1998 Dodge Stratus grinding scraping when driving

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Suspension problem
1998 Dodge Stratus 4 cyl Front Wheel Drive Automatic 126000 miles

i have a terrible grinding sound by my wheels when i turn left or right and when i went to back out of my driveway today the sound was so bad and you could feel the grinding like metal to metal or something the pads are fine i know that we just replaced them a cpl mths ago it is constant now any ideas i had a guy tell me its the upper ball jpoints 139.00 each sidewith assembly what is that and why does it cost so much more than the 50.00 lower ball joints? pls let me know this he also said the shocks had to be replaced and the lower control arm pls give me some answers about those questions above and how much should it cost at a side shop not a dlr and if i bought parts myself what dpo you think wit would cost 50 for each shock in front pls help need snd opinion


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Monday, April 27th, 2009 AT 11:31 PM

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I'm having a hard time making out what you're trying to describe because of the shortened words and lack of punctuation. I'll do my best, but in the future, please take as much time typing as we do when we respond. :)

Ball joints don't make a grinding noise; at low speeds only the brakes do. Asking someone else to install parts you bought somewhere else is like bringing your own food to a restaurant. If the new part fails while under warranty, you will have to supply the replacement part and pay for labor again to have it installed. That's normally one of the costs of doing business, and it's why there is a markup on parts. For the little profit they make on parts, they take the risk of having to do the job a second time for free.

Have the brakes inspected again. A lot of things can happen such as a cheap lining rusting off the backing plate and falling off, a sticking caliper piston, rusted caliper mounting bolts, or hydraulic pressure not fully releasing. These are a few of the things a professional brake technician will look for. If the brake fluid got contaminated with a petroleum product such as engine oil, power steering fluid, or transmission fluid, ALL rubber parts will have to be replaced. This will always be over a $1000.00 job; much more if you have anti-lock brakes. An easy way to tell if this is the problem is to look at the rubber bladders under the master cylinder caps. If they balloon up and can't be easily re-installed, the fluid is contaminated. This is a real common problem among do-it-yourselfers. Typically both front brakes will show excessive wear.

If only one of the four pads is grinding on metal, its mate is worn excessively, and the other wheel looks like new, suspect a rusty caliper mounting bolt or a sticking caliper piston. You should be able to slide the piston into the caliper very easily with a long flat screwdriver as a lever. If you try this, and the piston moves freely, you will be able to push the brake pedal to the floor a few times until the piston is moved back out into adjustment. DON"T DO THAT! By pressing the pedal more than half way to the floor, you will run the seals over the lower half of the master cylinder bores where dirt and corrosion build up. This will tear the seals and the master cylinder will need to be replaced. You can accomplish the same self-adjusting procedure by only pressing the pedal half way to the floor and releasing it a number of times until it gets hard.

Reconsider having your car inspected by the dealer. I was a suspension and alignment technician at a Dodge dealership for ten years. We were often less expensive than the independent shops because we were so familiar with the cars and the diagnostic procedures. I could usually find the problem within a few minutes because I saw the same cars over and over. Mechanics at independent shops have to work on every make and model, and they see such a big variety of cars, they rarely become an expert on any one of them. The mechanics at the dealership will also be the first to know about recalls, service bulletins, improved parts, or common problems.

Upper ball joints are part of the upper control arm so they will be expensive. They do not carry the weight of the vehicle; their only job is to hold the wheel and tire in position. Inspection involves attempting to wiggle the grease fitting with your fingers. If it will move, the ball joint is worn and must be replaced. The lower ball joints are cast as part of the lower control arm so they are expensive too. Thank Ford for that design; Chrysler just copied it. The only difference is the Ford parts wear out much faster.

A thorough inspection done by the dealer or another reputable shop is well worth the money because these are safety-related systems. Saving a few bucks is little compensation for losing your steering or brakes and causing a crash. If you have any doubts, request the return of your old parts so someone else can offer a second opinion. You are entitled to your old parts unless there is a "core charge" which means the part goes back to a rebuilder, (similar to returning empty pop bottles for reuse), or someone else is paying for the new part. A defective part under warranty goes back to the supplier, (NAPA, Carquest, Auto Zone) so they can get credit from their supplier, or to the manufacturer, (Chrysler) so they can analyze what went wrong and design improved parts or get credit from their supplier.

Rack and pinion steering systems, brake calipers, starters, and alternators are some of the parts that have a core charge. You will typically be sold a "rebuilt" or "remanufactured" part which is often better than new, (especially in the case of GM steering systems), and can be a fifth the cost of a new part. The manufacturer generally requires the use of brand new parts when the car is still under their warranty, but then there's no cost to you. When there is a core charge, you still have the right to see the old parts although most people don't know what they're looking at. Honest mechanics will be happy to show you what they replaced for you and if they're not too busy, many will offer advice to reduce the chances of having similar problems in the future. They want to keep you happy so you'll come back.


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Tuesday, April 28th, 2009 AT 3:14 AM

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