2004 Pontiac Sunfire Bouncing driving me NUTS!

Tiny
RHADSELL05
  • MEMBER
  • 2004 PONTIAC SUNFIRE
  • 2.2L
  • 4 CYL
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 150,000 MILES
I bought this car used in August of 2014. When I bought it I replaced the front struts and springs. Today I replaced the rear struts and springs and brakes and rotors/drums at all 4 points. It handles great, does big bumps with ease. But when you are going down the road it bounces terribly with every tiny bump. What could be the problem? Is there something that should have also been replaced that was overlooked?
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Friday, February 20th, 2015 AT 1:48 PM

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Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Did you notice this before you did any work or after just the front struts were replaced? Was the car aligned after the struts were replaced?
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Friday, February 20th, 2015 AT 2:16 PM
Tiny
RHADSELL05
  • MEMBER
It was aligned after we changed the front struts but it hasn't been aligned since we did the rear ones ( we just did them today). I didn't notice this before they were changed. Before they were changed the bouncing and banging with horrid but this is different than that.
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Friday, February 20th, 2015 AT 3:03 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
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First of all, if it's really cold where you are, what you're experiencing might be normal. Rubber bushings get real hard and don't cushion road shock well. The oil in the struts will get thick and the struts won't compress easily when a tire hits a bump.

Another thing to look at is some people loosen control arm bushings when they replace struts. It is important to have the car sitting at proper ride height before those bushings are tightened. If the car is jacked up and the suspension is hanging down, tightening the bolts that way will clamp the bushings in that position, then when the car is lowered to the ground, they will be clamped in a permanent twist. That can apply to other bushings as well.

Can I assume you installed some version of a "Quick Strut" since you replaced the springs too? If you bought the parts separately and put them together, there should have been a rubber bump stop on the shaft of the strut. The symptom will be different than what you described if they're missing, but it's worth mentioning.

Did you get a printout of the alignment? I'd like to see the numbers for "camber", "total toe", and "steering axis inclination", (SAI). All that's important with SAI is it must be the same on both sides, within about 0.2 degrees. I doubt that is wrong because, again, you'd be describing something different.

Total toe is what I'm most interested in. That has to do with the direction the front wheels are steering. If it is wrong, the car can tend to dart from side to side when one tire hits a bump and momentarily has more weight on it than the other one. That will be more pronounced when the tires are able to slip on snow or deep water. Hitting a bump results in an exaggerated response from the car as it tries to follow that one tire.
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Friday, February 20th, 2015 AT 4:14 PM
Tiny
RHADSELL05
  • MEMBER
Yes we installed "quick struts". The car was still up on the lift when everything was tightened back up and then sat back down on the ground. I was wondering if it was just do to the extreme cold up here but I wasn't sure OR maybe because they were brand new if they needed time to adjust themselves. The front end handles bumps fine, no tugging or pulling when I go over a bump. This bounce is just when u are going down the road. I am assuming that even though it is a front wheel drive, it will get better once it is realigned. I know it made a tremendous difference when we replaced the front struts. I just wanted to make sure this was something that was fairly "normal" and I wasn't missing something else to replace that may have been needed to insure a smooth ride.
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Friday, February 20th, 2015 AT 4:29 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
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I'm driving a 27-year-old Grand Caravan in the middle of Wisconsin where it's below 0 degrees. I'm used to the rougher ride but if I pay attention, it is obvious it's not as smooth as in the summer. I don't think I'd be too concerned with yours if it's just as cold where you are. I've had some cars that ride like they had no suspension at all in the cold weather. What is important to me is the car must not give you any surprises when hitting bumps, and you should be able to predict where it's going to go. If you see the steering wheel oscillate side to side when you go over bumps, then we have something to worry about.
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Friday, February 20th, 2015 AT 5:01 PM
Tiny
RHADSELL05
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It's been just about as cold here in NY as it has been where you are. And as for having control when I go over bumps. The car drives straight and true. There is a little play but from what I have been told that should be cured after another alignment. It was about 25 degrees warmer today than it has been and I did notice that it drives a little better than it did yesterday. SO it may just be a combination of it all. I just wanted to make sure I was not missing anything. I would hate to put all these new parts on and not replace something simple, that would ensure a smooth ride.
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Saturday, February 21st, 2015 AT 4:26 PM
Tiny
RHADSELL05
  • MEMBER
So, Just an update. I had a 4 point alignment done this morning and the car rides better but not great. There has got to be something I am missing because I'm sure the car is not supposed to ride this rough. Thanks.
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Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 AT 8:01 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
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The mechanic who aligned the car would have taken it on a test drive. He should have noticed if something was out of the ordinary.
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Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 AT 9:21 AM
Tiny
RHADSELL05
  • MEMBER
Yes they did and they didn't mention anything. I also do know that if there was something that wasn't right or something broken the garage wouldn't align the car because it would be a waste of time and money. Not sure if it is that way at all garages or just this one. Is it possible for the strut to be bad even though they are brand new?
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Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 AT 10:00 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
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Years ago we would run into new struts that caused excessive bouncing at first if we didn't bleed the air out of them before we installed them, but those days are gone. I never ran into a bad new strut.
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Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 AT 9:55 PM

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