DIY: Shaking down the front end!
On this weekend's #subeityourself I give you a little insight on to checking your front end for loose parts. This diagram shows the proper placement for helping pinpoint your problem area. While these locations are generally the best area... some parts may show looseness in any of these positions.
Below are the how to’s for checking these yourself. These should work on your typical japanese vehicles with a Macpherson strut design. Always use jack stands when a car is off the ground for everyone’s safety.
Tie rods: These are comprised of two parts, an inner and outer tie rod. The inner is connected to the rack which connects to the outer that attaches to the spindle/knuckle. These two suspension components allow the rack and pinion to steer the front wheels. Both include a ball socket type joint that can become worn over time and cause a loss of sharp steering and excessive tire wear. With you hands at 3 and 9 o’clock and a quick little shake you will able to feel a slight “click/knock” if it is very loose. With two people you can have on shake and one identify the problem item.
Ball joints: The ball joint on a Macpherson style suspension Subaru is located on the lower portion of the knuckle and connects it to the lower control arm. Allowing the knuckle to be connected to the arm but still pivot while steering. It is a ball socket style joint. With both hands at the 1 or 2 o’clock position you will push inwards towards the car. Loose ball joints can be felt the same as a tie rod. With a pronounced shift or click when applying force.
Wheel bearings: These give the wheel hub the ability to spin rotors and wheels( Hidden behind the brake rotor and stuffed into the knuckle). Overtime the bearings and races can fail. Often this is a noisy failure as your speed increases you will hear a roar or “wub wub” noise. A loose wheel bearing can cause other issues within the brakes and cause stress on the Cv axles. With your hands at 6 and 12 o’clock you will be able to feel movement or play in a bad wheel bearing. Not all bad wheel bearings will be loose, many will be tight enough to pass the shake down. But a quick ride down the highway will find a howling bearing that is in need of replacement.
If you have the front wheels off the ground it is something that is quite easy to check for peace of mind and the overall health. This helps your tires from wearing poorly and keeps your car safely adhered to the road. And always use jack stands for your own personal safety.