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Jim Grant Tech Tips Jim Grant Tech Tips
A collection of helpful articles based on reader submissions
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  Jim Grant's Tech TipsJim Grant's Tech Tips
Below is a collection of Jim Grant's Tech Tips sorted by Vehicle Make. These Tech Tips were answers to questions submitted to Jim by users over the course of many years.
If you have any questions, please feel free to email us.



Lincoln - Mercury
  Jim Grant's Tech Tips

91 Plymouth Voyager, Wheel Wobble
Q: One of the problems your readers had submitted struck a nerve. The problem was for information on wheel wobble from their ‘88 Caravan. He was told by techs it was warped rims. I also have this type of problem on my ‘91 Voyager and have even met another with a ‘93 Voyager with the same wobble as mine. It seems that when I accelerate I feel a wobble which seems to be from the rear since I can feel it in the seat and floor. The wobble goes away around 20 MPH and doesn’t come back until I stop and accelerate again. I too have checked for rim and tire damage. I have also checked powertrain mounts, rear bearings and brakes. Could we all just have bent rims or is there a solution to this problem? Please help us.

Jason G

A: Our shop was beginning to see a plague of Chrysler/Dodge/Plymouth mini van wobble problems. When accelerating these vehicles had varying degrees of wobble. In one case, using the Chrysler (star) hood ornament as a cross hair to sight the road line, the star orbited like a drunken sharp shooter. A person with sensitivity to motion would become ill riding in this vehicle. The vehicle was moving left to right on its own in a manner that one would think that either the rim was bent or a belt in the tire was failing. This condition was a progressive failure barely detectable in the early stages yet it propagated into a most bazaar wobble . To save you all the agonizing, the root cause was found to be a failed driver’s side plunge joint. The inner joint on a front wheel drive vehicle’s axle is called a plunge joint. There is a lot of geometry going on in a vehicle’s front suspension, which requires the ability of the front drive axles to change length. The plunge joint allows for this. Removal and inspection of the plunge joint found that the internal spring that loads the plunge joint had failed and the joint was wearing the bearing surfaces. The fix was a replacement plunge joint.

Usually when an inner plunge joint is failing in a vehicle there will be a high speed shake that develops. This is because the axle will be spinning off center. The driver’s axle in this application is short, it does not have sufficient rotating mass to develop the high speed shake as the much longer axle going to the right side. What makes diagnosing this condition interesting is that the wheels of the vehicle do not wobble. It is the body of the vehicle that is moving. The tire has the weight of the vehicle forcing it to hold its line in the road. The uneven wear in the plunge joint pushes on the axle and transmission. The tires will hold a straight line and push against the axle which in turn pushes back on the transmission which moves the body of the vehicle. Brings a whole new meaning to a boat ride.

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