Tilt wheel (the kind you DON'T want)

Old November 26th, 2010, 04:45 PM
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Tilt wheel (the kind you DON'T want)

I've had 1970s cars with their numb on-center/overboosted steering and the slightly-terrifying "Turn? What? OH, you want ME to turn. What? NOW?" messages they offer the driver.

My '89 Custom Cruiser isn't that bad, but her steering wheel is multiple degrees off-center (the steering wheel is canted a few inches to the left when going straight). This has been diagnosed as a "worn/bad idler arm", with "worn tie-rod ends" not helping.

I don't expect the steering to be precise, but would an idler arm issue account for the, well, "loose bolt" feel I'm getting? [As you steer off-center (such as it is) it feels like a bushing is gone or something as you wiggle the wheel back and forth.]

I doubt this bit has ever been replaced, and I'm satisfied with its near-170,000 miles of service. Seems most agree that going "cheap" here isn't the way and that $175 or so installed for the best part isn't bad. [But complete loss of steering control when it fails, IS!]

Do I have this figured correctly, either in components or costs? Two tons-worth of station wagon will be "entertainment" enough this winter without something failing on me...

Thanks in advance,

Drew

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Old November 26th, 2010, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by auto_editor View Post
I've had 1970s cars with their numb on-center/overboosted steering and the slightly-terrifying "Turn? What? OH, you want ME to turn. What? NOW?" messages they offer the driver.

My '89 Custom Cruiser isn't that bad, but her steering wheel is multiple degrees off-center (the steering wheel is canted a few inches to the left when going straight). This has been diagnosed as a "worn/bad idler arm", with "worn tie-rod ends" not helping.

I don't expect the steering to be precise, but would an idler arm issue account for the, well, "loose bolt" feel I'm getting? [As you steer off-center (such as it is) it feels like a bushing is gone or something as you wiggle the wheel back and forth.]

I doubt this bit has ever been replaced, and I'm satisfied with its near-170,000 miles of service. Seems most agree that going "cheap" here isn't the way and that $175 or so installed for the best part isn't bad. [But complete loss of steering control when it fails, IS!]

Do I have this figured correctly, either in components or costs? Two tons-worth of station wagon will be "entertainment" enough this winter without something failing on me...

Thanks in advance,

Drew

With that many miles, it could be a combination of mutiple things being slightly worn, or 1 or 2 bad items. The steering wheel being off center can be solved with an alignment.
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Old November 26th, 2010, 10:56 PM
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And they won't align it with worn parts.
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Old November 27th, 2010, 03:04 AM
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The idler arm is fairly easy to replace... and the tie rods too...if you have the tools, go for it
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Old November 27th, 2010, 04:24 AM
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And don't be surprised if they tell you you'll also need ball joints and upper control arm bushings to get an correct alignment, once it gets on the rack.
Those kind of miles with that much weight has a tendancy to wear things out.
You coud save money by buying one of those 'compete kits' that was on the back pages of some of the magazines - even step-up to polyuerethane on some parts, for reasonable money.
Some shops double the cost on parts, but will install yours, if slow and you're in no hurry.
Especially if they're hard to find!

Last edited by Rickman48; November 27th, 2010 at 04:27 AM.
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Old November 27th, 2010, 05:48 AM
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You need to get under that car NOW and check your steering linkage.

Get the car up in the air and get an assistant (age 4 or higher recommended) to sit in the driver's seat with the engine off and the ignition unlocked and rapidly turn the wheel from side to side, about 2 inches each direction, while you lie underneath and, starting at the Pitman arm, look for loose movement. If something looks tight, put your hand around it and feel for differential movement that you can't see.
Make a list of all the loose parts.
If anything is REALLY loose (Loose = 1/16", REALLY loose = 1/8" to, God forbid, 1/4"), DO NOT DRIVE THE CAR. Really loose tie rods, etc can and will, one day, let go, causing the steering to no longer steer. This is not an experience you want to have should "one day" become "today."

- Eric
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