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stratman977

Steering wandering after suspension work

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I just put new struts, strut mounts, ball joints, and radius rod bushings and my steering seems like it wanders. Sometimes it pulls to the left and sometimes it pulls to the right depending on its mood. It drives nice and straight going down the highway but at around town speeds I cant let go of the steering wheel because it takes off.

 

I did this because I noticed my tires were wearing more on the inside than the outside. It did steer nice and straight without problem before as far as I could tell.

 

I took it in for an alignment and the shop said that the camber was not adjustable and all they set was the toe. The camber is slightly positive right now.

 

The radius rod bushing were the ac delco ones that rock auto has listed. They aren't exactly like the factory ones but they seemed to fit and once tightened were pretty close to where I think the stock ones should be. They are as tight as I can get them. The stock ones were just a donut where the ac delco ones had two dounts with a crush zone in the middle. Maybe these bushings are the problem?

 

The only other thing I know is the wheel doesn't have any play in it when I have it up in the air.

 

What do you all think, do I just need to get a better alignment shop to look at it or are there some things that I should check or try before I take it in again? I'm a real dummy when it comes to suspensions.

 

 

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it sounds very much like an alignment problem.

 

you don't say if the alignment helped at all - did it? 

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I have no idea if this could be the problem but whatever that plate is called that is between the top of the coil spring and top hat bearing is only installed one way. Thinking it has arrows or something etched in it to insure proper orientation. 

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I've been in the auto trade all my life and what I've found in todays world is there arent many real good alignment people left .  The old guys who really understood what they were doing are a rare breed and most have all retired or died off .  The late crop just put a vehicle on the computerized rack and adjust the things that the machine says are off IF they can , and hand you a printout and make excuses .

 

 Everything is adjustable even if it isnt according to the factory , but it takes time and sometimes creative methods to adjust it .  They dont want to be bothered anymore ,  just get the 50 bucks and get another car on the rack .

 

cb

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I was reading some other posts on the topic and I realized I did not clock the top of the spring mount properly. I should have known better but I didn't think of it. I just went out and fixed that which did help but the problem still persists. So John in KY got part of the problem right.

 

Anyhow pulled it out of the garage and it pulled hard to the left, so I was thinking I just needed another alignment but as soon as I made a hard right turn it stopped pulling and then the next hard right it pulls to the right. It seems to me that something is moving when I make a hard turn.

 

There aren't any loose bolts related to the struts or the radius rod or the sway bar because I just checked them.

 

I don't think the alignment made any difference. The guy did actually do it though because the undercoating on the tie rod end was disturbed.

 

The car is an 88 GL Wagon, EA82 SPFI, 4wd.

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If the toe - in / out is adjusted wrong, it will handle weirdly.  I had one that got knocked out when I hit something - it was out enough to destroy tires in less than 100 miles.    The tread would de laminate from the steel belts, making a bubble.  I ruined a couple sets of good used tires before I realized why.  My FSM has instructions on how to adjust it, and it worked.  Handled better than ever after that.

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I would check your radius rod bushings and make sure there tight maybe add a washer or two to tighten them up even more

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Caster angle is what gives a car straight line stability. The caster angle on soobs is set by the for/aft angle of the strut.  If the struts are not installed properly that will throw off the caster and make the steering.  When you make a turn, then let go of the wheel do the tires self center to straight? If not then I would be even more suspect of the caster. Hope this helps. -Adam-

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Im going to try to add the washers to the radius rod bushing since its cheap and easy as a start. Should I add 1 waster to the front and back or just one or two on the front to start?

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Hold the phone...

 

There should be conical washers under the top hat bearing plates, on top of the spring perch. If these are missing or installed upside down, it will cause binding in the struts. I've dealt with this quite a bit since I do alignments like the old timers, just with the ease of computerized equipment.

 

Best way to check for binding, jack the front end up, kick the key into the unlocked portion of the ignition and move the front wheels back and forth. Sometimes it's also followed with an audible pop.

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Im going to try to add the washers to the radius rod bushing since its cheap and easy as a start. Should I add 1 waster to the front and back or just one or two on the front to start?

 

If you just want to tighten the bushing, start by just adding one to the back....just to tighten the bushings a bit....

 

*note* the washer added must be large enough in the middle to go OVER the shouldered portion.....or else it won't compress the bushing any further.

 

If you want a bit more Caster....you can add a washer or 2 to the front thus pushing the radius rod forward.

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My 93 wagon [which I recently got running] has had a bit of that wandering left right feel.  This thread reminded me of my past experience so I checked the toe in on my 93 today.  It was actually toe out.  1-1/2 turns on a tie rod end to make it a hare toe in, and it handles a lot better.

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I put a washer on the back side of the bushings today and it makes no difference. Tomorrow I'm going to try two washers up front instead of one on the rear and see if this changes anything.

 

I have no conical washers between the top hat and the bearing. They weren't there before so I didn't have them to put them back or back on upside down. Are these a common part or is it a dealer only part? If its a dealer part anyone have a part number? I did jack up the front and went side to side and there's no binding or clunking to speak of. This may be a problem that I need to address but there weren't there before with the old struts so I'm inclined to believe this isn't the cause of my current issue.

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I'm starting to second guess if I my old struts had those conical washers or not. The stud on the strut sticks out farther than the old ones as the dust caps on that stut mount wont go all the way back on.

 

I was able to turn the bearing by hand before I put the new struts on but it took some effort, it didn't free wheel on the top of the strut.

 

I checked my workbench and they weren't sitting there and the werent stuck to the bottom of the old mounts or on the old struts. I don't know how I could have lost them in the 5 minutes between the dissasembly of the old strut and the installation on the new strut. I really think a part that significant I would have remembered seeing them.

Edited by stratman977

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If you had them they should look like these. They are 15.3mm ID x 33.7 mm OD x 3.0 mm thick.

Find some hardened washers and open up the ID to 15.3 mm if you can't find them. These washers must be in between the top hat & the strut mount otherwise the steering will bind up.

 

After you get your caster & struts figured out, the toe-in ought to be about 1/8-3/16"(3 to 5 mm) toe out. At least that was what worked best for my 87 GL wagon.

Edited by czny

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Caboobaru was right about the missing washers. That fixed it, I didn't mess with the radius rod cause I wanted to see which ones it was. Thanks to everyone else for the suggestions.

 

Thanks to czny's picture I found one of those washers in my Subaru spare bolt bucket. It had to be from this car because the parts car I had I scrapped the whole strut assembly. I think what I did was throw the old strut bolt in the bucket while I was changing them out and figured the washer went with the bolt and tossed it in there with it.

 

Searched high and low for the other one and it just doesn't want to be found. I know I'll find it next week and it will bother me until I take it back apart and put the right washer on it.

 

I went to the local farm supply and found a 1/2" grade 8 washer that was almost the same thickness and OD and painfully drilled out the center with a step drill. Those loose washers they sell have a decent amount of variance in the thickness so I just picked through the bin until I found one close.

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found it !!

 

so, it wasn't that you did not mark the strut tops on dismantle then ?

 

for anyone curious, these strut tops on EA82 L Series will fit three ways, and two ways are wrong !!

 

Mark their orientation on removal is easisest way to explain as they are not marked to assist assembly which is unusual given the colour coding everywhere else to assist assembly !

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