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2005 Dodge Caravan SE 3.3L Vin Type R
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Discussion Starter #1
So first:
2005 Dodge Caravan SE 3.3 V6 Vin Type R

Work just done:
2 FCS "quick struts" installed 😱
2 new stabilizer end links 🔗
1 rear brake wheel cylinder ⚙
Rear shoes replaced shoes 👟
Rear shoes hardware replaced 🖇
Rear drums resurfaced 🥁
New passenger front lug nut stud & nut 🔩

So I leave the garage clearly with my front end out of wack which I totally expected. The wheel was as far of from straight as could be.

61983


So clearly I know I need to get an alignment.
I called my local tire shop, they were the cheapest around for an alignment by like $40.

Drop the car off, go back an hour later to pick it up.
I ask them if they had the printout of the before alignment numbers. They did not.
The after alignment numbers they gave me sort of alarmed me a little.

61984


Every other time I've gotten an alignment it's been all green and the numbers were all within the proper range. That front camber is ridiculous. They said there's nothing they can do for the rear because it doesn't have alignment bolts for that or something.

I was seething mad at this point that they basically did nothing and didn't even say anything either. I had to ask 3 separate times why the paper had so much red before I could get an answer. I will never revisit this "top notch, well reviewed" shop.

They claim that the strut is in incorrectly and they need to charge me 2 hours of labor to take it out and reinstall it. There's only 1 way the strut goes in as far as I know.

For that camber to be that out of wack there must be a real issue. Also it now pulls to the right like crazy. Like I have to fight the wheel to drove straight.

The mechanic who did all the work above absolutely agreed to relook at all the work. I'm just looking for some other input so I can also know what to look for etc.

The tire place claims they will realign it if I fix the issue but I'm not sure I even want to deal with that.

Any input is totally welcome. I included some random pictures of the repair below.

61985


61986


61987


61988
 

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Installation of struts shouldn't make the steering wheel go off center like that. The struts should affect the camber. Tie rods affect the centering, they wouldn't have changed.
Wrong parts? on wrong sides? What are the part numbers?

Alignment of rear end is not normal, requires shimming. Nothing much to go wrong there.
 

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2005 Dodge Caravan SE 3.3L Vin Type R
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Discussion Starter #3
Installation of struts shouldn't make the steering wheel go off center like that. The struts should affect the camber. Tie rods affect the centering, they wouldn't have changed.
Wrong parts? on wrong sides? What are the part numbers?

Alignment of rear end is not normal, requires shimming. Nothing much to go wrong there.
I honestly didn't think to look at the part number. I know they were the same exact part number just one ended in L and one in R. They looked identical. They fit in place. Could they really be installed on the wrong side?

I only saw the strut and link messed with. He cut the bolt for the bottom end of the link, we saw the bushing was fine, and we installed the new struts and links.

Yeah as soon as that work was done the steering was all ****ed up. Pulling hardcore to the right.

Now mind you I've needed new struts for about a year. I kept putting them off because more pressing things kept popping up. I went with cheap quick struts made by FCS off rock auto because ANYTHING is better than what it was. And after installing the struts the front end is silent now, are as silent as it should be, as those quick struts don't provide the world's smoothest ride. It's still a night and day difference.

So the wheel was crooked and it was pulling to the right after I left the shop where the work was done. I was under the impression that of you mess with any suspension parts you have to get an alignment. So when I left the shop and the wheel was crooked I thought it was totally normal. The pulling was odd hut again I thought maybe because of it uneven tire wear combined with the new struts and links and being out of alignment was making the pull worse.

But after I left the alignment shop it was still pulling. They couldn't show me the before picture and it was only on their machine for like 10 minutes. I don't understand how an alignment is done but I feel like I got swindled. Why can't they show me the before paper. They could have done nothing except read the measurements and charged me.

Are you saying the right strut could be on the left side and vice versa? The strut would allow you to install it this way? All the other work the shop did is perfect.
 

