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86-95 Trucks & 4Runners 2nd/3rd gen pickups, and 1st/2nd gen 4Runners with IFS

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Old 01-21-2008, 10:50 AM   #1
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Need help centering steering wheel

Ok .. I just replace my pitman arm and the steering wheel is off center. The alignment marks on the bottom of the steering shaft and the pitman arm are good. I have tried moving the pitman arm a tooth either way but no luck.

Does anyone have any suggestions. Thanks for any response in advance.
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Old 01-21-2008, 11:01 AM   #2
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Did you take anything else apart? If not, disconnect your pitman arm, turn the steering wheel one direction as far as it will go, turn the other direction as far as it will go, should be 4 1/2 turns or around there anyway. Then turn it back to the middle ( 2 1/4 turns) Then with your tires pointing straight, re-connect pitman arm. If it doesnt line up adjust the drag link. Or in your case tie rods? Not sure I just did my crossover so its a little different.
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Old 01-21-2008, 11:02 AM   #3
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Have you tried more than one tooth in either direction? or just one? Are you just a hair off center so that one tooth one way has you off center in one direction and one tooth the other way has you off center in the other direction? Were both pitman arms (old and new) Genuine Toyota pitman arms or aftermarket? If they are not both from the same manufacturer, it's possible that the spine alignment on both pitman arms are not exactly the same, which would mean that you may have to adjust both of your tie-rod ends slightly to fine tune your steering wheel centering. If you're not sure what you're doing, take it to an alignment shop, and ask them to center your steering wheel for you.
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Old 01-21-2008, 11:55 AM   #4
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Gallant - that is exactly what is happening. Right now the steering wheel is off center to the left. the steering wheel arm is at about 6 oclock. Would I have to adjust both sides of the tie rod or just one side?
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Old 01-21-2008, 12:22 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tikamonstr View Post
Would I have to adjust both sides of the tie rod or just one side?
Both sides need adjusted. One needs to be lengthened and the other needs shortened exactly the same amount. Otherwise the toe will be off, and your tires will wear out quickly.
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Old 01-21-2008, 01:04 PM   #6
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Drive straight down the driveway. Stop while going straight. Remove steering wheel, center it and replace wheel nut. Test drive to confirm.
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Old 01-21-2008, 04:21 PM   #7
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Drive straight down the driveway. Stop while going straight. Remove steering wheel, center it and replace wheel nut. Test drive to confirm.
Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Don't do that. Re-align the marks on the pitman arm and take it to an alignment shop.

Unless there is some reason to believe that someone had the steering wheel off and didn't put it back in the same place, you should never try to hide an alignment issue by moving the steering wheel.
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Old 01-22-2008, 05:12 AM   #8
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Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Don't do that. Re-align the marks on the pitman arm and take it to an alignment shop.

Unless there is some reason to believe that someone had the steering wheel off and didn't put it back in the same place, you should never try to hide an alignment issue by moving the steering wheel.
X2. Do it right... and eric-the-red correctly answered your question on whether one side or both sides need to be adjusted.
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Old 01-22-2008, 05:17 AM   #9
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Gallant - that is exactly what is happening. Right now the steering wheel is off center to the left. the steering wheel arm is at about 6 oclock. Would I have to adjust both sides of the tie rod or just one side?
I just re-read this post. What do you mean when you say that the steering wheel arm is at about 6 o'clock? Do you mean that the wheel is turned 90 degrees (or 1/4 or a full turn)? If so, I think that's too much to expect the tie rod ends to be able to correct. Something else must be off. Please clarify your post from above.
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Old 01-22-2008, 05:36 AM   #10
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harley ough
if you are talking about your wheels are straight and your steering wheel (SW)is crooked now. jack up the front end (both front tires off of the ground) put the front tires straight and crank the steering wheel hard in the direction that the SW needs to be to be lined up correctly (engine off)
if it is aligned already do NOT monkey with the rod ends.
this trick works on my 80 and my friends 94. so give it a try BUT both wheels have to be off of the ground completely, and you must pull the SW hard like a violent pull in the direction the wheel needs to go.
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Old 01-22-2008, 05:55 AM   #11
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Hey, he just said the steering wheel was off center. He said nothing about the vehicle pulling left or right. For all we know, his wheels are still tracking straight as an arrow. And honestly, how much could one notch on the pittman limit your ability to turn further left or right. I'm not one who is made out of money, so if the truck goes straight when I let go of the wheel, and my tires are not showing any abnormal wear, I'm not going to pay someone to just "center my wheel" because it looks better. If it ain't broke, DON'T GO TRYING TO FIX IT.
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Old 01-22-2008, 09:02 AM   #12
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You can check the steering wheel's centering by measuring the relay rod. Find the center of the relay rod by finding the midpoint between the tie rod joints. Do this carefully and mark it with some tape and a marker pen. Once you've done that, carefully center your mark between the frame rails. Your steering wheel should be near center with the relay rod now centered. If the wheel is grossly off, double check that the relay rod is centered, and if so, go ahead and reset the steering wheel.

All of this assumes that your tie rods, pitman arm, idler arm are all in good condition. If your front end is loose, it's going to be hard to align properly.
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Old 01-23-2008, 06:52 AM   #13
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Update

Ok I finally got the steering wheel centered. Here is what I ended up doing.

