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Hello, I have a rather strange power steering issue in my 96 Caravan. When coming out of a right turn and accelerating I can feel a vibration in the steering wheel. It's not horrible and I have lived with it for quite a few years. However, we always take the Caravan to Colorado every year to fish. Last summer the problem really started when we were coming up Slumgullion Pass near Lake City, Colorado. It started to make a very loud noise and the vibration in the steering was very pronounced. But as soon as we topped the pass, it stopped. Same problem going up Cucharas Pass and Raton Pass. But again, as soon as we topped the passes, the noise and vibration stopped. It's obviously related to gravity but I don't know exactly how--maybe the power steering pump. Back here on the High Plains of Texas and flat as a pancake, it's not a real problem. But I think I need to get it fixed before next summer. Thanks.
 

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Welcome to Allpar. Inner axle driveshaft joints can cause a vibration/shake under load. Outer joint vibration happens mostly under load while the wheels are turned. Diagnosis can be difficult with the rubber joint boots intact, but the right, inner CV joint grease can get cooked after sitting a few years next to the hot catalytic converter.
Any looseness or wear in steering or suspension components can make the shake worse.
 

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Living in RV heaven. You think cars are bad!
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I'll cast my vote for CV joints as well. Having driven Caravans for 20 years now, I've had several axles fail and display the very symptoms you described.

The best part is, they're easy to change! On our '96, my wife and I can do each side in under 30 minutes.
 

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I agree with the others. I have seen this on a 1990 Grand Caravan with 3.3L engine. I got severe shaking when accelerating (gravity was a factor only in the sense that I had to add power to maintain speed). It felt like the steering wheel was shaking, as you describe...as if the wheels were pulling alternately instead of together. I had a hunch it was drivetrain rather than steering because of the only symptom - the problem vanished as soon as I let off the gas. I feared transmission, maybe steering rack, but hoped for cv joints. A few mechanics were stumped, which was a problem since I was 1000 miles from home with plenty of hill climbing ahead of me (in Montana, headed for California). One shop told me flat out it was not axles and admitted to no other ideas. Another assured me it WAS an axle, so I gave them a shot. 3 hours later I was happily (and smoothly) back on the road with a new axle (cv joint). I'm again noticing the beginning of the same symptom. It's been about 6 years for that axle, a little premature but oh well. This car doesn't leave town any longer, its last trip was a year ago, so when it gets bad, I'll spend a couple hours changing it. BTW, a Napa store employee mentioned something about premature cv joint failure resulting from some kind of poor alignment of the engine related to misaligned motor mounts, and indeed, at the beginning of my trip I had a new front motor mount installed (thinking that was the source of the problem which turned out to be the cv joint). Perhaps the mechanic did not get the engine precisely positioned. I have no other confirmation of that point, but there may be some information in the factory manual on this. You might want to see what you can find out about this for your 1996.
 

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To Ray Green: when you swap axles on your 96, do you have any problem getting enough movement to get out the ball joint stud? On my 90 GCV, I need to drop the sway bar, otherwise I can't get enough movement of the lower control arm, there's too much force to overcome from the sway bar. My 1996 has a different sway bar and I've not yet examined it to see what it takes to pull the axle. If you can do it in 30 minutes, it must be easier than on the 1990. Thanks!
 
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