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Old 11/03/2015, 09:15 PM   #1
p51
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Return to center questions

I think I might be having a slight problem with the steering on my car. The "return to center" is not crisp. At moderate speeds (eg 20MPH) when I turn to the left and let go of the steering wheel, it will return almost, but not all the way, to center (within in a few degrees). But when I turn right and let go of the steering wheel it tends to continue in the turn unless I slightly turn the steering wheel toward center and then it too will return almost to center (within a few degrees). Neither of these has the "tight and quick" return to center of a modern car.

Some details. I just aligned my car:
Caster: +4.25* (within 0.25* side to side. Used shims on UCA to get added caster w/o binding the lower control arm)
Camber: -0.25* (within 0.25* side to side)
Toe: 3/16" toe-in

Other notes:
(1) After the alignment I noticed when I take the steering wheel from lock to lock the mid point of the range is not where the wheels are completely straight forward (when eyeballing it). The midpoint of the lock-to-lock range is when the steering wheel is about 10* turned to the right (~3% of a complete turn). I assume that this only slighly limits turning radius in one direction but it could be the cause of the asymmetricity in return to center performance (???)

(2) Power steering fluid is clean - replaced within ~5K miles. However, I did add some stop leak to it which did, in fact, stop a minor leak. Could this have gummed up some of the valves?

(3) In normal driving it does not feel like anything is binding (eg steering column, etc) but power steering can cover up slight binding issues.

(4) I took the car for a test drive and with hands off the steering wheel it tracks dead center on the road. No drifting to either side. The added caster really makes the steering feel "tight" like a modern day car.

Unfortunately, I don't know if it had this problem before doing the alignment. I never explicitly did a "return to center" check previously. I don't think it had the problem but I can't be sure.

So, here are some questions:
(1) Do any of you with factory power steering have a "crisp and tight" return to center - similar to what you find on modern day cars? One where went you release the wheel it pretty much snaps back to dead center even at moderate speed?
(2) Anyone have any thoughts why I might be seeing a return to center problem in one direction only?
(3) Any other quasi-random comments on this topic?

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Old 11/03/2015, 10:41 PM   #2
Mosesatm
 
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Location: Spokane, Washington
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Quote:
Originally Posted by p51 View Post
I think I might be having a slight problem with the steering on my car. The "return to center" is not crisp. At moderate speeds (eg 20MPH) when I turn to the left and let go of the steering wheel, it will return almost, but not all the way, to center (within in a few degrees). But when I turn right and let go of the steering wheel it tends to continue in the turn unless I slightly turn the steering wheel toward center and then it too will return almost to center (within a few degrees). Neither of these has the "tight and quick" return to center of a modern car.

Some details. I just aligned my car:
Caster: +4.25* (within 0.25* side to side. Used shims on UCA to get added caster w/o binding the lower control arm)
Camber: -0.25* (within 0.25* side to side)
Toe: 3/16" toe-in

Other notes:
(1) After the alignment I noticed when I take the steering wheel from lock to lock the mid point of the range is not where the wheels are completely straight forward (when eyeballing it). The midpoint of the lock-to-lock range is when the steering wheel is about 10* turned to the right (~3% of a complete turn). I assume that this only slighly limits turning radius in one direction but it could be the cause of the asymmetricity in return to center performance (???)

(2) Power steering fluid is clean - replaced within ~5K miles. However, I did add some stop leak to it which did, in fact, stop a minor leak. Could this have gummed up some of the valves?

(3) In normal driving it does not feel like anything is binding (eg steering column, etc) but power steering can cover up slight binding issues.

(4) I took the car for a test drive and with hands off the steering wheel it tracks dead center on the road. No drifting to either side. The added caster really makes the steering feel "tight" like a modern day car.

Unfortunately, I don't know if it had this problem before doing the alignment. I never explicitly did a "return to center" check previously. I don't think it had the problem but I can't be sure.

So, here are some questions:
(1) Do any of you with factory power steering have a "crisp and tight" return to center - similar to what you find on modern day cars? One where went you release the wheel it pretty much snaps back to dead center even at moderate speed?
(2) Anyone have any thoughts why I might be seeing a return to center problem in one direction only?
(3) Any other quasi-random comments on this topic?
Try loosening the adjustment screw on the steering box.
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Old 11/04/2015, 05:45 AM   #3
Ruppstang
 
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The idler arm bushing should be checked as it's purpose is to return the steering to center. It is one of the first parts to wear our on the steering.

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Old 11/04/2015, 11:51 AM   #4
p51
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Hey guys, thanks for the quick responses. Did not know about the idler arm bushing. I did a search on it and apparently the twisting of the bushing itself - a spring effect of the rubber (?) - is what causes the steering to return to center (per a post on vintage mustang)...

"The idler works by T w I s T i N g the rubber. The rubber snaps the steering wheel back to center. If you have it even 1/10 of a degree off, it will snap the steering wheel back to "OFF CENTER."

Mustang Monthly also had a good writeup on steering which also mentioned the idler arm bushing...
http://www.mustangandfords.com/how-t...ering-linkage/

Thanks again...

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Old 11/05/2015, 09:19 AM   #5
robert campbell
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Location: Bremerton Washington
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Great information!! I did not know this and it will help me in the future with customer cars!!! Thanks!!

Rob
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Old 11/08/2015, 12:42 PM   #6
p51
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Posting some more comments on the idler arm just in case anyone is interested (and for future reference)...

Apparently there are all sorts of updated versions of the idler arm now. I have found what appears to be three versions:
(1) The original version with the rubber bushings which, from what I can gather from comments on forums, actually help with the return to center of the steering because of the twisting/spring effect of the rubber bushing
(2) The original version with grease fittings for greasing the bushing - sort of defeats the spring effect but probably also makes steering (esp manual) easier and reduces wear on the idler arm bushing
(3) A version from Opentracker that has roller bearings instead of bushings.

There is enough confusion that on the CJ Pony site the picture (at least as of today) for the PS idler arm has a version with grease fittings but the installation video has the one without (see links below)...

http://www.cjponyparts.com/idler-arm...FYplfgodBXoLoA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjWpjifPyL4

Mine has the grease fitting and at some point I greased the heck out of them so this might be why my return to center is weak.

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