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Hilux Steering - Wandering!

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Hilux Steering - Wandering!

I'm having a problem with my Hilux steering.

I have an LN65 2.4 Diesel Hilux SAF and I'm to go on a trip to Danggali conservation park in a couple of weeks where I'll have to rely on the old girl. So I decided it was time to replace the steering knuckle bearings and seals as they were leaking. I did the drivers side but had to leave the left side for a week because i ran out of time.

Afterwards I noticed I had some really intense wandering in the steering, which got worse as speed increased. I figured i'd wait till I did the left side then get an alignment. So once i'd got the alignment (and boy did it need one!) it was less hard to drive, as in I wasn't constantly fighting to keep it straight, but it was still pretty horrible.

So i figured it must be the wheel bearings not bieng seated in as it was the only thing that had changed to suddenly make the steering so bad. I opened her up again and (using the correct tool this time) tightened the lock nuts etc. Turns out that was not the problem.

Now I figured I should look into other causes so I did some research. The steering box input petunia correlates with the pitman arm movement so no problem there. Then I took the drag link out and found the end connected to the knuckle arm was a bit siezed. The pitman arm end was perfect with clean grease still. I cleaned them up (there was a small amount of corrosion on the bad end but very minimal, and all rubbed off, and the threads are fine), re-greased them, put them back on and tightened them up.

This resulted in instant direct steering tightness. Much better to drive!
I'm assuming maybe in the process of doing the hub seals I maybe loosened up the choroded end.. I was hitting the knuckle arm a fair bit with hammers trying to get it off before I realised there are cone washers in the top! My Haynes manual was really bad in this section and just sent me back and forth through the book untill I was confused, had to grab a mates gregorys manual that was much more user friendly.

- The thing is there's still just a little bit of steering wandering as I drive, esp at higher speed. Its not so intense that I cant drive to work but I worry about my immenent long highway journey. I cant see where there is any play from the input petunia all the way to the passenger side tie rod end. And all the bolts are done up tight on the knuckles.

What is left that could be the cause of this instability?

Possibilities:
I'm thinking maybe it's the steering damper. Its pretty old. How can I tell if its buggered? The steering re-centres when I'm driving after corners but thats kinda the nature of the car in motion isn't it? If I take my hands off the wheel while heading straight it will go off track a bit and if I let go while turning very slightly it will keep driving with a slight curve. This happens in both directions (left and right). It doesn't have power steering. I have a new steering damper in the mail

Also I'm thinking I should check things like U-bolt tightness.

How do I know if my drag link needs to be rebuilt? It has no play now.

Unread postby Tucky LN65 » April 12th, 2011, 11:39 pm


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Re: Hilux Steering - Wandering!

Get someone to move the steering wheel slightly from left to right while you stick your head under the car. Is there slackness in the steering wheel? If so its likely the steering box has issues. I know my knuckles were loose as - I just welded them up (the ones that don't need movement)

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Unread postby Aaron Schubert » April 13th, 2011, 12:05 am


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Re: Hilux Steering - Wandering!

Get someone to move the steering wheel slightly from left to right while you stick your head under the car. Is there slackness in the steering wheel?


Well there is a general slackness in the steering wheel, but it depends what you mean. I think it's just the usual couple of cm of play? As the input petunia into the steering box turns, so does the pitman arm. Exactly how much/how fast/how immediate it should be turning I dont know as I dont 100% understand steering boxes. With the car stationary turning the wheel theres no sudden loose to tight feeling. It's more of a build up as all of the steering components take up the strain and begin to turn the wheel. That said, it is very easy to move the steering wheel within this few cm of slackness, i can do it with the tip of a finger.

Unread postby Tucky LN65 » April 13th, 2011, 12:56 am


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Re: Hilux Steering - Wandering!

check u-bolts and well wheel alignment and i'd say it could be the draglink. mine liked to wander a bit until i rebuilt the draglink. you can also tighten up your steering box.
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Unread postby 85_LUX » April 13th, 2011, 10:40 am


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Re: Hilux Steering - Wandering!

The best thing I ever did to minimize wandering on my old SAF Hilux was adjust the caster with some caster wedges.

Unread postby rylux » April 13th, 2011, 5:41 pm


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Re: Hilux Steering - Wandering!

What are your tyre pressures?

