Question about 1999 Dodge Stratus

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1999 Dodge Stratus 115.000 mi. 2.5 liter. Steering went from normal, to making EXTREME groans and creaking noises,basically overnight. I visually inspected the Rack and Pinion assy. Looks O.K. no fluid leaks etc. Removed pressure switch from R+P assy. Inspected it and gently blew comp air inside to clean. Let fluid drain from rack for hours,looked fairly clean though. Replacd switch, filled with new fluid. steering was normal for about 5 minutes on test drive,then the problem returned with a vengence. I have replaced 3 tie rods on this car in last 5 years! All ball joints and related componets are in good shape. TIME FOR A NEW RACK AND PINION? POWER STEERING PUMP? OR WOULD A REBUILD KIT FOR R+P BE WORTH THE TIME AND EFFORT?

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  • mrmalibu1972 Nov 11, 2010

    Thanks for reply Joe. What your saying about the strut pivot bearing makes sense. However on this car the strut assy does not turn with the steering assy. It stays motionless. This car uses a upper ball joint as the pivot point. Never seen this design on FWD vehicle before. I will more carefully inspect the upper and lower ball joints for binding issues.

    The other idea has potential,(the rack bearings could be the issue). I will attempt to look into this. But on this car,this will be a difficult task,there is so little room to access this stuff. Have you ever replaced these bearings yourself? Also any experience with doing a rebuild on a rack assy,in order to save money? Think it's even worth the effort? Or just buy a new one, if this ends up being the problem. This car has been very unreliable over the years!

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Could be that the pivot bearing on the top of one of the struts has packed up. It means taking the strut out and compressing the spring to get at it, not the easiest or safest job. Before doing this have a look at the ends of the steering rack and make sure that the steering arms enter and exit in the centre of each end. Sometimes if the steering action becomes laboured it can be as a result of the bearing at one end of the rack giving up and the associated steering arm begins to drag against the inside of the rack end. In this instance it might be possible to have a new bearing fitted rather than replace the whole rack.

Posted on Nov 11, 2010

  • Joseph Prosser Nov 15, 2010

    First diagnose if the rack is at fault. Jack the front wheels clear and look for play towards the inner linkages of the steering track control arms. It should be possible to steer the car by pulling and pushing one of the front wheels in the east west position. Note any noises and origin thereof.. If the rack is at fault then removing it to fix it will be easier than replacing in-situ. If you are going to the trouble of removing the rack for repair then it is your call as to whether this is better than simply replacing it with a completely new one

  • mrmalibu1972 Nov 15, 2010

    Thanks joe2mercs, appreciate the info. Will try, and see what happens.

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