The Chrysler Minivan Fan Club Forums banner

1 - 18 of 18 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
14 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi guys. I've searched all over this great forum but can't quite find my problem listed.

2001 Dodge Caravan 144,000 miles has developed a dangerous condition. Wife's car so its immediate problem for me.

Short Version:
  • Steering makes slight pop and mechanical release felt through steering wheel.
  • Happens when changing direction out of driveway. Usually in Morning. 40-50 F.
  • Progressed to physical "locking" of steering followed by release.
So far I've changed reservoir, and swaybar links. Problem went away for about 1 month completely but now is back.

This feels like a mechanical interference problem. Wheels off ground... No looseness or shaking from the 3-9 position or 12-6 position. So I don't think it's the Ball Joints or Tie Rod Ends. Could they be damaged inside of the untorn boots?

What else should I check?

Thanks in advance.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
Quick update: Lifted Left wheel off ground and turned steering wheel back and forth. Held onto various components. The mechanical catch and release is most pronounced in the tie rod itself. Tie rod end is tight and boot untorn.

No leaking from the rack bellows:

Would changing the inner tie rod improve this or would changing the rack be in order? 144,000 miles and looking to sell. Paint faded and peeling. Don't want to put too much money into her.

Thanks for insights and advice in advance.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,508 Posts
Sounds like your tie rod end(s) may be binding. Is it twisted/rotated, instead of flat/straight?

The CV joints, you should be able to move the shaft front or back, or up and down, if there is damage to them.

On the other hand, when the strut bearing (on top of strut) wears out, it will also make a popping noise, as the upper part of the spring snaps around. Then it will fight you when you turn it back, until it snaps back. "Quick-struts" are not that expensive. They are very easy to install. You will need to do both sides at the same time, though. :thumb:
 

·
*yawn*
Joined
·
2,992 Posts
If all else is checking out, I'm thinking strut bearing (top of the tower).

While on the ground (and in park) - have someone saw the steering wheel back/forth, while you put a hand on the strut spring. You'll feel a "pop" sensation there, if the bearing is binding...

-Jim
 

·
1000 Post Club Member
Joined
·
2,494 Posts
The inner joint of the tie rod end connecting rod that is attached to the actual rack is a ball and socket joint. You should feel play in it when you jack it up and hold the rod going to the rack and push the wheel at the 3 oclock position in and out. If you feel a click it is likely that joint. If so, I would replace the entire rack and pinion with a rebuilt unit that comes with everything out to the actual tie rod. Or have it done. Right now Advance has a 15% off on mail orders, I believe you can pick them up at a store too, save some. If that is not it, I would suspect the actual bearings in the wheel. They would do what your describe, I think. Check to see if the nut holding on the CV joint is loose, if it is, it should not be and the bearing is going out. Don't wait to fix that.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
149 Posts
Undo the tie rod end and turn the wheel to see if the poping is gone. Sounds more like an outer tie rod end to me rather than inner. Could be dried out and that would give you no play. When it's undone you can move the tie rod around to see if the inner makes any noise.
If it makes noise with the tie rod undone either ball joint or upper bearing is shot.
 

·
1000 Post Club Member
Joined
·
2,494 Posts
I wonder if a very badly worn CV joint could do this?
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
10,109 Posts
I'm going to say the rack itself has issues. It it actually locks itself, it is probably not the tie rods. The rack, with the power steering, should have enough power to avoid any resistance that the tie rods could have.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
AndyG is the Winner

So after testing several of the components, it became clear that the source of the pop was actually in the rack itself.

Took it to a local shop since I really didn't have time (or experience) to repair. $460 total damages for new/reman rack, removal, installation and alignment. Seemed fair.

Wife is happy and back on road. Family is safe.

Thanks to all for your input! It helped me track things down in a logical manner.
 

·
1000 Post Club Member
Joined
·
2,494 Posts
Glad to hear it, that is a fair price if they did the job right and did all you enumerate. The rack off the shelf is about 225-250 and 200 for a swap out and alignment is fair.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
36 Posts
Similar symptoms as coachjfk, but only when it is cold outside. In the morning or after work in the garage (parked on 3rg floor, very skary when it is no power assist on the ramp). Very diffiult to turn left, but then it pops and everythink is OK again. Never, never happened when it is warm (when driving in Florida). Maybe I should move from Michigan to Florida and save money on the rack? Seriouisly, everybody thinks rack problem? When I idle longer and warm engine up prior to driving-looks like this problem is gone, so go figure. Any comments would be nice from the club members.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
10,109 Posts
Similar symptoms as coachjfk, but only when it is cold outside. In the morning or after work in the garage (parked on 3rg floor, very skary when it is no power assist on the ramp). Very diffiult to turn left, but then it pops and everythink is OK again. Never, never happened when it is warm (when driving in Florida). Maybe I should move from Michigan to Florida and save money on the rack? Seriouisly, everybody thinks rack problem? When I idle longer and warm engine up prior to driving-looks like this problem is gone, so go figure. Any comments would be nice from the club members.
You should see if the wheels still bind when teh front end is off the ground when cold. If it only pops once then functions normally, I would say it is the rack. But if the steering is hard until it warms up, then you may just have a bad pump.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
36 Posts
Andyg, Why it happens in cold day? Looks like some physical obstacle when turning, than it dissapears. What inner rack sturcture can cause the problem if it is rack (most likely)?
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
10,109 Posts
Andyg, Why it happens in cold day? Looks like some physical obstacle when turning, than it dissapears. What inner rack sturcture can cause the problem if it is rack (most likely)?
Why when cold? No clue but it could be parts worn past their limit binding until warmed up or forced to move.

Nothing really causes the rack to go bad except for wear and tear.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
10,109 Posts
How dangerous it is driving with the "suspected rack"? Can it fail acutely?
Would be hard to know what can happen. It is not a common problem that many have experience with. If an internal part is in the process of breaking it could potentially break off and lock up the gears, or if it is just wear it will just get worse and probably eventually fail as well.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
36 Posts
Yesterday I put Cara on ramps and my son saw steering weel left -right. Definitely there is a click in the drivers side inner tie rod. Also I was able to move a bit passenger side CV axle sideways. There is a liite loil leak where CV axle meets gearbox. All boots (CV joint and rack) are OK Please advice what I am facing here. Thank you
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
10,109 Posts
Yesterday I put Cara on ramps and my son saw steering weel left -right. Definitely there is a click in the drivers side inner tie rod. Also I was able to move a bit passenger side CV axle sideways. There is a liite loil leak where CV axle meets gearbox. All boots (CV joint and rack) are OK Please advice what I am facing here. Thank you
The halfshaft is unrelated to the steering issue. May want to get it fixed before it strands you but that can be for another thread.

The worn tie rods should be addressed but I still say that the only thing that can offer enough resistance to lock the steering wheel would be an internal rack problem.

And I wouldn't move the wheels with the van on ramps. I really hate ramps and adding movement of the tires to them makes me shudder lol.
 
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
Top