Sloppy Steering help - YotaTech Forums



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

Sloppy Steering help

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 12-05-2017, 07:21 PM   #1
Registered User
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 20
Sloppy Steering help

Hey Guys

So just replaced struts, all 4 ball joints, idler arm, and sway bar links on my 88 4wd with 3vze, 230,000 miles, stock rims, stock tire size, stock IFS. Also has new tie rods on the driver side. I got it aligned at a shop with one of those fancy 3d alignment tools after I did all the front end work, and I got to watch and walk around and shoot the breeze with the mechanic, who is an honest guy and pays attention. So naturally after having all that work done, there is no vibration at all while in 4 wheel up front which is amazing, and no rattles or noise or bumps when I hit holes. Except....there is such play in the steering, it's a little uncomfortable. I don't think I noticed it before because all of the weight that was on the wheels from the crapped out ball joints made it less obvious, but after all those things were replaced it feels more like sailing than steering. It doesn't pull at all one way or another, the play is just excessive. There is certainly more than an inch of play in the steering wheel itself when driving; if I am at 50 or 60 and doing a lane change, I have to tug it pretty far to get it to cut into the lane. That being said, there is no vibration, or noises, just excessive play. So I re examined the steering components, this being after I got it aligned (dumb). I thought I detected a little play in the inner tie rod on the passengers side. I'm not sure how much is normal, but it is very little, and I would have expected my mechanic who aligned it to see that, as he was the one who told me the idler arm was going bad the first time I took it to him, and didn't charge me anything for the first try. I did attempt to adjust the free play per the FSM, and all it seemed to do was to make the steering more firm, but did nothing to reduce the play. I searched on here quite a bit to try to find symptoms of a bad steering gear box, vs other failing components. Tires are new ish, balanced, stock tire size and stock rims, like I said no vibration, lots of new parts up front..I'm wondering if the inner tie rod on the passenger side is going bad, which I doubt unless my mechanic and the guy who inspected it a month ago noticed the ball joints and idler but not a tie rod. Which leads me to guess the gear box itself is shot. It is a bit greasy and I believe it is leaking slowly, though it never drains my pw pump. Any other suggestions? It does have 230,000 miles on it, been to mexico, and all 50 states. It lived in Alaska for a while and was a DD there. I'm not scared of replacing the gearbox I just want to rule out most other factors before I spend a few pennies a rebuilt one. Thanks for any suggestions.

EDIT: I did all the work myself except alignment, so I'm not suspecting any foul play on cheap parts or shady wrenching. Also it isn't 3:25 am here in case you thought I was crazy

Last edited by VTurkey; 12-05-2017 at 07:26 PM.
VTurkey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-05-2017, 07:38 PM   #2
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Posts: 85
I replaced all of my stuff up front too. Did you preload the wheel bearings? I have a little play in the steering but not like you describe. are the rear springs level w/front end? I needed new rear springs as the rear was sagging ~1" below front.

Steering boxes do go out, most likely that is the cause. Not much else to check.
gandude is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-06-2017, 05:42 AM   #3
Registered User
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 20
I have not touched the wheel bearings, as they feel tight and have no play in them when I re lubed the locking hubs. But...they also have 230,000 on them, I bought this truck with about 170,000, I'm not sure if they have been repacked or anything so I may investigate that. But there is definitely play in the steering system, I have trouble imagining the wheel bearings would cause it all by themselves. The wheel itself barely turns the wheels, until about 10 and 2 o clock. The truck doesn't have noticeable butt sag, and I believe extra springs were added at some point as it was used to haul around animals for a while. Still they are likely pretty old. You think sagging butt would cause that much of a steering difference? All the weight is still up front on these trucks. I will investigate the bearings and may just go for the steering box if no one has any other obvious suggestions or think I missed something.
VTurkey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-06-2017, 07:30 AM   #4
Registered User
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: Alaska
Posts: 318
Before you condemn the steering gear check the steering column/shaft for play, I'm not sure if yours has a small u-joint in it or not. have someone turn the wheel back and forth while you look at the coupling to the steering gear and the rag joint, U-joint etc. for play. Another thing you can check it control arm bushings, It's not something easy to catch on a shake-down and it's more likely to cause noises and a pull than it is to cause play in the steering. but if you shift forward to reverse in 2wd while applying just enough brake to keep the truck from moving you may see the control arms move front to back (you really need to trust the driver when doing this if you are under/around the front end, be careful!) Watching the steering components while someone is wiggling the steering wheel will likely lead you to where the slop is though. It sounds to me like you will likely find it somewhere between the steering wheel and the pitman arm, either the shaft or the steering gear.
akwheeler is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-07-2017, 05:06 AM   #5
Registered User
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 20
For some reason I didn't even think to check the shaft and U joint. I think there is a U joint, under a cover. I will check those, and attempt to check the control arm bushings as well, though sounds like it probably isn't those, I hope. I had the wheels off the ground yesterday just to putter around, and I noticed that the wheels actually do move basically as soon as I touch the wheel, but only barely, until I keep turning. Seems to me that would suggest more the steering gear over the shaft, but I will still check the shaft joints. Thanks much for the suggestions. I will try to update as I find out more and make a decision.
VTurkey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-11-2017, 08:32 AM   #6
Registered User
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 20
Update on the steering.

