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Handling issue diagnosing help


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5 replies to this topic

#1 dmanaenk

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Posted 22 May 2007 - 09:34 PM

A problem is developing. Started a few months ago while driving around IL and felt like being blown off the road (not present on numerous previous trips to IL). Now on highway I frequently feel how the car surges (nothing major, just feel laternal acceleration) to one side or another, and have to do minor corrections. Depends a lot on the surface and wind. The issue definitely was not there last fall.

Now to some diagnostics:

Major symptom: If I jack up left front wheel - I can rotate it a little front-back (not up-down) and the tie rod moves with the wheel. So, I take it, its not wheel bearing or ball joint/tie rod end?

Right front wheel is tight.

Other stuff:
Alignment is fine, all wheels are recently balanced with around 50% tread remaining, tire pressures +3psi from spec all around, no slop in steering wheel (while parked, engine off, I move a steering wheel just bit - wheels also move), PS fluid level is fine and no visible leaks.

At the moment is sounds like a steering rack, mainly because of absence of the same symptom on the right front wheel. If there was some movement there I would have thought these were caused by bad rack bushings. Can this be caused by bad bushing only on one side?

Any other thoughts?

#2 jamal

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Posted 23 May 2007 - 03:43 AM

sounds inner tie rod/steering rack/rack bushing related.

Start with the bushings, it's easy assuming you don't break off a bolt. You can get urethane ones from Prodrive, Whiteline or Superpro for $25. They make a huge difference and don't add any noise or vibration.

When was the alignment done? I had a bit of toe out which causes the car to not track well or settle into high speed corners. I thought it was a bad steering rack, but the problem went away when I got the car re-aligned.

#3 Reveeen

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Posted 23 May 2007 - 05:08 AM

I myself would lean towards the inner tie rod (*thinking* if the rack was loose you would see/feel it on both sides). You don't mention your car's mileage, I'm on my second set of inner tie rods @ 300,000 mi, maybe if you can snag a helper to move your wheel and lie under there and see exactly what is going on (don't forget to securely support your car while under there). Of course, it goes without saying, after replacing any front end parts an alignment is in order.

#4 Gloyale

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Posted 23 May 2007 - 10:09 AM

As someone who lives near the windy city, I can't tell you how how many times I've thought something was wrong with my alignment only to realize it is just really strong wind. You may really have an issue. I'm just saying the wind can really blow around here. Sometimes you just can't keep it straight no matter what condition you're front end is in.

#5 dmanaenk

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Posted 23 May 2007 - 10:37 AM

sounds inner tie rod/steering rack/rack bushing related.

Start with the bushings, it's easy assuming you don't break off a bolt.

When was the alignment done?

Already ordered bushings. Will start with those an hope it helps. While changing those will try to have a closer look and what's moving when the wheel is moved.

Alignment is less than a month old, and did not affect the issue.

I myself would lean towards the inner tie rod (*thinking* if the rack was loose you would see/feel it on both sides).

You don't mention your car's mileage,

I can think of really bad bushing on one side, so that rack can slide up/down a little and when I push the wheel - tierod just bends up a little at ball joint. Will have to take a closer look

Milage is at 125k.

Anyway, what usually goes bad in inner tierods? Ball joint? All the pictures I have seen call for removal of rack to change inner tierods, can this be done on the car?

As someone who lives near the windy city, I can't tell you how how many times I've thought something was wrong with my alignment only to realize it is just really strong wind. You may really have an issue. I'm just saying the wind can really blow around here. Sometimes you just can't keep it straight no matter what condition you're front end is in.

Yeah, it did not bother me while driving in IL, since, usually, once I got to WI the issue almost went away. But, of course, a local climate change can never be discounted as an explanation :)

#6 Reveeen

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Posted 23 May 2007 - 11:11 AM

what usually goes bad in inner tierods?

You are right in assuming it is little more than a ball in a socket, it seems that road shocks get transmitted directly into this socket causing the ball to become not so round and the joint loosening.

I have seen call for removal of rack to change inner tierods, can this be done on the car?

I have done mine twice "in car", with careful boot removal (un-clip and fold back, big end), and simply un-locking the lock (straightening a flattened washer), and un-screwing the socket from the rack end (it's threaded into the end of the rack), re-assembly being the reversal of removal. I add CV joint grease to the ball end before sealing up (the water soliuble kind so as not to rot the boot).

I might add that I have never had to replace rack bushings, but my engine is more or less leak free, and oil has never gotten at them.




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