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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
2004 Chrysler T&C 3.8 touring w/ about 145k miles.

hit a pothole hard - real hard - right (passenger) side.
we were 2 miles from home.

i didn't really hear anything while on the 1.5 miles of (decent) pavement, but my son said he did.
who knows?
regardless, once on the ****ty remant of chip/seal, & eventually dirt/gravel, leading to the house...
... we both heard a noise in the front right.

honestly, it's hard to describe, or even remember, what it sounded like.
it's just clear that i created some sort of sound that i did not like

pulled the wheel off & the only thing that looked jiggy to me was the rear of the control arm.
granted, i don't know what it's "supposed" to look like...
and there could easily be other problems...
... but i saw fresh (shiny, liquidy) grease around i guess where the bushing is...
... and also some of it had spurted or fallen on to the metal below (shown in photo, though drying now).
it doesn't look as fresh now, 36 hours later, but this was clearly new & as a result of the pothole encounter.

is it reasonable to assume i killed the control arm?

i have them (both sides) in my cart at rock auto - on hold.
i don't mind replacing both of them, and perhaps even the struts while i'm in there...
... but would hate to do so and miss the real problem (or another one).
i could try to take the thing off & inspect it better once off the car...
... but, at that point, i'd probably just want to install new parts anyway, right?

thoughts on this picture?
any other "checks" i could/should perform?

thanks for any help, as always.
i'm empowered beyond my ability by people who share their expertise & experience.

Automotive tire Wood Grey Tread Bumper
 

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fix it if you can
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To damage the control arm itself would take a tire blow out and rim damage..
The rear CA bushing could be wearing out (you'd have to check with a pry bar while the arm is resting on a jack stand), but it would not make terribly much noise, you should check the sway bar link and bushings and especially upper strut mount.
It's hard to say what's making noise without any clue.

You should check the build sheet for your van to see if it had hydraulic bushings on control arms - that could explain the grease or it could just be a half-arsed attempt to lube them at a quicky lube type place...
 

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Start with the simple. (Make sure it's quite so you can hear)

1) Test for movement/noise by grabbing the tire in the 12 and 6 o'clock position. Try to move it. This checks the lower control arm and lower ball joint for movement.

2) Grab the wheel in the 3 and 9 o'clock position. Try to move it. This checks the inner and outer tie rods.

3) Try to move the sway bar end links with your hand. If you can, they need to be replaced.

4) Check the sway bar bushings. If you see any space on it, meaning the bushing should have full contact to the sway bar, they need to be replaced.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
To damage the control arm itself would take a tire blow out and rim damage..
The rear CA bushing could be wearing out (you'd have to check with a pry bar while the arm is resting on a jack stand), but it would not make terribly much noise, you should check the sway bar link and bushings and especially upper strut mount.
It's hard to say what's making noise without any clue.

You should check the build sheet for your van to see if it had hydraulic bushings on control arms - that could explain the grease or it could just be a half-arsed attempt to lube them at a quicky lube type place...
hi again!

thanks for your notes on the grease at that back bushing. either way, i don't like seeing it - so i'd want to drill down on that further.
so, you're thinking it could have just squished it out?
but might otherwise be okay?

i think it may be (at least) tie rods???
but, be that as it may, you're saying i could check the control arm by having it rest on a jack stand...
... and then do what with the pry bar?
i may as well rule that out (or in) as well.
and, one more thing i'll know how to do!

thank you!

ps - i didn't necessarily "see" anything at the upper strut mount that caught my attention...
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Start with the simple. (Make sure it's quite so you can hear)

1) Test for movement/noise by grabbing the tire in the 12 and 6 o'clock position. Try to move it. This checks the lower control arm and lower ball joint for movement.

2) Grab the wheel in the 3 and 9 o'clock position. Try to move it. This checks the inner and outer tie rods.

3) Try to move the sway bar end links with your hand. If you can, they need to be replaced.

4) Check the sway bar bushings. If you see any space on it, meaning the bushing should have full contact to the sway bar, they need to be replaced.
hi itsallgood - thanks for entering the fray!

you may be on to something.

so, i have it jacked up & put the tire/wheel back on.


