Steering still feels loose after all new control arms and tie-rod ends

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Recently replaced all four front control arms with new OEM and new OEM frame bushing as well as new 555 tie rod ends (and new OEM CV on passenger side) and the front end feels a little sloppy and loose after getting it back from the alignment shop. Maybe my expectations were not realistic, but I figured with some of these major wear components replaced it would feel tight and responsive? I also haven't driven it in 3 1/2 months while I worked on it, so maybe I forget what it feels like? Something just seems "off" but I can't really tell what that might be.

Everything was tightened down to spec. Front end was lowered onto it's own weight before tightening the sway bar, shocks and control arms.

Any ideas? I do seem to have decent power steering leak coming from the smaller return hose. Would a leaking power steering hose cause anything like this? The steering rack was replaced with OEM at the Lexus dealer about 100,000 miles ago so I *THINK* the rack would likely still be good?
 
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suprarx7nut

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What feels loose? Dead spot in the center? Slop at all times?

Check rack bushings and rack play in general.

I recently drove a CLS500. That's not even a "sporty" Mercedes, but holy cow did that reset my steering feel expectations. The 100 handles pretty terribly, even at its very best. You can go nuts with poly, but then you just get a harsh feel still with some inherent slop from the rack. Steering is never going to feel great in comparison to a decent Mercedes or BMW. If the steering doesn't wander while driving straight and there's no obvious play in the rack or suspension, you might just be up against the limits of a large Toyota SUV. Not exactly made for precision steering feel.
 

JunkCrzr89

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The steering rack was replaced with OEM at the Lexus dealer about 100,000 miles ago so I *THINK* the rack would likely still be good?
Depends on usage and maintenance. Lack of fluid exchanges/flushes at regular intervals leads to problems. Most racks develop at least some slop by 100k miles.
 
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Check your steering rack bushings... car on ground... view of the rack... have someone gently rotate st wheel back and forth (engine on).
You'll know if there's slop immediately. Quick, easy, and free to check
 
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I'm in the same boat as you, been fighting proper alignment and the loose steering feel.

After looking at my steering rack you can clearly see it moving 1/2". With the wheels on the ground, have someone wiggle the steering wheel, you can see the slop in the rack easily. Rest assured, toyota said this is perfectly normal =]
 
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I received the following advice from @peacesells63 :

"If you have the shop add 1-2 degrees of caster above factory spec it will get rid of the light feel and the steering wheel will return to center easier. It also makes the truck track better on the highway."

This improved my steering feel significantly.
An alignment shop just did this for me and the truck now drives straight as an arrow which is really nice but the trade off is my wheel is off a few degrees. I can live with that to avoid the death pull.

lose steering feeling will most likely be related to rack bushings as it takes a few degrees of the wheel turning to get it to start moving the tie rods so you get this boat like feeling.
 
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An alignment shop just did this for me and the truck now drives straight as an arrow which is really nice but the trade off is my wheel is off a few degrees. I can live with that to avoid the death pull.

lose steering feeling will most likely be related to rack bushings as it takes a few degrees of the wheel turning to get it to start moving the tie rods so you get this boat like feeling.

These are not related outcomes. They should be able to add the caster and straighten the wheel perfectly.
 
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What feels loose? Dead spot in the center? Slop at all times?

Check rack bushings and rack play in general.

I recently drove a CLS500. That's not even a "sporty" Mercedes, but holy cow did that reset my steering feel expectations. The 100 handles pretty terribly, even at its very best. You can go nuts with poly, but then you just get a harsh feel still with some inherent slop from the rack. Steering is never going to feel great in comparison to a decent Mercedes or BMW. If the steering doesn't wander while driving straight and there's no obvious play in the rack or suspension, you might just be up against the limits of a large Toyota SUV. Not exactly made for precision steering feel.

Haha. The car I have been driving the last few months is a 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT. Certainly not a sports car, but it has a sport steering mode which seems to simulate a tighter steering response. Could be that I just got used to driving that?

Regarding what feels loose, it just seems to feel like when the steering wheel is straight and I turn a few degrees left or right it doesn't respond right away. It does respond, but it just feels like a slight delay. Like I can wobble the wheel back and forth an inch or so in each direction and the rig doesn't really react, or if it does, it's delayed.

I have not replaced the sway bar bushings or the links and they are pretty worn down.
 
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Check your steering rack bushings... car on ground... view of the rack... have someone gently rotate st wheel back and forth (engine on).
You'll know if there's slop immediately. Quick, easy, and free to check
I will check that today. I was so focused on the ball joints and tie rod ends given the fact that the rack has been replaced once in the vehicles life, but it was 100k miles ago. The bushings very well could be worn out enough to notice it?
 
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Besides the mentioned steering rack bushings, have you checked the inner tie rods?
Ugh... no I didn't. I thought they would probably be okay since the whole steering rack was replaced 100k ago. But maybe that was a bad decision? I had to draw the line somewhere and just replace the stuff that was original/VERY worn.... For example, I wanted to redo all the bearings too, but I didn't because I figured I would do that when I service the front brakes.
 
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Haha. The car I have been driving the last few months is a 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT. Certainly not a sports car, but it has a sport steering mode which seems to simulate a tighter steering response. Could be that I just got used to driving that?

Regarding what feels loose, it just seems to feel like when the steering wheel is straight and I turn a few degrees left or right it doesn't respond right away. It does respond, but it just feels like a slight delay. Like I can wobble the wheel back and forth an inch or so in each direction and the rig doesn't really react, or if it does, it's delayed.

I have not replaced the sway bar bushings or the links and they are pretty worn down.
This is exactly what I have going on. Just need to work your way down and diagnose the problem. Since tie rods and control arms are now. chances our your rack bushing is worn and less likely is your steering shaft has some play.
Drop the skid plate, have someone fire up the truck and wiggle the steering wheel while you look at the steering rack

It will probably look like this. This is a brand new OEM rack and bushing.


steering rack.mp4 - https://drive.google.com/file/u/1/d/1K2SKr04J6GSB4QAnSpCSku_zTb07N6M0/view?usp=drivesdk







Some people have pointed out that the d bushing Toyota uses can be an issue and they go to aftermarket to tighten it up. So when we turn the wheel, the rack moves a half inch of so before the tires, this is most likely the looseness you feel in the wheel. Either way it's a guessing game until you get under and inspect.
 

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Regarding what feels loose, it just seems to feel like when the steering wheel is straight and I turn a few degrees left or right it doesn't respond right away. It does respond, but it just feels like a slight delay. Like I can wobble the wheel back and forth an inch or so in each direction and the rig doesn't really react, or if it does, it's delayed.
Sounds like you might want to check what @Ayune suggested.

Could be your upper steering shaft, especially if there’s a “dead spot” in the center. Simple to diagnose and theres a DIY tutorial to fix: How To: Replace your Upper Steering Column Shaft - https://forum.ih8mud.com/threads/how-to-replace-your-upper-steering-column-shaft.1063475/
 

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