Uncentered Steering Wheel

Discussion in 'Suspension and Brakes' started by StangGrin, Dec 21, 2014.

  1. StangGrin

    StangGrin New Member

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    Hello All,


    The steering wheel in my '99 GT has recently become uncentered when the car is driving straight. I'm hoping some might have more ideas about what I could check. This is how my steering wheel is positioned now...
    [​IMG]

    This started about 1000 miles after replacing the original rear control arms; don't think this is really a factor. A wheel alignment where the toe was corrected (both wheels at +0.15°) also centered the steering wheel. But 300 miles later the steering wheel returned to being uncentered, yet the car still tracks straight.


    Another point is that even with the CC plates, there wasn't enough movement to bring the caster negative to get into spec. But according to J&M that isn't such an issue. I suppose they should be at least the same, which is yet to be the case.


    Based on the details below, do some of you have any suggestions for what else I could look at?

    - lowering springs - Eibach Pro dropped ~1.25â€
    - poly isolators all around
    - Energy Suspension offset steering rack bushings
    - Tokico struts - HB3140
    - Tokico shocks - HE3723
    - rear control arms (upper + lower) Steeda steel with 3-piece torque box bushings

    - J&M CC plates
    - tie rod ends good. inners 2 years old.

    - steering wheel shaft-to-rack-input connection secure
    2 year old alignment marks still in alignment
    - no vibration or shimmy
    - looseness in steering wheel - none

    - wheel alignment 10/17/2014
    toe: spec 0 - 0.25°
    left: +0.15°
    right: -0.05 [out]
    caster: spec 2.5 - 4.0° (3.5° optimal)
    left: +3.8°
    right: +4.2° [out]

    - wheels - Drag DR33 17x7.55
    - tires - Yokohama YK520 245/45R-17
    - air pressures all correct

    Thanks,
    Chris
     
  2. Orange 94

    Orange 94 Moderator Staff SN95 Supporter

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    Alignment should solve this... Sounds like something isn't tight.
     
  3. JKady

    JKady Active Member

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    Yup, you need an alignment. Sometimes all it takes is one good pothole to knock em off center.
     
  4. StangGrin

    StangGrin New Member

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    Man...I'd hate to drop another $70 for an alignment just to have it go out again in 2 weeks (on account of some other issue). That's what strikes me as so weird. The car tracks fine it's just the wheel being off-center.

    I can understand a good pothole giving me a pulling problem, but an off-center steering wheel ... not so much. :)

    Thanks.
     
  5. mcglsr2

    mcglsr2 Well-Known Member SN95 Supporter

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    The car can track straight while the alignment (and thus steering wheel) is off. Think about this: the tie rods are threaded, they adjust the spindle out and in (which points the wheels). When doing an alignment, I can turn your steering wheel a little to one side, and then adjust the tie rod ends such that the wheels are straight. So it's possible for the steering wheel to be off, but the car still to track straight. You still need an alignment. Assuming everything is tight, if you hold the steering wheel centered and the car *then* starts to pull, then you have alignment issues.
     
  6. StangGrin

    StangGrin New Member

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    Ok...I see your point...thanks.

    I'm starting to wonder about the likelihood of the rack shifting since it's on off-set bushings. To try and prevent shifting I sanded the outsides of the bushings (Energy Suspension polys) just enough to scratch them up a bit and the inside of the rack's mounts. Then put red loctite on them (the sanded surfaces) and torqued them to spec. Then it all sat for a good month before being driven. The first drive was 1 mile to the alignment shop on account of the lowering springs, new struts, and CC plates.

    I have some ideas for seeing if the rack is shifting but I'd like to read about any other ideas.
     
  7. mcglsr2

    mcglsr2 Well-Known Member SN95 Supporter

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    If the rack is shifting, you should be able to tell I would think. With the car on the ground, and the keys in the ignition to unlock the steering wheel, have someone turn the wheel back and forth while you are under the front looking at the rack. That's about as much pressure as the rack is going to see - if it's not moving then you probably don't have any issue with a shifting rack. To confirm, you can also put some alignment marks on the rack and k member using a paint pen, then inspect after driving.

    It's possible your rack shifted - but if it's really able to shift one way, then I would think it could shift the other way - you would be seeing a lot of play in the steering wheel when making turns. This is all speculation on my part as I've never actually used off-set bushings in my steering rack.
     
  8. StangGrin

    StangGrin New Member

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    Well got under the car the other day. Engine off, column unlocked, and had a helper keep turning the steering wheel back and forth. Nothing was even wiggling. All looked really good and tight -the rack bushings, the rag joint, and tie rods. In fact, the rack bushings were unmoved from when I last looked them. I did notice a consistent clunk right before the steering wheel came to centered, though. It sound like it was inside the rack in the area of the input shaft. But I wonder if that was just because of the force of turning everything with the engine off.

    After watching a dozen videos on doing alignments ones self I went out to the car, centered the steering wheel, and just looked at how the wheels were aligned. The left was pointing straight but it appears the right was pointed ever so slightly to the right. That would certainly explain everything...except why just the right side is out. Perhaps a good-sized pothole shift a CC plate. I'll see what the shop has to say.
     
  9. JKady

    JKady Active Member

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    It really doesn't take a lot to knock the toe out of whack, one good size pot hole, curb strike etc... is all it takes.