Sloppy steering on my FJ62

lechnito

SILVER Star
Joined
Apr 29, 2015
Messages
309
Location
Portland, OR
My steering wheel has a few degrees of motion where there is very little resistance and movement is not reciprocated in the movement of the wheels. Here's a video:


This has always been an issue and installing new tie rod ends did not make an appreciable difference. However, it didn't really become conspicuous until I installed the OME lift kit and upgraded to 33" tires.

More facts:

  • No leaks or rough noises coming from the power steering pump.
  • I flushed and replaced the fluid 2 years ago. The current fluid looks nice, but has a mild burnt rubber smell.
  • When I'm making a 90 degree turn, the motion of the steering wheel isn't very smooth and I can feel a mild choppy vibration.
  • Nearly 204k and no service history from POs.

Is this "free play" coming from the steering box or should I plan on experiencing a PS failure in the next 10k miles? What do you think?
 

cruisermatt

Un-manufacturable
SILVER Star
Joined
Jul 22, 2012
Messages
7,811
Location
Orlando Florida
Seems pretty normal to me besides the vibration during turning.
Also just for your information a power steering system has zero effect on the condition of mechanical linkages in a steering system. I don't know why everyone always jumps to power steering.
 

georgebj60

SILVER Star
Joined
Jan 1, 2017
Messages
725
Location
Vancouver, BC
For my truck, the u-joints in the steering column were sloppy. Once replaced, things were much better, though the drag links were replaced at the same time.

I've also heard of some people having success by replacing the bearing, or sleeve (I'm not sure what it is exactly) right where the steering column goes through the firewall.
 

Cruiserdrew

On the way there
SILVER Star
 
 
Joined
Mar 15, 2003
Messages
15,789
Location
Sacramento, CA
Could be many things, but resist the temptation to mess with your steering box until you've done everything else.

FJ60s especially and FJ62s, as you lift them go to very low caster numbers. This makes them squirrely, and nearly undrivable on grooved pavement. The cure is caster shims. You want to re-establish about 2-4 degrees of + caster and it will steer like a new car. You can go to an alignment shop and ask them to get you some caster numbers. This is a great starting point. Then Georg at Valley Hybrids has steel caster shims at different angles to fix the problem. A bit higher than Toyota spec is what you want. I like 3-4 degrees of positive caster. Very relaxing steering.

But check everything else. For instance, make sure your front wheel bearings are properly adjusted.

There can still be slop in new drag link ends-pull the cotter pin, crank down the screw until it bottoms, go back 1/2 turn, and put the cotter pin back in. FJ60s and 62s have the dumbest drag link end design ever.
 

lechnito

SILVER Star
Joined
Apr 29, 2015
Messages
309
Location
Portland, OR
@cruisermatt, I was pretty sure that the power steering stuff wasn't related, but wasn't entirely certain. I definitely did not intend to perpetuate the unfair stereotype of ornery PS pumps.

@georgebj60, is there more than one ujoint between the firewall and steering box? The ujoint I saw looked like it was turning in sync with the shaft.

@Cruiserdrew, really helpful advice, thanks. I checked and reset my wheel bearings in January. I'll service the drag link and if I'll get the caster angles checked if I still don't see an improvement.
 

mattressking

10 digits to freedom
Joined
Nov 28, 2016
Messages
1,518
Location
Ventura, CA
get under the truck and have someone turn the wheel. Watch for any play in the steering shaft/tie rods.

Go through the steering section in the fsm and make sure each item is set to spec.

Then confirm play in wheel is within spec.

It is a truck at the end of the day, not a sports car :)

EDIT: I apparently couldn't read, so I adjusted my post.
 

roadstr6

SILVER Star
Joined
Apr 10, 2013
Messages
4,133
Location
Weddington, NC
There can still be slop in new drag link ends-pull the cotter pin, crank down the screw until it bottoms, go back 1/2 turn, and put the cotter pin back in. FJ60s and 62s have the dumbest drag link end design ever.
This! Most folks just install the new links and expect them to be pre-adjusted. From my experience they are sloppy right out of the box. Bottom out, back out 1/2 turn, install pin tightens things right up.
 

Cruiserdrew

On the way there
SILVER Star
 
 
Joined
Mar 15, 2003
Messages
15,789
Location
Sacramento, CA
No.

There is really no such thing an an alignment on a Land Cruiser. The only parameter you can set, is toe-in. Everything else is determined by the relationship of the knuckle to the housing, to the spring perch and the curve of the spring.

A real shop that understands solid axle trucks, might be able to figure out caster which can be adjusted with wedges between the springs and the perch, but this is unlikely.
 

Dozer18

SILVER Star
 
Joined
Sep 7, 2006
Messages
340
Location
Springfield, VA
Lots of good advice here. I experienced the same thing when I put the OME lift on with 33s. Installed new tie rod ends at the same time and had an alignment done, but found it more squirrely than I would like - particularly on grooved pavement as someone mentioned. It IS a thirty year old truck and the steering assembly has never been replaced or upgraded (other than a stabilizer and tie rod ends), so it could stand to have some money spent on it.