1. 12/6 doesn't do much of anything. feels snug (at least to me).
if that's okay, then maybe the control arm & ball joint are okay...
... i'm just left wondering why it **** out that grease?


2. okay, 3/9 is a different story.
i'm no mechanic, but i don't like that play in the joints - literally.
additionally, i hear some noise when i jiggle it side to side like that.
i've not yet figured out how & where i want the thing on jack stands to get up under an look closer...
... but there is some for sure wiggle side to side like that.
and, again, i hear sound... which is almost certainly what i heard that day.
MOREOVER, my son was looking out the window once we were on gravel and the sound was loudest...
.. and he said something about the wheel wobbling.
now, he may tend to exaggerate...
... but i'm wondering if what he saw was that back & forth play that i can now create by hand?


3 & 4 - i still need to sleuth out that sway bar stuff... watching a video on it now.


just wanted to quickly update that i think you may have me on the right path (or, at least one of them) with the tie rods.
if you have any other thoughts to further chase the tie rod rabbit down the hole (now that we have a clue there's a problem there)...
... fire away.
i guess the next step is figuring out how much crap i jacked up by hitting that pot hole...
... and deciding what all must be replaced.

i do appreciate your help.
****, i had control arms & struts in my rock auto cart.
that may all be moot...

thanks.

ps - if the tie rod stuff is toast on the one side, is it automatically jacked up on the other.
i'm the guy that would tend to replace it all while i'm at it... just wondering if i should expect 3/9 wiggle on the driver front?
 

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OP, glade to hear your own to something. So, to be clear, you need to have both front wheels off the ground, while doing your checks. You can verify which component it is, by looking as you wiggle the tire, in the area you hear the sound. (You might need an assistant to make it easier)

When you confirm which part is bad, it's a great idea, to replace that same part on both sides. (It's better for you in the long run) Also, you will need a wheel alignment after the work is completed. So, plan your repair(s) with this in mind and to be without your van for a few days.
 

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I forgot to mention, what you perceive as grease, might be mud. I've replaced the lower control arms twice on our van and never saw that much grease come out, if any at all.
 

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2009 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT (3.8); 2003 Dodge Grand Caravan eL (3.8)
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No, the rear bushings on the fourth gen are fluid filled.

The standard 4th gen rear control arm bushing is a "Hydro" fluid filled bushing for reduced NVH, the heavy duty 4th gen suspension has a 3rd gen solid rubber rear bushing.

3rd and 4th are interchangable. When I replaced the spindles, struts, and ball joints on my 1997 with 2001-07 parts, I upgraded from the solid rubber 3rd gen bushing to a 4th gen hydro bushing. Didnt really notice a difference.

So probably, you popped the bushing, and all the fluid inside ran out. That's why it's loose too, instead of a thick rubber walled bladder/balloon with fluid inside, you now have a flattened and loose rubber sack. It's really easy to replace, unlike the front bushing. You'll need to put the front end of the van on jack stands, remove the steel reinforcement plate from the bottom of the suspension cross member. You might be able to just remove the M14 bolt running through the forward control arm bushing, and the two bolts from the plate holding the rear bushing in. But, the strut/spring might be pushing down too hard to reassemble like this, in which case you'd need to unbolt the ball joint, reattach the control arm bushings, and then reattach the ball joint.

The rear control arm bushing is hand pressed onto a metal rod protruding from the back of the control arm with a nub on the end, phallic shaped best describes it...
You just yank the old one off, wiggle the new one on to the protrusion on the control arm, reassemble, and youre good to go.

Remember, you need the van sitting level on the pavement at ride height to tighten the control arm bushing bolts. You want to torque them so that theyre indexed to ride height.
 
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so, you're thinking it could have just squished it out?
but might otherwise be okay?

i think it may be (at least) tie rods???
but, be that as it may, you're saying i could check the control arm by having it rest on a jack stand...
... and then do what with the pry bar?
If that bushing is hydraulic, it failed and probably needs to be replaced in not too distant future it will cause tires to wear out quicker as alignment shifts on turns (if on the other hand it's plain rubber and that grease is just a lubricant it might be ok).

