Does anyone know what it's like when the steering goes?

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Does anyone know what it's like when the steering goes?

Postby Chevette Girl » 30 Nov 2006, 03:55

Rack and pinion is about the only thing I've never had to replace in any car I've owned or driven. I'm wondering if this silly thing that my car is still doing (a little noisier but it still keeps switching "good" and "bad" sides) might have to do with steering?

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Postby Harry Flatters » 30 Nov 2006, 08:25

You should be able to check steering easily anyway. Turn wheel while watching the road wheels; steering shouldn't turn more than one-eighth of a turn (& ideally a sixteenth or less) on the free play before the road wheels move. Jack car up with both wheels hanging, turn steering wheel from lock to lock & check it all moves freely, no tight spots. Grab hold of the track rods while it's jacked up & yank them about a bit, make sure there's only a very tiny amount of free play where they go into the rack. Don't go under the car unless it's securely jacked & blocked. If all that feels OK the steering's almost certainly OK.
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Postby Chevette Girl » 16 Dec 2006, 17:55

I'll be playing with the Beast this afternoon, I'll take a look at the front end but I'm pretty sure the tyres turn as soon as I move the steering wheel with less than a sixteenth rotation of play, and I just had my mechanic check it all out again (still nothing found in front end so I'm taking care of that differential today just in case)... I'm sure he'd have caught it if there was something loose up there... <sigh> Just thought I'd ask, 'cause now and then it feels like I've been buffetted by wind when I know it's a calm day, and I usually associate that (when combined with feeling something in the steering wheel a bit on curves) with ball joints, which, I've been assured twice now, are fine.
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Postby Harry Flatters » 16 Dec 2006, 23:44

If you're going along a smooth road and there's a raised gulley or manhole cover or something, does it change direction as you go on to the raised bit or want to steer off the side of it?
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Postby Chevette Girl » 20 Dec 2006, 03:32

Nope, nothing like that relative to irregularities in the driving surface, and there are a number of irregularities I hit on a daily basis... The closest I've come to that is on a particular wet goopy dirt road, it feels like driving in deep rutted snow, where the car's shuffling sideways (both ways) a little bit all the time... but the same road when it's dried out is fine (so long as you avoid the potholes)...

Steering's nice and tight, the wheels (even with tyres on the floor) move almost instantly if I turn the wheel.

Didn't get to the rear diff this weekend, had a fit of "don't wanna", changed my windshield wipers and then did 12 hours of Xmas baking instead...
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Postby CancerWagon » 21 Dec 2006, 03:36

Alignment possibly? Are the tyres wearing uneven or scalping in any way?

I had a firefly (suzuki swift) that felt simmilar, because the alignment was out, aiming the front tyres away from each other. Whichever side had better grip at any given moment would pull the car to that side.

Does the problem get affected in any way when you apply the brakes at all? :? (bad/worn bushings or upper arm mount rusted)
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Postby grim_b » 02 Jan 2007, 11:05

I have declared my good old Chevette Sorn until diagnosis of the same problem described here.

I found that driving at 40 - 60 (MPH) I started fighting to keep the car going in a straight line. Imagine driving along in your lane on the motorway and being "blown" side to side within your lane?

I would of been pulled over if I continued driving it. Can anyone suggest any other options on the cause? Tracking sounds possible for me as the wheels were changed recently but not driven much.

The car doesn't like tight turns either, but nothing seems lose yet.

Unfortunately the car has been put in my garage and used as storage for Christmas presents and now the resulting rubbish. :roll:

I will dig her up if anyone can suggest a place to look.

Happy New Year Ye' Fellow Chevetters. :D
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Postby Gordo » 02 Jan 2007, 11:43

Wheel bearings, worn/loose suspension bushings, worn shock absorbers, etc
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Postby Chevette Girl » 16 Jan 2007, 02:30

Hey, Grim_b... That sounds a lot like mine when ball joints needed replacing...

Had mine looked at AGAIN, and they still found nothing wrong with the front end... Still haven't checked out the differential... one of the mechanics did say something about a roaring from the rear, so it may well be that... It's just generically loud now, it's not doing so much of the front-end vibrate anymore, I'm thinking they might have inadvertently fixed something while they were in looking last time...
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Postby CancerWagon » 16 Jan 2007, 16:11

As a point of refrence... what's the odometer reading now?
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Postby Chevette Girl » 14 Feb 2007, 02:52

Mine?
(2)29030 or so - Little Beast only shows 5 digits but I've rolled her twice now and I'm sure the old lady who owned her before hadn't.

(yes, I know this without running down to the garage because I record my mileage every time I tank up and I tanked up tonight on the way home for work - I suppose I am a geek, but this practise has more than once clued me in to something wrong before other symptoms manifested).

