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Troubleshooting suspension / steering issue

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Troubleshooting suspension / steering issue

  #1  
Old 03-20-2019, 09:52 AM
Vkings7
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Exclamation Troubleshooting suspension / steering issue

I have a 2011 RAM 1500 4x4 5.7L with roughly 110k on the odo. I was driving down the highway last week doing about 75mph with a 30+mph crosswind (it's Oklahoma so 30-40mph wind isn't unusual) when out of nowhere the steering wheel started vibrating with increasing intensity, eventuallt to the point that I couldn't drive it any further. I pulled over (more like wrestled the steering) onto the small shoulder, hopped out and looked underneath and didn't see anything missing and nothing felt loose. There was a driveway a bit further down the road so I limped it to the driveway to get a better look and get off the highway. While limping it, at about 5-15mph (idle or slightly quicker), roughly every rotation of the tires I heard a loud "CLUNK" and the steering wheel would jerk to the left about a quarter turn. It would then continue rolling straight before another jerk to the left. I tried rolling the windows down to tell what side the noise was coming from, but the wind was too loud to hear anything. I made it to the drive, looked underneath, pulled on as many parts as I could, and nothing felt out of place. I called a flat bed and had to towed to the nearest shop.

Turns out, the nearest shop was a collision center. They told me they may not be able to diagnose it, but would give it a shot and wouldn't charge me unless they found the problem. They had a few day backlog and I ended up getting their call yesterday. The guy put it on the lift and inspected the steering and suspension components, but nothing felt loose and nothing was out of place. He said everything was tight and looked normal. He took it off the lift and test drove it, got up to 55mph, and didn't have a single issue. I picked the truck up last night and drove it another 5 miles home at 60mph with no issues whatsoever. Honestly, it felt more stable than I ever remember it feeling. The collision center recommended me to another mechanic in town with truck suspension experience who has a week backlog, so I made an appointment so I could attempt to figure it out before then.

I really don't want this issue to come back, as I use the truck each morning to drop my 2yo off at daycare and pick him up when the day is done. Last thing I want to do is get stranded somewhere with a pissed of 2 year old, or even worse have a major mechanical failure that puts us in danger. A friend who used to own a Ram told me it sounds like a wheel bearing, but he hasn't heard of a situation quite this strange. I really don't want to start throwing money at new parts with no idea whether the issue is fixed or not, and I was hoping you kind folks could possibly point me in the right direction with troubleshooting this issue.

I plan on putting the truck on stands tonight and seeing how the wheels rotate, and if there is any snags while rotating, but if not, what would the next possible issue be?

Is it possible that there was too much play in the steering / suspension and fighting the wind knocked it out of place, causing a vibration? Maybe when it was put on the lift and lowered back down, it "reset" the components back to where they belong? I'm at a bit of a loss here. I appreciate your feedback in advance!
 
  #2  
Old 03-20-2019, 11:24 AM
TrueDogman
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I would be thinking about wheel bearings. Normally wheel hub assembly. One may be dry and seizing up when heated due to highway speed
 
  #3  
Old 03-20-2019, 12:42 PM
Vkings7
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Yeah, I figured I'd replace the entire wheel hub assembly, it looks like that is the most economical way to do it. My follow-on question would be, does it make sense for the truck to be driving normal again if the wheel bearing did seize? I have a hard time imagining a scenario where it would "un-seize" but I'm also no expert on the topic. I'm just really confused at this point lol.
 
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Old 03-20-2019, 08:42 PM
primem
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usually worn bearings have play or growl at highway speed.
not sure what your issue is but if a shimmey transferred into the steering wheel...its probably from the front wheels....all the lug nuts tight?
 
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Old 03-20-2019, 09:20 PM
Vkings7
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Yeah, all tight.
 

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