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T&C Suspension Issues

marinecorpsskimarinecorpsski Posts: 3
edited April 2014 in Chrysler
I see a lot of info on suspension problems all over but have not seen the answer, or maybe I'm not looking in the right place. Can anyone help me out? I want to replace the ball joints on a 2004 T&C swb (bare bones model). Chiltons says non replaceable- buy whole Control Arms. I see online Sales for replacement Ball Joints only for 2004's. What's the real deal? Can I get away with just Ball Joints? I have clunking sound and feel when I hit bumps and do small sharp turn movements on the steering wheel. Thinking about tie rod ends while I'm at it. Struts are less than 2 years old. I'm on the budget, in Seoul Korea. There is a Chrysler dealership down the road a mile or 2, but I am not paying import repair part and maintenance prices.


  • I have a 2001 T & C Limited 3.8 engine with 110K miles. For about the last 15K miles, I have been hearing a clunking noise at low speeds when the vehicle hits bumps on the passenger side. I took it to Chrysler dealer initially and they could not ID cause. As it has gotten worse, I got a diagnosis of struts. I proceeded last week to replace both front struts: no help. Then I replaced stabalizer bar to strut link on both sides: they were damaged but I still had the noise. Then I replaced the strut mount and bearing on the right side. No help. This is a rapid clunk clunk clunk noise as I go over rough spots in the road at low speeds. What other possible problem might be causing this and how can I narrow it down. I've spent a fair amount of money replacing parts that were due for repair but not the source of my problem.

    Thank you for any help you might offer.
  • You would not be the first, or the last, to have a car to a dealer where they couldn't id the source of a noise. Your best bet, if you don't want to do it yourself, is a shop that specializes in suspension and alignment problems.
    I have owned a lot of c/d/p minivans, and have rebuilt my share or front ends on them. What I have found on almost every single c/d/p car I have owned, is that all the front end bushing seem to either dry out, or harden and wear out more then any other car I have ever owned. What I found to be the main cause of just about every front end noise on my minivans, in the order I have found them to be the most common problem are:
    1- All 4 tortion/anti-sway bar bushings(2 on the main cross frame member at the bottom of the fire wall, and the 2 on the ends at the lower control arms).
    2- Ball joints.
    3- The ends of the strut link bars that connect from the struts to the control arms (not all model years have those)
    4- The bushings where the control arms connect to the vehicle frame. (I have only replaced those once, all of the other times, it was the other problems I mentioned.)

    I have had to replace struts from time to time on these, but that was because they were worn out and gave a bad ride, not because of any thumping or rattling noises. The struts don't usually cause such noises unless they are broken or the mounting surface is worn and leaving some gap between the parts. The obvious fix, if unsure exactly which one is the single cause of the noise, is to replace all of the bushings and or moving joints. One thing I have found, is that when I replaced a set of sway bar bushings with the newer urethane after market bushings, is that the brackets were made cheap and one snapped, and another had popped out of the bracket and off the sway bar for some strange reason, so I do reccommed get the the oem replacements right from a dealer for those bushings. I have had no problems with any of the other after market parts from part suppliers or auto stores.
    Hope this points you in the right direction and fixes your proble, and would luv to know if it does. They are relatively simple and inexpensive fixes if you can do them yourself. The hardest one of the fixes would be the control arm bushings and the next hardest would be the ball joints.
  • Hi marine, sorry I haven't seen this question earlier. If you read this post:

    #3 of 3 Re: Town and Country Front End Clunking Noise [48fatherof5] by joepeterson56 Mar 16, 2009 (10:51 am)

    It should pretty much address your problems too I think. The newest one I have owned is a 2000, so I am not positive if yours has to have the control arms replaced, as opposed to just the ball joints. I find it hard to believe that they would go that route with ball joints tho. Most ball joints are just pressed in and can be done with a hand press that you can rent or borrow from most autoparts stores, which saves the trouble of removing the entire control arm assembly to be taken to a machine shop to have the old ones pressed out and the new ones in.