So far I have seemed to alleviate the problem, at least up to 60 mph, though I will really know when I'm on the state highway where there are depressions from the trucks, which would really let me feel the slop that was there before. I did check the column shaft and there is no play anywhere between the box and the steering wheel along the shaft.

I had been reading about the adjusting nut on the steering box, and out of fear that I had over tightened it without producing any beneficial results, I revisited the little bugger. Turns out, I had barely tightened it at all; for when I turned the steering wheel back and forth all the way, the resistance to turning the screw went away completely and I was able to gradually tighten it more. I did to the point where the play to when the wheels started to move seemed about an inch, and instead of the play sort of slushing into the wheels, it now bounces off side to side against the resistance of the box. I am a little concerned again however, that it's possibly too tight. I have no real reasons for thinking it is though, as it is not noticeably stiffer or hard to turn beyond the play. I don't know if I could have tightened it more or not, as I stopped once the wheel was bouncing side to side and had a very distinctive range in it's play. Also, possibly exacerbating the problem was the fact that my front tires (I have LT's) had spiked to almost 46 psi! I know the pressure can change with extreme temperature changes, as has been the case for the last few weeks. I usually run them at 40 all around. So far, the steering is much tighter, and I know exactly where the play is, and it FEELS like a minimal inch or so, nothing that feels delayed....so far. Hopefully it isn't placebo, and I just defined the play and didn't actually reduce it, but so far it feels like I reduced it. I will find out next time I get out on the highway or a curvy road without ice on it.
VTurkey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-11-2017, 08:21 PM   #7
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Posts: 85
My experience with a tight steering box is it won't correct itself when coming out of a turn.

Go to a big flat near empty parking lot and go into a turn at 10mph. When you come out of the turn (last 50% or so) let go of the wheel, the wheels should straighten out by themselves after a bit. This assumes a good alignment, tires and other steering components. A tight box will hold the wheels at some point from going straight. This isn't scientific, just my experience on the issue.
gandude is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-12-2017, 05:12 AM   #8
Registered User
 
Join Date: Nov 2017
Posts: 129
yeh the other thing is the bolts that hold the steering box to the chassis.
thats commonly missed and the holes get enlarged and worn out.
ive fixed mine by just driving a couple of tek screws through the flange into the chassis. good as new haha.
Thommo Thompson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-12-2017, 06:35 PM   #9
Registered User
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 20
I do believe the box is firmly on the chassis, as I reemed on it the other day thinking the same thing, being familiar with oval holes and their effects. I didn't check it for return yet, but I believe it is a bit tight after driving it 10 miles. I think I'll back it out a quarter turn. Unfortunately, while the play within the steering shaft to the box has been defined, there is still a little play in what feels like the box to the wheels. It is better, but it isn't perfect. It is no longer uncomfortable, but I think I will dive into a new box fairly soon, after I have a chance to check out the last other possible causes, and maybe replace the inner tie rod that might have the smallest bit of play. Thanks everyone for thoughts and suggestions.
VTurkey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-12-2017, 11:43 PM   #10
Registered User
 
Join Date: Nov 2017
Posts: 129
yeh ok, so its definatley in the links then.
I live in the jungle in the Philippines and have the same problem.
I drive a little jungle made jeep here which has a severe case of monthly degradation of all the joints, and no supply stores to get appropriate parts, so ive learned to make my own bushings and thigns for it.
Basically i live 6 km down a dirt rock track which hammers the steering every time i drive down it.
The biggest failure parts are the conical shaped parts of the tie rod ends, where the ball and conical bit bolt through the idler arm and tie rods, basically anywhere there is a castle nut.
Mine are so missmatched i have to make shims out of sheet metal once a month.
Second is the pivot pin, or pivot bolt for the bell crank or in your case, the actual steering gear box.
The other part is the kingpins, for which the equivalent for you would be the ball joints on the control arms. i believe u said u replaced them already.
Then the wheel bearings themselves, can simulate a loose steering wheel. When the wheel is centred, one wheel goes off to the side and you move the steering wheel a few mm to cater for that.

