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"Mysterious" rubbing/alignment in front suspension

A few days ago, I had a mechanic friend replace the strut mounts, coil springs (and upper & lower seats), and bushings, in my 1994 Olds Acheiva. After he replaced them, my car was WAAAY out of alignment- pulling to the left and I could hear some sort of rubbing when turning corners. It sounded like my tires, but I can’t see where they would be rubbing.

So, the next day, I brought it to the alignment shop, hoping this would solve my problems. They did the alignment, handed me my keys (without mentioning any problems), and off I went. Well, as soon as I pulled out of their lot, I still heard the rubbing, and the alignment was still off a bit. I was in a rush to get back to work, otherwise I would have turned around and brought it back to them. I did call them when I got back to work, and they said that was the best they could do, and that my car would need some sort of mechanical adjustment in the struts to get it aligned (which means not their problem and more $$). I then called they guy who did the suspension work, and he said it was an alignment issue, not his problem… My car’s alignment was great before getting any of this work done.

Now, the “mysterious” part-- As of right now, when I turn left, I hear the rubbing, and then the car pulls to the left… when I turn right, I hear rubbing and my car pulls to the right!! So, then I thought, maybe I need power steering fluid; checked the fluid, it’s fine. I have stock wheels/tires on the car.

Any other suggestions, before I pay someone else to look at, are greatly appreciated!!!

Hating to see posts go unanswered I have no clue what is going on but if it is the tires that are rubbing on something you should be able to see on the tire where that is happening by looking on the inside and outside of the tire and seeing a clean black area as an indicator of where it is rubbing against something.

Thanks for the reply. I’ll probably just try to ignore it for a few more days, then look around for signs of what might be causing the rubbing.

Another note, the rubbing is considerably louder when I turn from a dead stop, and not as loud if I’m already moving then shift down to 2nd gear and go fast.

Still hoping that someone might have a clear idea of what the problem might be :slight_smile:


What bushings were replaced. If they were control arm bushings, they could be the wrong ones, weren’t lubed right or are too tight.

are the tires really bad if so and thier worn unevenly then this could cause it to handle and drive funny Does that have a plastic rear leaf spring

I’m thinking that loose bolts or the nut on the ball joint could be a possible cause.

Unless there is something to the control arm bushings idea above (via keith) I would be going after the alignment shop - you brought it to them for an alignment. If there was some “extra” stuff that had to be done to align it properly they should have figured that out up front rather than charging you for an alignment and letting you drive away with the job undone.

FYI - when the struts are replaced an alignment shop should really be the first stop.

And how does a perfectly nice name like Catherine turn into “stinkypete”?

Here’s the problem the way I see it.

  1. In order to save money, a friend changed the struts, but he did not have the capability of doing an alignment, which is required when struts are changed.

  2. The alignment shop saw the struts and knew they had a built in excuse for doing sloppy work - not to mention they lost out on making money on the strut job. So they did the minimum.

  3. The guys at the alignment shop were in the best position to figure out what is wrong - and they’re just “not in the mood” - and in some respects you can’t blame them.

  4. The guy who did the struts could have also figured out what this was all about. So I have to ask myself a question? Why are both of these folks washing their hands of it?

I suspect there is something else going on. May be they both are getting bad vibes?

The a-arm bushings were the ones replaced. I have new Kumho tires as of 3 months ago.

I work at an aftermarket accessories shop (we customize vehicles). The alignment shop I used is the same one we take all of the lift trucks to, and high-end vehicles that we work on, for alignments. I would hope they didn’t feel as though they lost out on money, or did sloppy work, considering we send thousands of dollars worth of work to them every month-- they knew where I was from, and even gave me a “business to business” discount on my personal order.

I will check to make sure the bushings were the correct ones (I ordered them from the local Parts Plus store, I just assumed they sold me the right ones for my car).
I’m also going to have the mechanic check the bushings to make sure they are not too tight, and the ball joints. If it’s not any of those things, I’ll be taking my car to alignment shop, and just pay to get it fixed.

My attempt to save money, has become a bit of a headache… By the time I get this fixed, my $140 savings may be $0

Parts: $270
Labor: $150
Alignment: $40
Total I’ve paid so far: $460

Quote from Car-X: approx $600

Thanks again for your input!
Catherine-- Stinky Pete is my dog :slight_smile:

Heres the bad news, most mechanics don’t know how to properly install struts, even shops that specialize in it. At the top of the strut rod, there is a pair of parallel flat spots just below the threads. For some reason, mechanics think this is for q wrench while tightening down the nut that holds the upper strut mount to the strut.

The top spring cap has a hole with parallel flat spots that the rod goes into. It won’t go in if a wrench is in the way. You are supposed to put the spring cap on, then hold the cap and rod from turning by sticking a screwdriver through a hole in the cap when tightening that nut on top. At least that is how it works on Toyota’s and Chrysler struts. GM uses a lot of Toyota designs and visa versa.

The lower control arm bushings should have had some silicone grease put on them before install. You can still spray the bushings with a silicone spray or you can make a spray out of a tsp of dishwashing detergent added (not dishwasher soap) to a pint of water. Squirt it on the bushings with a spray bottle or a sports drink bottle. Don’t use oil or WD40.

Been thinking this over and I am now convinced that the problem is in the struts, more specifically the upper strut mounts. Either the upper spring cap is not installed right, the left and right caps were switched or you got struts with the springs already installed and they don’t fit correctly.

The upper strut mount is a rubber incased bearing. The upper spring cap (aka clamp) should not rub against the rubber of the upper strut mount. If it does, it will make a rubbing noise and cause resistance for the wheel to return to straight ahead after the turn.

I’m afraid your mechanic friend is on the hook for this one, hope he ponies up and takes care of it. It will need an alignment afterwards again though.

If you would like to see my experience with a Toyota, click on this link.

About a month later, my sister in law got her struts replaced and asked me about why her handling was so funny, I noticed that the upper spring clamp was not installed right, the shop fixed it.