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Help: Steering Wheel L/R Shift ?

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Old Aug 5, 2012, 08:53 PM
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Help: Steering Wheel L/R Shift ?

The issue:
The steering wheel if grabbed with both hands will literally shift one inch left and right from where it should be. It makes no difference if the car is stopped or moving, if your spinning the wheel or have it centered. Its extremely annoying while trying to drive because during turns and your body weight shifts so does the steering wheel. I imagine this is also not very safe so the car is off the road currently.


The back story:
I bought the car used and with this odd steering shift problem. I did a bunch of suspension work on it to include all new inner and out tie rods, new front struts, new springs, new end links and lastly a passenger side ball joint but the problem was still there. I took the car to get aligned and no change. The weekend after i did the ball joint i felt a pop in the steering wheel during some hard driving and i slowed down turned the wheel slightly to the left and then right and the hub assembly fell off the car and came to a screaming halt making a hell of a mess of things. The bolt holding the hub to the ball joint had stripped and come lose and everything just fell apart. I put it all back together with a new bolt and checked it all out and that odd steering issue was GONE. Drove it and drove it hard through the turns for a week or two with no issues. Last night we replaced the power steering rack in the car with a minty new unit and drove it home with no issue. I did notice while doing the PS rack that the new ball joints boot was ripped and the other drivers side ball joint was now showing some wear so tonight i pulled it all apart and replaced the boot on one side and put a new ball joint in the other. I also played with the tie rods to try and correct the alignment a bit from the previous nights install. I pulled the car off the lift and the first thing i notice is that the steering wheel shift is back. So somewhere between both ball joints and my tie rods this odd issue has arisen again. Mind you that both PS racks had there own complete tie rod setups and i felt this on both units so it leaves me thinking all joints but there both brand new and hows that effect the steering wheel. The odd thing is that with someone in the car shifting the wheel back and forth (not turning the wheel, just shifting it) we cant see anything going on outside the car. You can feal it with your hand on stuff but we don't see anything moving, tie rods, struts, ball joints don't appear to be shifting at all. I know for a fact that the PS rack bushings are good and its definitely secured. And i havnt been under the dash for any reason other then the 12mm bolt to the PS rack the night before.

Any thoughts?
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Old Aug 6, 2012, 11:04 AM
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I'll have it on the lift again tonight so here's hoping i can find the issue, If not ill post some vids.

It's just kind of an odd issue, and even more odd becouse its come and gone after taking the hub assembly off the ball joint.
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Old Aug 6, 2012, 03:21 PM
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I'm sorry, probably just different terminology here but trying to fully understand your situation.

When you say "shift" do you mean like in a turning direction, or are you meaning if you grab the wheel and were to push it toward the passenger or drivers door it is moving side to side?
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Old Aug 6, 2012, 03:58 PM
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I'm having a hard time visualizing what you're trying to describe.

Is the steering wheel itself loose in the left-right direction? As in, you can push it to the left or the right and it will move an inch?
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Old Aug 6, 2012, 08:05 PM
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Yes, the steering wheel moves left and right, door to door. No turning of the wheel required. Does it sitting still or moving, running or not running.

It was there when I got the car, I pulled the hub apart and back together and it went away. I changed the power steering rack and it was still gone, I pulled both hubs apart again to mess with the ball joints again and the issue is back. It makes no since at all. I'm stumped, but I wasn't able to get it on the rack tonight to investigate further so maybe tomorrow I can have a better guess.
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Old Aug 7, 2012, 04:19 AM
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I would check everything under the dash and be sure all that is tight. Also check to be sure the clamp bolt on the wheel itself is tight. I can't see any of the movement being related to the rack or suspension components. Odd that it has "gone away" randomly, but it sounds like it's in the column itself.
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Old Aug 7, 2012, 02:41 PM
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There are two bolts under the dash and loose or tight they don't change anything related to the problem. The steering wheel its self is secure and tight in relation to its attachment.

Under the dash and watching the first joint knuckle you can see it shifting and the second shaft moving with it. There are two bolts at that knuckle that would make you THINK they might tighten it down but in reality do not.


Gonna make a vid and look at a few more things... It's been busy at the shop this week and can't get it on the lift to look deeper into it.
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Old Aug 7, 2012, 06:07 PM
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I found the issue...

