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Wobbly Steering - troubleshooting guide


errol209
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The "Wobbly Steering" question pops up often on here and there are no doubt thousands of postings with advice and answers. All this post does is collect those answers together into one handy set of links. Hopefully this will be one of a set ...

Reported symptoms are clonks when cornering, possessed steering wheels, loss of control over bumps,

vagueness in the direction department, MOT failure for lack of steering response and so forth.

Vibrations whilst driving is covered elsewhere.

So, we're looking here at Defender-style suspensions with swivels, panhard rod, front radius arms,

rear trailing arms and a rear A-frame (which includes Disco 1, RRC),

The "Watch with Les" articles and other useful guides are all in the Technical Archive, referenced below as required.

Then the general suggestion is to work down the list, eliminating things as you go. The major culprits are (in rough order of "cost", but not based on deep research):

What did you change last?

If you have had new rims / tyres, fitted a large lift, had any part of the suspension serviced or repaired, hit a big rock etc., this should be your starting point for diagnosing the problem.

Simple things

Check all the bolts are done up to the right torque - for example

Try swapping the Tyres around, not just front to rear. If this helps, suspect wheel balance, tyre pressures or bent rims.

Wrong Tyre pressures, particulary across front axle

How to be certain - check the pressures

Fix: Correct the pressures

Tracking not adjusted correctly

How to be certain - front tyres worn round one edge, steering wheel doesn't centre, really odd cornering

Fix: String!

Mud in wheels

Key symptoms - vibration through the steering wheel worsening as speed increases and then dying away.

How to be cetain - visual examination will reveal presence of mud.

Fix: remove mud.

Wheel balancing not applied

How to be certain - wobble, worst at a particular speed on a straight road.

Fix: Get them balanced.

Knackered shock absorber bush(es) [damper bush(es)]

How to be certain - end of shock absorber [damper] loose in hole / on bracket.

Fix: new bushes.

Panhard Rod Bushes worn

Key symptoms - steering "lurches" into corners, large steering wheel travel for little result, steering vague on straights

How to be certain - get an assistant to wiggle the steering wheel while you watch the ends of the Panhard Rod to reveal relative movement,

but the bolt holes are fine.

Fix: new bushes.

Panhard Rod bracket holes worn

Key symptoms - as above.

How to be certain - Oval holes when you get the bolts off, bolt head moves relative to chassis when steering is turned.

Fix: weld a washer on each side.

Wheel nuts loose / missing

How to be certain - you have less than the right number or there is a gap between the rim and the nuts.

Fix: Tighten wheel nuts to correct torque / buy new hub, studs and nuts as required, fit and tighten wheel nuts to correct torque.

Steering column universal joints worn

Key symptoms - steering "lurches" into corners, large steering wheel travel for little result, "stiff" patches in steering wheel travel.

How to be certain - get an assistant to wiggle the steering wheel. If the steering wheel moves but the box input shaft doesn't,

suspect one or more steering column joints.

Fix: one or more new UJs.

Track rod ends (TREs) Worn

Key symptoms - Steering affected by camber, cornering. Worn edges on tyres.

How to be certain - you can see relative movement between steering arm and track rod or drag link, but tyre pressures are OK.

Fix: Replace the defective TREs.

Steering box drop arm ball joint failed

Key symptoms - steering "lurches" into corners, large steering wheel travel for little result.

How to be certain - you can see relative movement between steering arm and drag link.

Fix: Replace the defective ball joint. Also consider replacing the Defender drop arm for a Discovery one which has a seperate ball joint

Swivel Pin preload wrong

How to be certain - everything else is solid as a rock but the steering wheel shakes like a live thing around pot-holes

Fix: Adjust as described in workshop manual book 4, section 64 page 57 of 102.

Wheel bearings loose or failed

How to be certain - jack wheel up, grasp at 12 o'clock and 6 o'clock and rock. More than a tiny movement in this direcion is a problem

Fix: Front Rear

Bent rim(s)

How to be certain - jack one corner up and spin the wheel, it should run true, with the rime at the same height above the ground at all times

Fix: New rims

Rear A-frame ball joint worn

Key symptoms - clonks when cornering.

How to be certain - you can see relative movement between the A-frame and axle bracket when levered with a bar.

Fix: New A-frame ball joint

Radius arm bushes worn

How to be certain - lots of fore / aft movement of arms relative to chassis or axle when levered with a bar.

Fix: New bushes - Axle end, chassis end

steering damper failed / missing

How to be certain - remove if present, and excercise damper from fully compressed to fully extended; it should be smooth with some resistance throughout its travel

Fix: New damper

Knackered shock absorber(s) [dampers]

How to be certain - leap on and off the bumper; if there's a problem that corner will bounce about. Any fluid leaking out is a bit wrong too.

Fix: new shock absorber(s) [dampers]

Diff pinion bearing, transfer box output shaft bearing or prop shaft UJs

How to be certain - grasp ends of propshafts and wiggle mightily - there should be no lateral movement.

Fix: New diff pinion bearing, output shaft bearing or propshaft UJs.

Changing the diff pinion bearing requires the diff off and the procedure is in the workshop manual

Warped brake discs (front)

Key symptoms - steering wobbles under braking only, getting worse the longer you press the pedal.

How to be certain - Take the wheels off and spin the hubs, look for discolouring or the disc moving back and forth relative to the pads.

Fix: new discs

Steering box drop-arm worn or loose

Key symptoms - steering "lurches" into corners, large steering wheel travel for little result.

How to be certain - get an assistant to wiggle the steering wheel while you watch the steering drop arm.

Any movement at all when lifting the drop arm ball joint up and down is also bad.

Fix: You might be able to tghten it up, but if it's worn the splines its a new arm and possibly a new / recon steering box

Steering box knackered

Key symptoms - steering "lurches" into corners, large steering wheel travel for little result.

How to be certain - get an assistant to wiggle the steering wheel while you watch the steering drop arm.

Fix: new / recon steering box.

If you've got down, here, hit the forums, as you have a new fault we haven't help to fix yet!

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Very good Errol :)

Slight problem though - the link - - goes to White90's profile :) :) :)

Les.

Feck, feck and double feck - no matter how many times you check ... :(

Sorry Les, but I only have external-valet rights :P , so I can't fix it. Could some kind hearted Mod correct my grevious error,

[tech]

(should be showuser=2, not showuser=5)

[/tech]

and shift it to 't archive?

If the contect and style are OK I'll move onto the "it won't start" one :blink:

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