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One side of car feels stiffer/different. Found cause.

 
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Old 03 Oct 2016, 07:21 pm
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Default One side of car feels stiffer/different. Found cause.

When I first bought my 2008 PT Cruiser in 2012, it had 43,000 miles. I noticed a noise when the steering wheel was wiggled left and right with the car off. I had my brother wiggle it and felt some slop when I put my hand on the left steering gear boot. I figured it was a bad inner tie rod and replaced it. Fast forward to 2016. I have recently done shocks, struts, sway bar links, control arms, etc. After doing front struts, I replaced one because I thought the left side was bad. I put the new one on the right because most of the bumps on the road are on the right. I transferred the other one to the left (I wanted to make sure both struts wear evenly). I noticed that the left side felt stiffer on speed bumps and I heard a rattly noise when hitting a bump next to a wall on the highway. The other day, I asked my shop foreman to take a look real quick. He said the inner tie rod felt loose. I was like: aw sh** because I thought I didn't tighten it down hard enough and it was coming loose. So I pulled it in on my bay and removed the boot. I tried to move the tie rod with channel locks but it was still tight. He suggested to put the tire back on and lower the car down so I did. I wiggled the steering wheel with the boot off and there was a good half inch of play in the steering gear. Apparently, it was a bad power steering rack this whole time. I just never noticed it until the suspension was nice and tight. He said he wouldn't replace it until it started leaking. I agreed because it's been like that now for over 70,000 miles. I looked up the part on oreillyauto.com and mopar.com. The price at O' Reilly's is about $200. On Mopar's, there are several different racks but they're all $470. I'm not going to buy one from O' Reilly's or Autozone because I did a steering rack on a friend's '05 Sierra recently and as soon as we started it, the rack leaked all over the ground so I had to replace it again. I was pissed off but he paid me double for doing the work twice (I didn't charge much). The PT Cruiser service manual says to remove the bolts on the subframe in order to remove the rack and I don't want to go through all that just to do it again. I recently looked under my friend's truck and noticed his leaking again. It basically took me 4 years to realize my power steering rack was bad. I guess it's not that bad since it took me so long to figure it out but now, it's starting to show it's age. Every now and then, I'll hear some popping when backing out of a parking spot while turning the wheels.
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Old 04 Oct 2016, 07:46 am
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Default Re: One side of car feels stiffer/different. Found cause.

I don't think you have a bad rack and pinion. If you swapped struts from side to side, then that's most likely your problem. They are specifically made for left or right side. I'm not sure what the difference is, because I'm not a mechanic, but someone here that IS can probably explain it to you. I'm not going to argue with you, because it seems like you work in a garage. BUT, if you look up struts on ANY parts site, you'll notice that they all list a different part # for left or right side, okay?
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Old 04 Oct 2016, 05:40 pm
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Default Re: One side of car feels stiffer/different. Found cause.

Both front struts are identical and share the same part number. I put the known good one on the left and the car still felt the same.
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Old 04 Oct 2016, 05:58 pm
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Default Re: One side of car feels stiffer/different. Found cause.

Some cars do call for specific left and right struts, I don't believe the PT does.

Regardless you should not replace just one strut unless you can't afford the other one because your on stamps and can't pay the rent. ALWAYS replace suspension components in pairs.
I wouldn't be surprised if you wore the rack by having unevenly worn shocks. If it was my shop and you wanted one strut, I wouldn't do the work at all.
As for racks leaking, It is all in how you get it done, the only leaky racks are poorly installed racks. I wouldn't be so quick to change out the rack, there is always some play in the wheel. As long as your wheels turn together and don't turn independent of each other, your fine.
The noise when turning lock to lock, might be a worn strut mount.
If you have the money, I'd get completely new quick struts. If the noises still persist and you notice drivability concerns from the loose steering, then replace your rack. Save money and get a autozone rack, then make sure to seal all the threads with Teflon tape and make sure they are tight.
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Old 04 Oct 2016, 06:01 pm
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Default Re: One side of car feels stiffer/different. Found cause.

Well, I'll be damned. I didn't know that! Just goes to show even at old fart age, I can still learn something new. I hope that the rack replacement works for you. Please post back and let us know, okay?
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Old 04 Oct 2016, 06:11 pm
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Default Re: One side of car feels stiffer/different. Found cause.

The struts had less than 5,000 miles on them at the time I replaced the one. It's not going to hurt a thing and the rack was already bad. The noise is the steering gear moving up and down where it connects to the inner tie rod.
Quote:
Originally Posted by UnitD77 View Post
Some cars do call for specific left and right struts, I don't believe the PT does.

Regardless you should not replace just one strut unless you can't afford the other one because your on stamps and can't pay the rent. ALWAYS replace suspension components in pairs.
I wouldn't be surprised if you wore the rack by having unevenly worn shocks. If it was my shop and you wanted one strut, I wouldn't do the work at all.
As for racks leaking, It is all in how you get it done, the only leaky racks are poorly installed racks. I wouldn't be so quick to change out the rack, there is always some play in the wheel. As long as your wheels turn together and don't turn independent of each other, your fine.
The noise when turning lock to lock, might be a worn strut mount.
If you have the money, I'd get completely new quick struts. If the noises still persist and you notice drivability concerns from the loose steering, then replace your rack. Save money and get a autozone rack, then make sure to seal all the threads with Teflon tape and make sure they are tight.
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Old 04 Oct 2016, 06:17 pm
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Default Re: One side of car feels stiffer/different. Found cause.

I'll try to remember to let you guys know. It might be a while before I decide to replace it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by chuzz View Post
Well, I'll be damned. I didn't know that! Just goes to show even at old fart age, I can still learn something new. I hope that the rack replacement works for you. Please post back and let us know, okay?
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