View Full Version : OT- chevy astro front end

01-03-2010, 01:39 AM
A couple days ago, a curb jumped out in front of me and bent the effluent out of one of my front wheels. After determining that I hadn't damaged the hub or bearings, I drove (crawled) to my favorite tire shop to hopefully get a new wheel- plus it was time for new tires anyway. With the right front jacked up and the wheel removed, I checked what I could. There was a lot of play as I wrestled the hub back and forth. The play was in the steering linkage, which was freely bobbing up and down. There's an arm going forward from the linkage to the frame, and that looks to be the only thing that can keep that end of the central linkage piece under control. That arm goes up and down as I steer the hub by hand, and if I hold that arm down, the play is mostly gone. This is a large amount of toe in or out variation, way more than I think can be normal. Question is, did I break something to do with that arm, or is it supposed to be like that?

To be fair, I have to say there's a lot of miles on this with no attention paid to the ball joints or steering linkage, so I'd suspect there would be lots of visible play by now. But this isn't play- it's about 10 degrees of free motion on the right hub in free air, with the left wheel still on the ground and thus not moving. I don't see any movement in the bushings, etc, and it all seems to be due to the steering linkage being free to move up and down where that arm is.

The impact ( I slid on glare ice- the curb just got in the way) doesn't seem to have bent any underbody mounting points for the A arms, and in any event, there's no visible movement there that would account for this much slop. I guess I've broken that arm part- ?

01-03-2010, 01:50 AM
Sounds like normal wear on the idler arm bushings.
If the rest of the suspension is tight, tie rod ends, ball joints swing arm bushings, etc. have the wheel alignment checked.
Checks to these components are always done before an alignment.

01-03-2010, 01:51 AM
That's the idler arm.


There should be no noticeable play in it. It's not that hard to replace, and shouldn't cost much.


01-03-2010, 02:15 AM
Well, tomorrow if Lardco is open I'll match the part and price it. Looks easy to replace.

I sure did bend the wheel- big lump in the rim and way out at the bolt holes. But- the tire didn't go flat.

In hindsight I should have steered the wheels to hit straight on and let the tires take the hit, but it was early and I wasn't too sharp at that moment. That was the kind of ice you start to slide on, and just keep going, and going- I might have been able to stop if it wasn't for the ABS. It doesn't feather the brakes, it leaves you with no control for a second or so at a time. Maybe I should just disconnect it-

doctor demo
01-03-2010, 02:25 AM
I might have been able to stop if it wasn't for the ABS. It doesn't feather the brakes, it leaves you with no control for a second or so at a time. Maybe I should just disconnect it-

I firmly believe that ABS is for people that don't know how to drive, especialy in panic situations where You can't pry their foot off the brakes after the car has been stoped for ten minutes. ABS on air brake equipment is even worse, but that is a whole different story and would be thread stealing:) .


01-03-2010, 05:06 AM
Not all ABS systems work the same. The ABS on our PT Cruiser operates at a cycle time of about 10 to 20 pulses per second. It does a very good job of feathering the brakes right at the point of lockup. No way I could do it better myself and I have a zero accidents record in over a million klicks of driving, much of it on ice. Our brand new Jeep Patriot has the new ESP stability control system which is a major step above ABS and my wife tells me it is amazing. She learned to drive on tractors and a cat so she knows what she is doing too.

I had an Astro some years ago and the engine control unit was for an automatic even though I had a 5 speed standard. Piece of crap to drive because of the wrong programming and GM didn't bother writing a program for the 5 speed because they didn't sell enough of them. If their ABS programming is as bad as their ECU then I can see why it is a problem.

01-03-2010, 09:03 AM
YES.. a good working Abs is great.. the early ones were crap.

working on them is horror. you have to have a scope to check the "stutter" shutter on each wheel.

As a car ages.. the connections, the electronics, the plugs, and the sensors start to fade away.. making the car harder to repair and more costly.. OUR saturn.. it had the quad engine in it.. we live on a steep hill.. my wife only drag raced it to six to ten grand once a day climbing the hill..

when it came time to repair it, my health was down, I calculated how many more problems would surface versus a $278 car payment.. we bought the Honda civic. If you miss work several times because of a crappy car.. you are unemployed.. fall out of tenure. No matter who you are too.. it is a wise choice sometimes..

Fixing loose suspension.. put weight on the wheels on ramps get under it reach up and violently shake everything.. anything with play in, replace.. then.. the tire alignment shop.. you can try to do it with a ruler.. one axis.. you can try to set the camber with a inclinometer.. best way, alignment shop.. have all 4 wheels shot..

