DIY Steering alignment

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classic2cv
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DIY Steering alignment

Post by classic2cv » Wed Feb 15, 2006 11:57 pm

The steering wheel doesn’t line up when the car is going in a straight line and it tends to pull the left a bit

Is there an easy way of setting up the steering or is it something best left to a garage?

did see somewhere in this forum that someone made a DIY alignment rig

did it work out ok?

and if so could i have a copy of the design :D
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(CZ)enda
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Post by (CZ)enda » Thu Feb 16, 2006 1:06 am

Are you 100% sure you need to do the alignment?
Honestly, anytime any of my cars pulled to one side, it was for one or more of these reasons:
a) tires and/or discs incorrectly balanced, inflated
b) front brake binding (pads/discs worn, pistons seized in caliper etc.)
Even when changing the balljoints in the steering, I just left the adjustment nuts where they were and replaced only the tips with balljoins - although this may seem a crude method, it always worked OK... :?:

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Post by AlanS » Thu Feb 16, 2006 1:45 am

Also, check your rear arm bearings; don't ask me why, but we've had 2 cars that didn't show the telltale / \ but felt as though the front wheel alignment was out giving the same symptoms as you describe, yet had totally stuffed rear arm bearings that were "pivoting" front to rear. New arm bearings and problem solved.

http://www.frenchcarforum.co.uk/forum/v ... php?t=9972


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Post by jeremy » Thu Feb 16, 2006 8:36 am

Steering alignment comes in 2 parts and if you take it to an expert he will probably only do one.

The bit they never do is to centre the rack. You can check it by getting the car straight and marking the top of the wheel. Now drive the car forward and put it on full lock, note the position, and do again the otherway. The wheel should turn the same number of turns each way.

To centralise it ideally you measure the length of the protrusion of the rack on each side and set the rack in the centre - then fit the wheel so that it is centred, then track the wheels so that they toe - out by an equal amount from the vehicle centre line.

The significance of setting the rack/steering wheel relationship is that the steering geometry is designed to be symetrical and provide the designed wheel movement as the wheel is turned. If the thing is not set centrally this does not happen and the steering will feel different each side.

The actual wheel alignement can be set using a tape-measure and a couple of large bits of wood. Basically the idea is to place the lengths of wood against the tyre wall on each side and measure the front and back distances, subtract and adjust. The lengths of wood won't get in the proper position due to the tyre bulge at the contact point - so put 2 blocks on each to clear it.

Ideally tracking should be measure from the vehicle centre line to ensure its the same both sides. Some garage machines can do that. You will probably achieve much the same result if you look at the wheels very carefully and line up the edges with the back wheel - looking for things to be the same both sides.

My last experience of professional tracking was on our ZX. Would you like us to do the tracking. Well there's no point is there as you won't set the rack will you? Yes its a laser system. How interesting - you still won't set the rack will you? Oh yes its the latest and does all that. £20 later, wheel simply clamped straight - ignoring it had been fitted wrongly- and the wheels probably set correctly (was a trace of wear on the inside edge - toe out) - car feels better - but still heavier and quicker one side than the other.

jeremy

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Post by AlanS » Thu Feb 16, 2006 10:08 am

I understand those cheap Infra red "dumpy" type levels work well if you know what you're doing.

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mnde
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Post by mnde » Thu Feb 16, 2006 11:51 am

My steering wheel is also canted slightly to the right at "straight-ahead", but I want to get the alignment checked before I just take off the wheel and re-centre it.

I also have rear arms that are beginning to go. The car wanders around and get thrown off-line over bumps at the rear...

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Post by jeremy » Thu Feb 16, 2006 2:21 pm

Mark - you must satisfy yourself that the wheel/rack relationship is satisfactory before having the alignment checked as its simply beyond most tyre depots to set that correctly. They have an undying faith in Lasers and Computers - and forget that the laser is simply operating as a convenient weightless pointer and that its only as good as the idiot using it.

Try the wheel marking test I have set out above.

jeremy

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mnde
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Post by mnde » Thu Feb 16, 2006 3:40 pm

Thanks Jeremy.

It's a bit difficult as I have a sloping gravel drive, and no room in the garage. Whereabouts are you in Hants? Perhaps we could have a little BX meet and you could help me set the steering up properly :)

Mark.
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Post by jeremy » Thu Feb 16, 2006 4:47 pm

Mark - sounds like I've got even less room - but I use a car park thoughtfully provided for this purpose by the council! - well I think its meant to be a view point so that people can admire the River Itchen and the block of flats on the other side!

Try the steering wheel marking test first. The actual wheel alignment can actually be checked fairly accurately by looking at the tyre wear pattern - inside wear means toe out, outside wear means toe-in.

jeremy

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Post by sleepy0905 » Thu Feb 16, 2006 7:24 pm

I use a Gunsons drive over wheel alighnment guage which works marvelous you just drive over the guage and it tells you whether your steering is out and how much to adjust it then you do the same on the other side and hey presto job done.
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Post by AlanS » Thu Feb 16, 2006 10:48 pm

mnde wrote:My steering wheel is also canted slightly to the right at "straight-ahead", but I want to get the alignment checked before I just take off the wheel and re-centre it.

I also have rear arms that are beginning to go. The car wanders around and get thrown off-line over bumps at the rear...

Mark.
This is what I was talking about above; rear arm bearings when worn, "steer" the car with the rear wheels and all the wheel alignments in the world won't correct it until the rear arms are done.


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DLM
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Post by DLM » Fri Feb 17, 2006 6:15 pm

I'll certainly vouch for this advice: the difference when the rear arms is done is so great it can be positively shocking (in the best sense).

Under-inflation of front tyres can affect things considerably too.
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mnde
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Post by mnde » Fri Feb 17, 2006 7:00 pm

Hmm, I need my rear arm bearings doing asap. The handling became decidedly strange this evening... will also check tyres in the morning. Summat's just not right.

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Post by jeremy » Sat Feb 18, 2006 8:50 am

Having driven Triumph Stags I can vouch for the strange feelings created by rear wheel steering when its uncontrolled. These cars had loads of steering from the back - Honda didn't invent it - they merely controlled it, then Citroen tamed it and put on the ZX !

If your trailing arms are slack the thing will go all over the place.

jeremy

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Post by Grace » Sun Feb 19, 2006 11:59 am

If any of you do decide to remove the steering wheel, crack of the nut, undo but do not fully remove. Pull on wheel until free. Remove nut.

Saves on dental repair bills :lol: