might be a strange question. is there a way to tighten the steering on a vehicle? my subframe is a 79 buick le sabre and the steering is a little loose. not terrible but it would be more enjoyable if it were a little tighter ( wouldnt everything be). the front end was rebuilt not too many miles ago so it isnt a suspension issue.
run your palm across the tire treads.. are the tires smooth.. not stepped.. if they are stepped.. it can be a toe in adjustment is out .. with a friend wobbling the steering wheel back and forth to the limit of the freeplay.. usually engine off to begin with... examine the various components..starting with the shaft between the bottom of the column and the steering box.. sometimes the rag joint tears.. i have also had the rivets loosen up.. so the shaft is slipping just a few degrees at the coupling joint and not transferring the motion completely...next .. you will want to examine the pinch bolt on the coupling.. that its not loose and allowing the splines to shift slightly...while examining this.. while the steering is being rocked.. make sure that the input shaft where the coupling is bolted up is NOT moving slightly in and out.. it should ONLY be rotating.. from under the truck.. look at the pitman shaft coming out of the steering box.. it should NOT rock back and forth inside the housing extension.. this is a wear point.. if the shaft moves back and forth inside the housing. the box may need to be rebuilt at a rebuilder.. where they bore and install a new bushing or bearing.. next.. look at the end of the pitman arm.. see if the back and forth movement is INSTANT.. that when the pitman arm moves.. the center drag link responds...do the same with the other components.. and check the idler arm for excessive play.. if the end of the arm moves up and down.. your steering will be loose...with a chunk of 2x4 on the saddle of your floor jack.. lift the lower control arm out as far as you can without touching the tire.. lift the tire just slightly off the ground.. use a big prybar to lever the bottom of the tire in and out while you have your hand on the lower ball joint and the bottom of the spindle.. do you get any vertical movement.. NO is GOOD.. do you get any horizontal movement??? no is good.. you have said the front suspension was rebuild not long ago...were the control arm bushings installed?? they have to be tightened only at ride height or they will tear out and have very short lives.. last thing is to look at the wheel alignment specs.. how much depends on your actual tire sizing.. if you have massive wide tires.. this you really need to discuss with a wheel alignment specialist.. or a frame repair man.. i am not talking about the average wheel alignment guy at the local tire dealer.. i am talking a specialist shop that ONLY does wheel alignments.. if you live in or near a larger city.. you might also be able to find a frame specialty shop.. this is NOT usually a body shop.. they are specialist shops who do two things.. unbend frames and wheel alignments to make the cars drive perfect after somebody have wrinkled them slightly.. when i set my 60s cars up.. i did my own wheel alignments.. but i have a set of turn table slip plates.. and real caster camber gauges.. when i worked in a tire center in the early 80s.. left camber was 1/2 degree positiveright was 1/4 degree positive..the camber is the leaning IN or out at the top of the tires.. slightly more lean out on the left top counteracts the crown of the road.. so it does not drift to the right when you turn loose of the wheel..caster was 1 1/2 negative.. i have run as much as 2 1/2 negative on my GTO.. caster negative is the upper ball joint centerline behind the lower ball joint.. so the tires lean into the corner.. similar to a motorcycle front tire.. caster is really important .. ever see a kid riding one of those folding aluminum skooters.. if he has the axle of the front wheel like a shopping car . behind the center of the pivot.. it will have a really hard time riding it.. it will want to jump out from under him sideways.. .. but all he has to do is rotate the steering 180 degrees with the axle in front of the centerline of the pivot.. and it will go straight without any problem.. with negative caster.. the wheels are held in center by the weight of the car.. ever so slightly.. ever seen a Mercedes benz with its wheel turned really hard.. most of those have 9 or 10 degrees of negative caster.. but thats designed in.. hard to change the alignment enough to get anywhere near that in a domestic chassis.. and you usually don't need that much.. i hope that i have steered you in the right direction.. one thing.. you might want to try 2 or 3 different caster settings.. if you are NOT happy with the first one.. be sure to use the same alignment tech.. and if he is using a computerized alignment machine.. ask for the print out.. again.. different tire , weight and wheel base combos throw changes into the wheel alignment setting needs..
OH... if you get free play INSIDE the steering box.. this requires a bunch of knowledge of how to properly adjust it.. get it wrong and you can really damage the box.. wheel alignment and frame guys are really good at these adjustments.. if you need to adjust it.. post and keep kicking this up if i don't answer in a day or 2..
i took it to a mechanic to have the front end looked at. the mechanic said the suspension was in good shape. he made the adjustment on the power steering pump itself. he warned me that the steering might be a little tight at first but will loosen up once i drive it a bit. well i dont like it. the steering is still loose but now its loose and jerky. the truck seems to float and when you adjust it the adjustments are really jerky and its annoying. its not un-drivable but it requires constant adjustment so driving it is a lot more work than you would expect. now that the truck runs so well its disappointing that the steering is the restrictive link. im looking to find a really good shop here in albuquerque that specializes in steering and suspension to take a look at it and get the rattle on track.
on a side note the truck is running top notch. the fuel injection is dialed in pretty well and i have been using the truck as a daily driver for a few months now. it starts well... even in this stupid cold morning weather and besides the loose steering is awesome to drive around in. i love my truck.
you have several choices...and i think the mechanic made your steering box adjustment too TIGHT... its a hard thing to describe... i will come back tonight and see if i can... find in your area...either a frame repair specialty shop....a specialty wheel alignment shopthose are the best choices...wheel alignment is a specialty... a few mechanics have it down... way too many don't..
print the instructions i first posted.. get a friend and follow them...i went back and edited them...made the ones that are a MUST in bold...with a helper.. those take me less than 5 minutes ..
ended up taking the truck in to a suspension shop and they said my steering box is pretty much dead. they adjusted it to its max settings (not sure what that means but thats what they said) and the steering is much much better. the next step is going to be replacing the steering box. the issue im facing now is this. the steering is pretty good. not great but good. my front end is a 1979 model so even if its perfect what i have is a brand new 1979 suspension and steering system. i may start looking for a replacement rack and pinion system that i can bolt into place. i would like something that will bring the steering up into the 90's.
nah... don't throw a rack and pinion at it...read the steering box upgrade article over at car craft...http://www.carcraft.com/techarticles/ccrp_0901_gm_steering_box_upgrade/viewall.htmlthis will help a LOT...
i read the article and im going to talk to the suspension shop to see if putting a better style of steering box will help. the adjustments they did are good but you know when its right and it just isnt yet. i love my truck and i love driving it. im not going to let something like this stop me.
the new steering box is in. i had the option of using a direct replacement or a sportier unit that has a shorter turn radius. i went sportier. i havent gotten a chance to drive it yet but the shop called me after the test drive and said its correct now. no drifting and no play in the wheel. im pretty excited.
been driving it for a few days now. its great! i was afraid the new box wouldnt fix the problem but it sure did.its straight as an arrow. im very happy with it. spent the day installing my fender bracing. im chasing rattles and squeaks now. oh and i installed a new rear view mirror.