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Discussion Starter #1
I'm having an issue with my 2005 Town and Country, FWD, Touring, 3.8L, Stow-n-go van.

Quick background: New-to-me van with almost 200,000 miles on the odometer. At least 2 previous owners, possibly more. Almost no maintenance history, but it's possible that the suspension components are original. Or not. Take your pick.

Newish tires all around. 2 weeks ago, I installed brand new brakes and rotors. They've been working perfectly.

Last week, the vehicle was flat-towed, all 4 wheels down, in neutral, trans was cold, about 2 miles. Knowing that flat-towing is frowned on with these, we took it as easy as we could. Most of the tow was super smooth, but the last quarter of a mile was a bit bumpy, but not excessively so. This issue began shortly after the tow... Coincidence?

I'm now hearing a very obvious pulsing/scraping sound at low speeds, say under 35mph, coming from somewhere around the front wheels. It varies consistently with speed. If, at these slower speeds, I make a hard right or left turn, the sound completely goes away until I complete the turn. Then, it immediately returns.

Above 35mph, road noise starts to take over and you can't hear the sound, but you can then FEEL a tapping sensation through the steering wheel. The frequency is still predictably tied to the speed that you're going. I'm too chicken to try hard turns at those speeds, lol ;)

The van seems to drive the same with this new issue. It doesn't pull to either direction.

Today, I jacked each corner, one at a time, and spun the wheels by hand. All of them seem to spin freely. No unusual side-to-side play, seems solid.

What say you, the Mopar van gurus? What sort of demon is possessing my new project vehicle? Should I get new parts or hire an exorcist?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The purpose of the tow was un-related to this issue. The tow was actually un-neccesary, but we didn't know that at the time.

I ran the tank down to 1/4 for the first time. Turns out the sending unit is busted and the tank was actually empty. Ran out of gas in the middle of nowhere.

I put almost a gallon of gas in, at the time, but it wasn't enough to start, so after troubleshooting a bit, I figured it was something along the lines of a bad fuel pump.

Next day, wife suggested that I should add more gas... "just in case."

Thing started right up.

Words fail to describe how I felt right about then, LOL...
 

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Yes, it does appear that the front hub's bearings are going.

Here is the 20505 DGCV Service Manual's front hub and bearing diagnosis and testing section...
DIAGNOSIS AND TESTING - HUB AND
BEARING
The condition of the front hub and bearing assembly
is diagnosed using the inspection and testing procedure
detailed below.
The bearing contained in the Unit III front hub/
bearing assembly will produce noise and vibration
when worn or damaged. The noise will generally
change when the bearings are loaded. A road test of
the vehicle is normally required to determine the
location of a worn or damaged bearing.
Find a smooth level road surface and bring the
vehicle up to a constant speed. When vehicle is at a
constant speed, swerve the vehicle back and forth
from the left and to the right. This will load and
unload the bearings and change the noise level.
When bearing damage is slight, the noise is sometimes
noticeable at lower speeds and at other times
is more noticeable at speeds above 105 km/h (65
mph).


Here is the a picture of the front brake and front hub mounting from the 2005 DGCV Service Manual...
2005.DGCV.SvcManual.FrontSuspension.BrakeAndHubMounting.JPG


Here are the steps to remove the front hub per the 2005 DGCV Service Manual...
REMOVAL
NOTE: Replacement of the Unit III front hub/bearing
assembly can be normally done without having to
remove the steering knuckle from the vehicle. In the
event that the hub/bearing is frozen in the steering
knuckle and cannot be removed by hand, it will
have to be pressed out of the steering knuckle. The
steering knuckle will require removal from the vehicle
to allow the hub/bearing assembly to be
pressed out of the steering knuckle. (Refer to 2 -
SUSPENSION/FRONT/KNUCKLE - REMOVAL)
(1) Raise vehicle. (Refer to LUBRICATION &
MAINTENANCE/HOISTING - STANDARD PROCEDURE)
(2) Remove wheel lug nuts, and front tire and
wheel assembly.
(3) Remove the cotter pin, nut lock and spring
washer from the stub axle (Fig. 4).
(4) With aid of a helper applying the brakes to
keep the front hub from turning, remove the hub nut
(Fig. 4).
(5) Remove disc brake caliper and adapter as an
assembly from knuckle as shown (Fig. 5). Hang
assembly out of the way using a bungee cord or wire.
Do not allow caliper hang by brake hose.
(6) Remove brake rotor from hub and bearing (Fig.
5).
(7) Push in on end of driveshaft stub shaft, pushing
its splines out of the hub splines.
(8) Remove the four hub and bearing mounting
bolts from the rear of steering knuckle (Fig. 6). Use
care not to come in contact with and damage
the ABS tone wheel on the driveshaft stub shaft
upon bolt removal.
(9) Remove the hub and bearing assembly from
the steering knuckle.
 

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Did you lose any power steering fluid during the tow?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Jerseyhilltopper and Scuzzione, thanks for the info!

Jeepman, I looked it over once I noticed the issue and I didn't notice anything leaking. I dont see any oil spots where it was parked. I quickly checked the PS level this morning and it's pretty much exactly where it was last week.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I starting to wonder if maybe the bearings were getting ready to go, anyway, and the stress of the tow just accelerated the process ...
 

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Discussion Starter #9
So...

Since I was changing motor mounts this weekend, I took advantage of having the van up on jackstands again and had a much closer look at the front wheels.

As before, passenger side was fine, but this time I noticed that the driver-side front wheel wasn't as solid as it should be. Played around with it, with and without the wheel attached, and it's obvious that the bearing-assembly needs replacing. Parts should be in next week. Hopefully this fixes it.

Thanks for the help guys!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
@marvinstockman I just checked again - rotors are spinning freely, no rubbing on anything external. Thanks for the suggestion!

After looking at it more closely, I was able to see that it's definitely a bad bearing.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Installed a new bearing-assembly on the left-front (driver) side. No more noise, can no longer feel any movement (that isn't supposed to be there) either.

This vehicle has spent it's entire life in Kansas, so salt-induced corrosion wasn't really an issue. Regardless, though, that hub was stuck on there pretty good. Found a creative way to remove it... I didn't really want to beat on it with a sledge, as I might miss since there wasn't such an easy target to hit. I took an old rear brake rotor (that I no longer cared about!) and installed it backwards (good and tight) on the front hub. The disposable rotor gave me a much easier target to hit with the sledge. Also, each hit was more effective, as I was able to leverage some mechanical advantage -- I just made sure to keep hitting evenly all around the hub/rotor. Worked like a charm - came off with just half-a-dozen strikes.

I'll add some pics later on, as soon as I find my missing phone. :(
 
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