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Old 06-20-2013, 02:04 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default That wandering feeling

I'm trying to diagnose a steering problem with my new to me Sammy. There is a LOT of wander in the steering to the point that at times I don't feel like I have positive control of the vehicles direction.
I have power steering from a 93 Sidekick.
When accelerating hard and I shift to a higher gear the vehicle will suddenly steer left when I engage the clutch in the higher gear. When I decelerate the vehicle will steer right.
Wide sweeping turns have very little feedback in the steering wheel and the steering will wander from side to side of the steering wheel play.
I know I have some bump steer caused by the z-link but that doesn't seem to be the major issue.
The linkage is tight.
I just rebuilt the birfield joints and replaced the king pin bearings.
Is the steering gear just worn out? If so, anyone have the hot ticket on rebuilding/replacing it?
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Old 06-20-2013, 02:23 AM   #2 (permalink)
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With all the mods you have was it okay before and now suddenly has problems?______
For a quick test start the vehicle so the power steering is working and see in the steering wheel ....how much play it has left to right..... i don't recommend getting under a running truck so shut it off and see if you can still get that sloppy end play and have someone up top keep turning the wheel play to left and right while you look underneath and can see what's causing it.
If it looks to be the steering box there is a way to adjust the play some but be warned if it's not done right it could lock up going around a turn and not come back to straight..... It's an easy job really with that thought in mind
Joe

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Old 06-20-2013, 02:44 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I knew I forgot something. All the mods were done before I bought the vehicle so I don't have a before/after reference point.
I did adjust the screw on the steering gear with little/no improvement. I also did the underneath inspection and found nothing obvious.
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Old 06-20-2013, 03:07 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I hear some people complaining about the "Z" Bar which i'm not familiar with and there is a better more expensive setup but i'm not familiar with it as I just have OME SUA springs that lift me almost 3" which is all i need for where i go.
Did you try jacking it up by the spring plates on each side ( lifting via bumper or frame not the same) and have someone hold the steering wheel tight and you try to move both wheels 3 to 9 o clock and 12 to 6..... have each wheel about an inch or two off the ground and take a pipe underneath it and see if you get any loose up and down motion..... there's got to be something to cause that......
Is your horizontal Stabalizer shock/dampener in good shape?

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Old 06-20-2013, 08:16 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Let me reply to Joe Z first - that's a quick & easy explanation.

A "Z-bar" is nothing more than a Z shaped drag link - it allows the drag link to clear suspension components that it might otherwise foul, but does not in itself alleviate (or cause) bump steer - it's more of a "Band-Aid" solution than a fix. The bump steer is caused by the drag link being at an angle (or effective angle in the case of a Z-bar).

In an ideal situation, with the steering straight ahead and the vehicle at rest, to minimize bump steer, the drag link should be horizontal, if it's not a straight drag link, the end points should be on the same level with respect to the surface the vehicle is on - this is not always possible or easy to do on a lifted vehicle.

There are two other approaches which may be used in combination if necessary - the first is a "drop pitman arm" which lowers the steering box end of the drag link, and the second is a "hi-steer" kit or modification, which raises the knuckle end of the draglink, usually by adding a second steering arm near the top of the knuckle. Both of these solutions reduce the angle of the drag link bringing it closer to the horizontal.

Motor - I believe you have multiple problems - torque steer is the first - the vehicle pulling in one direction under power and the other when coasting. This could be a suspension issue or a steering issue, the lack of "feedback" is more likely to be suspension, specifically caster or lack therof.

Vague steering can be caused by wear at the linkage pivot points, the rod ends, the king pin bearings, wheel bearings and the steering box itself - you say the linkage is tight and that you've replaced the king pin bearings (make sure they are properly shimmed) so you've already dealt with most of the problem areas.

Lifted leaf spring vehicles, especially those with shackle lifts, can suffer from reduced caster, and this directly affects how the steering feels - I can't quote you numbers, but, take the vehicle to an alignment shop and have them put it on the rack - the computer will provide the stock caster settings and will also measure what the actual settings are - it's not adjustable per se, but you may be able to shim the axle to correct it.

Last - SPOA - spring over axle setups can be problematic because of axle wrap - the axle twists as power is applied and this can force the spring into an S shape, causing the axle to twist sideways (I'm talking rear axle now) - this is another potential cause of your torque steer.

Because of the amount of lift than occurs going from SPUA to SPOA a Z bar would be an inadequate solution and there would be significant bump steer.
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Old 06-20-2013, 09:34 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Good tech Fordem.
I will add this:

What you ( the PO ) are describing is classic bump steer . Accentuated by soft springs.

Some will call this torque steer ( rightly so ).

A Z link will not solve this issue. But a Pan hard rod will , if set up correctly.

I see this problem a lot.

Any lifted rig that has not had a steering correction added to match the lift will suffer

from bump steer.

High steer , drop pitman and pan hard are the answer.
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Old 06-20-2013, 10:01 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I guess a properly setup panhard rod (parallel to the drag link) is one solution to bump steer, but, again - ideally they should both be horizontal - problem is, not everybody does it that way - which is why I don't like it.

If they are at an angle, the bump steer is eliminated, but then the entire axle shifts sideways relative to the vehicle - the axle is on the ground so it's not actually moving sideways, so what really happens is the nose of the vehicle swings left/right as it moves up/down - and right there you get your "vagueness".

This causes what my eldest daughter (she spends more time in the bush than I do) refers to as "land boat-iness" - the sideways slop of a small boat, but in a wheeled vehicle.

Oh - that reminds me - loose or worn spring shackles, bushes and/or clamps are also a contributing factor.
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Old 06-20-2013, 12:49 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I sure learned a lot today

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Old 06-20-2013, 08:08 PM   #9 (permalink)
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This is where that high school geometry class pays off...

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Old 06-21-2013, 12:55 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Great input guys, thank you. I've done the underneath inspection with the tires off the ground and my wife wobbling the wheel back and forth. The tie rod is solid, there's no relative movement tire to tire when shaking either tire side to side. There's no obvious play in the drag link to the pitman arm. There is play in the steering column at the steering gear. Some of that is expected but I don't have a feel for how much is within spec.

Here's where my confusion comes in. I accept that I will have some bump steer due to the z-link. But that doesn't explain the drifting when in a shallow curve on flat paved ground with nothing to cause spring compression and the resultant bump steer. The suggestion that the caster got out if whack when the PO did the SPOA conversion is a good one. Perhaps he allowed the axle to rotate slightly when he welded the new spring pads. Is there a way to check for correct caster? But even if the caster was off and was causing the wander that doesn't explain the lack of feedback in the steering wheel. Literally the truck will be in a turn and I can wobble the steering wheel and get no feedback until I reach the end of the play.
My thinking is that I probably have a combination of problems. 1) a worn out steering gear causing the lack of positive control. 2) a caster problem causing the wandering and 3) bump steer caused by the geometry created by the z-link.

Am I linking too many causes and effects?
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1987 Sammy with 1993 1.6L Sidekick engine and power steering with z-link. Trail Tough 6.4:1 transfer case. SPOA with 2" Trail Tough spring lift and 1" shackle lift. Ford shock towers with Doetsch shocks. 31" tires. Powertrax Lockright rear locker. MSD 6 ignition. 8000 lb Smittybilt winch
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