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Whats wrong - steering twitches


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16 replies to this topic

#1 rallynutdon

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Posted 17 December 2003 - 01:40 PM

91 Legacy, 240,000 on steering rack, 180,000 on power steering pump. Driving down the road, in town, 35-40 mph and it pulls/twitches one direction or the other for 1/2 second then is okay. On one stretch of road, I took my hands off the wheel for 5 seconds and just watched it twitch back and forth. Doesn't do it all the time. First started 2 weeks ago when I put the snow tires on. I thought I failed to tighten the lug nuts. Hasn't acted up for the last several days until today. Fluid level in PS is okay. Seems like a surge in hydraulic fluid? Anyone else experience this? I've got to take the car on a 100 mile trip tonight :mad:

#2 ptrbilt

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Posted 17 December 2003 - 02:57 PM

Check tire pressures and wheel balance. I'm will this if a tire is going soft or if I've thrown off a wheel weight.

#3 Dr Farco

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Posted 17 December 2003 - 03:24 PM

My guess would be the seals in the rack are starting to go. Line pressure may be slipping by them causing the rack to twitch.

#4 kevinsUBARU

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Posted 17 December 2003 - 08:53 PM

Originally posted by ptrbilt
Check tire pressures and wheel balance. I'm will this if a tire is going soft or if I've thrown off a wheel weight.



Definately check this first. Mine does it when this is the problem.

#5 rallynutdon

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Posted 17 December 2003 - 10:26 PM

Definitely not wheels or tires. I have two other snow tires, exact same size and tread depth. Swapped them and it still does it. Driving down the 4 lane 55 mph and it almost wants to yank the wheel out if your hand. Comes and goes, will happen 3 or 4 times in a mile. Also happens at 15 mph on a side street.

#6 kevinsUBARU

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Posted 18 December 2003 - 08:40 AM

if it wants to yank the wheel out of your hands then I would check your tie rods.

#7 Commuter

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Posted 18 December 2003 - 10:19 AM

First started 2 weeks ago when I put the snow tires on.


I know you say in a subsequent post that it is NOT tires as you have another pair and it does the same thing.

Still... You might want to switch back to summer tires and see what happens. It might be endemic to your winter tires. Or have you had these tires on before without problem? How old are they?

You also commented that the twitching "comes and goes". This sounds like a beat frequency occurring between the 2 tires. However, I'm a little stumped that you would notice it at such low speeds.

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#8 rallynutdon

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Posted 18 December 2003 - 11:02 AM

Not tie rods. Nothing loose in front end. Car just went thru PA state inspection 2 weeks ago. Tires are 3 or 4 years old but still in good condition. Stored properly when off the car.
How about dirty power steering fluid? Anyone ever change theirs?

Or better yet, bad/binding outer CV joint (yes all the boots are intact)? At low speed it seems to occur with the frequency of the tire rotation. And it always twitches to the right. I think tonight I'll swap out the right side half shaft before I even start on the steering system.

#9 nickb21

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Posted 18 December 2003 - 12:12 PM

On my old FWD car I had a outer CV going (really contaminated with crud) and I had some pretty violent pulls to the side that was going bad. Probably a good place to look. I would think that a twitch might indicate the beginning of a failure, but with good boots, sounds weird..

#10 rallynutdon

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Posted 18 December 2003 - 06:45 PM

Well, it's not the CV joint/halfshaft. I replaced the right side and it still does it. I was convinced that was going to be it. Guess I'll see what the local dealer thinks tomorrow.

#11 rallynutdon

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Posted 18 December 2003 - 09:53 PM

And I pulled the power steering/alternator belt and it still does it. Actually more severe. I guess tomorrow night I swap out the other half shaft.

#12 Tiny Clark

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Posted 19 December 2003 - 06:19 AM

It's a good idea to change your fluid, yes.

As was said before in this forum, use a turkey baster to get as much of the old fluid out, then refill.

