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Discussion Starter #1
Okay so I took it out for a ride down the road just to see how it does past 3rd gear. I gotta tell you it was a little scary how sloppy the steering was--I could move the wheel 4-5 inches back and forth without it deviating from its current path. Way too much play in it--it was like the Jeep on MASH. LOL So what is that? And what needs to be done?
I have it in the garage now--I wanted to drive it into my basement but my deck post was in the way by 1-2", so it's back to the cold garage. I'm going to get started draining fluids and I guess tearing down engine stuff to replace the gaskets. I'm a little scared! LOL I guess this is how you learn, right?
 

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Start by looking at the tie rod ends. Grab ahold of them and yank on them and see if they feel sloppy or show excessive wear. If they seem tight have someone turn the steering wheel while you watch the steering box. This box may have gear play on it or the mounts could be loose or broken.

Inspect the U-joints in the steering column as the steering wheel is being turned. These could sloppy and need replaced.

If these check out jack up 1 side of the front end and grab that wheel and give it a shake. If it seems loose you may need to replace the wheel bearings. Do the same procedure on the other side.

These methods should help you to determine the most common ailements within the steering system of your vehicle.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Tux! That will probably be much later in the project but I will cut and paste this into my "how to" folder. I just finished getting the radiator out, I'm sure I have soooo much more to go. Fingers crossed...
 

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Play in the steering wheel is a common problem.

You can have the tightest steering gear - tierods, draglink joints, etc. and you will STILL have steering wheel play!

Some of it can be the result of a worn rag joint - that round piece of laminated rubber and cloth on the steering shaft - but most of the play usually comes from the steering box. I have a lot of play in mine but the vehicle does not "wander" as you would expect with loose tierod joints.

There is an adjustment on top of the steering box that can take some of the play out, but you must not over-adjust as this can make problems worse!

Loosen the lock nut, turn the slotted adjuster with a screwdriver 1/4 turn closkwise to tighten then re-tighten the locking nut. Test drive and then adjust again, if necessary.

If there is no appreciable improvement, you have to live with the problem until you can find a new steering box. I don't recall seeing a post that describes a rebuild kit for the steering box...

I'll look into this further and report back - unless someone else has a bit of wisdom to pass on about Samurai steering boxes...

I hope this helps!
 

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I use the dry-park check for looseness in steering. with all wheels on the ground and engine not running. a helper turns steering wheel a few inches in each direction while you go under the vehicle and look at each tie-rod end, idler arm , pitman arm end, rag joint, steering gear box mounting. there should not be any looseness. next raise vehicle and support by axles. grab tire at top and bottom then shake. there can be only slight looseness at wheel bearings and no looseness at steering knuckle. next check the spring u-bolts for tightness and the spring eye bushings and shackle bushings for wear.
squid
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Squid,
When you say there shouldn't be any looseness (with someone turning the wheel a little while someone else looks at the front end stuff) do you mean things should not move at all? Put it this way, with the car on the floor and someone moving the wheel (without struggle, it just moves that easily with a finger on the wheel before it hits the steerling lock) the tires move slightly. There's another piece up front--don't know what it's called but it's a short little arm off some other piece from that long steering linkage from the firewall. That moves a little bit into that shorter arm that almost looks like that hydraulic arm you'd see on a screen door closer. Does that make sense? Should any of that move at all? I'm just comparing it in my mind to any other car I have. You try and move the wheel and the tires don't move at all, then you end up locking the steering wheel. However, every other car I have is rack and pinion. Maybe that makes a diff? I have no clue, this is all new to me.
 

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do you mean the steering dampener?... its basically a shock absorber for the steering to lessen the shock for your steering components (at least i assume thats its purpose, im not a mechanic)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
If that's what that part is called, then yes, that's what I mean. It does look like a shock absorber and it goes horizontally left to right. Thanks!
 

