Fixing Squeaks, Buzzes, and Rattles, with particular attention to the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger

Automakers try to issue service bulletins for known or common problems, but if you have to hunt the rattles down the old-fashioned way, knowing exactly where they are will help you explain to the dealer, and help them to find and fix them for you.

night lights

This particular bit of advice is useless on our 2013 Chrysler 300C, which creaks and complains if you touch pretty much anything. — DAZ

It helps to have someone else drive while you pull and push on panels to reproduce and locate the noises. Pushing or pulling on panels to see if the noise changes or ends is the standard diagnostic process for squeaks and rattles. I have had a helper sitting next to me hear a noise in a totally different place than what I thought was the noise source.

Rattles can be in the trunk (spare and jack tight?) or under the car (exhaust heat shield?). Is it a “plasticy” or “metallic” rattle? Thumping on panels when parked (or tapping on them with your thumbnail) to see if you can reproduce the rattle is a good one-man method and may be good during a repair order write-up, but sometimes the car has to be in motion to get it to happen. (Tapping the mirror and vents can also identify rattles.)

Wouldn’t it be nice if every dealership had a little length of concrete-paved road? — DAZ

Demonstrating the rattles on a road test with the technician or service advisor will benefit both of you. They need to verify and witness the rattle before they can hope to remedy it. There is nothing worse than not hearing what the customer is trying to describe.

If the rattle is deep in the dash, it could be in the cowl (wiper area) or even on the firewall side. I have removed a radio or heater control to get my hand into the dash while on a road test to try and locate a culprit.

First remove all items from the doors, compartments, cubbies, etc to make sure these are not the problem. If you have used the spare tire, check that area; re-installing it incorrectly may cause noise. — DAZ

A mis-adjusted hood can contact the cowl. Sometimes pulling the hood release and popping the hood will stop the noise if it is related to hood hinge adjustment [be careful testing this]. You may see the paint worn away in the area of contact. Make sure that the components mounted on the firewall are secure or isolated from movement.

If you can identify what is making the noise, you can apply a thin layer of medium to heavy grease or apply some sticky trim adhesive in a spot that isn’t visible and won’t get touched. You can also replace metal retainer clips or “re-spring” them for a tighter fit.

mirror buzz

Loose, missing, or broken fasteners can happen [sometimes as a result of other repairs]. Foam tape can secure loose components, wire harnesses, etc. Chances are if yours has rattles, others have had rattles also. They may already know what it is and how to fix it.

The Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger have, when new, a quiet interior. After three or four years, many customers say that’s not true any more. I can vouch for that; in our near-top-of-the-line 2013 Chrysler 300C, the rattles and buzzes started just before the three-year warranty ran out, and got increasingly bad over the next few months.

The noises remain intermittent, though they are always present on concrete roads. Visits to the dealership didn’t work out well because they couldn’t hear the noise — and we rode along and didn’t hear them on their roads, either. Two that did show up were a dashboard rattle which turned out to be a surprisingly loose windshield-rain sensor cover (for the automatic wipers), and we thought one was the cover for the assembly behind the mirror, loose, shaking against the windshield. The dealer put on some foam tape, but it came back quickly; I removed the cover entirely and the noise was still there, so that wasn’t it.

sensor cover

Next came a periodic crack when going over bumps; this started after the dashboard work and was probably related. Lighter rattles came from all over the dashboard, some turning out to be coming from the vent louvers. One, fixed by the dealer in an unrelated repair, could be stopped by gently, with my finger, by prying out the top of the screen assembly by a sixteenth of an inch. (Be careful with this, since the bottom will still be held in with other trim - it’s really not a good idea, at the time I thought it was just a bezel but it’s an integrated unit.)

screen rattle

Until the 2011s, you could pop off the center stack bezel. Now, it’s part of an assembly with the big screen, so you have to (2011-14):

  1. Disconnect the battery negative cable
  2. Remove the climate control face-plate (the service manual has a full section on this, so don’t just pry it off)
  3. Remove the telematics assembly (again, the service manual describes this, so don’t try to pry it out)
  4. Using a special tool, release snap retainers and then gently lower the center bezel from the dashboard. There are several harness connectors.
  5. Only then can you remove the center trim bezel.

I imagine an experienced mechanic can do it in less than half an hour, and a normal person would take an hour or longer. It carries rather pricey risks.

The service mechanic who looked at this car used a black foam tape to isolate the mirror from the windshield; this is similar to the foam window insulation tape I used to use in old cars for the same purpose. (The tape later came off but it worked for a while.) On my 2013 Dart, the dashboard cover was separated from the window in three places with black foam squares in what appears to be a more effective (if mildly futile) attempt to stop it from being a rattlebox.

Service bulletin #23-018-15 covers the 2011-15 Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300, when there is a “rattle or buzz noise” coming from the rear either when the radio is on or while driving on bumpy roads, because the rear (package) shelf may move and touch against the backlight. If the noise can be stopped by pressing on the rear shelf, it’s covered by the bulletin. This is a difficult job for most people, but should take well under an hour at the dealer (labor operation #23-20-72-96, 0.5 hours plus 0.2 hours diagnosis). There may be missing retaining clips or foam blocks which require the installation of a new package shelf— though these are deliberately left off the Charger SRTs made before January 1, 2012. This job requires adding a section of window seal to the underside of the rear package shelf.

Clicking from Chrysler 300 dual-pane sunroofs built between March 31, 2012 and December 18, 2012 have a fix in service bulletin 23-032-13. This is a fairly serious job, coming in at around five hours.

sunglass holderMany people on the Internet also noted that buzzes and rattles can come from front and side speakers, particularly as bezels loosen. Fasteners getting loose over time seems to be a common theme.

Other issues to look for:

  • a rattle that sounds like it was in the dashboard, can be a loose radiator fitting
  • a rattle that sounds like the dashboard can be a loose exterior mirror
  • in earlier cars, black foam blocking the gap between the inner fender and outer fender liner can fall into the inner fender
  • the lenses of the map lights can rattle if loose
  • an access panel next to the parking brake release can get loose
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