With that control arm on a jack stand or even with the wheel on the ground (but clocked all the way to the left) take a pry bar and see if you can move the trailing end of control arm in/out by that bushing - don't whale on it, just nudge it and see if it moves (has play) in the bushing.

Tie rods need to be addressed asap, I wouldn't drive it with a loose tie rod (moving it around the yard at 5mph is ok)

The upper strut mount is not something you'll see easily. if it's blown, placing your finger on the strut nut (under wiper cowl) and rocking the van you'll feel the nut moving relative to the metal mount (there should be zero play).
 

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If that bushing is hydraulic, it failed and probably needs to be replaced in not too distant future it will cause tires to wear out quicker as alignment shifts on turns (if on the other hand it's plain rubber and that grease is just a lubricant it might be ok).

With that control arm on a jack stand or even with the wheel on the ground (but clocked all the way to the left) take a pry bar and see if you can move the trailing end of control arm in/out by that bushing - don't whale on it, just nudge it and see if it moves (has play) in the bushing.

Tie rods need to be addressed asap, I wouldn't drive it with a loose tie rod (moving it around the yard at 5mph is ok)

The upper strut mount is not something you'll see easily. if it's blown, placing your finger on the strut nut (under wiper cowl) and rocking the van you'll feel the nut moving relative to the metal mount (there should be zero play).
We think of the control arm as a single unit, but it's actually two suspension components fused together. The forward bushing is an actual control arm bushing, control arms typically go straight out to the ball joint. The rear control arm bushing is actually the radius rod bushing. The control arm is intended to provide the majority of the strength, locating the wheel/spindle and linking the spring/strut motion. The radius rod, aka torque arm, is almost entirely there to prevent the spindle and control arm from flexing forward or aft under acceleration or braking.



The control arm bushing is tremendously important. The radius rod bushing is something the van could probably survive with, it'd drive very terribly and unpredictably, but the wheel isnt going to immediately fly off or fold up without it.

Ball joint and Strut mount are probably the two most critical points. The forward control arm bushing is captured. Even if 100% of the rubber disappeared, youd still have a grade 10.9/12.9 M14 bolt going through the crossmember and control arm castings. The only way to separate the control arm from the van, is to not have that M14 bolt there. Meanwhile, the ball joint and strut mount can separate or shear off. My minivan actually had a KYB strut rip the nut and washer through the strut mount, the wheel folded up under my van.


Usually, you can diagnose by yanking with your hands or prying with a crowbar. With both wheels off of the ground, if you can wiggle the wheel in the toe angle directions(turning left or right), that typically indicates slack in the tie rod ends. If you can yank or pry the bottom of the wheel or forward side of the wheel in and out, that would indicate a bad ball joint. If you can pry the top of the wheel in and out, bad strut mount. Control arm bushing will have similar symptoms to the other joint, but youd see the control arm moving instead of just the wheel or spindle.
Tie rods and swaybar end links can also be judged by how freely they twist by hand. The ball/socket ends of tie rods and end links are supposed to be tight with resistance to your twisting, if they twist easily theyre worn, if they are loose and can be wiggled theyre bad.

Its worth mentioning the sway bar, its easily overlooked. If you only jack one wheel off of the ground, the sway bar is pulling up on the lifted wheel and pushing down on the compressed wheel. You need the front at equilibrium for the sway bar to not introduce artificial tension, either test the wheels with both hanging freely in the air, or the van sitting level on its wheels on the ground.


And yes, Im 100% sure that the aft control arm bushings are hydraulic, filled with oil or fluid. You have to pay extra for the 4th gen Hydro bushings which are standard equipment. The "heavy duty" 4th gen suspension has the cheaper solid rubber bushings with no extra cushioning, they are literally the same part number as 3rd gen bushings.
 
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We think of the control arm as
...
And yes, Im 100% sure that the aft control arm bushings are hydraulic,
Think all you want, for CA to move longitudinally in aft bushing would take either catastrophic front end structure failure or CA deformation / failure. It takes both fore and aft bushings to provide longitudinal rigidity. It can only be compromised if aft bushing is torn in two (inner part separated from outer).

If we are examining just the aft bushing, compromised transverse rigidity is a tell tell sign the bushing is defective/worn out/failing.