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the steering dampner is so that when the wheels hit a bump or a rut it doesn't jerk the wheel out of your hands. If you still have the original equipment, it's probably not doing anything for you anymore. Aftermarket ones are like 20 bucks. That won't affect play in the steering though. What will is worn bushings. I know you mentioned that there was a lot of loose cracked rubber bushings under the car, and that can cause a lot of slop. That kind of slop is usually just a loosness to the suspension and the thing will wander on you or shimmy at higher speeds. If you can turn the steering without the wheels moving, then your problem is most likely in steering box or before the steering box. The draglink and tierod bushings can only have so much play in them, and a quarter turn of the wheel is way more play than you could get out of the linkage bushings alone.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Baratacus, so what does is mean if I turn the wheel and the wheels DO move? Keep in mind, I know nothing about any of this, so I might question something that is actually normal. I think as far as the dampner goes, I will find one and replace that, too. I think I'm going to try and do all the engine stuff first, then put it on jacks and start doing the suspension, steering, bushings, etc.
BTW, my mechanic neighbor told me I have a cam seal and crank seal that needs to be replaced. He came by today to look at what I've removed so far and at the oil leaks I have. Which, if either, is a bigger deal to do than the other? I'm hoping that both those seals will come in my engine gasket set that I have on order. And speaking of that, it comes with a new head gasket. I feel like my neighbor is talking me out of replacing that if it doesn't need to be, but I feel like if I'm redoing all the gaskets then I should re-do ALL the gaskets that come in the set. Any thoughts on that, or is the head gasket something that I shoudln't mess with at all? I kinda figure heck with it, I'm only gonna learn by doing it...right?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Speaking of shackles, aren't there shackles on the rear, too? When I took it out for a ride, it was warmed up for about 15 minutes before I left. Occasionally, when I let off the gas it would do this wild bucking thing, like you would normally see in first gear if you're not giving it enough gas. And while it was doing that, you could hear things in the rear just banging around like something was loose. Could that be loose shackles in the rear? I'm sure it could be anything and hard to diagnose if you're not here to witness it.
 

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similar thing happened to me. It started as a lot of creaking when the engine would unload on a downshift and then when reapplying power to the accelerator. I just though the bushings in the springs were creaky and ignored it. The problem was that the u-bolts on the spring/axel perches had worked loose and the axel was rocking back and forth during shifts of power loading and unloading the engine. This in turn destroyed the universal joint on the rear diff/ driveshaft. It also busted the locator bolts off of the spring packs, so the leaves were all just shifting arround, and were only being held on by the end brackets.

so yeah, check the U-bolts!
 

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i too had something similar. the u-joint on the shaft connecting gearbox to transfer case wore through one of the caps, and let go. one of the four ends actually let go, and has left a wear mark on my driveshaft... i'll get photos up of the whole joint and damage to the shaft when i can, i kept the u-joint, but dont have it on me... but i do have the cap it wore through. hope this photo works, its an example of what you DONT want :p
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I'll take a look under there later today, although I'm not sure I would definitely know if something didn't look right short of having some obvious fresh wear or metal shavings somewhere. Is it possible the sound was the rear of the body moving up and down? I see a lot of rust back there. I'll put up a pic because the rust seems to be in corresponding areas left to right and it looks like it was at either a weld point, or where the body attaches to the frame in some other way. Then again, maybe not since I do recall seeing the bolts that bolt it to the frame in the way back.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I'll take a look under there later today, although I'm not sure I would definitely know if something didn't look right short of having some obvious fresh wear or metal shavings somewhere. Is it possible the sound was the rear of the body moving up and down? I see a lot of rust back there. I'll put up a pic because the rust seems to be in corresponding areas left to right and it looks like it was at either a weld point, or where the body attaches to the frame in some other way. Then again, maybe not since I do recall seeing the bolts that bolt it to the frame in the way back.
Here's the rust, see the two areas on the right and matching areas on the left? Anyone know what's underneath there?
 

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Discussion Starter #20
LOL, yeah I know the gas tank is there. I guess I meant is there some sort of brackets that servce some purpose that seem to be in the same spots on both sides. I did peek under there and it looks like little metal "flanges" that are welded to the bottom of the sheet metal in the cargo area. I can't tell if they just sit on the frame, or are also welded to the frame as well. But they're rusting out, too. I'm going to have that whole floor back there cut out, I wonder how important those little flanges are, unless they're sort of like spacers between the sheet metal and frame.
 
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