Unread postby Pog » April 13th, 2011, 6:22 pm


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Re: Hilux Steering - Wandering!

The steering damper won't be 'causing' the problem, altho it may not be doing as much as it should to dampen it!! Technically you should be able to take the steering damper off entirely & have no impact on your steering, it just damps the kicks & shock from hitting bumps & ruts etc; so it's not likely to be that, even if it is getting on a bit!

So if it's still doing what you are describing then you are likely to either still have a wheel alignment issue or there is something else causing it! Not enough caster (if you've done a lift it's a real possibility! Have you got a lift fitted?) or maybe too much toe in/out, wrong camber etc - many tyre places that do wheel alignment don't even look at caster & there are even a few dodgy places that don't even set the w/a to the specs for your vehicle, just set everything to zero cos that's nice for tyres, not nice for driving! Have you looked at the w/a before & after specs? If so, can you post them up??

If it's not wheel alignment then it could be that the steering box itself is worn &/or you've got too much play in there, altho a good w/a place would normally pick that sort of thing up.
worn bushes in the suspension &/or steering can produce this sort of problem too, but again, a good w/a place should have identified any problems with these. Or possibly, you've got a tramline effect from the tyres you have fitted & the w/a specs! Does the wandering happen on the same roads at the same places every time, or does it do it regardless of road surface?? Does it still do it on the dirt? Does changing tyre pressure make any difference to the wandering?? And finally, have you had a look at the rear suspension? Worn bushes or even bent components up the back end can result in wandering like this too, altho once again, a good w/a place generally would've identified any hassles like that!!

So check out everything you can from the above & that everyone else has mentioned, but if the wandering persists, maybe you would be better off getting a different wheel alignment place to have a look at it??

Good Luck
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Unread postby Peter Aawen » April 13th, 2011, 6:22 pm


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Re: Hilux Steering - Wandering!

I could turn my steering wheel about 30 degrees before it turned the wheel. When you move the steering wheel, how much can you move it before the wheels begin to move? When I got someone to turn the steering wheel and I looked under there you could clearly see the slackness in each knuckle. A little in each and you end up with quite a bit

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Unread postby Aaron Schubert » April 13th, 2011, 7:13 pm


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Re: Hilux Steering - Wandering!

Have you looked at the w/a before & after specs? If so, can you post them up??


______________LH-------------RH____________DATA-------TOLERANCE
Total toe:__________+0.7mm_______________+0.6mm_____+/- 0.6mm
Toe:_________+0.4mm_____+0.3mm_________+03.00°_____+/- 0.3mm
Camber:______+00.30°_____+00.30°_________+01.00°_____+/- 00.80°__(from 2" lift?)
Caster:_______+01.50°_____+01.30°_________+01.50°_____+/- 00.80°
King pin angle:+09.60°______+10.10°_________+09.50°_____+/- 00.80°

The cars a bit out of whack I suppose but the guy who did it (who drives a modified 80's series and seemed to know what he was talking about) said it was in pretty good condition for a truck its age. It has a 2" lift but it is a very old one. I'll be replacing it at some point soonish once everything else is sorted out.

OK so I was at basketball a couple hours ago and my mate there has an LN106 with power steering, but is essentially the same in the steering setup. We checked out his steering by turning the wheel and watching the links etc. I have discerned that my drag link springs must be buggered, I can see the pitman ball compressing the drag link spring as it pushes against it. My springs are nowhere near that springy. Its as if I just have some solid chunks of steel in there. However I have the drag link ends done up tightly to eliminate play (If I follow the manual and loosen it a turn and a third the ends become loose and it creates play).

How important is the spring action in stabilising the steering?

I will have to properly check each suspension bush and U-bolt I think. May leave it untill I get my new drag link ends in the mail and take it for a drive.

Unread postby Tucky LN65 » April 14th, 2011, 4:21 am


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Re: Hilux Steering - Wandering!

how much can you move it before the wheels begin to move?


It has maybe 3 or 4 cm of steering wheel travel before the wheels move. No more than 30 degrees. If I have it jacked up the wheels turn straight away with almost no "play" at all. though the steering feels loose for the first few cm of turn like when the wheels are still on the ground.

What are your tyre pressures?