While you can yank on the wheel with unloaded suspension, you may not feel anything even with the aft bushing ripping to shreds.
...

Meh, not all bushing were hydro from assembly line and many aftermarket bushings are not, it's prudent to suspect that it is / was but it's far from certain on a 17 y/o van with over 140 kMi...

 

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Think all you want, for CA to move longitudinally in aft bushing would take either catastrophic front end structure failure or CA deformation / failure. It takes both fore and aft bushings to provide longitudinal rigidity. It can only be compromised if aft bushing is torn in two (inner part separated from outer).

If we are examining just the aft bushing, compromised transverse rigidity is a tell tell sign the bushing is defective/worn out/failing.

While you can yank on the wheel with unloaded suspension, you may not feel anything even with the aft bushing ripping to shreds.
...

Meh, not all bushing were hydro from assembly line and many aftermarket bushings are not, it's prudent to suspect that it is / was but it's far from certain on a 17 y/o van with over 140 kMi...

The rear control arm bushing is simply a torque link. It triangulates the spindle longitudinally (or more accurately yaw stability), while the forward bushing provides the lateral stability and its own longitudinal stability. The forward bushing is subjected to much more force. That's why the forward is a steel inner and outer sleeve, with rubber bushing in between, pressed into the control arm and captured with a hefty forged bolt. The rear bushing has no inner or outer sleeve, no bolt, and isnt pressed. It simply slips over a cheap cast rod protruding from the control arm, and is captured by a sheet metal plate. The van would be somewhat drivable without a rear bushing installed, the van would be absolutely undrivable without the forward bushing.


With a damaged or missing rear bushing, youd only be ble to slightly surge the wheel forward and aft. The forward bushing is still very tight, it provides longitudinal stability and a significant amount of yaw arresting on its own to rival a mere human yanking on it. The front bushing is intended to provide all of the lateral stability and most of the longitudinal stability, the rear bushing cant because of it's location and can only provide yaw and pitch stability for the forward control arm bushing.

You can definitely see by looking at it. Any radial or axial loads are directed to the forward control arm pivot. The rear bushing is in a weak location for these forces, but a very strong position to absorb pitch or yaw of the control arm around the axis of the forward bushings.
Bicycle part Tool Font Auto part Bicycle drivetrain part




It's essentially a 3 link suspension. Three links have two main arms to provide directional strength, and one torque arm to provide rotational stability. A double wishbone would be a 4 link suspension.



I pulled up the Parts for 2004, I didnt realize that there was a right and left.
Rectangle Font Circle Pattern Number


Rectangle Font Parallel Magenta Number


Rectangle Font Parallel Circle Number


I dont know what the E-line would be, maybe export, I doubt it's economy. Perhaps the Sport, LX/SE, and EL trims had the "heavy duty suspension"(SDB) bushings. Like I said, the solid rubber bushings are cheaper and identical to third generation vans, the hydro bushings are 4th gen only and the only kind Ive ever seen on a 4th gen.

Heres a solid bushing.
Automotive tire Automotive wheel system Automotive design Auto part Font



From his picture, it is definitely a Hydro in shape rather than plain rubber. T&C Touring, I dont know what trim that is, but Id guess that touring means plush rather than sporty or heavy duty.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
holy crap - you guys are amazing!
this is all such awesome information.

for whatever it's worth, my wife asked: "who are these guys who share such incredibly helpful information?"
she answered her own question, noting that clearly it's people with a strong desire to help others.
she was impressed that folks are so willing to share their experience & expertise to lift an otherwise dense fog.
it is true that such forums stand out, in a world that's mostly gone wrong, as an example of what amazingly beneficial human interactions can look like.

oh, and before i forget...
... i've begun to notice how you guys have vehicles with INSANE miles! i love it.
i used to be happy that my '97 chevy blazer has 265k & still drives me to town.
i'm jealous to see 300k & 400+k miles!
for me, it's simple math: i think in terms of cost per mile driven.
every trip i take to town is reducing the cost per mile driven based on the acquisition & maintenance cost of the vehicle.
i only purchased one new vehicle in my life - a '94 ford escort, in 1995, left over from the year prior.
all others are used... and i do what i can to learn & maintain & repair.
i can't imagine having a car payment.

anyway, know this: you all sow good seeds of assistance to your fellow man.
i pray it comes back to each of you multi-fold.
you're also an inspiration.

i don't know that it will matter...
... but, while i'm getting under the van here this morning, i'll at least share a couple other pics i took.
may not indicate anything, but they're not exactly accomplishing much on my hard drive either.

will follow the advice/instructions for sleuthing out more on this situation & report back...

