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I have read a lot of questions/threads around the internet concerning rusting strut towers on 96-00 minivans. As the owner of a 1998 Caravan that has its strut towers attacked by the tinworm, I have some good experience and done a lot of research on it.

Unlike most cars, where the strut towers are in the middle of the fender area, the Caravan has it strut towers affixed in the far corner between the fender and firewall. Thus, if water leaks in from the hood, it puddles in the corner and eats away at the tower. Now, (this is an original theory based on my own observations), it seems that this mainly effects Caravans that have been previously in front end collisions; this tweaks the unibody and prevents the hood from sitting/sealing right, allowing the water in. I have seen Caravans with clean factory strut towers, and these have the hood sealed right around the cowl. Mine has been in two front end accidents (both before I got it), and I think that has contributed to my strut towers rusting, as my hood sits cockeyed and even sticks up in the corner by the cowl on the driver's side about 1/4".

Now, these towers have a weird pattern of rusting. The driver's side tower always take the brunt of the blow, with the passenger usually receiving minimal rust. When the tower starts losing its structural integrity, it will start to bulge up at an angle right by the fender. That is because if and when the inevitable happens, it always is around the outer perimeter of the tower; the main mounts hold up. When it does break, the outside crescent of the strut on the right side (POV of standing in front of the car, looking under the hood) breaks through at an angle. Thus, it is important to inspect your strut towers regularly, especially if you live in the rust belt. One indicator of the strut tower starting to give is that your van will lean very slightly to the left. This is how I discovered my rotted strut towers.

Generally, your tower requires attention when it starts to look like this. Note that you can see the aforementioned bulge. My Caravan's strut towers looked slightly better than this when I got them repaired:


When the inevitable happens, it looks like this. Not how the outer crescent of the strut breaks through by the fender at an upwards angle. This is a "better" case, as I have seen other broken through strut towers where the whole chunk of metal from where it breaks through goes off, exposing the top of the strut. In this case, it just cracked and broke up:


Now, don't fret, because there is a fix!

In 2002, DaimlerChrysler issued a TSB regarding the rusting strut towers (http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v516/Karrmann/CaravanStrutTowerTSB.jpg), and developed a fix that involves putting a cap on top of the tower and affixing it with either pop rivets or a powerful adhesive. Some bodyshop owners I know have told me that the adhesive that Chrysler specifies is rather expensive, and most who perform the repairs either weld the caps on or pop rivet/bolt them on. Add on a dollop of powdercoating, and you are ready to hit the road. My Caravan's was repaired by professionals who bolted/riveted on the cap by the spotwelds and undercoated the crap out of them afterwards.

Now, the repair has come under some criticism because of the fact that it involves just a cap that reenforces the perimeter of the tower, as per the actual mounts for the strut. Lest we forget, however, that the towers always break through on the outer perimeter, with the strut penetrating on an upward angle. As the fix is a cap that reenforces the perimeter, it is perfectly effective. Since it has been out for going on 8 years now, it is very inexpensive, and usually includes the cap and the necessary rivets.



You can get the kit (one side at a time) for $15 a piece. I had mine professionally installed by a trusted body shop for $300. (parts included)

Now, I am not sure of its effectiveness on vans where the strut has already broken through. IMO, if that has already happened, you are best off having another tower welded on, or getting your @#$ on Craigslist and getting a new van. :p

Still, it is a good, cost-effective solution. With only 133,000 miles and a freshly rebuilt transmission, scrapping my van was out of the question. Thanks to the kit, my baby is back on the road and ready to take me through college!


As per those who are facing the same problem I had, I hope this helped! :)
 

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I just wanted to share this picture. I actually found this earlier today on Craigslist for $500 bucks. 1998 Chrysler Town & Country. This looks like a pretty severe case of the tower rot and I assume this would require the entire tower replacement. The replacement "cap" you shown doesn't look like it would cover the entire problem area on this one.
 

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That is literally only the second minivan I have seen with the tower like that. I have absolutely no clue what causes that, or if it is just a freak thing. Though it looks like the tower has pretty much broken through on that one.
 

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Another solution: After 35 years of living in the rust belt of Ohio, I moved south. No more worries of rusted strut towers or bolts that break off instead of loosening. I love it. :lol:
 

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That picture looks really close to the condition my '99 GCSESport's tower was in. My brother did the 'top hat' fix a couple of weeks ago and things look good so far. Not sure if the pictured one could be fixed as easily though with that lower section of 'rot.'
 

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You didn't mention the Lord Fusor adhesive that Chrysler reccomends using in the procedure. It's a key element because it acts as a rust inhibitor so that no further corrosion will take place once the cap is in place. It worked real well on my repair.
 

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You didn't mention the Lord Fusor adhesive that Chrysler reccomends using in the procedure. It's a key element because it acts as a rust inhibitor so that no further corrosion will take place once the cap is in place. It worked real well on my repair.
"Some bodyshop owners I know have told me that the adhesive that Chrysler specifies is rather expensive, and most who perform the repairs either weld the caps on or pop rivet/bolt them on."

I did mention it. I didn't know that the adhesive was rust resistant, however. I guess that explains why it is so expensive and thus few body shops actually use it.
 