The Hot rod built from several cars.. one frame from one, lower mchpherson struts aframe.. top Marquis coil aframes.. I'll get it close then hunt a good shop..

A bad shop.. watch them.. they put he floor jack under the tie rod as they change your tires for fresh skins.. Yep.. it needs alignment then huh.. I wanna hurt people who do this.. crooks trying to pay the bills.

01-03-2010, 09:14 AM
Ohh.. and... the reason I am a fan of ABS.. I ride a motorcycle.. ABS allows steering control in a emergency situation without being a "highly strung and great reactionary trained race driver".

I think driving around a accident, not panic sliding into one. With my bike, I only need three feet..

(well with this one.. 38")

On ice? a reverse jato unit could have snubbed the mass inertia.. as long as you could shut it down at the moment of no-speed. Parachute? Perhaps not being there at that speed?

You see the northern truckers all wrecked up down heah.. our SNOW is ice.. it is normally right around freezing and the slush makes ice as you drive on it. SURPRISE.. just like I was the first time as a southerner I was introduced to black ice in Montana. Whhhooooopppp whoooooppp whoooopp.. each time the sideways got a lil more.. Lucky me.. nothing to impact.

01-03-2010, 09:38 AM
ABS is nothing but trouble and more junk to break down,not to mention the other problems ,it causes and tends to scare the crap out of you when it activates ,, my 2006 G5 it was an option to have it or not i thank god i dont have it....

sorry to hear about the curb getting in your way that sucks , i had that happen once in my eurosport cause some noob at Canadain tire that replaced my ball joints didnt tighten the rims in properly, and they gota away with it cause i never cme back with in 50 klm to get the wheels retighen so 1500 bucks later in damage i sold the car for parts and bought a 5th ave and no mechanic touches my car unless its something i cant do and they rate iam going with tools all i need now is a hoist and ill never see a mechanic ever again.good thing i know how to work on cars or id be screwed..

anyhow all the best on the repairs.. hope its not to bad

Tony Ennis
01-03-2010, 09:38 AM
The ABS on our PT Cruiser operates at a cycle time of about 10 to 20 pulses per second.

Same with my Fords.

If you miss work several times because of a crappy car.. you are unemployed..

A friend of mine drove crappy cars of legendary stature. "I got it cheap and I can fix it up" but of course he never did. Lost jobs, lost work, lost pay. Then one day he finally did right and got a decent used car. In an instant his life turned around.

01-03-2010, 01:24 PM
I hate ABS. Only owned a couple vehicles with it, but have driven many. It's come close to putting me in the ditch a few times.
I've always practiced threshold braking, which is what ABS is -supposed- to do, but it doesn't work as smoothly (as evidenced by the 'normal' shuddering of the car) and introduces the need for a LOT of corrections when it engages on a curve When it really throws you off is when you try to negotiate a turn with controlled slides, I found that out the first time I drove an ABS equipped truck.
I used braking so often that I converted two of my trucks and three cars to a three lever E-brake. (each E-brake cable to it's own lever so it can be applied 'alone', center lever that operates both for normal use. Old baja buggy steering brake set-up)

What's really fun is to watch a car with traction control driving on a road with 'streaked' ice, they often start to zig-zag back and forth as the traction control tries to correct for the alternating slip.

Never owned or rode a bike with ABS, but I think it would cause a lot of problems for me. It's been a while since I regularly scraped the chrome off my mufflers, but still love the twisties, get a bit crazy on the bike.


01-03-2010, 03:34 PM
This astro is a '94- I don't know if that makes a difference to the quality of the abs - I'm sure they've been improved since. This one seems pretty crude, with about a two second delay (estimated) between sensing a skid, unloading fluid pressure, then restoring it again. I can instinctively react way faster than that, and with better control, even if I'm not expecting the loss of traction.

I drifted way into an intersection a couple weeks back because I couldn't use the brakes- the abs started its response quickly enough to the loss of traction, probably faster than I would have, but even at about 20kph, you move tens of feet before you have braking again. Then the moment you have some skid, you've lost your brakes for another couple seconds.

Maybe this system would be good for panicky drivers, but if you have any driving skills at all, with some reasonable response time, you'd be better off without this one. I stomp the brakes on purpose just to test the system and startle my passengers- that's the best function I can get out of it :)

Anyway, I need to assess the total front suspension system on this van and decide on a course of action. Maybe I should replace the arm to start with, then give it a 'darryl' alignment as I've always done with my vehicles. Not to brag, but I'm pretty good at that, being able to get proper drivability and normal tire life out of it. I did go for a shop alignment once, but I ended up correcting it afterwards myself so the vehicle would steer properly. It's a little harder to sense the proper settings with power steering, but you can still feel when it's not right.

