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An Accidental Meeting

Q. Please help!! 1997 GMC Jimmy; right front collision with a Saturn. Saturn lost. Problem is clunking sound from right front which was not present before accident. Also, when steering wheel is turned sharp left a clunking sound is heard. Body shops (yes, it's been to more than 1) claim problem is rubber mountings. Your thoughts, please.

Also, because of front end damage, radiator and fan were replaced, first time I picked it up, drove it across town, stopped, then attempted to accelerate into traffic at which time the fan broke loose from seating and went through the radiator; this problem has been addressed 3 times now and still when I put my foot into it, the fan becomes unseated and threatens the radiator; as it sits now, there is a chunk missing from one of the fan blades and will require another trip to the shop; have you any ideas as to root of this problem as the local mechanics seem perplexed as to solution; the accident occurred in January and the truck has been in the shop with the exception of a few hours since that time.

Thanks for your time.

A. You do have a problem here and I don't know how much I can help you. In a collision, all the rules go right out the window. Anything and everything is possible. I've seen cars get hit in the front and there's damage in the rear. Not having seen the car first hand, I can only give you my general thoughts.

The clunking sound while driving... if a car came into my shop with that sound, I would immediately suspect a Constant Velocity (CV) joint or a bad shock absorber. (I'm assuming it's a 4WD) The clunking when you turn the wheel would suggest a possible problem with a ball joint, idler arm or tie rod end. You could also have a broken gear in the steering box. Depending on the speed and angle of impact, there could even be frame damage.

As to why the fan keeps flying off, the only thing that comes to mind is the water pump shaft could be bent, causing the fan to wobble and come loose. It can be checked with a dial indicator, but you probably don't have one and it wouldn't be prudent to buy one just to check this possibility. You can take the fan off and rotate the shaft by hand. If it is really bent, you'll see it. A chunk missing from the fan is not good, it will throw the fan out of balance and really mess things up.

If the shaft is not bent, the only thing I can suggest is replace the fan mounting studs, lock washers and nuts, applying a thread locking compound like Lok-Tite to all the threads.

I would suggest taking the truck to a frame shop. They have highly specialized equipment to detect and repair frame and front end problems.

I wish I could be of more help to you, Good luck and, please, let me know how you make out.

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