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Good thread. Thanks for posting the info for everyone. The strut towers on both of my vans are still rust-free (knock on wood), but you never know what may happen down the road.
 

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Good write up and pics.
I'm in NC and I haven't seen rust on the strut towers here unless some Yankee brings his heap to my neck of the woods...LOL
 

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I got a 2000 Chrysler Voyager. Spent 7 years in Georgia. Back in Ohio now. Strut towers are like new. But in the next few weeks I hope to replace my front struts and I plan to under coat the strut towers while I'm at it.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I thought I'd add pictures of my strut towers as they look now, repaired.

Left:


Right:


Cheers!
 

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"Some bodyshop owners I know have told me that the adhesive that Chrysler specifies is rather expensive, and most who perform the repairs either weld the caps on or pop rivet/bolt them on."

I did mention it. I didn't know that the adhesive was rust resistant, however. I guess that explains why it is so expensive and thus few body shops actually use it.
I found two items saying that it is the ADHESIVE that provides the strength, not the metal cap.
http://www.ricksfree...er-town-country


http://www.cardomain.../ride/2203948/4
 

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Your intent in starting this thread was
"Lets put an end to any uncertainty/questions"

Admirable, but your thread only
increased my uncertainty/questions.
So I did a bit of research and thinking (but no hands-on yet), and started a
new thread to clarify the Chrysler-recommended procedure:
http://www.allpar.co...
 

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I did the repair on my 96 with adhesive, adhesive is stronger than a weld and wont promote rust like a weld...didnt use Lord Fusor, but a structural automotive 2 part that is mixed when it comes out of gun. Was able to borrow gun, which is the most expensive. Most time was waiting for the 8 hours for the total strength cure.
 

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Adhesive, while surprisingly strong, isn't near as strong as steel or even Aluminum.
A few rivets have radical amount of shear relative adhesive
 

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The only problems that I've seen with this repair is people who buy the tower caps, but don't buy the adhesive because of the price. They do it wrong in order to try and save money. The correct adhesive is necessary for a successful repair.
 

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Adhesive, while surprisingly strong, isn't near as strong as steel or even Aluminum.
A few rivets have radical amount of shear relative adhesive
:lol: If thats what you think please never fly on an airplane that was built within the last 40 years, or buy a new car built within the last 20 years. It just might fall apart on you ;)
 

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Thought I respond to this old thread since I had my COMPLETE drivers side strut tower replaced (yes, there is a factory replacement part) about a year ago on my 2000 T&C Limited AWD.

Car had approx 135,000 miles and was otherwise in very nice condition, looked great and drove nicely but the tower was totally shot, rotted, and had pushed up and was hitting the underside of the wiper cowling. 1 really good hit and things could have been VERY ugly. Visited more than 10 body shops and 1 dealer and just about no one would even touch it or was actually told scrap the car as it wouldn't be worth fixing. A few said they could give it a try including 1 guy who said the entire dash would need to be removed. Very disheartening results as the car was otherwise in such nice condition. I did not want to get another used van as this one was just to nice to give up on and the low mileage given the year and my must have AWD.

Well thank god for good friends with connections. My best friends brother is a service mgr. at a Toyota dealership but he was able to get the OEM Chrysler strut tower (not just the cap fix) for his cost which was under $100 (on-line from Chrysler Parts Direct you can get it for around $140 but for some really strange reason the passenger side one is more than twice the price). Same friend said he had an awesome body shop down the street from his shop and to have them check it out. Brought the car in and was really impressed with the look of tis place right off the bat. Big, brightly lit, clean (really amazing for a body shop after what I had been seeing), very well organized with rolling racks full of parts for each car being worked on. 2 guys came out to look at the car and take pics. They were familiar with the problem and of course said I should have brought it in when just the cap would have solved the problem (I totally procrastinated on this as I bought the van with 43K and knew the tower was rusting). Anyway, they didn't flinch saying they could fix it and had no problem with me supplying the part (and no the dash doesn't have to come out and they had a good chuckle about that). They would also take pictures for me of the repair as it progressed (I requested this since I had not seen anywhere on the net this repair being done. Only the cap fix).

$1,475 later (+ the strut piece I supplied) I had an amazing repair that literally looked factory new. Very reasonable IMO considering the work involved to do the repair properly and had been told by a few place to scrap the car. They took lots of pics of the work, before , during, after as they had promised. 25,000 mile later (now over 150,000 miles) the car is still great and the repair perfect. Time for new quick struts and lower ball joint though. To say I'm happy is an understatement and every time I pop the hood now I smile at a repair job done right.

So....Props goes to Lancaster A-1 Auto Body, Inc. CARSTAR in Lancaster MA for doing the work.

If you want pics send me a PM with an email as I don't really have them organized or on my computer yet. Probably to many of them to post on-line but I probably should since I haven't seen this done anywhere on the net for the 1996-2000 Chrysler mini vans.
 

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I got rid of my '99 GC in '09 and the drivers side shock tower was bulging. That happened even though I had it painted it with POR15 years before. The towers appear to rot from the inside out. I read somewhere that battery vapors promotes the rot in the drivers side tower, and hence, less rot in the passenger side tower which is further away from the battery. Whatever. That doesn't explain the rot in the bottom of both sliding doors though, another 3rd gen affliction.
 
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