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2005 Dodge Caravan SE 3.3L Vin Type R
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Discussion Starter #4
Installation of struts shouldn't make the steering wheel go off center like that. The struts should affect the camber. Tie rods affect the centering, they wouldn't have changed.
Wrong parts? on wrong sides? What are the part numbers?

Alignment of rear end is not normal, requires shimming. Nothing much to go wrong there.
61989
 

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Are you saying the right strut could be on the left side and vice versa? The strut would allow you to install it this way?
Yes, and yes. The struts themselves are the same L & R. The springs are not. The quick struts have a L & R.

The lower hole in the clevis bracket is slotted for camber adjustment. You may have a cam bolt in the lower hole, which allows something like + or - 2 degrees adjustment. Ensure this bolt is indeed in the lower slotted hole.
61990


The bolts have a proper orientation as well. "The strut clevis-to-steering knuckle bolts are installed differently on each side of the vehicle. Left hand side bolts are to be installed from vehicle rear to front. Right side bolts are to be installed from vehicle front to rear."

There's also the possibility your "FCS" products from the bowels of Beijing are not quite up to the highest manufacturing standards...
 

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I have put on struts before and didn't have to do an alignment, just took careful measurements, drew outlines, etc. How yours could be so far off amazes me. Has to be the parts and/or the installation. Hopefully others, with more experience, will tune in. Did you have a camber kit?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Yes, and yes. The struts themselves are the same L & R. The springs are not. The quick struts have a L & R.

The lower hole in the clevis bracket is slotted for camber adjustment. You may have a cam bolt in the lower hole, which allows something like + or - 2 degrees adjustment. Ensure this bolt is indeed in the lower slotted hole.
View attachment 61990

The bolts have a proper orientation as well. "The strut clevis-to-steering knuckle bolts are installed differently on each side of the vehicle. Left hand side bolts are to be installed from vehicle rear to front. Right side bolts are to be installed from vehicle front to rear."

There's also the possibility your "FCS" products from the bowels of Beijing are not quite up to the highest manufacturing standards...
Yes, and yes. The struts themselves are the same L & R. The springs are not. The quick struts have a L & R.

The lower hole in the clevis bracket is slotted for camber adjustment. You may have a cam bolt in the lower hole, which allows something like + or - 2 degrees adjustment. Ensure this bolt is indeed in the lower slotted hole.
View attachment 61990

The bolts have a proper orientation as well. "The strut clevis-to-steering knuckle bolts are installed differently on each side of the vehicle. Left hand side bolts are to be installed from vehicle rear to front. Right side bolts are to be installed from vehicle front to rear."

There's also the possibility your "FCS" products from the bowels of Beijing are not quite up to the highest manufacturing standards...
So the springs being different would be a huge problem, no?

If the camber bolt was not in the lower hole wouldnt the guy who tried to align it notice?

I have no clue if they were put in the orientations you described. if they are wrong its as simple as undoing the bolts and flipping them right? which would mess up the alignment again?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I have put on struts before and didn't have to do an alignment, just took careful measurements, drew outlines, etc. How yours could be so far off amazes me. Has to be the parts and/or the installation. Hopefully others, with more experience, will tune in. Did you have a camber kit?
im not sure what a camber kit is.

i knoe thst besides the strut, brake assembly, and the stabilizer bar links, both ends, nothing else was messed with or touched in the front end.
 

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From the factory the only adjustment available in the front suspension is toe. The camber can be made adjustable in two ways. One is to replace the lower bolts that secure the strut to the steering knuckle with special offset bolts (aka camber kit). These are readily available online and elsewhere. The second solution is to replace the struts with ones that have elongated holes at the steering knuckle to allow adjustment. Many aftermarket struts are this way. It is hard to tell by your photos whether your struts are set up like that but photos I found online look like these struts do have elongated holes.

