Steering Wander/Poor Handling? HELP (1 Viewer)

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Jul 28, 2018
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Utah
Steering Column Issues

I am convinced I have some issues in between my steering wheel, and where my rack connects into the intermediate shaft.



I replaced my steering rack and bushings, tie rods, and front/rear shocks (OEM) about 2 months ago. I added 1.5 coils in the rear, and adjusted my torsion bars to lift about 1.25 inch. Alignment after install. Since replacing it, I have had a few issues.



  1. Steering wheel would bind and have dead spots when turning left. It had slight dead spots before, but now it has multiple. I could also turn it left, and it would “lock up” if I turned far enough. Meaning To try and turn it back it requires some force to get it to “unbind”. When I was trying to diagnose this, I jacked up the front, turned it until it locked and bound, and when I turned the wheels back straight my steering wheel was no longer aligned with my front wheels. I also noticed while I had a coworker turn lock to lock, that the steering intermediate shaft would bump the oil dipstick tube and you could feel that knock in the steering wheel. I also could turn left more than I could turn right. (Misaligned rack)
  2. Steering felt really odd with different pitches in the road. I would describe it as a wander, and If the vehicle goes over a slight roll the wheels are unpredictable and the vehicle pitches one direction. Going over a raised crosswalk ( used as a speedbump, 5 feet wide but not very high) I notice the entire front of vehicle kind of wobbles coming off of it when the weight of the engine comes back in the front. Almost as if the wheels are reacting on their own, vehicle is just generally hard to control and you feel like you are riding in a boat on a relatively windy day. I also notice that I can go straight down 1 road with the steering wheel slightly cocked right, but then after driving again on the same road later the steering wheel is straight.
  3. Steering wheel vibrations (they existed before, but are much worse now) that are noticeable at all speeds. Occasional clunking noise when going over bumps. More so than vibrations, if I take my hands off the steering wheel I notice it “wobbles” side to side.
  4. A vibration coming from the right side at 50-55mph. Sounds like a very low, faint, “wub-wub-wub-wub”
  5. Creaking or clicking coming from steering wheel. Sounds like it is right behind the airbag at about 10 and 2
  6. After noticing these symptoms, My investigation has found that when I turn the steering wheel with one hand and hold the column by the firewall, I have a small amount of play in the steering wheel. It moves about 1/4-1/2 inch both ways. Also, if I grab the intermediate shaft and shake it I can move it up and down and side to side a lot. I can do the same wit the column on the other side of the firewall.


A little bit of context, when I removed the intermediate shaft I had to bang on it with a pry bar and a hammer to slide it up off the splines. It made some noticeable dents in the U joint itself. I also would here the horn beep every time I would bang on the shaft.



I tried to address the misaligned rack first. I was able to get it centered, and assessed the intermediate rack while I had it removed. Grabbing both sides of the joint and twisting yields a slight amount of play. I also noticed that when I tried to twist the u joint as it rotates when it is connected, I felt it bind up slightly at certain points. I am predicting that replacing this will solve the binding up when turning left, and possibly some of the other symptoms. I had to bang on it some more removing it this time, and the wandering symptoms are now worse. I had the shop also rebalance the front wheels to attack the 50mph vibration. No luck.



Rack alignment, while necessary, had little to no effect in any of these issues. I ordered a new intermediate shaft but have not recieved it yet.





-I feel confident part, or most of these issues will resolve with the replacement of the intermediate shaft.

-The “creak” in the steering wheel I assume can be fixed with some lubricant in the right spot.

-I am wanting to know how I might diagnose or get to the bottom of the play in the steering wheel, as I am hopeful that is a large cause of the steering issues.
 
Joined
Jul 28, 2018
Messages
15
Location
Utah

^ Info on steering squeak


^info on main column locking clip


I should add that all my tire pressures are check and none were too low or mismatched. I have no abnormal tire wear, I have 285/75r16s that I have had since before the 1.5 inch lift.
 

3_puppies

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Helena MT
what year rig?
wheel bearings?
bushings?
have some one rotate the wheel and see the shaft as it enters the rack, ujoints in steering shaft? also 1 int he column for tilt wheel
 
Joined
Jul 28, 2018
Messages
15
Location
Utah
2001 Landcruiser
Wheel bearings done a few years back.
Rack bushings replaced along with the rack... and yes the U joints on the intermediate shaft are definitely identified as part of the problem.