01-03-2010, 04:06 PM
After an impact strong enough to bend a wheel it is a given that you will need a wheel alignment. After replacing the idler arm and installing a new set of tires now is the time to find a competent shop and have your wheels aligned properly. You may be able to set toe in to a fairly acceptable accuracy level, but without the proper equipment, caster and camber can not be set accurately enough, especially considering the multiple forces incurred to your front suspension during the run in with the curb.
Trust me the alignment will pay for itself in longer tire life alone.

01-03-2010, 04:25 PM
ABS does work better than a human in regards to keeping the wheels from locking up during braking.

When I worked in the Fleet shop, we got our usual shipment of new cars, for the Sheriff's Department. They all had ABS.
At the time we were hearing arguments both ways on the merits and faults of ABS brakes. I've driven both, and under normal conditions, you'd never know ABS was there.

At the time, we heard reports of several Florida State Troopers getting killed in accidents that apparently had involved ABS braking systems, exactly like the ones we had just gotten.

The manufacturer was heavily involved in the investigations and they soon discovered that the ABS in each accident had been over-ridden by the drivers, ultimately causing a loss of control, and a fatal accident.

The ABS in question was designed by Bosch and Lucas and, in theory, performed beautifully. What had happened was during panic stop braking, the drivers had assumed the car wasn't stopping fast enough, and lifted their foot off, momentarily releasing pressure on the brakes. The ABS computer, seeing the drop in pressure, went into the "RESET" routine, where the accumulator pistons are returned to the start positions. This takes about 1 second, and during the time, the brakes function like normal brakes.
The accidents were caused when the driver lifted and re-applied the brakes, rendering the ABS useless, and locking the wheels, causing a complete loss of traction, and control. By the time the fault was discovered, eight people had been killed.

With the newly acquired fleet we got a VHS tape, and instructions to have all deputies who were to drive the cars view the tape. Basically, the tape outlined emergency braking procedures and an admonishment not to release the brake, once emergency braking was initiated. The cars, with ABS, went on to serve the Sheriff well, and we never had one ABS issue the whole time the cars were in service. Standing on the brakes with both feet would yield a perfectly controlled stop....every time.

Another ABS incident we had was driver stupidity. It involved a four-wheel-drive SUV that the driver claimed would not stop at times. We thoroughly inspected the vehicle, road tested it, and even sent it to the dealer for evaluation. Nothing was wrong with the vehicle....the driver (a woman) continued to complain. Her husband threatened to sue the County and everybody involved if his wife was involved in an accident, caused by the SUV not stopping.

After consulting numerous "experts" and not getting any positive input, I went for a drive with the driver, and asked her to duplicate the conditions during the last "brake failure". She promptly drove to a remote location, and we soon found ourselves on a dirt road, travelling about 50 mph.
As we approached an intersection, and a stop sign, she applied the brakes, and the vehicle began to slow, I noticed that she was hard on the brakes. I could hear the whine of the ABS pump as we rolled through the stop sign and the intersection, narrowly missing another car. The ABS "failure" was the unit trying to maintain traction on the dirt roadway! DRIVER ERROR! The owners' manual clearly states that when driving on ice, snow or dirt it is advisable to engage four-wheel-drive... I soon discovered that engaging FWD also locks out the ABS unit...Allowing the driver to skid...on surfaces with marginal or poor traction. Of course, it's also a good idea not to drive at freeway speeds on dirt roads, too.

01-03-2010, 09:31 PM
I had driver training via my dad, and that included all the unexpected conditions my dad could conjure up to help train me to keep control of the vehicle. Right from the start I had to do completely controlled panic stops, evasive maneuvers, etc. If I made a stop with the tires skidding, I failed. Several times I heard him say, from the passenger seat 'you failed'. By the time he was done with me, I was almost ready to kill him, but I was pretty much a stunt driver!

This incident with the curb the other day was one of very few times I've not had control of the vehicle, regardless of road conditions. Just days before that was another, as I rolled through a stop sign without brakes while the abs did its thing. The tires are partly to blame (me really for still having those crappy skins still on) but largely it was due to unusually slippery conditions. The abs did NOT help me, it got in the way. Where it does work for me is when I'm not paying attention on some remote gravel road, and am hitting the brakes to take a look at something that caught my eye- I'd rather still have my tires rotating instead of grinding off some rubber into the gravel. In that case I'm purposely using the abs to that effect, and at the same time characterizing it's operation and filing that in memory.

Maybe one day I'll be driving a more modern vehicle with a better system.

