Steering Clocking suddenly off ...

Suspension, Steering and Chassis

  1. dartman59

    dartman59 Well-Known Member

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    IMG_6383.JPG
    The photo is my current steering wheel position when the car is tracking straight ahead.

    1971 Dart Swinger. Regarding the front end/steering, everything is rebuilt probably 12-15,000 miles ago. K-frame is a spool type. I have the large "police" disc brakes with the '76 UCAs (tubular FirmFeels) and spindles. Large, 11/16" seamless tube tie rods/ends. Borgeson power steering box. Grant "tuff"-type steering wheel. Reconditioned Manual-type steering column with the little labeled lever you have to rotate to turn the key fully off and be able to remove the key.

    I've always been real happy with my alignment-- car tracks well and steering wheel clocking right on the 12-o'clock mark, with an even amount of left- and right-hand turns available (about 1-7/8 turns each way, from center).

    Well, here's the crazy thing that I can't figure out. Two days ago, I'm driving in the dark, straight line at 35 mph, and all of a sudden I notice my steering wheel is clocked about 1/4-1/3 of a rotation to the left (ccw)! In other words, based on steering wheel position, the car should be turning to the left but instead is tracking straight. I was completely baffled and stupefied. Later, I remembered earlier in the day parking the car on a steep upward incline, parallel parking into the space, turning my wheels to the left and letting the car roll backward until the right tire made light contact with the curb, setting the well-holding parking brake, and shutting off the car. When I got back in the car two hours later, when I turned the key and released the steering wheel lock, the steering wheel violently rotated to the right, what seemed at the time to be almost 3/4 of a full rotation. I mean, we've all felt that type of thing happen when the steering is under stress when the key is removed, but this occurrence was unlike anything I've ever experienced. But still, in the moment I shrugged it off and went about my business of running multiple errands. It wasn't until a couple hours later that I noticed the clocking issue, and it wasn't until a couple hours after noticing that I remembered the weird on-the-curb phenomenon.

    I can't figure this out to save my life. I haven't really investigated fully yet, or put it on the lift for a full look-see, but it feels like the car is now pulling a little towards the right, and MAYBE the tires have a toe OUT now, but I can't feel any scrubbing or resistance. I just can't imagine what could have possibly occurred during that parking episode that would immediately throw my clocking off 1/4-1/3 of a turn.

    And now, from the steering wheel in the position where the car is tracking straight, the wheel turns only 1-1/2 turns ccw but 2-1/4 turns cw. Those are approximations, but you get the picture I hope. Haha--at least now I have an unobstructed view of my tach!

    Ideas??
     
  2. Dartswinger70

    Dartswinger70 Well-Known Member

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    I am throwing darts here, but usually what you are describing seems like bent components after hitting something. You say it happened after parking the car so that eliminates hitting something with the front suspension components. I would shake down the front end, at this point I am suspecting the steering box, I may be wrong, its just a guess.
     
  3. dukeboy_318

    dukeboy_318 Our Lives, Our Fortunes and Our Sacred Honor. FABO Gold Member

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    that was my first thought as well. I'm wondering if one of the older components sprung from sitting with the wheels turned and the steering wheel locked on the hill. I've actually had this happen on an old John Deere 4440 after leaving it sit all winter with the wheels turned. But that was for 2 months. not a couple hours.
     
  4. krazykuda

    krazykuda FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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    Could something not have been tightened after the last alignment and when the tire was against the curb, the alignment "drifted"....
     
  5. Dartswinger70

    Dartswinger70 Well-Known Member

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    One of the things I have seen is a bent pitman arm, but again there was no impact, is there a possibility the pitman arm shifted on the steering box shaft?
     
  6. belmateo

    belmateo Well-Known Member

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    The first thing I would check is the Grant steering wheel hub. If it wasn't super tight, it could have spun on the steering shaft.
     