Attached is the alignment report I got back. Tell me if I’m wrong, but I’ve seen reports on landcruiser that look perfect. Would any of these Specs be throwing off my steering enough to cause wander?

ACFEF5FE-F72E-4234-90E3-D95CDCCB6460.jpeg

For example, this is a similar thread on a steering wander that was fixed with adequate alignment.

A93C9910-EC91-42D9-A5D0-2D965CEF8588.png
 
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Ayune

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Portland, OR
- Creaking or clicking coming from steering wheel. Sounds like it is right behind the airbag

- when I turn the steering wheel with one hand and hold the column by the firewall, I have a small amount of play in the steering wheel. It moves about 1/4-1/2 inch both ways. Also, if I grab the intermediate shaft and shake it I can move it up and down and side to side a lot. I can do the same wit the column on the other side of the firewall.
After reading the above parts of your post I think your upper steering column shaft needs replacing.

There is a hexagonal ‘slip joint’ in the shaft that is designed to collapse on impact, and normally this joint is tight. However, turning the wheels when the engine is off (no power steering) puts strain on this joint and can cause it to loosen causing play between the steering wheel and firewall. In your case the joint may be so loose that it’s skipping around the hexagon. 1/4-1/2” is quite a bit of movement, that may be why your steering wheel was misaligned after turning through the ‘bind’ that one time.

It’s a fairly cheap and manageable fix. Read more about it here:
 
Joined
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**I will add to my list of symptoms, that I have noticeable torque steer on acceleration, especially when trying to pass someone on the highway. **

Thanks ayune. I stumbled across your thread and saved your PDF while I was looking through threads, really helpful.

I am hopeful that would make a difference, and at 290k miles it would make sense that it is worn.

As I never noticed any of this “play” or dead spots/wander before the rack installation, I’m wondering if me hammering the intermediate shaft into the column caused some trauma that broke or weakened an already weak upper steering column/slip joint.
 
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Joined
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I ordered the parts to address that side of the issue.

After reading about caster issues (ie alignment shops not wanting to, or knowing how to change it) on 100 series I’m curious if I should try and have a more positive caster.


This is the previous alignment printout, pre lift when I got new tires on. Comparatively to my most recent alignment posted above, looks like my caster is:

177A0CF9-2C3E-44B5-B5EB-A361B3FDF45D.jpeg
 
Joined
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Differences being:

Caster Before lift
R: 3.1 L: 2.5

Caster After Lift
R: 1.8 L: 2.0

Is that a significant enough shift to effect the “pogo stick” and wandering issue that I am having, maybe exacerbated by the worn steering linkage?
 
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abuck99

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For every inch of lift in front you loose a little over 1 degree of caster.

Factory UCA wont adjust to 3.0 degrees after 2” of lift- maxed out adjusting cams you might get a touch over 2 degrees , it depends on how much you cranked up the front end. Aftermarket UCA help get you some caster back.

One of the symptoms of torque steer is not enough caster and the other is because your front end might be set a little high. Check your front lift measurements( grease cap center to fender edge) on factory uca shoot for 20.5 to 21” - do you have at least 1 (or more) inch rake between rear and front?
 
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For every inch of lift in front you loose a little over 1 degree of caster.

Factory UCA wont adjust to 3.0 degrees after 2” of lift- maxed out adjusting cams you might get a touch over 2 degrees , it depends on how much you cranked up the front end. Aftermarket UCA help get you some caster back.

One of the symptoms of torque steer is not enough caster and the other is because your front end might be set a little high. Check your front lift measurements( grease cap center to fender edge) on factory uca shoot for 20.5 to 21” - do you have at least 1 (or more) inch rake between rear and front?

Sure. I’ve got 2 inches in the rear, and 1.5 in the front. With that lift, I figure I should be more than able to get 3* caster. Anybody disagree?

My question does 3* or so of caster in the front really make that much of a difference vs the 1.8*? Anybody ever had that problem or cared to find out?

Tomorrow I’m headed back to the alignment rack to see if they can get me to 3*.

As for the rake...
 

abuck99

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Sure. I’ve got 2 inches in the rear, and 1.5 in the front. With that lift, I figure I should be more than able to get 3* caster. Anybody disagree?

My question does 3* or so of caster in the front really make that much of a difference vs the 1.8*? Anybody ever had that problem or cared to find out?

Tomorrow I’m headed back to the alignment rack to see if they can get me to 3*.