Which of these diagrams is applicable to your setup

https://www.autozone.com/repairguide...96b43f80c90f8d
Thommo Thompson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-13-2017, 05:13 AM   #11
Registered User
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 20
Yes I suspect the tie rod is doing more than I think, as that little play is probably amplified. I can't really tell the bearing for play on that side, as there is play in the tie rod. But I feel no apparent play in the bearing, at least past the tie rod; when I move the tire the little play there is in the inner tie rod. I believe my truck looks like the C series...I think the passenger inner tie rod is under, not to the side, though it could be the R series. Yes it has all new ball joints, idler arm, recent enough tie rods on the other side. No play in the pitman arm, though if I replace the steering box I'll just get a new one of those too.

I may just bite the bullet finally and replace the steering box, along with that inner tie rod, starting with the tie rod.

Does anyone think it is practical to measure the length of threads, and total length of the old tie rod to the coupler, and try to match it closely with the new installation, to retain alignment? I would hate to have this thing re aligned after having just done it, but don't want to eat up that tire either. How realistic is it that I could get close to being within spec by attempting a precise measurement?

Also, are there other ways to check for wheel bearing play other than play from moving the wheel on the hub? There definitely isn't any on the driver side, I don't believe there is on the passenger side but can't quite tell from the little play in the tie rod.
VTurkey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-13-2017, 09:38 AM   #12
Registered User
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: Alaska
Posts: 318
Don't bother counting threads on tie rod ends hoping to have the alignment spot on. it will keep you in the ballpark, but it is more accurate to measure from tire to tire (pick a common spot on the tread) front and back as close to the height of the wheel hub as you can get and the same front/back before you change anything and after replacing parts put it back exactly where you found it. Subtracting the front from the back will give you Total Toe, just not in degrees like some alignment machines will show. This will account for any error in thread counting or any difference in manufacturing of the part, but still, if there was play in any part when it was aligned it still won't be spot on.
akwheeler is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-13-2017, 11:56 AM   #13
Registered User
 
Melrose 4r's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2017
Location: Melrose MA
Posts: 304
I believe the only option for a brand new steering box is the trail gear one from Low Range Off road. Everything else on the market seems to be a rebuilt. Some posters say their rebuilts don't feel much better with respect to the play in the input side.
Melrose 4r is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-13-2017, 07:08 PM   #14
Registered User
 
Join Date: Nov 2017
Posts: 129
sorry i tried to post this last night but missus turned internet off as i was about to hit send...

yes there are better ways but grabbing the wheel while its off the ground, at 6 and 12 oclock and wobbling it is as fas as most mechanics go. if theres enough play to affect steering, you will feel it that way with your bare hands.
scientifically a runout gauge is used. but that is juat getting pedantic.
a little play in a steering component makes a big difference in steering. This is because the tyre tread is further out from the pivot point, plus the cranking lever moment is narrower than the size of the tyre radius. so a 1mm play means about 3 mm at the tyre.
it is for this reason alignment is impossible without a rig.
i have no access to that and use a metal steel rod with markings on it which i place through the car and line up with the treads on the tyre and use triangulation and trigonometry to work out how to get the correct toe in. ive managed to get it pretty good and have minimum wear, but its just so cheap to get a propper alignment u should just do that rather than hurt ur bearings and tyres. not to mention fuel economy.
Thommo Thompson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-14-2017, 10:05 AM   #15
Contributing Member
 
wrenchmonster's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: WA State
Posts: 730
Sounds like everyone is on the right track here. I have to wonder though, OP, why stop short? Why weren't the tie rod ends on the passenger side replaced? Why wasn't the pitman arm replaced? The only way to get the "new" feel is by having everything new, imo. For me this would include all of the joints, steering stabilizer, and then all of the bushings too. I'm almost never a fan of the shotgun approach to auto repair, but for the mileage that most of our trucks are at, it's a good idea in this case. Some folks don't like MOOG parts, but many of the MOOG suspension parts have a lifetime warranty.

Years ago Toyota had a recall on the drag/center link. If you aren't sure whether the truck has had the recall done, it would be worth a call to Toyota or better yet a visit down to the dealership to get a proper printout with VIN#.

Firestone (incredibly) is still offering their lifetime alignment agreement. Something like $200 and the then the vehicle is aligned for free for as long as you are the owner. It's a great deal. Hop on this if you can and then have the alignment checked every 6-12 months.

-Kevin
wrenchmonster is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-14-2017, 04:13 PM   #16
Registered User
 
Join Date: Nov 2017
Posts: 129
qhote
"Firestone (incredibly) is still offering their lifetime alignment agreement. Something like $200 and the then the vehicle is aligned for free for as long as you are the owner. It's a great deal."
that is a damn good deal, and a very good business idea. We would get no such luxuries in Australia. Ppl would just abuse the priveledge.
Thommo Thompson is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 06:16 AM.


2017 InternetBrands, Inc. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
 
  • Ask a Question
    Get answers from community experts
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: