Steering issues - Guru needed.

Discussion in 'General Turbo Buick Tech' started by edfiero1, May 17, 2017.

  1. edfiero1

    edfiero1
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    On my recently purchased 84 T-Type, I've had issues with the steering since the day I got it.
    When I got the car, the steering was very 'squirrelly' and hard to control even at speeds under 40mph.

    The previous owner had recently installed all new ball joints and tie rods. First thing I did was get a front end alignment. All settings were out of spec. The alignment helped a bit but steering still really sucked. The alignment guy said it needed a new steering box.

    I replaced the entire steering column with a rebuilt unit (to fix a number of other problems, not necessarily related to this issue.) I also suspected the rag joint might be toast, so I got a new intermediate shaft from Mike's Montes that does not use the rag joint anymore, and I had my steering box rebuilt. (did not replace, but sent my box off for rebuild, got the same box back)

    In my first test drive around the block, it seemed like the steering was better. Not sure that it was perfect, as it still wasn't as good as my 2008 daily driver, but maybe it never will be considering its 30+ years old. However when I drove the car again yesterday one of the original problems was back that existed before any of the work was done.... the steering wheel won't return to center after turning the wheel. After all this work, the squirrelliness is mostly gone, but the wheel won't recenter.

    I can't explain why I didn't notice the steering not centering on the first test around the block. Was it still there and I just didn't notice because I was more concentrating on whether or not it was going to be squirrelly or not??? Don't know. But anyway.... with the car aligned, and a steering box rebuilt, what could would still be causing the steering wheel not to recenter? Otherwise, I think the steering feels OK. The level of effort is OK, No unusual noises, turns to lock is the same going right and left. The only other thing that doesn't seem quite right is when I turn the wheel all the way to lock, to the left, it pulls the front end of the car down. I don't see this condition when turning to the right lock. Unrelated problem?
     
  2. blklt1z28

    blklt1z28
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    First off, it's a 30 year old car with steering and suspension design that dates back even further. New parts or not. So try not to compare it to anything modern.

    Car still have stock upper and lower control arms? You said previous owner replaced ball joints, any chance he got taller ones by mistake?

    Castor is what centers the wheel after a turn, if that's out of wack then you will find yourself steering the car back straight. Make sure out of all your alignment specs that those are included and correct. A lot of newer cars have fixed front ends and the only adjustment is toe, so a lot of alignment shops have no idea what they're looking at when they see a G body front end with all those shims. Not saying that's the case, but something to check.
     
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  3. No disintegrations

    No disintegrations
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    agree 100% on the castor. You need some negative castor to give stability and center the wheels. I test drove a truck where the castor was zeroed out and it was ugly! Fixed caster and all was back to normal.
     
  4. earlbrown

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    I wonder if the steering knuckles or idler arm are binding? Years ago I put an idler on my 94 S10 Blazer (same arm as a GN) that was machined wrong. It locked to the sender link when tightened and caused what you were describing.

    It wondered all over the place because the caster didn't generate enough force to move the joint. The power steering had plenty of power.


    If you know the alignment is right, I'd knock a couple links loose and check for smooth travel. If you have a lower ball joint that's seizing, you DO NOT want to be driving if it fails!!! The hold the car off the ground.

    You might get lucky and see evidence of fine metallic dust at a bad joint too.
     
  5. achalmersman

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    You mean positive caster. Negative caster would make it drive like absolute garbage although I believe there were some VERY old cars without power steering that had negative caster. In addition to caster some more angles can give issues with relation to bent parts. When I worked for Hunter Engineering Company I remember a shop that had a vehicle that would not return center when only turning one direction. Can't remember the details but TOOT (toe out on turns) was way off with the wheels turned one direction because of a bent control arm if I remember correctly. So I always ask questions like is this problem symetrical, does it happen turning both directions etc? A complete print out showing all measurements would be nice to see. The bargraph printout does not show all measurements.

    Edit: if you wind up with the ability to get another printout have them measure and print all measurements to include SAI and TOOT.

    Sent from my VS990 using Tapatalk
     
    #5 achalmersman, May 17, 2017
    Last edited: May 17, 2017
  6. GNRick

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    Try turning the allen screw on top of the steering box. Keep track of the # of turns in case you want to put it back to where you started.
     
  7. Pronto

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    New ball joints and tie rod ends, how about the bushings?
     
  8. edfiero1

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    The problem is EQUAL in both RIGHT and LEFT turns. No better or worse one way or the other.
    I'll have to try to find the alignment print out. I give things to the wife to file, and they some how manage to get into the circular file, instead of my cabinet.
     
  9. edfiero1

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    I was planning on disconnecting the pitman arm to see what it would be like to push on the tires and get them to turn back and forth. Do you think that would be a valid test?
     
  10. No disintegrations

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    Maybe you can take it back to whoever did the alignment and tell them the trouble you're having. Worst case they recheck it and give a new printout. however maybe they need supervision. ( If they were being lazy etc. )
     
  11. edfiero1

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    Below is the alignment report.
    For what its worth, I jacked up the front, and disconnected the pitman arm, although I have to use both hands (like at 3 and 9 oclock) to turn the wheels from right to left, I can do so without any noticeable binding.
     

    Attached Files:

  12. achalmersman

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    That alignment is pretty good all things considered. Trying to remotley help with something like this and not being able to drive the vehicle is difficult as everybodys perception is different. Assuming you dont find anything mechanically wrong at all I would pay to have the alignment done again and ask the tech to get as much positive caster as he can without causing the camber to go out of spec. Just make sure the cross camber and cross caster measurements dont get too far off as to not cause a pull. If you could get caster over 4 degrees I think you would be pleasantly surprised by the difference. Since you will be paying for the alignment again please ask them to measure SAI and TOOT and print the "all measurements" page. They are using a Hunter machine but depending on the machine the proceesure may be different. If its conventional sensors they will have to work harder to get these measurments since measuring SAI while swinging caster requires the sensors and brake to be locked (FasterCaster). This then causes the toe beams to sometimes get blocked by the car as the toe beam changes angle during the arc. With camera style sensors this is all eliminated and there are no toe beams to worry about getting blocked. TOOT will require an additional measurement and will require the wheels turned 20 degrees each way.

    I assume at this point you are sure you dont have air in the power steering system right.

    Sent from my VS990 using Tapatalk
     
  13. corsair231

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    I am by no means an expert and this is maybe a moot point but what about your wheel and tire combo? Are they still stock or a least stock sizes? You are not running any wheel or spring spacers are you? Lowered suspension components or anything? Shouldn't have anything to do with the re-centering of the wheel but could cause some of the ride issues. Also, you need to check the rest of your suspension bits. You say the front of the car dives when you turn it to the left lock. Could be a contributing issue to letting the alignment specs go out of adjustment as the wheels turn through their arcs. Remember, wheels turn in multiple planes while the car is traveling but the changes are not always equal on each side and something as simple as a bad or missing travel limiter (bump stop, lol) can cause all kinds of problems.
     

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