Control Arm Failure

Symptoms:

  • The car seems to be drifting
  • Steering seems vague while Lane Changing
  • Uneven Tire Wear pattern
  • Knocking Noises while going over Rough Patches
  • Usually seen in Holden Commodore VE 2

Root Cause:

  • Due to a Tire wear issue, it can be inferred that the alignment of the front suspension is outside of the recommended settings. But this is still a symptom.
  • The cause for alignment change points to the Lower control arm Bushings and Ball-joints that may have got worn or damaged

Troubleshooting Front Lower Control Arm Bushing Failure: Lower Control Arm Bushing

  • Lower Control Arm bushing wears out over time and cracks due to age
  • To assess the bushing condition, you can use a Pry-bar and insert it between the Lower control arm and the Subframe. Now, try to move the Lower Control arm using the Pry-bar and observe the movement at the Bush location. If the lower control arm moves without much force, then it means that the bushes have worn out.
  • When inspecting the Lower control arm after removal, if you find that there are tears and cracks in the rubber portion, You can be sure that the bushes have already failed.

Pro-Tip

  • For Rusted Bolt connections that are hard to Break-open, do not try repeatedly using hand or pneumatic tools.
  • Always first soak it for 10-15 min after spraying a good Rust-penetrant

Troubleshooting Front Lower Control Arm Bushing Failure: LOwer arm-to-Strut-Rod Bushing

  • The Strut rod controls the front suspension Castor, this is connected to the lower control arm through a bushing
  • If this bushing is worn out, it would lead to wheel alignment and tire wear problems

Troubleshooting Front Lower Control Arm Failure: Lower Control Arm Ball-Joint

  • The lower control arm ball-joint is also subject to wear and tear.
  • The deterioration is usually initiated as a crack or rupture in the rubber boot around the ball-joint
  • This leads to loss of lubrication and finally to complete wear out
  • The wear out causes play or movement accompanied by knocking noise. The play in the ball-joint is one of the reasons for the vehicle steering feeling value
  • You can easily check for Ball-joint condition by this simple procedure:
    • Get the car on a Ramp
    • Lock the steering wheel
    • Hold the front tire with both your hands in a 6 o’clock position and try to steer the wheel
    • If you hear a ‘Knock’ or ‘Click’, then it is very much likely that the noise is due to a play in the Ball-joint
  • The best course of action would be to replace the whole Lower control arm since it comes with 2 new bushings and 1 new ball-joint all pre-assembled

Front Wheel Bearing Failure

Symptoms:

  • Droning noise above 30 mph speeds
  • Sound is louder with increasing speed

Troubleshooting Front Wheel Bearing Failure

  • Droning noise is generally associated with one of the wheel bearings depending on where the noise is coming from
  • Wheel bearings generally have a life of 70K miles, after which, on detecting noise issues, must be replaced
  • In the Holden Commodore VE, the wheel bearing is housed within the Wheel Hub. It is available as pre-assembled.

Pro Tip

  • When tightening the Shock bottom bolt, make sure that the vehicle is at its normal ride height.
  • If this bush is tightened at any other ride height, the Bush  always rests in a twisted condition at normal ride height and will result in a reduced service life.
  • When removing the refitting the wheel hub, make sure to carefully disconnect and reconnect the ABS wheel sensor connector plug

Conclusion

In this brief article we have discussed the common Holden Commodore VE Suspension problems, what the causes are, and Troubleshooting Tips.

For any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch with us.

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