The initial acceleration up to 60 was amazing and I continued to bring it up to highway speeds (65-70) and started to feel some shake in the front end, coming through the steering wheel. It continued from 65 on up regardless of the speed, unless I was in a long curve, in which case, it would go away. So, we proceeded on our trip and I just drove a little slower to minimize the wheel shake.
After the weekend, I crawled all around under the van and made a short list of what I needed to order. My initial thought was:
-Tie rod ends
-Steering rack bushings and boots
-Upper ball joints
My upper control and lower control arm bushings, as well as radius arm bushings were in pretty good shape, so I ruled those out.
I knew that my tie rod ends and steering rack bushings were shot, so I figured these parts would take care of the problem. I had also planned on doing new springs and shocks at this time, so I knew that I'd be getting a new alignment and wheel balancing after the work was done.
So, I dove in.
While I had it all apart, I also pulled the rotors and drums and had them turned/machined and replaced the bearings upon their return as well as new brake pads all the way around. I had addressed the rear shoes a few months back as well as brake cylinders because they were leaking.
|compressing/installing the new springs (front)|
|new rear springs and shocks|
All of this took me about 2 days and it went pretty well. It also helps to spray PB Blaster on the nuts/bolts that you'll be removing. I typically do it a day or so before so that it has time to settle in.
Once I got everything put back together. I took it in to get the wheels balanced and front end aligned.
I picked up the van, and took it out for a spin...
Got it up to about 65 and guess what? It still had a shake in the front end? Damnit.
So, I went back into the alignment shop and talked to them. My contact there is super cool and he knows his stuff. He thought maybe I might have a bent wheel, but he had his alignment guy re-check everything and do "perfect balance", which in their secret code, means, take the time and do whatever it takes to make this vehicle roll perfect.
So, they did. I picked up the van a few hours later and the problem was solved.
So, what was the problem you ask?
My wheels are aftermarket Ronal R9's. They are cool wheels that I picked up a while back and all balancing weights had been placed on the inside of the rim. Well, apparently, that's the preferred way to balance a wheel unless it's having some issues, in which case you can then add weights to the outside. So, that's what they did and solved the problem.
In retrospect, I didn't need to do ANY of the front end work to get rid of the shake, however, I had planned and wanted to anyhow, just so I could rest assured that the van was safe and riding as good as possible. It was on my list of things to go through during the "rebuild" anyhow.
Also, when I picked up the van, the alignment shop let me know that the tires I had on the van were not up to par with regards to load rating and that I should consider replacing them. I made the decision to go ahead and replace them with a larger all-terrain tire. I chose the Yokohama Geolandar A/T in a 215 75/15 and have been extremely happy with them.
|New suspension, tires, etc.|
|New Yokohama Geolandar A/T's|
|Van fully loaded in Death Valley|
Parts installed during this upgrade:
-1/2" Spring pads (rear)
-Koni Adjustable Shocks
-Upper Ball Joints
-Steering rack bushings
-Tie Rod ends
-Tie rod boots
-Wheel Bearings (all 4 wheels)
-Brake pads (front)
-New tires (Yokohama Geolandar A/T's (215 75/15)
-and I had all drums and rotors machined
|"Sedona" & "Ferdinand", outside of Bishop, CA|