Wheel Tire Automotive tire Locking hubs Motor vehicle



Motor vehicle Automotive tire Gas Automotive exterior Automotive wheel system



Automotive tire Gas Wood Sculpture Metal
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
OP, glade to hear your own to something. So, to be clear, you need to have both front wheels off the ground, while doing your checks. You can verify which component it is, by looking as you wiggle the tire, in the area you hear the sound. (You might need an assistant to make it easier)

When you confirm which part is bad, it's a great idea, to replace that same part on both sides. (It's better for you in the long run) Also, you will need a wheel alignment after the work is completed. So, plan your repair(s) with this in mind and to be without your van for a few days.
thanks for that - i'll get both wheels off the ground & re-check (didn't realize that was necessary!)

will get my wife to help...
... and thanks for the thoughtful note about alignment & down time for the van.
all helpful things to keep in mind...

appreciate you!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
No, the rear bushings on the fourth gen are fluid filled.

The standard 4th gen rear control arm bushing is a "Hydro" fluid filled bushing for reduced NVH, the heavy duty 4th gen suspension has a 3rd gen solid rubber rear bushing.

3rd and 4th are interchangable. When I replaced the spindles, struts, and ball joints on my 1997 with 2001-07 parts, I upgraded from the solid rubber 3rd gen bushing to a 4th gen hydro bushing. Didnt really notice a difference.

So probably, you popped the bushing, and all the fluid inside ran out. That's why it's loose too, instead of a thick rubber walled bladder/balloon with fluid inside, you now have a flattened and loose rubber sack. It's really easy to replace, unlike the front bushing. You'll need to put the front end of the van on jack stands, remove the steel reinforcement plate from the bottom of the suspension cross member. You might be able to just remove the M14 bolt running through the forward control arm bushing, and the two bolts from the plate holding the rear bushing in. But, the strut/spring might be pushing down too hard to reassemble like this, in which case you'd need to unbolt the ball joint, reattach the control arm bushings, and then reattach the ball joint.

The rear control arm bushing is hand pressed onto a metal rod protruding from the back of the control arm with a nub on the end, phallic shaped best describes it...
You just yank the old one off, wiggle the new one on to the protrusion on the control arm, reassemble, and youre good to go.

Remember, you need the van sitting level on the pavement at ride height to tighten the control arm bushing bolts. You want to torque them so that theyre indexed to ride height.
YES!

this makes perfect sense. we're in a 40 day drought... so, while it could have otherwise been mud - not right now.

this explains what i know what a fresh situation with all that goo at that bushing.
i didn't even know there was such a thing as fluid-filled.
while it sucks to think maybe i'd not have a problem if that had been solid rubber...
... maybe the fact that it wasn't - and was filled with jizz - actually made THAT the weak point and maybe saved me worse damage?

i appreciate your thorough pointers on replacing that - i'm 99.99% confident that that fluid bushing is at least "a" problem, if not "the" problem.
i will still get BOTH sides up on jack stands this morning and see if i can do a "wellness check" on sway bar & tie rods.

QUESTION: regarding the "level on the pavement," does that mean i can get it put back together "mostly," like they way we tighten lug nuts...
... and then let it down to finish it off (proper torque)???
i don't need another set of jack stands to put the whole car level in the air do i? seems some screwtube videos show guys doing that?

ALSO: you wouldn't happen to know where i can access the torque specs would you? i know you seem to have access to pretty sophisticated, detailed info.


thanks for weighing in - while other crap may have gotten screwed up, i was for sure concerned about the black goo. and you've solved that mystery.

