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You do realize that your front end can hear us talking about it. If the parts haven't thought about failing by now, they will shortly. Seriously, any part of something as important as the steering that can't be proven less than 15 years old just needs to be replaced on general principle - especially things with rotating lubricated surfaces and rubber/plastic pieces. And the condition of the shock(s) you replaced was such to indicate overdue attention to maintenance overall. All that you're doing now is just normal expected routine maint. The side benefit is reducing variables on the what that clunk is.

ps - the shocks are just shocks.
 

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1985 Eldorado Biarritz Convertible, Sable Black, HT4100
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Discussion Starter #42
Thanks FTSS. When I bought the car in 2012 it had bad steering slop, which I can't stand. I wanted a clean slate and had every arm and end replaced in the steering, pitman to outer tie rod ends. I've only put about 7K miles on it since, but age and driving bad DC roads could have screwed things up. So far the steering components appear to be holding up very well. At least the ones I've seen closely.
Still on the driver's side. I didn't like the way the spindle and caliper looks, too rusty and gnarly. Gonna do some steel brushing, Rustoleum Rust Reformer-ing, and caliper rebuilding. Taking a pause to do some work work.
 

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Haha - 8-year old pretty much all-new front end parts. So, some choice background coming out.

Have you eye-balled the wheelwell, frame, any swaybar(s) and other fixed points in the arc of the tire turning for signs of contact/bind at full steering stop? Have you been the one to stand outside while someone else inside replicates conditions giving the clunk? Sounds travel and reflect off surfaces to make source difficult. You'd sure hate to find a rear control arm frame hole is hogged out and causing the problem. That was the case with a phantom clunk on my son's '88 Monte Carlo that we thought for sure was at the front u-joint.

I don't remember if suggesting you specifically look and feel for signs of the tire 'unloading' due to scuffing from effects of ackerman angle, especially in reverse, - and especially at full steering stop.
 

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1985 Eldorado Biarritz Convertible, Sable Black, HT4100
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Discussion Starter #44
Thanks a lot, FTSS. You're getting beyond my knowledge. I'm just a humble parts changer with a lot of parts to change... including the sway bar links and bushings. Got the driver's side sway bar end link off last night; that was original to the car and it was rusted into one piece. Impact driver finally broke it apart. Hopefully things will become clearer once the boxes from Rock Auto empty out :)
 

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1985 Eldorado Biarritz Convertible, Sable Black, HT4100
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Discussion Starter #45
Few updates: I have removed both front wheels and push-pulled both rotors. No noticeable movement up/down or side to side. No clicking/rocking at ball joints on either side, top or bottom. No big movement in steering linkage either when push/pulling side to side. Was hoping for something obvious from that test, but not yet. For both sides' tests, only one side lifted on stand. On driver side, I unloaded the lower control arm with a jack. On the passenger side, I didn't because I was in a hurry. I know I should have unloaded the passenger side control arm... but had to go.

Findings:
  • Both shocks were totally shot. Driver side shock ruptured and leaked everywhere, and the lower shock bushing was chewed up very bad. Passenger side appears totally shot but not ruptured, and lower bushing is nonexistent. Totally gone. [Seems this could be the source of the clunk/pop.]
  • I've only installed the new driver's shock so far. Raised the car like 2" on the driver's side. Suspect I've been relying on the torsion bars nearly 100% for a long time.
  • As mentioned in my other new thread, sway bar end links are mid-process and not complete. Driver's side was rusted solid. [Seems this could be the source of the clunk/pop.]
  • All four ball joints are indeed riveted on. Very possible or likely they are OE. Which is bad, but again, they don't rock. Passenger side upper ball joint's boot is torn, but it's still covered in like a 1/2" of grease. I have to wipe it off to even see the boot. All four need to be replaced, but I'm not sure doing that will fix my steering slop. In part because...
  • I've done more research and apparently failing ball joints more precisely cause "wandering" not steering play/"slop". My car doesn't wander or turn itself while driving straight. It's standard slop; turn the wheel, actual turning is delayed. Am I sure slop and not wandering exonerates the ball joints for the steering play issue? No.
  • Steering linkage: Inner tie rod end on passenger side has no boot at all (see image):
IMG_7484 by scottcelder, on Flickr
But pry barring doesn't move that exposed joint. I think it should have a boot, and new ones come with a boot, but what do I know... Aside from missing boot, no obvious linkage problems. Everything looks pretty good and relatively new and greased. No delayed movement when turning wheel and watching, etc. Am I experienced at diagnosing/eyeballing linkage or ball joint stuff? No.
  • All four half shaft boots are good and not torn.
  • All control arm bushings look old but not failed.
  • Finally, turns out my family has a compressor, so I can buy an air chisel attachment to remove those rivets.
Any thoughts? Thanks guys.
 