One way or the other one should be able to get that camber within specs. In a worst case scenario one could combine the elongated strut holes with the offset bolts but that would imply that there is something else way out of whack in the front end like collision damage.

There is no adjustment for the alignment angles in the rear. Years ago they used to make (aftermarket) shims to go under the spindle to correct camber and toe. Not sure if anybody does that anymore. The rear toe isn't terribly far off and I would be more concerned about that front camber.

I am surprised that a shop would turn over a vehicle to a customer with such a blatant and documented problem with no explanation or recommended remedy. I find it hard to believe that they would not know about the offset bolts and offer that as a solution. They are used on many other vehicles besides Chrysler mini-vans. I would definitely want a better explanation of exactly what they would do for two hours labor to correct things. Did they even tell you what you needed to do to correct the supposedly improperly installed strut?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
From the factory the only adjustment available in the front suspension is toe. The camber can be made adjustable in two ways. One is to replace the lower bolts that secure the strut to the steering knuckle with special offset bolts (aka camber kit). These are readily available online and elsewhere. The second solution is to replace the struts with ones that have elongated holes at the steering knuckle to allow adjustment. Many aftermarket struts are this way. It is hard to tell by your photos whether your struts are set up like that but photos I found online look like these struts do have elongated holes.

One way or the other one should be able to get that camber within specs. In a worst case scenario one could combine the elongated strut holes with the offset bolts but that would imply that there is something else way out of whack in the front end like collision damage.

There is no adjustment for the alignment angles in the rear. Years ago they used to make (aftermarket) shims to go under the spindle to correct camber and toe. Not sure if anybody does that anymore. The rear toe isn't terribly far off and I would be more concerned about that front camber.

I am surprised that a shop would turn over a vehicle to a customer with such a blatant and documented problem with no explanation or recommended remedy. I find it hard to believe that they would not know about the offset bolts and offer that as a solution. They are used on many other vehicles besides Chrysler mini-vans. I would definitely want a better explanation of exactly what they would do for two hours labor to correct things. Did they even tell you what you needed to do to correct the supposedly improperly installed strut?
You have no clue how mad i was that my experience turned out this way because its the go-to place in my town. The only explanation i was given is that the strut must be installed incorrectly and it will take 2 hours of labor ($130 per hr) to take it out and reinstall properly. trying to get answers out of these people was like pulling teeth. and if this issue is so huge why wouldnt you call me or talk to me before proceeding with an akignment thats going to do nothing, they just wanted my 100 bucks and they didnt care the front end was messes up.

so if i just buy a camber kit ill be all set? if the struts were installed wrong why is there only an issue on one side?
 

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The strut with the L sticker on it appears to be on the left side, so you've got that going for you.

I've never heard there is a proper direction to point the bolts. Is there a way to tell which way is right?
 
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Discussion Starter #12
From the factory the only adjustment available in the front suspension is toe. The camber can be made adjustable in two ways. One is to replace the lower bolts that secure the strut to the steering knuckle with special offset bolts (aka camber kit). These are readily available online and elsewhere. The second solution is to replace the struts with ones that have elongated holes at the steering knuckle to allow adjustment. Many aftermarket struts are this way. It is hard to tell by your photos whether your struts are set up like that but photos I found online look like these struts do have elongated holes.

One way or the other one should be able to get that camber within specs. In a worst case scenario one could combine the elongated strut holes with the offset bolts but that would imply that there is something else way out of whack in the front end like collision damage.

There is no adjustment for the alignment angles in the rear. Years ago they used to make (aftermarket) shims to go under the spindle to correct camber and toe. Not sure if anybody does that anymore. The rear toe isn't terribly far off and I would be more concerned about that front camber.