I checked the alignment using the "home aligment method" described in a posting on this board. The driver's side was way off. I susupect this is what caused the pitman arm to fail (although age and wear was a factor as well).

I ended up replacing the adjusting sleeves and one tie rod end. What a PIA.

Using the home alignment method, I was able to get the alignment pretty close. It still needs tweeking but I will let the alignment shop handle that.

I popped off the pitman arm and recentered the steering wheel. I went for a ride and it was pretty good.

Well... there it is. Thanks for the help. peace.
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Old 12-06-2010, 08:54 AM   #14
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In an effort to get some answers to a similar problem, I'm resurrecting this thread.

I changed out my pitman arm recently and had the same problem: steering wheel was off ~90deg to the left. No problem, I thought, I must be off a tooth when I put the new one on. Had the g/f turn it to the right while I watched the pitman arm to see which way I was off. Adjust exactly ONE tooth in that direction: now it's ~90deg off TO THE RIGHT! Monkeyed a bit with it some more, and it seems there's no middle ground! It's either way off to the left or way off to the right! I'm guessing the casting of the new pitman arm splines are just off of the original.

What to do? I checked tie rods, and they're pretty much dead centered to the naked eye. I doubt there's enough play in them to adjust for this, nor would I want to take them to that extreme to get the wheel in spec.

My choices, as I see it: 1)remove/center the steering wheel itself; or 2) Start swapping pitman arms 'til I get a "good" one.

Thoughts?
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Old 12-06-2010, 10:52 AM   #15
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It sounds to me like the pitman arm may not be the issue. It could be that the wheel alignment is off, and/or the steering wheel is needing recentered.

The pitman arm should have a centering mark on it that matches up with the shaft on the steering gearbox.
Click the image to open in full size.

Center the pitman arm accordingly. Then make sure the wheel alignment is correct. If the steering wheel is off center when the wheel alignment has been verified, then remove the steering wheel and reposition it as close to center as possible.

The confusion seems to be prevalent in regards to the alignment being off due to the steering wheel not being centered. The steering wheel being centered HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE WHEELS BEING ALIGNED OR NOT. Wheel alignment is accomplished by measurements the of wheel angles(caster and camber angles), center to center wheel distances front and rear(toe-in), and/or tie-rod lengths. The position of the steering wheel during, or after, wheel alignment is irrelevant. Though the steering wheel may be turned to guide/straighten the wheels during the process, it's actual position need not be taken into account untill the wheels have already been aligned properly. If the wheels are properly aligned to the angles of camber and caster specified, the toe-in is correct, and the tie-rod lengths are equal, then wheel alignment is successful. If wheel alignment is successful and the steering wheel is not pointed straight ahead, then removing the steering wheel and centering it as near as possible to the center position is necessary. NOTHING else can/should be done to center the steering wheel at that point, aside from removing and replacing it in the correct position.

To align the wheels based on the center position of the steering wheel may result in inequal tie-rod lengths. Steering column/shaft, and/or frame rail, twist can affect where the steering wheel position sits. And may result in the steering wheel needing recentered. Which is why it's position during the wheel alignment process need not be taken into account.

Maximum steering angles can also be checked and corrected if need be. That's done by turning the wheels from lock to lock, and measuring the angles at each. Correction of those angles is achieved by adjusting the knuckle stopper bolts.

Full wheel alignment instructions are found in the FSM.
http://personal.utulsa.edu/~nathan-b...axle/2-4wd.pdf
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Old 12-06-2010, 12:11 PM   #16
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MudHippy-

Great response, read it and concur. I realize the position of the steering wheel has nothing to do with the tire alignment, and used the marks when putting the new pitman on. The steering wheel went awry IMMEDIATELY after putting the new arm on. No driving, no turning the wheel. Adjusted one tooth, wheel off the same amount IN THE OTHER DIRECTION. Only variable was the new arm.

PS- Was VERY surprised at how much one tooth on the arm affected the steering wheel.
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Old 12-06-2010, 06:50 PM   #17
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You can also loosen and adjust the steering shaft (intermediate shaft?). It has one bolt to remove down by the box and another just above the brake pedal. Has splines on both ends so you can fine-tune the steering wheel position if you need. While you' have it loosened you can replace that steering shaft seal that's dried out and letting all that engine clatter into the passenger compartment.
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Old 02-25-2014, 06:26 AM   #18
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You can check the steering wheel's centering by measuring the relay rod. Find the center of the relay rod by finding the midpoint between the tie rod joints. Do this carefully and mark it with some tape and a marker pen. Once you've done that, carefully center your mark between the frame rails. Your steering wheel should be near center with the relay rod now centered. If the wheel is grossly off, double check that the relay rod is centered, and if so, go ahead and reset the steering wheel.

All of this assumes that your tie rods, pitman arm, idler arm are all in good condition. If your front end is loose, it's going to be hard to align properly.
I'm going to revive this thread again only because after reading this over and over, this post by InternetRoadKill seems to be the post that is the most useful to me.

I, too had swapped Pitman arms and found my steering to be off by 90 to the left, but since my alignment was off to begin with (Pit ar was being swapped prior to alignment) i'm at a loss on how to proceed with an off steering wheel and an off alignment.

MudHippys directions wants me to make sure the alignment is correct, but I just need to know if these directions to center the relay rod from internet roadkill is a verifiable way to align the linkages
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Old 02-25-2014, 06:26 AM
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