I replaced my front struts full assembly on both sides with new parts over a year ago:
- Top mounts
- Bump stops
- Dust covers
- Coil springs
I also replaced my lower ball joints and outer tie rods. Got a front end wheel alignment. From the beginning I experienced the coils binding. This can be heard when doing turns. I also identified this visually seeing the coils bind whilst the steering wheel is turned.
The parts were mid range priced/well known brands, known to myself such as KYB. I put everything back together as it should be with the correct torque spec. I didn't lubricate any parts as it was not advised by any guide/workshop manual/part instructions. I dismantled everything to re-check (few months back) and everything was put together correctly. Reassembled it a second time round. The steering suffers from no vibrations at all speed ranges, returns to centre and taking corners is fine. Main issue is the sound of the coil binding which is getting extremely annoying after this long and not particularly pleasant for passengers.
A week ago I dismantled everything again. The bearing which is made of plastic feels stiff to turn with one hand. On the other hand the original one I kept still spins freely. I dismantled one old bearing one and one "new" bearing.
Milkier top one looks like that as I put some silicone grease to try and lubricate it as was stiff. Didn't work. Aware it's not advised to mix different lubricants due to varying compositions. If it would have helped and solved the problem for however long it may have, it may have been worth a go, with silicone grease being safe for plastics/rubber.
This time around I put back on the old coil springs (to isolate if the new ones were being problematic). Lubricated the top and bottom of the plastic bearings where they make contact with the metal top mount and bottom metal spring plate with silicone grease. It was problem free for a day before going back to binding although much less than before.
I am almost certain the issue lies with these plastic bearings. Not sure how this issue occurred or why as wasn't overtightened. I would possibly go as far as saying it would be impossible to overtighten with the illustration below as an example due to the way it is assembled. By overtightening I mean to a degree for that to cause the specific issue of binding in this scenario, not in the sense of stripping the thread/other component damage.
These are the old components (some are missing). Strut has thread with a stop lip, the mount fits on this and is then tightened by the centre nut. It has nowhere to go, crazy overtightening could only damage the struts thread or the top mount rubbers.
With the bearing pinned up against the top mount with a metal plate beneath it and then the coil spring wedged between them and the strut bottom lip.
Any help/advise on this situation/possible other factors is much appreciated!
I emailed Raceland as they're the first and possibly only company that comes up with anything useful when you look for 'coil binding'. They replied with:
We have seen on some vehicles stateside that include this plastic style bearing with grease between the two components. Our experience with them isn’t good as we often see the increased rate springs on the bearing cause it to not function properly. I’d suggest trying to source a bearing that was a metal ball-based bearing as these are going to be much more reliable.
Now where would I source one? I got the dimensions of my current one. The outer diameter can be slightly varied as there is space, however inner should slot in place.
The only other thing that comes to mind is a possible 'hack'. Possibly put a spacer of some sort that would allow slight rotation. Now the concern of whether this would cause damaged to the strut shaft (if it causes it to rotate).
Visual aids may be of use for my query for my Nissan Almera N16: