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Old 03-09-2021, 12:34 PM   #1
CRatcliff
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Default On a Roadtrip and Steering Seems Loose

Hey! Just got to my destination on a road trip (Portland to LA) and about 3/4 of the way through the steering suddenly started to feel quite a bit more loose - particularly at 80+ mph and if there was any side wind, the car would feel pretty dang out of control (drifting while the steering wheel stays straight).

Looking to do a quick tighten of the steering box without jack stands etc. Any advice? I know the idea, I just don't want to mess anything up and make getting home a problem.



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Old 03-09-2021, 12:38 PM   #2
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I'd suspect the rubber bushings in the lower linkage.

The box doesn't usually deteriorate quickly and if you tighten it the tiniest bit too much it will sh!t the bed permanently soon thereafter with a tight spot in the middle of the sweep.
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Old 03-09-2021, 12:52 PM   #3
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I suggest you inspect the both the steering and front suspension.

The steering box can be adjusted, but it's unusual for the steering box to get loose all of a sudden.

If LA is Los Angeles, we're in Torrance and we'd be willing to take a look.
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Old 03-09-2021, 12:53 PM   #4
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I agree with Mr. Chair. I would do a quick visual inspection of the lower portion of the steering shaft. Grab the input to the steering box (below the break away section) and then grab the top of the steering column (above the break away section) and twist. Do this with the steering column unlocked. If you are getting a lot of twist or play you have a problem with the break away section of the steering column. There may be a problem with the actual bushings; but, those break away sections have a way or working themselves loose. Check for obvious gaps at the bushing mounting points.

It easy to check for a problem in the actual box. With the column unlocked grab the input shaft to the steering box and twist. If you are getting a lot of play (and the tie rod is not moving), then there would appear to be a problem in the box. If this play developed quickly this suggest something other than wear and it may be unadvisable to try and adjust it out.
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Old 03-09-2021, 12:59 PM   #5
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Ahhh super helpful! And yes LA is Los Angeles - I'm in Silverlake! I'll ping you guys about coming by, I'm here for 2 weeks then heading back up
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Old 03-09-2021, 01:24 PM   #6
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Ahhh super helpful! And yes LA is Los Angeles - I'm in Silverlake! I'll ping you guys about coming by, I'm here for 2 weeks then heading back up


Between 'adjusting' the boxes. lowering the cars and all the miles on the 140s there aren't many good steering boxes left, plus the parts to rebuild them haven't been available for many many years.
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Old 03-09-2021, 01:46 PM   #7
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Ahhhh yeah. I lowered mine slightly, and wish I hadn't. Just couldn't find stiffer stock-height springs.
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Old 03-09-2021, 02:27 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CRatcliff View Post
Hey! Just got to my destination on a road trip (Portland to LA) and about 3/4 of the way through the steering suddenly started to feel quite a bit more loose - particularly at 80+ mph and if there was any side wind, the car would feel pretty dang out of control (drifting while the steering wheel stays straight).

Looking to do a quick tighten of the steering box without jack stands etc. Any advice? I know the idea, I just don't want to mess anything up and make getting home a problem.



https://photos.app.goo.gl/Ya6i1KmK2cuLjZvC7
Hey, I know that look out point on the way up 154 from Santa Ynez to Santa Barbara!

I just had a customer come in with his P1800ES complaining of a similar issue. His center tie rod was a pothole away from letting go but even worse his rubber steering column coupler was hanging on by nothing and easily missed since it sits under the brake booster in that car. Always inspect your steering and brakes at service time!!!
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Old 03-09-2021, 02:46 PM   #9
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Wiggle the steering wheel, and try to see where the slack is.

If you end up adjusting some slack out of the steering box, do it with the wheels straight ahead. By design (maybe? intentional? dunno) they loosen up off center, and when turned close to lock they'll be quite slack. Nothing you'd really normally notice while driving in a straight line. With the wheels straight ahead, you can take 'some' of the slack out. You want to leave a little. Tight is bad, it will destroy it quickly (easy to do if you adjust it with the wheels turned).
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Old 03-09-2021, 05:14 PM   #10
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWH7kSq724U

All the bushings seem tight and the steering column definitely seems solid. This is with wheels straight ahead.
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Old 03-09-2021, 10:15 PM   #11
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It does look like there's a little play in the box, but that suddenly going out isn't common. There should be a second set of bushings further up as well, worth a look, not likely to be it. Superpro does have those in poly thankfully, 0892's, in case you want to deal with that down the road.

I'd also rock the wheel a little harder while underneath, see if you can feel play in any of the joints on the tie rods, or on the idler shaft over on the pass side.
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Old 03-09-2021, 10:26 PM   #12
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And jack the car up by the lower control arm if possible and wiggle around on the wheel. Jacking it up that way will take most of the loading off that lower ball joint. Then wiggle the wheel back and forth at 12 and 6 (checks for slack in the ball joints), then at 9 and 3 (check for slack in the tie rods).
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Old 03-09-2021, 10:38 PM   #13
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When I got my 122 the biggest source of play were bad tie rod ends on the center bar. Once I replaced those the steering became much more precise. As far as I can tell the setups are almost identical.

On the subject of parts availability I wonder if it is possible to swap in a steering box from some other make of car with some modifications. Maybe something American with available rebuild kits and a variety of ratios.
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Old 03-10-2021, 11:56 AM   #14
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I'll give it a go jacking it up, but I only have the little jack that came with it originally, so I don't want to screw anything up.

I have replaced all of the bushings and ball joints quite recently, as some of them were shot, but I'll verify this before tightening the steering box!

Steering box is new (to my car) as of a few thousand miles ago, and looks like it hasn't been tightened at all, so there's a lot of room to go in it.
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Old 03-10-2021, 11:58 AM   #15
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Definitely want to check all the bushings, but the biggest thing I'll say is that it looks pretty thoroughly like the input to the steering box isn't translating to output from the steering box.
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Old 03-10-2021, 12:01 PM   #16
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That's what the adjustment is for. Just... as already mentioned a couple of times, only do it with the wheels straight ahead, and don't try to take all the slack out - leave a little.
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Old 03-10-2021, 01:13 PM   #17
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Excellent, thanks again for your help everybody. For jacking it up, is either control arm fine? Driver side vs passenger doesn't matter? I'll also check that there isn't some sort of oil leak in the steering box.
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Old 03-10-2021, 03:16 PM   #18
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Check the idler in addition to the tie-rod end links that go to it.
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Old 03-10-2021, 03:21 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CRatcliff View Post
Excellent, thanks again for your help everybody. For jacking it up, is either control arm fine? Driver side vs passenger doesn't matter? I'll also check that there isn't some sort of oil leak in the steering box.
To check ball joints/tie rods? Just jack up one front wheel at a time, using that lower control arm You just need to get it up off the ground a little bit. Raising it by the lower control arm leaves the weight supported by that arm, not via the arm/through the ball joint/to the wheel. So it unloads most of the stress off the lower ball joint.
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