HOWEVER, one thing that made a decent difference for me (for now) was straight out of the FSM. The freeplay in my steering wheel was about twice the limit (which is about 1 1/2" IIRC), so I adjusted the steering box per the FSM. Loosen that 17mm locknut dead on top of the box, hold it in place while you turn the adjusting screw a few turns clockwise (I checked my freeplay after every 1/2 turn and it took about 2 1/2 total turns, but YMMV), and retighten. I drove it 120 miles on both interstate and two-lane right after and it made a difference.

Of note, I had to hit the locknut with PB blaster for two days before it would budge. Guarantee it had never been loosened in 30 years.
 

Cruiserdrew

On the way there
SILVER Star
 
 
Joined
Mar 15, 2003
Messages
15,789
Location
Sacramento, CA
You have to watch out with the steering box though. If you dial out all the free play, even though it works, it's binding the gear inside and will rapidly wear the sector shaft gear which leads quickly to the demise of the steering box. It's kind of like setting up a ring and pinion too tight-rapid demise of the gears.

Anyway, I think there is a spec for pre-load backlash in the manual, but if not, there are several good videos on youtube about adjusting the sector freeplay on a Saginaw box. And if you look closely at a Toyota box, it's basically a Japanese copy of a Saginaw steering box.

I'd recommend you fix everything else, especially getting the caster right with shims if need be before you mess with the steering box. Or have someone adjust it who knows what they are doing and why. The "I tightended a couple of turns and it was better" approach, may get it right, but if it's just a bit too tight, you'll ruin an expensive part.
 

Dozer18

SILVER Star
 
Joined
Sep 7, 2006
Messages
340
Location
Springfield, VA
You have to watch out with the steering box though. If you dial out all the free play, even though it works, it's binding the gear inside and will rapidly wear the sector shaft gear which leads quickly to the demise of the steering box. It's kind of like setting up a ring and pinion too tight-rapid demise of the gears.

Anyway, I think there is a spec for pre-load backlash in the manual, but if not, there are several good videos on youtube about adjusting the sector freeplay on a Saginaw box. And if you look closely at a Toyota box, it's basically a Japanese copy of a Saginaw steering box.

I'd recommend you fix everything else, especially getting the caster right with shims if need be before you mess with the steering box. Or have someone adjust it who knows what they are doing and why. The "I tightended a couple of turns and it was better" approach, may get it right, but if it's just a bit too tight, you'll ruin an expensive part.
True, and good advice. I did drive mine around about halfway through the process to make sure I could go lock to lock in both directions without binding, and again when I was done. FSM does go into detail about making sure you don't screw it up; I'll try to get a pic of that page later and post it up.

A reman box runs about $400 so, yes, it's an expensive part. And the advice on here about measuring caster and getting shims from someplace like Valley Hybrids is probably the best first step.
 

OSS

Joined
Jun 30, 2017
Messages
2,269
Location
Oblivion
I'm a little late to the party here... But if we just go by the POs comment and video showing freeplay of the wheel and there's no mention of squirrelly steering, I'd say (and will agree w @cruisermatt) that the steering looks normal. The FSM spec for free play of the steering wheel also mentioned by @Dozer18 is 1-1/2".

If you look at the POs vid- I'm seeing 1-1/2" of free play (well maybe 1-5/8"). I don't think there's anything wrong. These cruisers don't have tight steering.
 

lechnito

SILVER Star
Joined
Apr 29, 2015
Messages
309
Location
Portland, OR
Thanks for the insight everyone. Unfortunately, bow hunting season started for me last week and there hasn't been a good time for me to monkey around with my drag link. I should get a chance sometime late next week to pick this up and I'll send out an update then.

My rig can definitely be driven safely despite the freeplay shown in the video. That said, it is sometimes difficult to pick the correct line while negotiating windy highways at 55 MPH and I occasionally resemble a DUI driver on the straightaways because it's hard to make precise corrections to stay in the dead center of the lane.
 

brownbear

Mod in Hibernation
Moderator
 
 
Joined
Sep 6, 2004
Messages
7,102
Location
North West Ontario
When I first put on my lift (2.5 BDS) it was a pretty high lift and I noticed it was a wondering kinda thing on the highway and light steering. The caster angle would have been off.
It's settled on the springs and even more when I put an ARB bumper and winch up from. After than I had a slight nose down attitude and my steering got much better on the highway. So it important to have a good castor angle.
 

lechnito

SILVER Star
Joined
Apr 29, 2015
Messages
309
Location
Portland, OR
I'm taking it into my suspension shop on Wednesday and will have a better idea of the caster angle then.

It's been about 5 months since my OME install and after some serious off-roading in the last few weeks, I noticed that the rear springs have settled much more quickly than the rears:



What's the visual opposite of the stinkbug? A dog walking on it's hindlegs?
 
Top Bottom