OH, and you also helped me with the whole "heavy duty" suspension matter.
when i was studying the control arm options (when i thought i might be replacing the whole thing versus just the bushing), they talked about w/ & w/o heavy duty suspension.
how the **** do i know?!??!?!
it's not on the original window sticker & i could not find out by trying to search the VIN either.
so, i think you've solved that mystery too... and i do NOT have the "heavy duty" suspension (i.e. - older solid bushings).

for whatever it's worth, the VIN on this is:
2C4GP54L64R603560

maybe you all have a "go to" site for VIN info.
everything i checked was pretty basic...
... or else a disguised attempt to sell a report.

PS - my "senses" tell me that maybe it's not necessary to replace that bushing on the other side.
i'd generally "do both" when doing something...
... but, for some reason, this feels sufficiently independent that maybe you don't fix it if it ain't broke (in this case).
thoughts?
i'm not opposed to buying & replacing both if you think it's best to have both sides have a fresh start on that bushing....
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
UPDATE 1:

LOWER CONTROL ARM BUSHING
pretty positive that was a rear lower control arm bushing that i squished like a bug and spurted its insides out.
so, that will get replaced... and maybe the one on the other side too???

in the meantime, in looking for other damage...
... got the front (both wheels) up on jack stands.


BALL JOINT (and rest of control arm?)
12/6 is still solid - on both sides. i'm not concerned about that.
(not to say i'm not missing anything... just not any obvious problem to me)


TIE RODS
recall, my previous "test" was with the driver front wheel on the ground... so that didn't count.
it did feel like there was some play, but - again - bad test.
apparently that driver tire on the ground was "holding" the passenger wheel mostlly in place....
... because...
NOW - 3/9 is impossible to test, because my steering wheel will not lock (in park, key out -just turns freely to either side).
maybe that, alone, is diagnostic?
in prep for getting on jack stands, i will say that i felt like there was some slop in the steering wheel when moving side to side.
also hear a bit of a sound when starting to ease forward, but hard to describe that.
all of that said - my eyeball check doesn't have anything jump out at me on the tie rods???
admittedly, i don't trust my ability to really test that however.


SWAY BAR/LINKS
as for sway bar, i can see where the "fresh metal" appearance reveals that the entire bar seems to have shifted 3/8 inch or so to the right (passenger side).
maybe that was made possible by the liquid bushing going limp & there being room for movement?
i don't know, but i can see by looking at both of the bushing/holder thingys up top that it's shiny to the passenger side of them both.
as for the bushings themselves, they appear to be okay and seem to fully embrace the sway bar - from what i can discern.
if i grab the sway bar links, i'm not struck by any crazy movement or anything that disturbs me.


MY THOUGHTS AT PRESENT:
1. squished liquid bushing - we know that
2. why doesn't my steering wheel lock? (other way to test tie rods in that situation?)
3. is the sound i hear when moving wheels back & forth normal?
4. what to make of the 3/8 inch shift toward passenger side of the sway bar?


if you dare, or care, i did a quick 5 minute video...
... thinking it might be more useful.
it cuts off about the time i was gonna show you the bushing (but we already know that's jacked up, so, whatever):


in addition to that video, which tries to show the above, here are a few pics:
Automotive tire Bumper Machine tool Gas Screw





Automotive tire Hood Motor vehicle Bumper Tread



Automotive tire Wood Motor vehicle Gas Bell
 

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Thanks for your kind words. Most people on this forum are very helpful. I enjoy helping people, that's a gift from God to me. I will check out your video over the weekend and give you my thoughts.

As to checking the tie rod ends. The steering wheel doesn't need to be locked. If the steering wheel was locked, the wheels would be turned some. Just try to wiggle the wheel, with medium force, back and forth. Do a YouTube search to see how it's done.

Here is a video I did about Lower Control arm replacement. It might be helpful for you to see what's involved.

01 Dodge Grand Caravan Lower Control Arm Replacement - YouTube
 

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Op, great job with the video. Even though it froze a few times, it was very helpful.

1) I heard the knock. Can't say what it is though. Ask your wife to shake the wheel, while you're under it the vehicle, and chase down the noise.

2) Look at the front, Lower Control Arm, bushing for movement.

3) The sway bar bushings look warn, but don't believe it's the knock I heard in your video. (Save that repair for a later time) It's not a safety concern.

