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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just looking for some tips. My '97 3.3 Grand Voyager has had a steering wheel shake at highway speed for about 7,000 miles or so. I wouldn't call it death wobble, but it is certainly noticeable. I don't do much highway driving, so I haven't addressed it yet. Hasn't gotten any worse since noticing. Does not shake at local speeds.

Starts shaking around 50 or 60 mph, and doesn't get much worse up to 70mph. I don't drive any faster than 70 on highway. Steering feels light at highway speed, as if I were towing a heavy trailer. Steering wheel also has some left and right play, when I shimmy the steering wheel slightly.

More often than not, front end will make a creaking/popping noise when coming to a stop, and taking off from stop.

Something in front end sounds loose when driving over railroad tracks.

I have slotted rotors, just had them turned.

Sway bar links, struts, and sway bar bushings are new.

Alignment done less than 100 miles ago.

I am going to swap my rear tires with the front, to see if it's a balance issue. Tires are new. Wheels were balanced about a year ago. Wheels do not feel or look bent, but it is a possibility of course.

Seems like a loose/worn steering column connection at rack, or just simply ball joints, or tie rod ends or something. Ball joints, tie rods, wheel bearings, control arm bushings are original as far as I can tell. Moving wheel with my hands to check ball joints and tie rods, show that both are tight. Control arm bushings test ok. Axles and wheel bearings feel ok too. Van has 128k. I grease ball joints and tie rods every oil change.

Not sure what else to look for. Hard to make front end show symptoms on a floor jack..

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If possible I would have a shop inspect your front end and tell you what they find.

In my case I recently mis-diagnosed the same symptoms on my 1999 Plymouth Gran Voyager. Same noise you described on speed bumps and railroad tracks. Similar creaking on starts and stops. It would knock like a bad tie rod on grooved highway pavement at highway speeds but less so on asphalt. I could definitely feel it in the steering wheel.

I thought it was the cheapo CARDONE steering rack's inner tie rods giving out as they tend to do. My vehicle has 362,000 miles on it - it is my workhorse and I drive it a LOT. This is the 4th CARDONE rack I've installed in it - lifetime warranty at O'Reilly but pain to change.

In my case it did turn out to be a worn out bushing - not one of the suspension bushings but one in between the aluminum suspension cradle and the body!

I had just installed new KYB struts, replacement warranty CARDONE rack, Mopar outer tie rods and new ball joints. After crude alignment I went on a test drive - had the same knocking noise at 70 MPH! Very frustrating.

After test drive I got ti home and back on the stands (stands on the body rail). I grabbed the passenger lower control arm (with bushings that were installed a year ago) and pulled hard - I saw the whole cradle move! I found the front cradle lower bushing was about to fall off and where the steel inner support for the cradle bushing had been hammering against the aluminum - it even carved a notch into the aluminum. I still haven't taken the old bushing out - hopefully the cradle itself is still intact. Keep in mind the steering rack mounts on this aluminum cradle.

I visited a salvage yard later that afternoon and walked out with two sets of correct cradle bushings. Someone had left the bushing on the ground - they dropped a cradle at the yard on a similar Plymouth to make power steering pump removal easier for them. Festivus miracle for me to find the bushings in good shape and obtain them with minimal labor.

These vans are getting old. Mine is about to turn 23 years old. Rubber doesn't last. It is worth it to check the suspension and also cradle bushings.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
If possible I would have a shop inspect your front end and tell you what they find.

In my case I recently mis-diagnosed the same symptoms on my 1999 Plymouth Gran Voyager. Same noise you described on speed bumps and railroad tracks. Similar creaking on starts and stops. It would knock like a bad tie rod on grooved highway pavement at highway speeds but less so on asphalt. I could definitely feel it in the steering wheel.

I thought it was the cheapo CARDONE steering rack's inner tie rods giving out as they tend to do. My vehicle has 362,000 miles on it - it is my workhorse and I drive it a LOT. This is the 4th CARDONE rack I've installed in it - lifetime warranty at O'Reilly but pain to change.

