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'05 GC front ride height - can struts be tweaked?

Discussion in 'Minivans · Pacifica' started by Stephen, Dec 23, 2017.

  1. Stephen

    Stephen Active Member

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    Starting a new thread based on findings mentioned in an earlier one, starting off with the same basic info and adding new as discovered.

    Bought a low-mile blue '05 to replace my outgoing red '05 and noticed a difference in front ride height. Here's a pic of the old and new together nose-to-nose. Both vans are on 215/65R-16 tires (Uniroyal on Red and Goodyear on Blue) so there might be some actual dimensional difference between the two but not enough to account for that difference.
    [​IMG]

    I was right on the ride height, confirmed by measuring. I went by the process agreed upon in Vanagon circles (we also have an '87 Westy) to avoid confusion of terms; you measure up from the center of a given wheel to the bottom of the sheetmetal wheel arch above it. This way everyone is comparing apples and you avoid problems caused by differing wheel/tire sizes or other conditions. Good for comparing lifts.

    Red = Front 17 1/2, Rear 16 1/2 and the van appears to sit level.
    Blue = Front 16 1/2, Rear 17 1/2 and the van shows a perceptible nose-down stance.

    To determine another measurement in front I simply compared clearance under the black plastic air dam under the front ends; Red has 8 3/4" clearance, Blue has 6 3/4". That's a big difference and it is evidenced in driving I do every day. There's a dip leaving the driveway on which the new van scrapes and the old one does not, and I regularly park at a dead end where I must do a U-turn to leave. When backing and filling the red van clears the curbs under the front during the turn and the blue van does not.

    I pulled the left front wheel on each to compare struts to see if there is any obvious difference and there is none, although the blue van appears to have brand new strut assemblies. See blue van pix below for measurements, which appear to be equal between the two vehicles. The only difference I can find is that the coil spring on the new/blue strut is about .5mm thinner wire than on the old/red strut. I can't believe that slight a difference could make 2" difference in how high off the ground the front is. The other measurements appear to be the same when comparing vans and the drop links are 12" center-to-center on each one.

    So my questions are:
    1) What would account for the difference in ride heights between two vehicles that appear to have struts that seem to be the same?

    2) Could struts for a different vehicle, one with less ride height perhaps, have been substituted for Caravan parts to lower it, maybe at the PO's request if he wanted some drop on his van, or could there be that much production variation between strut brands for the same vehicle?

    2) Can the struts/springs/whatever on the blue van be tweaked/spaced/whatever to get me a bit of lift so the van has more front clearance than it now has?

    This is not a huge deal but it is perplexing and I'm willing to throw a little money at it for a solution but don't want to spend a boatload. Thanks!
    strut1.JPG strut2.JPG strut3.JPG strut4.JPG
     
    #1 Stephen, Dec 23, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2017
  2. ImperialCrown

    Level III Supporter

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    Any vinyl tags with the 3-letter sales codes still on the front coils?
    We could run the last 8 of the VINs to see what suspension packages these have.
    Struts won't change ride height much. Coil springs will and there are like 4 pages of different coil spring sales codes and part numbers available. See item # 6 on figure 2-110 here:
    http://oskin.ru/pub/chrysler-dodge/manuals/Chrysler_Service_Parts_Catalog/CD4/02-05/05rs.PDF

    There were 3 different suspensions here (excluding export and commercial packages):
    [SDA]=NORMAL DUTY
    [SDB]=HEAVY DUTY
    [SDC]=SUSPENSION - TOURING

    When the struts were changed, did the technician reinstall the upper and lower spring seat isolators (items # 2 and # 12) and are they in good shape?
     
  3. Stephen

    Stephen Active Member

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    I saw no tags on a spring but will check again. These do not appear to be original pieces (too shiny and new-looking) and the replacement work would have been done during the PO's term or by the intermediate dealer, and I do not know what the tech would have done but the lower seat looks good. Can't see the upper. Last eight of the VIN are 5R325909. Thanks for the info.

    After doing some checking I found that these units appear to be Monroe brand Quick Struts, and it looks like a part number might be stamped on the backside of the tube but I'll have to investigate that tomorrow.
     
    #3 Stephen, Dec 23, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2017
  4. voiceofstl

    voiceofstl Well-Known Member

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    I put the Monroe quick struts on my 05 and it raised the height a hair, proberly only becuse they were new.
     
  5. valiant67

    valiant67 Rich Corinthian Leather
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    If you are concerned about ride height, switch the coil springs between them. The springs, not the struts, control ride height.
     