The vibrations seem to have mostly dissipated now, problem started about 15k km ago. Still road noise, I can tell by how loud I need the stereo to hear the radio morningshow, it's about 3 clicks higher than I used to run it...
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Postby 14yearoldchevetter » 14 Feb 2007, 12:00

the car may have been hit at some time and been repaired, mabye thats why the steering is bad...just a thought
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Postby CancerWagon » 15 Feb 2007, 01:21

Have you ever replaced the front wheel bearings? The rollers and or surfaces (rotor/stub-axle) could be showing their age. Often not dangerous, but noisy.

"Kenny" my first road legal chevette had roughly 262,000 Kms when I got rid of it, and the front bearings were noisy as heck. Only had it for 2 years so it never got fixed.
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Postby Gordo » 15 Feb 2007, 06:20

CancerWagon wrote:Have you ever replaced the front wheel bearings? The rollers and or surfaces (rotor/stub-axle) could be showing their age. Often not dangerous, but noisy.

"Kenny" my first road legal chevette had roughly 262,000 Kms when I got rid of it, and the front bearings were noisy as heck. Only had it for 2 years so it never got fixed.


you should NEVER stuff around with wheel bearings - esp' front ones as, if they seize, you can pretty much guarantee a written off car and probably some serious injuries.
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Postby CancerWagon » 16 Feb 2007, 05:20

Gordo wrote:you should NEVER stuff around with wheel bearings - esp' front ones...


I won't argue that for a moment! By fixed, I meant "replaced" :)

When I acquired 'Kenny,' (aptly named after the kid from 'south park' who died every episode) the bearings had grit into them, as the dust caps were missing, causing a aweful racket. Thouroughly cleaned, re-packed & found some dust caps. Not a cure by any means, but got me to school for 2 years, and passed the annual provincial safety checks.
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Postby Chevette Girl » 18 Feb 2007, 18:47

14yearoldchevetter wrote:the car may have been hit at some time and been repaired, mabye thats why the steering is bad...just a thought

That's the thing, the steering works fine, it's just where I happen to feel the symptoms of whatever's actually wrong. I've owned the car for over 4 years and all the changes I'm noting are since I've been driving it, it's only taken three very minor hits since I've had it (one deer to the grille which dented the hood, my mom backed into the rear quarterpanel on one side in the driveway, rubbed off some paint on the arches and left a small dent, and on the other rear quarterpanel, someone in a parking lot left some blue paint but no dent) and the only symptom that appeared within 6 months of any of these was that my dash lights don't always come on with the headlights and I have to fiddle with the knob shortly after I hit the deer...

And bearings is the one thing I don't ever recall having changed, but because of that, I always ask my mechanic every time he does anything around the wheels to check them.
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Postby Gordo » 19 Feb 2007, 06:09

Steering rack mounts worn/loose?
Steering column flexible joint worn, damaged or loose?
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Postby Chevette Girl » 05 Oct 2008, 18:19

So, around TWO YEARS after the first time I had someone investigate my car making funny grindy-noises that get louder when you turn one way and quieter the other but not being consistent as to the quiet side and the loud side, after replacing just about the whole frigging suspension (both front control arms, the whole rear differential assembly, new springs and shocks all around, front frame rewelded three times and a couple of alighnments because all of these were done separately), turned out to be none other than my and everyone else (except my mechanic at the time)'s initial suspicion.

Front wheel bearings... anyone ever hear of wheel bearings making noise for TWO YEARS without blowing completely?

And I'm pretty sure this is the very first time I've ever had wheel bearings replaced on any of my Chevettes... apparently I'd forgotten that when I quoted rack and pinion as being about the only thing I'd never replaced...
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Postby Gordo » 06 Oct 2008, 08:12

Sounds like it may be inner suspension bushes/rubbers - they may be moving around and that's alter the toe in on that wheel - causing it to wander. Could also be partially seizing dampers (shock absorbers) that are causing some suspension movement when they free up and resultant steering movement.
In your part of the country, to they use rain grooves? If so, the the tread of the tyres may be 'tramlining' - someties following the grooves before abruptly moving out before following them again - it isn't so unusual and can, apparently, give the symptoms you describe.
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Postby Chevette Girl » 07 Oct 2008, 02:14

Nope, just the front wheel bearings, no more noise at all since getting them changed, and apparently there was a fair amount of play on the passenger's side, which was what I thought, because it also started making more than the usual amount of noise when going over bumps and things.

I'm just kind of surprised that the bearings didn't catastrophically fail much earlier than this. I mean, 2 years! And I put on 500 km a week on average, so we're talking over 50,000 kms!!
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