There are five 12mm bolts that hole the entire steering unit in the car. Two up front with aluminum brake away washers that allow the steering wheel to collapse forward in case of a wreck, two in the back holding the knuckle support bracket and a final one on the shaft linking it to the steering rack pump.

The problem was the aluminum brake away joints are simply broken. There are four ceramic pins in each aluminum washer that hold the wheel in place. In case of an collision these pins sheer off and the wheel can slide forward to absorb some of your impact to it. Well my pins are broken and although the wheel hadn't fallen forward it was able to slide left to right in the washer.

The fix... i pulled the unit out. I drilled the old pins out. I slotted the flat surface from hole to hole on the aluminum washer and I used some mechanics wire to tie it all back together. Essentially made my own pins the only way you can. It worked like a charm and should still be pretty functional in a wreck. With a lot more effort i could have used in-set machine screws and drilled and tapped everything in a solid state but would have taken a lot more time, money and effort.

Note: The pins only prevent forward motion of the steering column and the aluminum washers are shaped in a "V" pattern. Once the pins are broken and the column slides forward to any degree the V shape in the washers opens up and allows for the side to side play i was experiencing. So something like some simple mechanics wire or some tiny ceramic pins have no trouble holding this unit together in normal driving conditions.

What threw me for a loop was the fact that the issue came and went away like it did. I guess when i had my first hub issue it pulled the wheel tight into the washers again and when i did the second ball joint i moved the wheel a few times and it pulled it loose again. Was a very odd issue and i'm glad its finally fixed.

I might add that if at any time i would have pushed the wheel forward hard enough that it WOULD have fell off the washers and became completely free and floating in the car. Something that would have been extremely dangerous if by chance it happened at high speed and while corning. So if for some reason you find your self with the same issue... i would get it fixed immediately and not necessarily the same way i did it.

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Old Aug 8, 2012, 08:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Live4Redline View Post
So if for some reason you find your self with the same issue... i would get it fixed immediately and not necessarily the same way i did it.
I think it goes without saying that if anything feels wrong with your steering setup, the car needs to be parked until you sort it out.

I'm glad you figured it out. Did you get a chance to take any pictures during the process?
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Old Aug 8, 2012, 08:53 AM
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I did, but my phone was acting up and couldn't upload. I'll try again tonight.
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Old Aug 11, 2012, 01:49 PM
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The pics i meant to post up.



^ The two gold bolts in the picture are holding the aluminum washers up. These washers are only supposed to detach from the column in case of an accident. My steering column was still up in there slots before we finally broke it completely and it fell down like you see it here. If you look on the back wall there you can see the rub marks and the amount of play i had side to side in the wheel. The four little spots around the "V" shape mounts on the column are whats left of the ceramic pins.





^ Heres the washer back on the column, i drilled the old pins out and used the stock holes to remount them and secure with mechanics wire. I slotted this side so the surface would be flush and simply twist locked the wire on the reverse side.


^ The entire unit had to come out to do the repair work. But it was only five bolts and it wasn't too bad. Honestly you can take these two bolts out and the Shaft bolt and the unit will slide out. The rear two bolts hold a bracket up that the column slips into. I did how ever take a try or two to get the column to push completely in to seat properly.
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Old Aug 12, 2012, 07:20 AM
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Thanks for posting up those pictures. I'm glad you figured it out and were able to repair it.
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Old Aug 24, 2012, 09:52 PM
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Hah damn thats exactly what happened to mine, although my column didn't seem so rusty. Wish I had seen this last weekend might have saved me some cash. I took it to Mitsu and they are going to have to replace the whole assembly. Going to ask for the old part though incase I can repair it if it happens again..
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Old Aug 26, 2012, 07:14 AM
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I just bought anouther lancer that needs a little work, and it just so happens to have this same issue as well, lol. Soi already have to do it ll over again. The first cars fix is holding up great though.
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Old Nov 25, 2012, 09:31 PM
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very glad you posted this mine is doing the same thing exsept i got ran off the road and screwed my rear coilover up and hit my steering wheel pretty hard and it shoved everything forward and my wheel dropped in my lap i got it fixed on the side of the road just to get it home so now i know really how to get in there and fix it right
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