    Doug D likes this.
  6. ImperialCrown

    Level III Supporter

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    Monroe offers a front Quick-strut and Econo-matic for the '05 Grand Caravan.
    e-Catalog :: MONROE® SHOCKS & STRUTS (at http://www.monroe.com/en-US/e-catalog )
    Nothing is really discussed about front ride height, both types appear to have the same measurements as each other.
    Nivomats are mentioned for rear ride height in loaded or trailering vehicles. Monroe offers a coil-over assembly and not a true Nivomat for the rear.
     
  7. Stephen

    Stephen Active Member

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    That's a great idea except for the labor involved. Seriously, if the springs are the issue it would be a great fix but I'm not equipped for an undertaking like that and would cringe having to pay for someone else to do that amount of work. I'd be more likely to buy different springs for the blue van and just work on the one van. The red one is being sold or donated anyway.
     
    #7 Stephen, Dec 24, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2017
  8. Stephen

    Stephen Active Member

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    I'll keep the rear coilovers in mind but the current KYBs look okay. My immediate concern is the front. If I can determine which springs come on the Quick Struts I might be able to find a Moog part that can be used to replace those springs to achieve the ride height I want.
     
  9. 85lebaront2

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    Sounds similar to what I had with my 1994 Taurus LX. I ordered a set of rear struts as the original ones were pretty dead and installed them. About a year ago I needed to replace the fronts. I probably need to measure my ride height at both ends because the car sits with a nose down attitude. Alignment was checked after installation, and both caster and camber were in spec (I had marked the strut mount plates before changing them). The rear ones may be too stiff, but mine has the 3.8L engine which is partially derived from the Windsor V8s (221-351) so is wider than the smaller engines and heavier, plus the car has every option except the sun roof and will bottom the front fairly easily.
     
  10. voiceofstl

    voiceofstl Well-Known Member

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    This may be stupid... Can you raise the hieght with taller tires?
     
  11. Stephen

    Stephen Active Member

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    Not stupid. Yes, you can but you sometimes run into clearance issues with fender openings or suspension interference. This is a big deal on Vanagons but maybe not on Mopar vans. I haven't investigated yet. Unfortunately, this van has four new stock size tires on it and I'm not replacing them soon, and it would take a considerably taller tire to get 1" lift (means using a tire 2" larger in diameter). Also, taller tires change effective final drive gearing (makes it higher--numerically lower--than stock) so there is that to consider.
     
    #11 Stephen, Dec 24, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2017
  12. voiceofstl

    voiceofstl Well-Known Member

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    slightly op. All cars sit lower now then in my opinion then they should. Here is my test
    You pull up to a curb at your local 7/11 or QT and the bottom of the front of your car rubs the curb if you get to close.
     
  13. Stephen

    Stephen Active Member

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    Left front strut shows number 71572E on the reverse side, but I'll have to look at the right to see if it differs. Interestingly, while the x71572x sequence appears in the Monroe literature, the exact number 71572E does not, so this may require a call or email to Monroe to see what is going on with my setup.

    Also, one of the comments I saw indicated that reduced ride height was one user's experience after changing to Monroe. Darn.
     
  14. Stephen

    Stephen Active Member

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    Right strut has a matching number. The springs did have yellow tags but had no helpful numbers on them, just disclaimers and warnings in English and Spanish.
     
  15. valiant67

    valiant67 Rich Corinthian Leather
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    I think your only resolution is going back to factory springs. The factory likely had several strut/spring combos and Monore likely serviced them with one single replacement part.
     
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  16. Stephen

    Stephen Active Member

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    Probably, but selecting from among the Mopar parts numbers will be a workout.
     
  17. bguy

    bguy Well-Known Member

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    There are differences in the knuckles and more importantly ther are differences in the struts, specifically some struts hve the lower spring perch welded higher up on the tube. There may be generic replacement struts on either van. Monroe only lists 3 struts but the manufacturer list about 7 different springs.
     
  18. valiant67

    valiant67 Rich Corinthian Leather
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    A dealer can tell you the spring part number if you give them the VIN.
     
  19. Stephen

    Stephen Active Member

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    Great idea. Since I don't work with modern vehicles often I forget the "power of the VIN."
     
  20. ImperialCrown

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    That options.pdf I sent you has all 4 spring sales codes listed on it. You could cross-reference those codes to Mopar part numbers in the parts catalog. I'm not suggesting that you replace the springs with new factory items, but that should put things back to where they were when new.
    No doubt that the original rear springs have sagged over 13 years, but you are mainly concerned with front height.
     

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