Looking for advice on sloppy/wandering steering issue?? (2 Viewers)

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Jan 24, 2019
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As the title states, I'm having a sloppy/wandering steering issue and I'm looking to the experts on this forum to see if I can possibly get some advice. The truck in question is a '97 LC with 278k on the clock, and 285/75R16 BFG tires. I've done tons of service recently to include the following:

- OE shocks and OME standard springs
- OE sway bar bushings
- Type 555 TREs
- OME steering dampener
- Upper and Lower Control Arm bushings with OE parts
- Panhard bushings with OE parts
- All new bushings in the rear as well with OE parts
- Rag joint was also replaced at steering column due to being worn out

As you can see, pretty much everything related to the suspension has been replaced/updated. I've done lots of reading on this forum, and have replaced the parts above in hopes of fixing this issue, but I feel like it has only gotten slightly better. I've also already checked the wheel bearings and properly torque the large nut, so I know that isn't an issue. What I'm experiencing is just a very sloppy steering, and it makes it uncomfortable to drive the truck. I constantly feel like I'm correcting the steering to keep the truck straight and when at highway speeds, this is unnerving.

Just recently, I have developed a noise that I can hear when going straight over bumps as well as turning. It definitely seems steering related and maybe that is what is causing the sloppiness? Today I took a stab at adjusting the nut/screw on the steering box in hopes of things getting better. I only took it for a short drive, and it didn't seem night and day like everyone was saying it would, so I figured making this post would be more beneficial then turning that screw more (at least not yet). FYI, I probably ended up turning the screw 90 degrees after adjusting, then driving and then adjusting again. I took a video of the steering column where the rag joint is at, as it seems like the noise I'm hearing is coming from here. Can someone tell me if this should be this loose? This seems extremely loose to me, and I'm not sure if this is the culprit, or just another side effect/issue that I'm having.

I apologize for the post sort of being all over the place, I'm just not sure where to look anymore. Its quite frustrating to put as much money into the truck that I have and things don't seem quite right.

Any help would be greatly appreciated, thank you in advance!

Link to video:
-Andy
 
Last edited:

Squash

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Lift the front end and try the 3/9 o'clock test, your wheels should not wobble.
If your running 35's tighten the preload and lock nut.
With the wheels lifted you can then unlock the steering via the key and manually cycle your steering via the tires from full left to right. Do both tires.
Put your hands and eyes on every moving part. I'm not saying you should fondle the parts...but it pleasures me!
Good luck
 

jfz80

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His post mentions no lift, checked wheel bearings and 285’s. Good suggestion to check wheel bearings, wouldn’t hurt to check for play as stated. Sounds like you have done enough research to understand most of the culprits and address properly. However to make sure, you did remove lock nut and tighten the inner adjusting nut correct?

That rag joint does look rather loose but I have not inspected mine in the same manner and I’m not close to the truck till late this evening. Maybe someone else can confirm there’s is the same or tighter?

unlikely if not wheeled hard or much but worth a check to look at the Panhard mounts on both ends as well as the steering box to frame connection for cracks that have been reported here. As well the torque in panhard hardware. If one of these is loose make sure you inspect to the whole to ensure it is not over older.
 
Joined
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Check in order:

Check to make sure all tire pressures are equal.

Wheel bearings torqued to 30 LB-FT (not lb-in as listed in the FSM)

Steering arm studs torqued to 71 LB-FT. Use a deadblow hammer to hit it while torquing.

Did you PROPERLY torque all bolts on control arms, panhard bars, sway bar bushings?

Did you have alignment checked after the TRE's?

Check the control arm bracket at the frame for weld cracks.

Check the area around the steering gear for stress cracks in the frame.

The rag joint does not appear to be the problem, but why does the top end of the shaft move so much? Do you have the column out?

Go through this methodically. Even though you have done a lot of work, go back and check it in order, and don't jump around or you're going to keep missing the same thing each time.
 
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Some good reading here:

Without providing actual numbers for toe in/out and caster, your issues will remain unknown. Changing parts is only the first step in the equation.
The FSM specification is 3 degrees of caster and 2mm of toe in for OE size tires.
 
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bozeman MT
Did you PROPERLY torque all bolts on control arms, panhard bars, sway bar bushings?
I think properly is the key word here. I recently changed all suspension bushings and added caster correction arms. I experienced a severe death wobble, even after rechecking all torque values, wheel bearings etc.
The cure was taking it to the mechanic, where no defects were found, but putting it on the lift and letting the suspension fully flex cured the death wobble.
I don't know if there is a torque sequence I didn't follow, or if I should have tightened everything with no load, or vice versa.
Long story short, maybe all the new mods haven't settled yet?
 

alia176

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Your video shows the steering shaft moving up/down which isn't normal because there's suppose to be a bearing type locating device on the firewall. Where's yours? I forget the name of it but this part does wear out and introduce hot air into the cabin. However, this isn't the cause of your steering play, that could be inside the PS gearbox which is known to have play due to age.