    I owned a few cars, where the ball joints were tac welded into the arm, which required some grinding and/or chiseling to be able to press them out, but it was doable. I also owned some that were riveted in at the factory thru the flange, but all you need to do with those, is drill or grind the rivet head off and pop them out, and the new ones come with nuts and bolts.

    Hope all of this helps you if it's not too late, and I would appreciate knowing if it did, or what the problem was if you fixed it already.
  • smorris3smorris3 Posts: 2
    I have the same problem on my 2001 T&C. I have replaced the struts, mounts and the sway bar links and still have the knocking noise on bumps. You say to replace the bushings on the control arms will fix this?
    Any help is greatly appreciated.
  • Joe: since I have already replaced the strut to sabalizer bar links, do I need to drop the entire bar or just go straight to the bushings in the middle of the bar. The Haynes manual says I need to take the cradle plate down and remove the link from the ends of the bar. Can I just remove one of the two bushings in the middle of the bar (at a time) to do this successfully?
  • You said you replaced the sway bar links.
    Did you check and or replace the 4 bushings on the sway bar itself, where it bolts to the cross frame and the bottom of the lower control arms yet?
    Did you check and or replace the ball joints yet?
    The contorl arm bushings would be the last resort after all the other possible causes, as it is the most difficult replacement to do. Unless of course, you can visibly see that they are worn out and misiing, or if you can grasp and shake the control arms and move them in any direction. The parts should all be checked for abnormal movement in all directions, both under the vehicles natural weight, as well as while lifted off the suspension. The easiest way to check all of these items under weight load, is to drive the vehicle onto a set of ramps so that you can get under the vehicle, and grab and shake the parts to check for movement, while the full weight of the vehicle is where it should be. To check them with the weight unloaded, put the vehicle on jack stands under the frame and do the same.
    None of the parts should move in any direction other than the normal one, and none of them should make any kind of rattling noise either. Let me know.
  • Hi, unfortunately as I recall, you will need to drop that annoying craddle plate which has quite a few bolts, and nut/bolt combos to get all the clearance you need to do the job. As I recall from doing mine, I tried the way you want to, and it ended up being much easier and faster to just drop the whole bar down and rebolt it. I believe you can do the job without disconnecting the bar from the end links tho. Sorry if I seem a bit confused, as I have owned no less than 7 minis from 2 84's to my current 2000 & 97 and have done this type of work on most of them. I had momentarily forgotten that after 94 or 95, they went from a 4 bushing and bracket system, to a 2 bushing and bracet system with 2 end links connected to the struts. On the earlier models, I do not recall having to drop any craddle plates, but on the later ones, you do. SORRY IF MY MOMENTARY BOUT OF CRS CONFUSED ANYONE ! Please let me know how you make out and ask me anything else you need too. JP
  • Joe, thanks a lot for these 4 problematic areas. I have bought the parts to deal with all 4, just waiting on the postal service to send it. I had found the answer elsewhere as well on chrysler minivan forum

    They answer all kinds of questions, they even show in a post pictures of exactly how to replace the sway bar bushings.
  • marinecorpski: I went to this forum following your suggestion. Can you tell me where you found the pictures and steps to change various parts? Where are you getting your parts from?
  • I usually hang out in the 4th gen 2001-07 section because I have an 04. the pictorial is at the end of the second page, or here sway bar bush repl. pic post. I do reccommend you go on this forum and read, or at least scan though the titles of the posts for your particlar generation van and read what you find interesting, or whatever strikes your curiosity.
  • nursekevnursekev Posts: 18
    We don't plan on towing anything but I've heard that the load leveling suspension included in the package makes for a cushier ride. Is it really all that noticeable or is the package only worth it if you plan on towing a trailer behind you?

  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    I don't know about the cushier ride (something I would not be interested in anyway), but towing packages usually include a cooler for the transmission which has got to help transmission life. I would get it for that reason if no other.
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