4) This is what I use, to keep the steering wheel from moving, when doing certain repairs.

Amazon.com: SAVEMORE4U18 Car 14.5''/368mm Steering Wheel Holder Stand Tool Wheel Alignment Essential Tool : Automotive
 

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YES!

this makes perfect sense. we're in a 40 day drought... so, while it could have otherwise been mud - not right now.

this explains what i know what a fresh situation with all that goo at that bushing.
i didn't even know there was such a thing as fluid-filled.
while it sucks to think maybe i'd not have a problem if that had been solid rubber...
... maybe the fact that it wasn't - and was filled with jizz - actually made THAT the weak point and maybe saved me worse damage?

i appreciate your thorough pointers on replacing that - i'm 99.99% confident that that fluid bushing is at least "a" problem, if not "the" problem.
i will still get BOTH sides up on jack stands this morning and see if i can do a "wellness check" on sway bar & tie rods.

QUESTION: regarding the "level on the pavement," does that mean i can get it put back together "mostly," like they way we tighten lug nuts...
... and then let it down to finish it off (proper torque)???
i don't need another set of jack stands to put the whole car level in the air do i? seems some screwtube videos show guys doing that?

ALSO: you wouldn't happen to know where i can access the torque specs would you? i know you seem to have access to pretty sophisticated, detailed info.


thanks for weighing in - while other crap may have gotten screwed up, i was for sure concerned about the black goo. and you've solved that mystery.

OH, and you also helped me with the whole "heavy duty" suspension matter.
when i was studying the control arm options (when i thought i might be replacing the whole thing versus just the bushing), they talked about w/ & w/o heavy duty suspension.
how the **** do i know?!??!?!
it's not on the original window sticker & i could not find out by trying to search the VIN either.
so, i think you've solved that mystery too... and i do NOT have the "heavy duty" suspension (i.e. - older solid bushings).

for whatever it's worth, the VIN on this is:
2C4GP54L64R603560

maybe you all have a "go to" site for VIN info.
everything i checked was pretty basic...
... or else a disguised attempt to sell a report.

PS - my "senses" tell me that maybe it's not necessary to replace that bushing on the other side.
i'd generally "do both" when doing something...
... but, for some reason, this feels sufficiently independent that maybe you don't fix it if it ain't broke (in this case).
thoughts?
i'm not opposed to buying & replacing both if you think it's best to have both sides have a fresh start on that bushing....
I forgot to add this on the last post. Your trim level is the 6th digit on your VIN.

Font Parallel Number Rectangle Pattern


.You can also use this website to decode Fiat/Chrysler VINs for the build sheet of options and equipment.


Here's your VIN:
Font Rectangle Parallel Circle Number



The vehicle needs to be lifted with both wheels on that axle hanging to check or replace parts, because the anti-roll bar(sway bar) tries to force both wheels to the same height. Its just a stiff steel bar shaped like a C or ( or [ and connected to both struts, when the van leans it twists the bar, but the bar fights to go straight. If you only have one wheel lifted, the suspension on the lifted wheel is under tension and being pulled up by the sway bar, while the wheel on the ground is being pushed down on by the lifted wheel. It makes the van roll less in turns, it's really important if you swerve the van so the body doesnt sway back and forth and cause a loss of control.

You do the final tightening with the vehicle sitting level on the ground at ride height. It's because bushings dont rotate, they flex. When the control arms, sway bars, leaf springs, and panhard bar move, they pivot on the bushings, but the bushings just twist the rubber inside them, because the outside and inside of the rubber bushing is biting into the chassis and arms/bars/springs. So, you want the rubber not under tension where it spends most of it's life, at ride height, as well as ride height being roughly the center of travel, as well as setting the rubber bushings up to always fight to push the suspension back to ride height. I would get the bolts which are clamping or securing bushings to "thumb tight" such that they are providing zero tension on the bushing. Then set the vehicle down, then torque the bolts tight. If you cant fit under the vehicle, you could either drive the vehicle onto ramps, or set the vehicle onto jackstands under the control arms with the jackstands as close to the balljoints as possible. The objective is just to get the suspension compressed to ride height, so that gets set as the "home position" for the bushing.
 

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