The most common cause of steering wander is the track bar. It attaches to the right side of the front axle with a rubber bushing. The left side attaches to the frame with a ball and socket. That's the place to inspect very closely. Have a helper rotate the steering wheel left and right about 1/8 turn each way about once per second while you watch for up and down movement in that ball and socket. If you can see any, you got junk. Chrysler allows.080" of movement before they consider it worthy of replacing under warranty. .020" of movement is enough to cause complaints and that is enough to see without attaching a dial indicator. I believe I heard that Napa or one of the other parts stores has a "problem solver" part with a lifetime warranty. That would be a good investment because this is a high-failure item.
The second place to look is where the pitman shaft comes out of the bottom of the steering gearbox. As your helper is turning the steering wheel, watch for sideways movement of that shaft. When the bushing is worn, the shaft will move sideways, bottom out, THEN start to turn in response to turning the steering wheel. As the slop increases, the hammering action causes the wear to accelerate and get worse at a faster rate. When there is enough movement, the shaft will move away from the lip seal and cause a leak. A new seal will not be a permanent fix; you must replace the steering gearbox.
Saturday, January 29th, 2011 AT 7:05 AM