In my case it did turn out to be a worn out bushing - not one of the suspension bushings but one in between the aluminum suspension cradle and the body!

I had just installed new KYB struts, replacement warranty CARDONE rack, Mopar outer tie rods and new ball joints. After crude alignment I went on a test drive - had the same knocking noise at 70 MPH! Very frustrating.

After test drive I got ti home and back on the stands (stands on the body rail). I grabbed the passenger lower control arm (with bushings that were installed a year ago) and pulled hard - I saw the whole cradle move! I found the front cradle lower bushing was about to fall off and where the steel inner support for the cradle bushing had been hammering against the aluminum - it even carved a notch into the aluminum. I still haven't taken the old bushing out - hopefully the cradle itself is still intact. Keep in mind the steering rack mounts on this aluminum cradle.

I visited a salvage yard later that afternoon and walked out with two sets of correct cradle bushings. Someone had left the bushing on the ground - they dropped a cradle at the yard on a similar Plymouth to make power steering pump removal easier for them. Festivus miracle for me to find the bushings in good shape and obtain them with minimal labor.

These vans are getting old. Mine is about to turn 23 years old. Rubber doesn't last. It is worth it to check the suspension and also cradle bushings.
Curious..

The other day, I was able to get under my van, and start digging deeper. I found that if I aggressively shake my left front tire at 3:00 and 9:00 positions, I hear something that sounds like my noise.

I had someone rock my steering wheel back and forth, in the "play" range I described.

I believe I found the noise! To me, it sounds like either the inner tie rod is bad, or the column/rack gear is worn out and loose. I don't feel any roughness or notchyness in steering like I think a bad rack would do. Do steering rack gears develop play?

I took a video, but it is crude.

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Steering rack gears can develop play, but I would think that to the be the least likely wear issue. Tie rod is way more common.

In my past experiences with my vehicle a worn inner tie rod was usually the culprit. Since it was part of the CARDONE rack assembly I changed the rack rather than just the tie rod.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Steering rack gears can develop play, but I would think that to the be the least likely wear issue. Tie rod is way more common.

In my past experiences with my vehicle a worn inner tie rod was usually the culprit. Since it was part of the CARDONE rack assembly I changed the rack rather than just the tie rod.
Yeah, so I do see that new inners come with a new rack. My logic may be flawed, but if it ain't broke, don't fix it!

If the Mopar rack isn't worn, I'd rather run with the original part, than aftermarket chinesium we're subjected to buying.

Of course I still have to determine if my inner tie rods are bad, of if it is the rack.

I've read some posts on the topic of replacing inners, have you done it in the past? How much of a bit*h is it?

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In your video the noise does seem like inner tie rod end.

I've never personally changed an inner tie rod on my 3rd gen. Can be done with the correct tools. You definitely want to remove the steel plate below the cradle to make the job easier. Some of the cradle plate bolts - like the ones near the ABS unt - are hard to get a tool on. Most of the cradle plate fasteners are 21mm on both the nut and bolt but a couple are 18mm. My main concern would be getting the protective rubber boot to seal properly.

I've been planning to buy a genuine Mopar rack for mine while it is still available, but money got tight so I warrantied the CARDONE for now. The Mopar rack comes with both the inner and outer tie rods. The price isn't bad considering what refurbished racks go for nowadays.

1999 Mopar Rack
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
In your video the noise does seem like inner tie rod end.

I've never personally changed an inner tie rod on my 3rd gen. Can be done with the correct tools. You definitely want to remove the steel plate below the cradle to make the job easier. Some of the cradle plate bolts - like the ones near the ABS unt - are hard to get a tool on. Most of the cradle plate fasteners are 21mm on bot the nut and bolt but a couple are 18mm. My main concern would be getting the protective rubber boot to seal properly.

I've been planning to buy a genuine Mopar rack for mine while it is still available, but money got tight so I warrantied the CARDONE for now. The Mopar rack comes with both the inner and outer tie rods. The price isn't bad considering what refurbished racks go for nowadays.

1999 Mopar Rack
Can't feel vibration or movement with my hand on the rack, but can feel some feedback with my hand on tie rod.