I am surprised that a shop would turn over a vehicle to a customer with such a blatant and documented problem with no explanation or recommended remedy. I find it hard to believe that they would not know about the offset bolts and offer that as a solution. They are used on many other vehicles besides Chrysler mini-vans. I would definitely want a better explanation of exactly what they would do for two hours labor to correct things. Did they even tell you what you needed to do to correct the supposedly improperly installed strut?
I'm terrified now. I was about to write a review and I'm seeing other reviews like this one:
Check out this review of Melvin's Tire Pros on Google Maps

and as another user pointed out the left strut has an L sticker. so if the strut was in right why couldnt they aiign it.
it felt no different when i left and they couldnt show me a "before" paper only the after. fishy. wondering if they did anything at all.
 

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From the factory the only adjustment available in the front suspension is toe. The camber can be made adjustable in two ways. One is to replace the lower bolts that secure the strut to the steering knuckle with special offset bolts (aka camber kit). These are readily available online and elsewhere. The second solution is to replace the struts with ones that have elongated holes at the steering knuckle to allow adjustment. Many aftermarket struts are this way. It is hard to tell by your photos whether your struts are set up like that but photos I found online look like these struts do have elongated holes.

One way or the other one should be able to get that camber within specs. In a worst case scenario one could combine the elongated strut holes with the offset bolts but that would imply that there is something else way out of whack in the front end like collision damage.

There is no adjustment for the alignment angles in the rear. Years ago they used to make (aftermarket) shims to go under the spindle to correct camber and toe. Not sure if anybody does that anymore. The rear toe isn't terribly far off and I would be more concerned about that front camber.

I am surprised that a shop would turn over a vehicle to a customer with such a blatant and documented problem with no explanation or recommended remedy. I find it hard to believe that they would not know about the offset bolts and offer that as a solution. They are used on many other vehicles besides Chrysler mini-vans. I would definitely want a better explanation of exactly what they would do for two hours labor to correct things. Did they even tell you what you needed to do to correct the supposedly improperly installed strut?
That's terrific information, well presented. Thanks. You a Mechanic/Technician?
 

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Left is Driver's side. Well I guess that depends. :)

As a side note:
Don't be overly alarmed if you get a severe clunking in the front end within a week or two. If the nuts for the end links aren't tightened up properly, they can back off (often do) and you may think your front end is falling apart. Just sayin. :)
 

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You have no clue how mad i was that my experience turned out this way because its the go-to place in my town. The only explanation i was given is that the strut must be installed incorrectly and it will take 2 hours of labor ($130 per hr) to take it out and reinstall properly. trying to get answers out of these people was like pulling teeth. and if this issue is so huge why wouldnt you call me or talk to me before proceeding with an akignment thats going to do nothing, they just wanted my 100 bucks and they didnt care the front end was messes up.

so if i just buy a camber kit ill be all set? if the struts were installed wrong why is there only an issue on one side?
I would chalk up what you paid to that shop as a loss and move on. Any shop that won't speak honestly to their customers is to be avoided IMO. These people are clearly being evasive in just about everything regarding your vehicle.

I can't say whether installing the camber kit will correct things for you. You probably have elongated holes in the struts and don't need the kit. I think you need to find an honest shop to tell you what is really needed before doing anything else.
 

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The strut with the L sticker on it appears to be on the left side, so you've got that going for you.

I've never heard there is a proper direction to point the bolts. Is there a way to tell which way is right?
The bolts can go in either way. That is just the way they were installed at the factory. I recently replaced most of the front end in my 2007 GCV and put the bolts in both sides facing the same way with no issues. It makes no difference.
 

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Yes but I left the business several years ago and just work on my own stuff now.
Well, I hope you hang around here often. Welcome aboard. (y)
 

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I'm thinking rhe rear toe is what is causing the major issue here. Not sure how to adjust it though, or how it got out of whack by replacing brake hardware.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I'm thinking rhe rear toe is what is causing the major issue here. Not sure how to adjust it though, or how it got out of whack by replacing brake hardware.
Why would the rear toe cause the front camber to not be adjustable/align-able?
 
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