Have you read up on how to tighten up some of the pre-load? That'll cut down on some of the wandering on the road. Other things that contribute to wandering are front tire width, age, size and tire pressure. Larger tires tend to grab the ruts on the road easily vs smaller ones. Front wheel toe setting is another contributor to wandering. If you're toe is "out" then the tires will grab the ruts.

Hopefully your mechanic knows how and where to tighten toyota suspension hardware as they're special but that's not the cause of your wandering.
 
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Check in order:

Check to make sure all tire pressures are equal.

Wheel bearings torqued to 30 LB-FT (not lb-in as listed in the FSM)

Steering arm studs torqued to 71 LB-FT. Use a deadblow hammer to hit it while torquing.

Did you PROPERLY torque all bolts on control arms, panhard bars, sway bar bushings?

Did you have alignment checked after the TRE's?

Check the control arm bracket at the frame for weld cracks.

Check the area around the steering gear for stress cracks in the frame.

The rag joint does not appear to be the problem, but why does the top end of the shaft move so much? Do you have the column out?

Go through this methodically. Even though you have done a lot of work, go back and check it in order, and don't jump around or you're going to keep missing the same thing each time.

With 285/75R16's, what do you guys suggest have the tire pressure at? I believe all of mine are currently set at 40psi.

All bolts were properly torque after all the bushings were replaced, and by properly I mean I got the nut/bolt threaded, and didn't torque anything until the truck was on the ground and I even rolled it back and forth a few times before torquing based on the specs in the FSM.

Alignment was done after TREs but it hasn't been aligned again since getting all the bushings done, perhaps I need to get it done again?

I will check this evening to see if there are any sort of cracks or anything like you suggested, sure hope that isn't the issue.

-Andy
 
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Some good reading here:

Without providing actual numbers for toe in/out and caster, your issues will remain unknown. Changing parts is only the first step in the equation.
The FSM specification is 3 degrees of caster and 2mm of toe in for OE size tires.

Since my tires aren't OE sizes, what is recommended for caster and toe? I would like to check what they set it at since they gave me a printout when I picked the truck up.

If that is for OE size tires, what about for those running larger tires sizes?
Your video shows the steering shaft moving up/down which isn't normal because there's suppose to be a bearing type locating device on the firewall. Where's yours? I forget the name of it but this part does wear out and introduce hot air into the cabin. However, this isn't the cause of your steering play, that could be inside the PS gearbox which is known to have play due to age.

Have you read up on how to tighten up some of the pre-load? That'll cut down on some of the wandering on the road. Other things that contribute to wandering are front tire width, age, size and tire pressure. Larger tires tend to grab the ruts on the road easily vs smaller ones. Front wheel toe setting is another contributor to wandering. If you're toe is "out" then the tires will grab the ruts.

Hopefully your mechanic knows how and where to tighten toyota suspension hardware as they're special but that's not the cause of your wandering.

Do you have a part number for this bearing type locating device you are talking about? I agree, it seems like something is missing from my truck, but since I don't have another LC sitting around, I was hoping someone on here could post a pic or video of what theirs looks like.

I have read about pre-load and will check into that this evening. My tires are fairly new, but I have heard about some of these tires which tend to grab the ruts in the road. Tire pressure could be an issue still, not sure what they should be set at.

As for the "mechanic" I did all the suspension work, all the bushings - the only thing the truck was taken in for was an alignment.

-Andy
 
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Andy:

Did you use a torque wrench to tighten all the bushing bolts? Or did you use the Ugga-Dugga method? Please follow FSM torque specs here, and yes, you did it properly by leaving them all "loose" then tightening AFTER it is back on the ground and all the weight is on the suspension.

Tire pressure is based on contact patch and tire type. I run Goodyear Duratracs in 285/75-16 and I run mine at 34 PSI around town and 40 PSI if I am taking a trip. At 40 PSI, it rides a lot rougher and the steering feels more "loose".

Wider and larger diameter tires will tend to grab the grooves and ruts in the road a LOT. Make sure your truck is aligned properly. If you truly have "stock height" springs, then your caster should NOT be different. Tires size does NOT affect caster/camber/toe. Those are the drive line components that are set for that.

If you have spacers or a lift, it affects the caster, and the truck will feel more "dart-y". Correcting the caster will help that.

I suggest you take it to an alignment shop, and make sure they can do a print out of before and after on the alignment settings. Caster and camber are "not adjustable" unless you have special bearings, plates or bushings installed. Then it's a fit and try it thing, over and over until you nail it. However, the alignment can identify the issue.

Don't forget to look for cracked welds / frame and loose shock mounts.

Oh, and BTW, the wheel bearing spec in the FSM is incorrect. It needs to be 30 LB-FT, (not 30 lb-in) as called out in the FSM (USA).

And please show more about this steering shaft you're messing with. Something isn't right off to the right of the screen and it's affect how we would address it.

