98 Durango 4x4 popping in steering column?

I need some help diagnosing a problem with my wife's 98 Durango 4x4 with 360 and the selectable part time and full time transfer case. Anyway, when turning left or right or stopping or accelerating from a dead stop a popping noise is coming from what feels like the steering column. Like up under the

dash or on the inside of the firewall. Also, I found a clean gray or silver bolt that was broken in half under where the wife usually parks her Durango. The bolt was around 1.5 inches and had a locking nut on it. I don't know for sure if this came off the Durango but, the popping noise appeared about the time I found that bolt. I have looked under the hood for a missing bolt and haven't found one yet. I haven't removed the plastic under carriage covers yet to see if that might reveal a hole somewhere in need of a bolt with locking nut. The steering wheel and column do not feel loose. The popping noise also seems more pronounced after the vehicle is heated up or it is above 60 degrees outside. The steering pump does have a little whining noise and I have had the wife turn the steering wheel left and right repeatedly while I watched the power steering and linkage move. No audible popping while that was going on either. I'm just before taking it to the dealer and letting them try to find the source of the popping. Any help here would be much appreciated.

Ben

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My guess from what you said, would probably be a bad or broke front shock. Try pushing up and down on the front of the truck and see if you hear anything.

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Took it by the local Dodge dealer and they said the entire steering column needed to be replaced at a cost of $1200 just for the steering column I believe and then another $300 to install it I think. I'll have to look at the form they gave me again. Nah, I don't think I can stand to glance it over again. The Durango has under 90k miles on it and looks good and drives good except for that occasional popping sound. Heck, it don't even do it with me much but, it does with my wife Shirley Muldowney.

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Has there ever been any TSB's or anything on the steering columns in 98 Durango's? I find it hard to believe that a vehicle with less than 90k miles on it needs the steering column replaced. If that is the case it would seem like these things were defective or something. Mine pops every time I give it gas, stop or turn or just hit a bump in the road.

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I have the exact same problem in my 2000 dodge 4x4 shortbed ram. it doesn't start until I drive it about5-10 miles then the same shifting/popping during stop/start and bumps. mine has only 45k on it. I am going to take it to the dealer on monday.

after I did some research, I also think it might be the steering column. I first thought it was the steering gear ( because there was leakage) but I think it is the column.

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Make SURE and check the front shocks, we kept having our front drivers side shock breaking and it would make a horrible sound when turning....

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Went to the dealer about the Durango and they said the steering column was worn out at only 80K miles. Anyway, they shot me a price of $1,200 or so to replace it. I was wondering if I could possibly find one out of a wrecked Durango and if so which models of steering column are the same as the one in a 98 Durango 4x4? If anyone can tell me which steering columns will work as a direct replacement for mine I'd greatly appreciate it.

Ben

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Can no one tell me the years of Durangos that use the same steering column? The dealer said they don't even make steering columns like that for a 98 and the changed to a new style. I do know that my 01 Dakota handles a lot better than the 98 Durango does and the ride is a lot better with the 01 Dakota too and I've already changed shocks on the Durango.

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Ben in TN wrote:

I can't tell you what year steering columns interchange, but I doubt you need to change the entire column anyway. I think the broken bolt you found is most likely the problem. Check your steering box mount bolts. Did you find both halves of the bolt, or just the half with the nut on it? If you only found the nut-half of the bolt, the bolt head can still be stuck in the hole appearing as if there is nothing missing. If the steering box checks out good, you might want to call Borgeson. They make upgraded steering shafts for a hand-full of vehicles. Unfortunately the Durango isn't one of them, but they build custom shafts for street rods. They are more than capable of making a steering shaft for you, and it will be better and cheaper than replacing the entire steering column.

http://www.borgeson.com/

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I found both halves of the bolt. The head end and the end with a locking nut on it. It was a clean gray bolt. The dealer's mechanic said the bolt was not part of the popping noise. I really don't trust the dealer much though. I just can't imagine needing to change out the entire steering column for $1200+. I think I'll take the Durango to an independent mechanic and see what he can find. Thanks for the link. If worse comes to worse I may go that route.

Ben

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I have also read replacing the intermediate steering shaft fixes the problem. but you never know. might still not be the actual problem.

BTW, did they replace the bolt, or did you not find where it came from? I could see that causing the problem if it was the pinch bolt that holds the shaft to the steering gear. but then again I think the pinch bolt does not have a locking nut on the end, otherwise it would not really be pinching anything.

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also here is a link that explains what may be causing it in the rams, athough mine is a 2000 may help troubleshooting your durango

http://www.dodgeram.org/tech/troubleshoot/steering.htm

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more info

http://dodgeram.info/tech/mods/borgeson/index.html

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Thanks much Ed. I'm a cheap skate and may try the cable tie fix if it'll make the popping stop LOL. Ben

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