As for the rake...
Went through this 2 weeks ago after new taller rear springs required me to crank up the front (an inch more) which required me to re-align.
IMG_4801.JPG

I could get more caster- by setting the ball joint to its maximum setting (A) Im set at (C) on the SPC UCA, but that increases the force and wear on the BJ and brings the wheel closer to the back of the tub and you get tire to body contact on sharp turns (unless you mod the pinch weld area). Truck tracks very well with these settings- no torque steer or wandering. My lift measurements are 21.750" front and 24.125" (rake 2.375") . Droop is 60-65mm.


Do you have aftermarket UCA's? With factory UCA you'll not get much more than 2 degrees of caster- but again that is depending on how much you have your front torsion bars cranked up. It's why about your actual height measurements- center cap to edge of fender lip (front & rear)- example: 20.5 inches front/ 22.750 rear. Also the rake (relationship of height from back to front) has an impact on steering as well, so if you have only 1/2" rake from back to front , you need more and easier to do by lowering the front. FWIW Factory spec for rake is 60mm (just over 2") but shoot for at least 1" or more.

So yes 3 degrees of caster vs 1.8 will make some noticeable difference- but on a lifted truck with 33"+ tires your target should be at least 3.5-4.0+ to provide better return to center and improved straight line tracking. Aside from spending $600-$700 + on aftermarket UCA's to get your caster back, max the adjustment cams or lower your front end to improve caster or embrace the torque steer.

Also adding a "fraction" of negative Toe (toe in) will improve straight line tracking & wander.
 
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Thanks for sharing your specs. With your caster at 1.6/2.6, how did it drive?


My current situation is not liveable... which as I said I think it’s a combination of weakened steering linkage and hopefully poor caster. Headed to the alignment shop now...
 

abuck99

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Thanks for sharing your specs. With your caster at 1.6/2.6, how did it drive?


My current situation is not liveable... which as I said I think it’s a combination of weakened steering linkage and hopefully poor caster. Headed to the alignment shop now...

Get the alignment sorted then deal with the steering linkage. With my current lift height and those before alignment caster specs it drove like crap: light feeling front end, wandering, torque steer on medium to hard acceleration. But check your lift measurements.
 
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Alignment shop findings:

Caster was maxed out.
Steering wheel angle sensor is not communicating with the reman cardone rack. New rack has a small leak (which I noticed after installation) coming from a seal.

No matter how they aligned it they were not able to get the odd steering behavior to go away.

When they pulled it outI remeasured my lift heights. Sure enough between any settling and the alignments I was now running a positive rake of about .5 inch. I lowered the torsion bars down to maintain a rake of 1 inch on each side. My measurements are now roughly

Rear : 21.5
Front : 20.5

No doubt, I now messed up the alignment again so as the steering still has off behavior, drastic improvements and definitely a large part of the problem.

Less wander, less “pogo sticky”, less darting back and forth through every roll.

Next steps:
Buying a new OEM rack. I learned my lesson. The alignment tech said he has had nothing but bad luck with cardone remanufactured racks. Everybody stay far, far away.

Replace steering column upper shaft and intermediate shaft.

Keep 1inch overall rake, and realign.
 

abuck99

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Alignment shop findings:

Caster was maxed out.
Steering wheel angle sensor is not communicating with the reman cardone rack. New rack has a small leak (which I noticed after installation) coming from a seal.

No matter how they aligned it they were not able to get the odd steering behavior to go away.

When they pulled it outI remeasured my lift heights. Sure enough between any settling and the alignments I was now running a positive rake of about .5 inch. I lowered the torsion bars down to maintain a rake of 1 inch on each side. My measurements are now roughly

Rear : 21.5
Front : 20.5

No doubt, I now messed up the alignment again so as the steering still has off behavior, drastic improvements and definitely a large part of the problem.

Less wander, less “pogo sticky”, less darting back and forth through every roll.

Next steps:
Buying a new OEM rack. I learned my lesson. The alignment tech said he has had nothing but bad luck with cardone remanufactured racks. Everybody stay far, far away.

Replace steering column upper shaft and intermediate shaft.

Keep 1inch overall rake, and realign.
By lowering, did it throw your steering wheel off center or is it pulling? Not sure how much you lowered the front, but you will have improved the caster by doing that.

Good luck on the second steering rack replacement. Be sure to replace the outer TRE's if you hadn't done that already. OEM TRE aren't that expensive and are superior to everything else.
 

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