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2005 Base CTS work at Pullen solenoids Glass Factory for 36 and a half years
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I don't remember if you said you have owned this car since new but if not the control arms could have been changed at one point and new ones would have probably had riveted ball joints. At this point seeing as how the car is 35 years old I would just replace every single thing that you can get to. I would also consider replacing the brake hoses as they look like they're pretty old and they can deteriorate on the inside and block the flow of fluid and then you have no brakes. Connection looks pretty rusted up so if you do decide to do that I would start spraying them with stuff to get it apart a little bit easier. Let it soak for a few days and make sure you get a proper brake line wrench to loosen the fitting. Also get new clips for holding brake line in place as the ones on there is pretty rusted.

Roy
 

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1985 Eldorado Biarritz Convertible, Sable Black, HT4100
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Discussion Starter #47
Thanks Roy. I bought the car in 2012. I'm the fourth or fifth owner, I think. Soonish after purchase I paid a garage to replace every perishable part in the sloppy steering linkage. Afterward, very tight steering. Minor slop reappeared sometime late in 2019 and gradually grew worse.

Replacing everything I can reach isn't in the cards for me at the moment. It's gonna have to be "service now" first, "service soon" second. Steering slop/potentially failing ball joints problem is service now.

I agree about the hoses. I have new ones on hand. As you seem to have noticed the brake hoses are held in place by a retainer that mounts above the upper ball joint nut... which is suboptimal, IMO. So, that's gonna have to wait until the upper ball joints are replaced. And if I do those upper ball joints, then I'll do the upper CA bushings. But if I don't have to now, I won't do either yet. But soon, like early August.

Current plan is: complete install of passenger side shock, brake caliper/rotor, spindle clean up and paint, and figure out the sway bar reinstall. Afterward, see what I can figure out with regard to slop/wander by prying, turning while lifted, short test drive, etc. If inconclusive, drive to a different mechanic and get a second opinion on ball joints/slop.

Thanks for sticking with me.
 

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2005 Base CTS work at Pullen solenoids Glass Factory for 36 and a half years
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If you're going to have the spindle off to remove the rust try getting a container to put this stuff in and lay the spindle in it and it will eat the rust off and make the job of cleaning it a whole lot easier. When you're done with it just put it in a container with a lid like a 5 gallon bucket and you can just keep using it over and over.


Roy
 

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1985 Eldorado Biarritz Convertible, Sable Black, HT4100
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Discussion Starter #49
Thanks Roy. I have that stuff. It works really great. I wasn't going to remove the spindles, just steel brush them (power drill) and paint them with Rust-Oleum "Rust Reformer." Already did that on the driver side, so will do the same on passenger.
 

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Discussion Starter #50
I'm really just worried about the rusty spindle areas where the calipers mount. Calipers were hard to get off. Otherwise, leaving the rest of spindles dirty and greasy.
 

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1985 Eldorado Biarritz Convertible, Sable Black, HT4100
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Discussion Starter #51
Main box of new parts installed: sway bar end links, shocks, calipers, rotors. Clunk appears gone. Given that both shocks had bad or nonexistent lower rubber bushings, and the driver side end link was rusted solid, I’m assuming/hoping that was the clunk. More testing today. Clunk could reappear. (While in there, I cleaned up the ground strap connection on frame near wheel well. Recent speaker whine appears to have cleared up.)

Both shocks were shot, so new ones have unsurprisingly improved the ride very much. Front end is literally 2+ inches higher. Steering play seems reduced a little, but it’s definitely still there. Still seems like “slop,” not “wander.” More testing/attempted diagnosis today. Might get a second opinion from a shop soon. If just upper ball joints or tie rod ends, I’ll probably do that myself. Lower control arm’s ball joints or pitman/idler, I’ll pay a mechanic.

Thanks for the tips guys.
 

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Discussion Starter #52
p.s. Turns out my family has a compressor. And I picked up an air chisel attachment.
 

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Discussion Starter #53
Update: I decided the garage was wrong that the ball joints were causing my slop so I replaced all the tie rod ends. Slop is now gone. I can drive with my knees again.

One end was totally missing a boot (inner, passenger) but that one wasn’t all that bad when removed, in terms of play. The outer passenger (with a boot) wobbled around much more freely. It was clearly bad. Replacing both tie rod ends on the passenger side fixed like 75% of the slop. I did the driver side ends too since I’m gonna have to get it aligned, and the driver’s side tie rod ends were pretty bad too.

This $20 tool is very handy for tie rods, btw: 3/4 in. Ball Joint Separator

Previously, slop was like noon to 2 o’clock or 2:30 before steering response. Now it’s like noon to 12:15. Steering is good again. While getting alignment, I’ll pay for a full brake flush and get another estimate on the ball joints, which are indeed in need of replacement.

The clunk pop has not reappeared. Thanks for the help.
 

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Discussion Starter #54
Got the alignment done and the brakes flushed today. Success. Car never drove or stopped this well before.
New estimate for all four ball joints from that new shop: $615 labor; $300 parts. I think that's pretty fair. Beats other estimate of $1700 for ball joints and front shocks, parts and labor.

Might take a stab at it myself. I have the ball joints already and an air chisel... and might as well do those upper control arm bushings.
Shop checked my rear air shocks at my request. They're bad and need replacement. Apparently compressor works. $165 labor; $140 parts. Also think that's fair.
 
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