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libom 11-09-2012 08:02 PM

Play in front end
Bought my wife a 2002 Wagon about 6 months ago and have been lurking around since then. Learned some good stuff around here since then. I have a question about a problem. Ive searched all over and found some ideas. The problem is a loud pop going over bumps slowly. When slowing (under about 50mph) it gets what feels like a wheel bounce. So I jacked up the front end and started looking and feeling for anything wrong. Hands at 12/6 and ball joints feel fine. Hands at 9/3 drivers side feels ok but passenger has about 2 or 3 inches play. I thought it may be the tie rod ends. Kinda checked those out but it is more like the rack and pinion has the play in it. It only does it on the passenger side. Any ideas ?

Thanks in advance.

Geezer 11-09-2012 08:40 PM

I suggest having a friend do the hand test while you get under the car. This way you can follow the steering component movement and see if its localized to the tie rod ends or does continue back to the rack. I also suggest only jacking up one side of the car at a time (if you didn't do that the first time) as it isolates one side at a time. But you are correct, with that amount of play the rack is sounding suspicious.

amc49 11-10-2012 02:09 AM

Yes, but it might only be INNER tie rod end which screws onto end of rack itself.

libom 11-10-2012 07:03 AM


Originally Posted by amc49 (Post 4449107)
Yes, but it might only be INNER tie rod end which screws onto end of rack itself.

being that it is only one side that has that play maybe thats it. Is it under the boot ? How big of a pain is it to replace ?

sailor 11-10-2012 06:47 PM

It's under the boot, and can be a pain to replace.

And often if that is gone, it means water got into the boot area and probably did some damage to the rack as well. you can't tell for sure until you look under the boot.

Rebuilt rack assemblies are the common repair when inner joints are bad because of the involved PITA of replacing them combined with the likelihood of the rack having issues as well.

2 to 3 inches play is MAJOR, I'd avoid driving it more than needed to get it repaired, as mentioned above you still need to get a better look to see where the play is B4 guessing at the needed repair. Outers are needed a LOT more often than inners so don't plan on the major issue until confirmed.


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