Look up "hot feet" and you'll find a thread about that rubber boot and rag joint.
 
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Sloppy and wandering are two different things. Wandering is usually caused by alignment issues. Sloppy is caused by loose components, such as tie rod ends, bushings, and the steering box. You've addressed everything but the steering box. The adjustment screw isn't going to fix what is usually the main issue, which is loss of preload on the input bearing. The box likely needs to be rebuilt.
 
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Tires size does NOT affect caster/camber/toe.
Yes and no.
An increase in tire diameter will yield an increase in toe, as the radius from the center of the hub has increased. This is usually not an issue unless going significantly higher in tire size.
Caster and camber will remain constant.
On an 80 Series with old front springs, I would expect caster to be slightly higher than 3 degrees, as the springs have sagged. This should give a heavier feel to the steering and make it less "darty" or "twitchy".
HOWEVER, if toe in is to little or toed out, all handling will go right out the window.
 
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Andy:

Did you use a torque wrench to tighten all the bushing bolts? Or did you use the Ugga-Dugga method? Please follow FSM torque specs here, and yes, you did it properly by leaving them all "loose" then tightening AFTER it is back on the ground and all the weight is on the suspension.

Tire pressure is based on contact patch and tire type. I run Goodyear Duratracs in 285/75-16 and I run mine at 34 PSI around town and 40 PSI if I am taking a trip. At 40 PSI, it rides a lot rougher and the steering feels more "loose".

Wider and larger diameter tires will tend to grab the grooves and ruts in the road a LOT. Make sure your truck is aligned properly. If you truly have "stock height" springs, then your caster should NOT be different. Tires size does NOT affect caster/camber/toe. Those are the drive line components that are set for that.

If you have spacers or a lift, it affects the caster, and the truck will feel more "dart-y". Correcting the caster will help that.

I suggest you take it to an alignment shop, and make sure they can do a print out of before and after on the alignment settings. Caster and camber are "not adjustable" unless you have special bearings, plates or bushings installed. Then it's a fit and try it thing, over and over until you nail it. However, the alignment can identify the issue.

Don't forget to look for cracked welds / frame and loose shock mounts.

Oh, and BTW, the wheel bearing spec in the FSM is incorrect. It needs to be 30 LB-FT, (not 30 lb-in) as called out in the FSM (USA).

And please show more about this steering shaft you're messing with. Something isn't right off to the right of the screen and it's affect how we would address it.

Look up "hot feet" and you'll find a thread about that rubber boot and rag joint.

Yes, I used my torque wrench and tightened all of them to the specs in the Toyota FSM.

I will adjust PSI to 34 tonight, since I'm definitely higher than that.

As for springs, I'm running the OME 2861/2862 with the stock Toyota Shocks.

I will attempt to find my printout from the alignment shop to see what they got things adjusted to when I had the truck in there. Are these plates necessary for a truck like this, or no?

I will double-check the wheel bearings tonight as well.

As for the steering shaft, looking at pics on Google Images, looks like I at least need to get a new dust boot ordered. But does the rest look "normal"?

Sloppy and wandering are two different things. Wandering is usually caused by alignment issues. Sloppy is caused by loose components, such as tie rod ends, bushings, and the steering box. You've addressed everything but the steering box. The adjustment screw isn't going to fix what is usually the main issue, which is loss of preload on the input bearing. The box likely needs to be rebuilt.

I've already considered I might need to get the gearbox rebuilt, so its on the radar and will be my last resort if I can't get this any better.

Thanks for all the inputs!!!
 
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Yes and no.
An increase in tire diameter will yield an increase in toe, as the radius from the center of the hub has increased. This is usually not an issue unless going significantly higher in tire size.
Caster and camber will remain constant.
On an 80 Series with old front springs, I would expect caster to be slightly higher than 3 degrees, as the springs have sagged. This should give a heavier feel to the steering and make it less "darty" or "twitchy".
HOWEVER, if toe in is to little or toed out, all handling will go right out the window.
On the tire size VS toe:
I'm having a tough time getting my head around this one.
 

alia176

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after looking at the pics in the thread below, you are NOT missing the "seal main shaft" deal. Age has worn yours down, just like the rest of us. Looking at the pic below, it's just about identical to what your video shows!



1582045166404.png



1582044875678.png
 

alia176

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Andy - sounds like your followed the FSM, good job on that. Did you see the note on which nut and which bolt to tighten due to the serrated hardware that the suspension has? Not a super big deal if you just tightened whatever was easy to access but Toyota mentions to not tighten any of the flanged nuts or bolts.
 
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Andy - sounds like your followed the FSM, good job on that. Did you see the note on which nut and which bolt to tighten due to the serrated hardware that the suspension has? Not a super big deal if you just tightened whatever was easy to access but Toyota mentions to not tighten any of the flanged nuts or bolts.

Meh, I probably just tightened whatever I could get to with my torque wrench and my box wrench on the other side. But I'll get the truck in the air tonight and see what I find, if anything.
 

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