#13 rallynutdon

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Posted 19 December 2003 - 10:22 PM

This is one for the books. If there's a new problem that no one has ever had before, let it up to me to have it. This morning I got about 1.5 miles from home and the pull was so bad and consistent for 10 seconds I was about ready to turn around and go home. Then I went around a curve and it went away and stayed away for the remaining 10 miles to work. Came back periodicallly as before on the way home. The pull was to the right. Everyone said it's probably the right side. Last night I swapped out the right side half shaft. So what's left? The left side half shaft. So I put the shaft that was on the right on the left and BINGO. The problems has gone away (so far, I put about 5 miles on the car afterwards).

#14 Legacy777

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Posted 19 December 2003 - 11:36 PM

So you're saying it's the axle that's the problem?

#15 alias20035

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Posted 20 December 2003 - 02:04 AM

Originally posted by Legacy777
So you're saying it's the axle that's the problem?


Axles can do this from time to time, but usually this is preceded by the standard CV clacking sound.

Some FWD cars are really bad for this, especially the ones with axle extensions from offset mounted differentials, or those with unequal length halfshafts.

Sometimes the control valve in the steering rack will cause this too, but this is usually a consistant problem not related to a particular section of road.

In your case the section of road likely set up a harmonic vibration in the CV joint causing it to have a great deal more friction than normal. With AWD this friction is distributed through the drivetrain and weird things happen like torque steer.

I have only seen this on one Legacy, but one front outer CV joint had a broken ball cage and the balls were loose. It essentially became a three wheel drive car with substantial torque steer in one direction when accelerating and the other direction when braking. It was easy to diagnose since the axle shaft moved a 1/2 inch in any direction within the CV joint and the grinding noise was horrific. When we pulled the axle off the CV joint housing came off and fell on my foot, and the loose CV balls rolled across the floor. We actually got the standard core return amount for the mangled axle shaft!

This particular car was a 5MT, I imagine the problem would be a lot worse in the 4EAT since it spends most of its time sending 90% of the torque to the front wheels.

#16 rallynutdon

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Posted 20 December 2003 - 09:38 AM

Originally posted by alias20035
Axles can do this from time to time, but usually this is preceded by the standard CV clacking sound.

Some FWD cars are really bad for this, especially the ones with axle extensions from offset mounted differentials, or those with unequal length halfshafts.

Sometimes the control valve in the steering rack will cause this too, but this is usually a consistant problem not related to a particular section of road.

In your case the section of road likely set up a harmonic vibration in the CV joint causing it to have a great deal more friction than normal. With AWD this friction is distributed through the drivetrain and weird things happen like torque steer.

I have only seen this on one Legacy, but one front outer CV joint had a broken ball cage and the balls were loose. It essentially became a three wheel drive car with substantial torque steer in one direction when accelerating and the other direction when braking. It was easy to diagnose since the axle shaft moved a 1/2 inch in any direction within the CV joint and the grinding noise was horrific. When we pulled the axle off the CV joint housing came off and fell on my foot, and the loose CV balls rolled across the floor. We actually got the standard core return amount for the mangled axle shaft!

This particular car was a 5MT, I imagine the problem would be a lot worse in the 4EAT since it spends most of its time sending 90% of the torque to the front wheels.



No clacking preceeding it. Obviously no offset diff. I don't think road surface had anything to do with it as it would happen in a perfectly smooth parking lot at <15 mph. No torque steer. It was not a constant pull, the wheel twitched back and forth. No obvious play in the joint when I pulled the shaft (have not taken it apart yet, got a WRX trans in the rally car ro pull out that's more important). I say I'm going to find one ball that's badly mishappened and when it rotated the wrong way it would momentairly seize BTW, 5MT not 4EAT.

#17 camosuba

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Posted 20 December 2003 - 06:57 PM

I've had this very problem although on an early wagon the moly grease in the inner doj gives up the ghost and the balls start to grab instead of sliding which is where the steering jiggle comes from, the local cv shop/factory here developed a new grease with castrol specifically for subaru inner cvs i've no trouble since using this grease, the shaft is probably ok if you regrease it. It can start with no warning noises btw.

regards camo




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