  7. adriver

    adriver Blazing Apostle

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    Good point for the aftermarket wheel.
    Which I have absolutely know knowledge of.
    Now on my daily driver I eliminated the "master key" in the factory wheel hole.
    I can clock it any way I want to.
    I can move it one tooth over if necessary for perfection.
    The other thing is those tie rod ends.
    I just found one that the clamps had been over tightened sometimes in it's long life.
    The threads were holding but it actually has a little wiggle in them.
    The clamps were past being able to hold tight.
    He REALLY needs to look at those good and soon.
    Especially not knowing what a person doing the alignment might have let slide..
    All things being not worn out, I would say the tie rod ends are the weak link.
     
  8. moparlvr166

    moparlvr166 Well-Known Member

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    Steering box bolts tight but not correct torque causing box to shift when under stress. Now the fun begins fixing the problem with everything is in the way.
     
  9. BrianT

    BrianT Let's go!

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    Just throwing this out there but I had a broken leaf spring one time that would do the same thing. If I slammed on the brakes, the rear would shift and the steering would go crooked. Acclerate hard and it would pop back into place and the steering wheel would straighten out. I was a dumb kid and drove it like that for a year or two after I figured out what it was.
     
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    • Dartswinger70

      Dartswinger70 Well-Known Member

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      I remember being a "dumb kid" and driving around on bald tires. The car would always spin out in the rain. One day the road was a little wet going around a corner. There was a dump truck behind me, I ended up facing the dump truck and heading straight at it. Now I look at my sons tires every time I see him pull up in his car.
       
    • replicaracer43

      replicaracer43 Old school member

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      Your lower control arm pivot is probably the culprit...k frame is probably cracked where pivot pin goes in...simple reward job after removing lower control arm.
       
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      • 72bluNblu

        72bluNblu FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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        Something moved, bent or broke when you bumped that curb. Doesn't take much, especially if something wasn't torqued properly or had loosened up over time. If nothing else changed that's probably what it is, if you notice any differences in ride height or quality, or any weird noises with suspension travel you could also have broken a weld on the LCA pivot pin hole in the K or maybe on the steering box mount.

        You're going to have to thoroughly inspect the suspension, look for anything shiny that suggests something moved or slid, and look for bent steering parts. A helper would be handy, have them cycle the steering wheel back and forth while you look for stuff that isn't moving like it's supposed to. Could be almost anything, bad tie rod end, bent steering arm, UCA that moved on the adjusting cam bolts, loose steering box, bushing that let go, etc...
         
      • GeorgeH

        GeorgeH Well-Known Member

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        The clocking just doesn't sudden go out of whack for no reason. Need to look over things carefully for something loose or bent. 15k on replacement parts doesn't mean much these days. I've personally had Moog parts fail in under 6 months. Other things to check: Bent sector shaft on box(for peace of mind), LCA mounts in K-frame as mentioned.
         
      • 67Dart273

        67Dart273 Well-Known Member

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        I certainly hope you are not continuing to drive it until found. One of our members, "OldmanMopar" wrecked a gorgeous A body because an upper A arm adjustment cam came loose

        My take.........what you drove it "after"........does it seem to drive and handle "normally?" No pulling, etc, tire screeching? Do the tires "look" OK straight ahead?

        If so, I would first tear apart the wheel/ adapter setup, and have someone watch the column/ coupler at the steering box, and wiggle / test.
         
      • RustyRatRod

        RustyRatRod 30 Degrees Outta Whack FABO Gold Member

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        Sounds like the steering shaft twisted. It's not hard to do at all. Were it mine, I would inspect everything to make sure it's not bent. If you find nothing bent, turn the wheel all the way to the right and twist the shaft back in place.
         
        Last edited: Jul 12, 2017
      • dartman59

        dartman59 Well-Known Member

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        Hey everyone --great responses and great thoughts and suggestions! Just to let you know, I'm headed off on vacation for a few days and likely will not be able to get to this before I go. But, I will get to it, and I will let everyone know what the issues were once I figure it out. Again, thank you for all the input and ideas.
         
