Binding struts

dodge
caravan

#1

So for a while now turning my steering wheel at low speeds sometimes results in a slight groan, but no clunking or popping etc. doesn’t always occur and not loud by any means. I went to get an alignment today(new tires and have a three year alignment deal). Tires that I replaced were worn evenly. They said they couldn’t align the van due to binding struts. I told them to do their best since it’s free. All front end was aligned into spec except front left camber which should be .5 to -.3. Is currently at -.4. Looking at invoice it was at -.3 before work was done but I’m guessing it was the best compromise since the poor toe was corrected by a large margin. Van has 220,000, 2002 year, and isn’t the greatest overall best up and trans has somewhat hard downshifts at times. So I don’t like putting more and more money into it. So the questions: will .1 degree out of spec really hurt tire wear if the old tires wore evenly? What happens if I ignore this binding? Will it damage rack and pinion from increased drag?

Like I said, it’s just a groan, no clunking and it has no issue returning steering to center when wheel is not being touched. I’d be willing to replace them if it is going to cause expensive damage but I’m not looking to keep this forever and if a (good) camber bolt will allow me to let this ride I’d prefer that. Don’t know what is binding but I would guess strut mounts. They couldn’t give me an answer, but they don’t do struts so they weren’t trying to sell me anything


#2

Lots of questions being bandied about. First, that degree of camber won’t have much affect, ignore it for now.

As for the binding; it isn’t the strut itself that is binding as much it is the steer bearing between the spring and the strut mount. This is a common wear point on any strut car and with 220,000 miles, you’ve gotten your money out of it. I would suggest you change it lest it completely lock up your steering. Vary bad things could happen. Not saying this will happen, just that it could.

The bearing costs $18 from RockAuto but the labor to get to it is likely $100 plus per side. You can get the entire strut module assembly complete with new struts, springs, bearing and mount for $58 each and it should take half the labor to replace the entire unit that the bearing itself. I’d do that.

And you will need to align it afterwards. The camber issue may go away.


#3

Have someone turn the steering wheel back and forth while your hand is on the strut tower.

If there’s a bad strut bearing you’ll feel it.

Tester


#4

Yeah, I figured I might just have to bite the bullet and replace them. I was hoping I could let it go, but that sounds unpleasant. Thanks!


#5

When you turn the steering wheel something has to pivot or hinge to allow the front wheels to turn in the direction you want to go. Sort of like opening a door, to operate smoothly working hinges are needed. Older vehicles used king pins, after that came ball joints, and now it’s more commonly struts. But whatever is used, there has to be a hinge gadget in there somewhere. The binding might not be the struts, could be in the steering rack or tie rods too. Good advice above where to start. Whatever it is, it needs to be addressed with due speed as it could be dangerous.