The last time I checked they were at 38psi. They feel the same on the sidewall as usual but I will have to check tomorrow. I was asked this by someone else today actually. What will tyre pressure change? I'm assuming very low pressure will result in sloppy steering.

Unread postby Tucky LN65 » April 14th, 2011, 4:31 am


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Re: Hilux Steering - Wandering!

Does the wandering happen on the same roads at the same places every time, or does it do it regardless of road surface??


Road surface will usually have the same effect on it each time. But weather it goes left or right varies. So basically any bump or uneven spot will effect the steering, braking or decelerating sometimes has the same effect too. I can be cruising along in a straight line then a tiny bump will make the wheels suddenly veer a degree or so off track. sometimes ill go over the bump and it will luckily be ok, but usually it will decide it wants to go off track. It sometimes happens when I havent noticed any bump at all.
Elongated corners now mean I have to adjust my cornering line several times.

Unread postby Tucky LN65 » April 14th, 2011, 4:40 am


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Re: Hilux Steering - Wandering!

by the sounds of it Ive got the same problem with mine.

Unread postby falz » April 15th, 2011, 6:03 pm


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Re: Hilux Steering - Wandering!

From the data you've posted, while the Caster & camber don't look too bad, your toe in/out is about one tenth what it should be (unless that's a typo) so it does look like your wheel alignment could be contributing to the problem somewhat, it might pay to get it looked at by one of the specialist 4WD or Truck alignment places - Pro-Axle Shim-a-line are a pretty good mob with outlets all over, & they regularly advertise in the Mag too. Getting that sorted will stop or minimise the tendency of the vehicle to dart all over the place.

Tyre pressures that are too high make that darting effect a helluva lot worse, especially if your toe in/out is wrong; while tyre pressures that are too low tend to make the steering feel sloppy. Do a search on the 4psi rule (there is a sticky in the wheels & tyres section about it) but basically unless you are running split rims & cheese cutters, or unless your vehicle weighs in at about 4 tonne, then 38 psi is probly somewhat too high!! Check the sidewall on the tyre, it should have its Max Load/Max Pressure data printed on it, & I'd guess that the pressures you are running are up around the pressures needed when you are carrying an absolutely full load - are you?? Cos if you aren't, the the tyre pressures won't be helping your steering issues, & if you are, then sagged rear springs might be causing those same steering issues!

Just like the steering stabiliser doesn't actually cause steering issues like this, generally sagged front springs won't cause this sort of sudden veering thing either, altho neither will help once it's actually happening. The most likely & common causes of the sorts of steering issues that you describe are incorrect tyre pressures, poor wheel alignment, worn bushes/steering components, or worn/faulty tyres or tyre tread. So get your tyre pressures right (cheap & easy to do!) get the wheel alignment done properly (they should point out any suspension issues too), sort those suspension issues out (if there are any) & if all that doesn't resolve the problem, then start looking at the tyres or tread pattern themselves, altho if they are a contributing issue, that good wheel alignment place will probly point that out for you too.
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Unread postby Peter Aawen » April 15th, 2011, 10:24 pm


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Re: Hilux Steering - Wandering!

i must admit i havent read all this but a couple of points that may have been covered

steering dampner is designed to do exactly that, not actually controll issues like yours, but a good dampner can hide steering issues

.are wheel bearings set to correct preload
.are swivel bearings set to correct preload and shim thickness's correct
.the draglink ( between pitman arm and J arm) has rose joints each end..these contain spring loaded cones. these cones wear and chip and also the adjusting nut at each end may need to be re set
.some thing as simple as uneven tyre pressures can have an affect
.the fact that you have done swivel bearings the previous wheel alignment wil be out
.has one spring sagged mopre than the other, ie does one shackle lay back further than the other. this can exagerate other issues
.tie rods on the relay rod can be worn
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Unread postby toy yoda » April 15th, 2011, 11:13 pm


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Re: Hilux Steering - Wandering!

I'd check the Drag link rose ends first, simple easy job, can take almost all the play out of your steering.

I did this on the '84 I picked up from my Brother in law, had about 1/3rd to 2/5ths rotation play at the steering wheel.

Now it has NONE! and I haven't even looked at ball joints etc....

Take out the split pin and turn the screw end in, align it up with the split pin again and you're done!

Unread postby Pizzaman » April 18th, 2011, 11:21 pm


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