Just for the heck of it, a short story- one day we were in the 'cruiser, having reached the top of a very precarious hill climb. All my passengers wanted out, since the downhill side looked like a death run. It was about a hundred yards of extremely steep slope, then leveled out at a clearing. They got out, walked the distance and waited for me. I started down, and there was no traction. I locked the brakes and wasn't slowing down at all. The best I could do was allow the tires to turn to keep control, and gain speed as I went down. Naturally, I couldn't show my fear at the end of the run, but I was almost soiling myself on the way down. I got out of the truck and played it cool- asked if anyone wanted to take the ride back up- NOOOO!

I miss those days, 4x4ing in rugged BC backwoods. Got through some amazing spots- the Land Cruiser sure has done me well all these years.

Oh, yeah, I replaced the idler arm on the van today- that was the area with the most play, and it did bring it back to 'normal'. I'm sure there's some misalignment though, even if I can't see evidence of bending, etc. It will get looked at.

01-03-2010, 10:07 PM
Sorry to misrepresent my motorcycle.. it does not have abs.. never saw one that does.

I mentioned it is better to plan ahead and drive around accidents than get imbedded into them.

Poor planning.. well disc brakes.. everyone remember DRUM brakes? when you had "crappy" brakes?? Things have improved greatly in my lifetime. Probably saving my life numerous times while I was making poor decisions.

I still make poor decisions. That stinking elky has a single pull rear axle.. while it was raining Thursday?.. whooiiiizzzzz spinning one tire over and over as I pulled out. Need to fix that.. it sure ain't over powered.. under-tractioned maybe..

01-04-2010, 03:20 AM
Motorcycle ABS video:

I've only used the ABS on my truck twice. The stupid teenager running a stop sign survived; the unlucky dog would have, if he hadn't turned around.

01-04-2010, 06:42 AM

I've only used the ABS on my truck twice. The stupid teenager running a stop sign survived; the unlucky dog would have, if he hadn't turned around.
That's cause you learned to drive with DRUM brakes on a vehicle.. you plan ahead.. You can't run up and "stop on a dime" mentality..

And it is getting worse with these kids, it is 14 degrees, a kid just went by at sixty plus. On this max 30 road.. He ain't planning ahead.. so.. He'll get a hard lesson, possibly at the bottom of the steep hill I live on.

My ex wife.. she was driving my jacked up 4wd.. flying around corners.. I tried to explain to her that it goes from "flat" cornering to "flipped upside down" too fast to control the switch.

(just watched the video) NO way I could have stayed on that motorcycle once it "went" out of control... not even knowing the training wheels were there.. I'd been off it using a meat brake.

01-04-2010, 10:08 AM
Anti-lock brakes are part of the dumbing-down of society. Instead of actually knowing how to drive, they attempt make it easy for someone with no skill to stop on slippery surfaces. In my opinion they fail at that attempt.
The on/off pulsation frequency of the system determines the percentage of steering vs. braking. It is not the same on all cars.
It is hard to generalize if all ABS systems are good or bad, although I generally have seen them to be bad.
An example, I always drive Lincoln town cars. I know, young guy with an old man car, but they are just what I like. Anyhow, my first car with ABS was my '90 Lincoln. In the ice and snow (Buffalo) they ABS worked great. Stop meant stop. And steering ability was great. That ABS was set up great.
My next car was a '97 Lincoln. ABS absolutely sucked. If it engaged, you would roll through an intersection. Yes, I know how to drive it, kept my foot in it the whole time. The 2003 Lincoln the ABS was even worse! Detroit kept dumbing the system down, trading less braking for more steering. Now if the ABS comes on in the snow, the brakes work like they are on ice. Stopping ability is shlt.
I got so fed up with the '03 Lincoln ABS that I pulled the fuse. Now it stops great. I GUARANTEE that I can stop quicker without ABS, and also avoid any thing that I have to steer around. If I have to put the car sideways, I can. If I have to bring the ass end around, I can. With ABS you are so disconnected from your car, it is just not safe.
Now, if the all ABS systems were like the one on my '90 Lincoln, then I would say that would be great. A good safety feature. But dumb drivers have forced Detroit (through lawsuits) to make an ASB system that favors steering to stopping, because statistics say it is beter to steer to avoid an accident than aim for it and stop to avoid it.
I am confident in my ability to handle a car and point it where I want it to go. Let me take care of that, Detroit. ABS attempts to help me with being able to handle my car, which I don't need help with. In giving me something I don't want, they take away something I do want, my BRAKES!
Stipid people. Stupid lawyers. Stipid society.
My fix is to pull the fuse.