Some people have said that I should somehow hold the steering rack where the inner threads in, to prevent damage to the rack? Don't quite understand that. Some have used channel locks, some have used the "tube" style inner tie rod tool with success. Guess we'll find out..

I have two sets of moog inner and outer ends on their way. Couldn't find Mopar replacement inners. Figured I'll have inners and outers match.. Lol.

That is a fair price on a OE rack. I'm seeing many OE Chrysler parts prices for our vans are quite reasonable. Must be because no one is buying original parts for a 3rd gen Caravan!

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LOL - No one buying parts indeed! I always try to find a genuine Mopar part when I can. By looking up the correct part number and searching eBay I obtained a Mopar fuel pump assembly for mine for $80 shipped (a couple years ago).

There are a lot of "surplus" part dealers on eBay who sell old part inventory they bought from dealers and shops. Spark Surplus is my favorite. My genuine Mopar outer tie rod ends came from them.

I live in SE Texas and have access to a plethora of salvage yards here and in central TX. Vehicles don't rust from road salt here in our sub-tropical climate. I can keep my useful Plymouth going for a long time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
LOL - No one buying parts indeed! I always try to find a genuine Mopar part when I can. By looking up the correct part number and searching eBay I obtained a Mopar fuel pump assembly for mine for $80 shipped (a couple years ago).

There are a lot of "surplus" part dealers on eBay who sell old part inventory they bought from dealers and shops. Spark Surplus is my favorite. My genuine Mopar outer tie rod ends came from them.

I live in SE Texas and have access to a plethora of salvage yards here and in central TX. Vehicles don't rust from road salt here in our sub-tropical climate. I can keep my useful Plymouth going for a long time.

Yeah, I'll usually get the PN# from PartsGiant, then search it on Ebay. It's funny that PartsGiant doesn't even list just the inner as a replacement. I think Chrysler claims that the inner is not serviceable, one would have to replace the rack assembly.

You're fortunate to be in a southern climate! Here in CT, most vehicles are quite rotted. Especially old Caravans, they are so few and far in between around here, even in junkyards!

I think Moog is still of quality. I'll admit that they are skating off of their reputation from the past, but their parts do seem to be robust. I'd really be the most concerned about rubber boot failure, rather than the joints themselves. No way the aftermarket rubber components will last 128k, like the rest of the stuff on my van.

I've read that plastic and rubber made in Canada is very high quality, they are just good at it for some reason.

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I agree - Chrysler considered the inner tie rod a part of the rack.

I consider Made in Canada a good sign. Just received a genuine Toyota part - Made in Canada.

Moog - used to be good 30 years ago. I didn't get the memo when they went downhill. Two years ago I installed new Moog strut assemblies on the Plymouth. Those Moog assemblies are junk. The upper bearings groaned and creaked. The struts often bottomed out. Those two year old Moog struts are in my scrap metal pile now.

Jury is out on Mevotech. In August 2021 I installed replacement lower control arms with new bushings and ball joints installed. I just installed new ball joints - the Mevotech ones were worn in a year. Mevotech bushings still fine. I installed O'Reilly China ball joints as I didn't have time to wait for US made old stock ball joints to come in. Lots of US made old stock ball joints on eBay still available - and cheap.

I just installed KYB strut assemblies to replace the crappy Moog ones. Now my Grand Voyager almost feels like a Cadillac in ride quality. The rear KYB shocks were made in Malaysia. The KYB struts are markted "assembled in USA". I highly recommend the KYB struts for our vans.

I don't ever plan to buy a Moog part again unless it is old stock still in a box marked Made in USA.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I agree - Chrysler considered the inner tie rod a part of the rack.

I consider Made in Canada a good sign. Just received a genuine Toyota part - Made in Canada.

Moog - used to be good 30 years ago. I didn't get the memo when they went downhill. Two years ago I installed new Moog strut assemblies on the Plymouth. Those Moog assemblies are junk. The upper bearings groaned and creaked. The struts often bottomed out. Those two year old Moog struts are in my scrap metal pile now.

