I have found them. For a slightly more reasonable price.
If you’ve been keeping up with my lately sparse updates, you’ll know that Derpman products decided I only needed 19 lug nuts to attach my wheels with.
I never did hear back from Derpman.
So I went to Amazon, and goddamn if I ever have anything bad to say about Amazon, check my temperature.
I purchased the lug nuts months ago. May 2016, to be specific. The lug nuts sat in the boxes unchecked until I finally got my winter wheels installed, and then found out that I had a problem. I go to Amazon with this (mind you nearly a full year later), and what did they do? They overnighted me a new set. I have to return the bad ones, but that’s not a big deal to me. Amazon did me right. So I’ll go ahead and swap out the lug nut so I can pop on my center caps when they arrive, because great scott, I found a set.
Now, hub caps this small should be dollars. Less than $10 honestly. But of course not. Ebay pulled through like a champ, and while they weren’t cheap, the total cost was more than 50% cheaper than the local dealer. I’ll sheepishly call that a win. For reference, the dealers want $73 per center cap. And the whole set of lug nuts? Another $100.
I’m not sitting here thinking I got a great deal, but I probably spent at least $200 less by holding out and playing my cards as best as possible. Good thing, too, because that $200 is going towards a new steering rack.
I wish I could have waited longer on the steering rack, but it is what it is. After hitting a tissue box sized rock (thankfully missing everything important), the rack actually got looked at pretty closely, and confirmed, a new one is necessary. I’ve felt that there’s been something wrong with the steering rack for a long time, actually almost my entire ownership of the car. It is the original rack as far as I can tell, but it looks like it’s been damaged before I purchased it. You may also be thinking that the rock did a serious number on my subframe, but unfortunately, what I deem as related to the damage to the steering rack, that massive upward dent in the lower section of the subframe has been there since I purchased the car. One of many things that gets to me, just like the paintwork that’s apparent when you really look closely. It will eventually need a new paint job, and being a big wagon, I expect that to cost me dearly.
You may think, $200 for a steering rack is decent, but not exactly a deal. Keeping in mind that this rack is remanufactured, but if you do a quick google search, you’ll get an idea that Mopar wants to shaft me bad for this. $550-$700 for a Mopar OEM 2005 Magnum steering rack. No.
There doesn’t appear to be any direct damage to the rack itself from this, but the general consensus from overall steering feel is that one of the guides on the passenger side is likely cracked. Car is okay to drive gingerly, but absolutely no hoonage until the new part goes in. Also, as a side note, as bad as the subframe looks, it’s a totally removable and replaceable part. There is a tubular steel version that’s made that is lighter and stronger, and when the time is right, it will be installed. Also, I want to be clear that the rock managed to miss both the oil and trans pans, as well as the gas tank. Yes, there is a God, and this has confirmed it. An inch in either direction, and the HEMIWagon would have been toast. It was one hell of a noise, and I was terrified the entire time. I thought the worst, looked under the car, and no drips.
The new steering rack will be more aggressive, with a quicker ratio, and after some careful thought, should align perfectly. There’s plenty of bad info about the racks being different, but I’m very good at thinking outside of the box, so there’s a secret plan in order to make this work. Remember, I made a manual Challenger front passenger seat into a power seat. I promise you I’m the only person who’s accomplished that!
Once the new rack goes in, there will be some skid plate fabrication to protect the oil pan better, and prevent anything that large from getting completely under the car. May end up looking like a mix between a splitter and a plow, may just be a plate of 1/8" steel between the sensitive bits and the ground, I’m not sure yet. I’m hardly concerned about adding weight if it means not having to worry about that happening ever again.
And finally, the sway bar is going to be measured while it’s accessible. My suspicion is that the car has a “performance suspension” package from the factory (not anymore, if you’ve followed the build), but it will finally lay to rest all of the strange questions about why the replacement bushings that were ordered didn’t fit, along with why the dealer has had such a hard time providing certain suspension parts. They run the VIN, find the part, hand us the part, and we go to install it, and it doesn’t fit. At all. The accepted method to check is to measure the diameter of the sway bar, or you can open the muffler and count the number of baffles. 3 baffles means performance suspension/exhaust, and I believe it was 5 for the regular RT. Starting at some point in 2006, the R29 package (the upgraded suspension from the factory) was accompanied by a red R/T badge instead of the block lettering. They’re unicorns if you can find them, few were ordered, but in 2005, the package wasn’t denoted by an option code (from all the info I’m able to find).
From all of this info, what I invite anyone searching for a Magnum to do is buy a 2006+. The 2005's are trouble. The problem is, I’ve come to really like mine, and for what I paid initially, I’m not finding another one anywhere near the same condition.
And for anyone who’s wondering about the brake kit I’ve been keeping an eye on, the current estimate is starting to fabricate brackets around late March, but I need to purchase the calipers first. The answer is not Brembo. Not for this build.