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How to check front end - basic question

This is a discussion on How to check front end - basic question within the Technical / Maintenance forums, part of the General Discussion category; I've done many searches and found great information about how to check ball joints, bearings, etc. but I have a ...

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    How to check front end - basic question


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    I've done many searches and found great information about how to check ball joints, bearings, etc. but I have a base level question. I'm trying to diagnose a front end wandering issue. When checking front end parts, do you do it with the whole front end off of the gound, or just lift one side at a time?

    Also, just to keep myself in check, how are you lifting the whole front end? I've been doing it one side at a time: Place jack on frame behind front wheel, leaving enough space to put a jack stand on the frame as close to the front wheel as possible. Lower truck to rest on jack stand; repeat on other side?

    Thanks for your input.
    -Todd
    2002 GMC Sierra 4.8 RCLB 4x4 - Blackbear Tune

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    Re: How to check front end - basic question

    Use a floor jack on the front crossmember. Remember to "load" the lower control arm when you want to check ball joints.

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    Re: How to check front end - basic question

    You will want to have the opposite side on the ground when checking the tie rods.
    '05 Tahoe Z71 (Bought 9/28/11) - 5.3 4L60e, 3.42 G80, Spectre CAI.

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    Re: How to check front end - basic question

    Do you have the stock wheels on it or aftermarket with a different offset? Mine will wander if on an uneven surface. Like when the road is lower in the "wheel track area" and crowns in the middle. I have aftermarket wheels with a more negative offset, they stick out further than stock.
    '05 Tahoe Z71 (Bought 9/28/11) - 5.3 4L60e, 3.42 G80, Spectre CAI.

    '99 Silverado Z71 (Sold 10/25/11)
    '99 Suburban LT ( Sold 9/28/11)

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    Re: How to check front end - basic question

    Thanks for the input on jacking up the truck and how to check tie rods. Do I need both wheels off the ground to check the pitman and idler arms? I have stock 16" wheels with 265 75 16 tires.

    Here is a little background info. Last week, I put it in 4 wheel drive and turned into an icy parking spot. I was not at full turn, but just starting into the turn. I then heard a very loud bang, like someone hit the underside of the truck with a sledge hammer. I stopped and looked under the truck for damage and couldn't find any. 4x4 still works without any noise. The truck just seems to wander a bit while driving, seems to unevenly take turns (I have to adjust the steering wheel more often when going around a consistant turn), and just seems less stable at highway speeds.

    Thanks again for your help so far. I'll jack up the truck in the next few days and look for anything obviously broken.
    -Todd
    2002 GMC Sierra 4.8 RCLB 4x4 - Blackbear Tune

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    Re: How to check front end - basic question

    Sounds like a broken torsion bar. Is one side of the truck leaning more than the other on level ground. Could also be a loose camber adjustment bolt on the upper control arms. With either of these you would notice the front tire leaning in at the top.

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    Re: How to check front end - basic question

    When i check the pass side, i get a clicking noise. Cant looking being that its just me. Pitman/Ideler arm? How would i fix this?

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    Runnin 15's at 5500 lbs Hammerdown's Avatar
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    Re: How to check front end - basic question

    The loud bang was probably a cv shaft getting into a bind from turning too sharp in 4x4

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    Re: How to check front end - basic question

    How are your tires? Old tires and bad alignment will make things feel sloppy and hard to control. You could take it to any tire retailer for a "free" front end inspection. I'd get a few opinions since they're going to want money if they put it on a lift.

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    Re: How to check front end - basic question

    Tires are new as of christmas as well as an alignment right after. This problem seemed to have occurred post "loud mother-f'n bang" last week. I thought about the cv shaft, but I was only about 1/4 of the way into the turn, not anywhere near full lock. I really try not to do that for just that reason. As this is my first 4 wheel drive truck, maybe it is still relatively common to bind in a partial - slow moving turn?

    I'll take a tape measure with me tomorrow since the garage I park in for work is very flat and level. That way I can check for any lean. My driveway isn't the flattest in the world. How much difference is acceptable?

    thanks for all of your responses so far.
    -Todd
    2002 GMC Sierra 4.8 RCLB 4x4 - Blackbear Tune

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    Re: How to check front end - basic question

    To check Your Pittman arm jack both sides up...Crawl under there.....And put the tire with ur arm and look at the Pittman and idler u will see if its moving.....For the tie rods i jack both ends up....And i lay under the truck and hold my foot on one wheel and use my arms to push the other one...That way im under there with my eyes on the joints and not on the wheel.....Just make sure u use stands...And don't be scared to push on it and pull on it....

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    Re: How to check front end - basic question

    -loud bang- wandering- sloppy turning- lack of highway stability- Sounds like all the things that happen to me when I break a stabilizer/sway bar bolt/link. Just speaking from my experiences.
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    Re: How to check front end - basic question

    Quote Originally Posted by ledfoot454 View Post
    -loud bang- wandering- sloppy turning- lack of highway stability- Sounds like all the things that happen to me when I break a stabilizer/sway bar bolt/link. Just speaking from my experiences.
    x2, same thing happened with my truck; went around a turn, loud bang, everything worked ok but drove a little funny. Found my drivers side sway bar link MIA. Replaced the link and everything's been normal since.

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    Re: How to check front end - basic question

    I measured the truck today, and the front is even - left to right, and the rear is even, left to right. I should have time on Friday to jack it up and take a look.

    Thanks again.
    2002 GMC Sierra 4.8 RCLB 4x4 - Blackbear Tune

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    Re: How to check front end - basic question

    I spent an hour under the truck this morning and couldn't find anything that was obviously broken / missing. I didn't have enough time to jack it up and check the ball joints, but from looking they look like they always have. I might have to take it in so someone that knows what to look for can see something I am missing.
    2002 GMC Sierra 4.8 RCLB 4x4 - Blackbear Tune

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    Re: How to check front end - basic question

    Quote Originally Posted by truss64130 View Post
    I spent an hour under the truck this morning and couldn't find anything that was obviously broken / missing. I didn't have enough time to jack it up and check the ball joints, but from looking they look like they always have. I might have to take it in so someone that knows what to look for can see something I am missing.
    I've got an 02 Tahoe 5.3 4x4 with similar issues. Steering is real sloppy and loose, almost scary loose. I have not found the problem yet, but will be looking at all of the stuff here to help diagnose. I will post what i find, might help you?

 

 

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