      • dartman59

        dartman59 Well-Known Member

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        UPDATE: I've been out of town for four weekends in a row, but yesterday finally had the opportunity to take a closer look. I jacked up the front end, put a couple jack stands in place :D and slid around on my creeper. Results? Nothing! I couldn't find anything that looked loose, bent, out of place, or malfunctioning. Damn, I'm stumped. All four cams-tight and no sign of slippage. Tie rods--tight and not sign ps of slippage. Pitman arm-tight to sector shaft and didn't appear to have bent ( what would bend that beefy thing other than a full-out wreck?) Pot coupler--tight to shaft. (oh yeah-this is a Borgeson box, with Bergeman's (?) Mopar conversion pot). And, yes, the steering box is tight to the K-frame, and the K is tight to the rails.

        Don't tell anyone, but I've been driving it. In answer to "67Dart273", the wheels/tires "look" straight and it "seems" to drive the same--no squealing tires or pulling on the highway (maybe just a LITTLE bit??).

        One thing I noticed is: with the steering wheel clocked at "normal" center (which, in the current condition, has the wheels turned about 3-5 degrees to the right), it's the same number of turns to the full left stop than it is to the full right stop. In other words, with the wheels/tires pointed straight ahead (see photo in my very first post), I have LESS available steering turns to the left than I do to the right. This seems like a big clue to me, but I can't process it. If the steering wheel had slipped on the shaft, wouldn't it appear that I would have less turns from center to full left than full right? I have NOT checked to see if the steering wheel slipped on the shaft, but I really don't think that's what has happened. I DID try to turn the steering wheel hard to the right, past the stop, and that didn't do anything (thankfully, I guess). I can't remember where / what causes the steering to stop at full left and full right--can anyone help me with understanding that?
         
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        • GeorgeH

          GeorgeH Well-Known Member

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          Something moved somewhere. I'd be looking at the sector shaft and the input shaft, column shaft. A sector shaft or input shaft will twist not necessarily bend. Sometimes have to pull stuff apart to see the twisted splines. Centerlink look level side to side? Some idler arms the fit is very sloppy. It takes a pretty good whack to twist a sector shaft in an oem box, Look very carefully at the splines between the pitman arm and the box. Aftermarket, who knows what kind of steel it's made out of. Toe can be out of whack and the car still drives straight. If the alignment checks good then it's in the box or column. A shaft twisted a 1/4 turn is not far from becoming 2 pieces. A calibrated eyeball is not usually accurate enough to find a slightly/barely damaged suspension component.
           
        • belmateo

          belmateo Well-Known Member

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          You might want to check your lower control arms, they have been known to bend.
           
        • replicaracer43

          replicaracer43 Old school member

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          You can't all ways tell if there is a lower controll arm bushing or k frame crack without unloading the torsion bars......
           
        • furyus2

          furyus2 FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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          Are you sure the nut on the pitman shaft is tight?
           
        • oldkimmer

          oldkimmer FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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          Have u measured the ride height. Sounds as if the lower control arm bushing is bad or the K frame tube is broken out or egged out. Over time the toe gets off more and more. Kim
           
        • dibbons

          dibbons Well-Known Member

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          My wheel suddenly clocked to the right on a month long road trip. After wearing out two sets of front tires in a couple of weeks, found the lower ball joint on the driver's side was rattling around loose/worn which threw the toe-in out of whack.
           
        • GeorgeH

          GeorgeH Well-Known Member

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          Your lucky the wheel didn't become detached and hook you into oncoming traffic.
           
        • RedFish

          RedFish Well-Known Member

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          Alignment rack will provide clues. If caster, camber, everything is wrong, look at arms and their mountings. If only toe and wheel clocking are wrong, look at everything from tie rod ends to steering gear. I would be afraid to drive it.
           
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