Jury is out on Mevotech. In August 2021 I installed replacement lower control arms with new bushings and ball joints installed. I just installed new ball joints - the Mevotech ones were worn in a year. Mevotech bushings still fine. I installed O'Reilly China ball joints as I didn't have time to wait for US made old stock ball joints to come in. Lots of US made old stock ball joints on eBay still available - and cheap.

I just installed KYB strut assemblies to replace the crappy Moog ones. Now my Grand Voyager almost feels like a Cadillac in ride quality. The rear KYB shocks were made in Malaysia. The KYB struts are markted "assembled in USA". I highly recommend the KYB struts for our vans.

I don't ever plan to buy a Moog part again unless it is old stock still in a box marked Made in USA.
Yep, I've also heard about those garbage moog struts.

I just put Monroe, "Quick-Strut", struts in. I have read plenty of poor reviews on those also.

I think the reality is that most all quick struts are not of high quality. They are made to be quick and easy. One of the problems with quick struts is that the springs used are often not calibrated for the application, it's a "one size fits all" approach. I didn't go with KYB, because I've read they are quite stiff. Next time, I'll go with KYB..

I agree that moog is not of the same quality as they were 30 years ago, but I'd think that they'd be better than a generic auto part store brand. We'll see how they do.

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Got my Moog inners and outers in today. Label on the box says Made in USA. The instructions also say "Issued September 1996". I could be wrong, but looks like I may have received an old dead stock part, from when Moog was quality!

Boxes are dirty and faded. From my years of working on cars and buying all kinds of parts, I've found that what comes in faded old beat up boxes, is often of quality!

Should I pack the area in the image with more grease?


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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Just an update;

Had wheels rebalanced.

Installed the inner and outers. Inner tie rods were not totally shot, but were worn nonetheless. Outers were same deal. Used a 12" channel lock to get old inners out. They were not significantly tight, most difficult part was squeezing the tool hard enough to grip inner tightly. A nice set of Knipex pliers are on my list! Outers came out nicely also. Just a few raps on steering knuckle, outer popped right out. Didn't use a torque wrench, but threaded new inners till they bottomed out, then a good tightening.

The new moog outer was a 1/2" or so shorter than original, so I couldn't match thread counts. I should have copied total length of old, to new. Alignment shop is only about a mile from me, so not a concern.

Took a short trip on highway. Steering wheel shake is elimated! I imagine the tire rebalancing took care of that. The odd popping in turns, and loose feeling is also fixed. Steering feels about the same, but more planted, firmer.

The next issue is a clicking, like noise in front end, mostly when releasing brakes to take off from stop.

So control arm bushings test good, ball joints don't seem to have a problem either. It almost sounds like a drive axle noise, but those aren't showing signs of wear.

I have to wonder if the noise is coming from the front brakes. As if the pads are shifting in the calipers.

A few things on that..

I have eliptical slotted rotors, made by ATE. They have roughly 30k on them. A set of wagner ceramic pads actually glazed them pretty good, so I had them cut. Mechanic said they did have a warp, and was not confident about cutting them. After having them turned, I found a judder under heavy stops, and a slight squishy feeling. Wonder if they were cut too thin. Pads also don't feel like they are biting, or grabbing rotor well. I have Bendix ceramic pads now, and rotors are again, glazed.

I have also noticed pretty good divots on caliper surface, where pad keeper tangs slide on. That may be what could be causing a shifting of pads. Caliper pistons are not stuck, but when compressing to fit new pads, they did feel a little tough. Not significantly, but I think they could push in easier.

Anyways, I decided to purchase new Bendix TitanuMetallic II pads, NuGeon calipers, and Raybestos specialty truck rotors. Also new rear brake hoses. The truck rotors are claimed to be heavier duty, and made of better steel. It's still china steel, but sounds good on paper. Not significantly more expensive either. I figure my van could benefit from HD rotors, being that rotors are already undersized, and system is underpowered for the weight.

I'm going to give my front brakes a nice refresh, and see if it fixes my noise!









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