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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Any advice is appreciated. I had a Head/Cam package installed recently. When I picked the car up I noticed that when the car is going straight, the steering wheel is slightly turned to the left. If I take my hands off the wheel, the car goes straight but the wheel points a bit to the left. The shop removed the steering rack to install the Cam. However, they said there is no adjustment and they don't know how this is possible. :bang: They did offer to pay for an alighment - which was very fair, but..

I can't believe that an alignment should be necessary.

Does anybody know how I can adjust the steering rack or the shaft in order to correct this annoying detail?
 

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It was part of the alignment when I had my TA done once. I thought the tie rod ends are adjusted to get the wheel straight.

I am certain that there IS an adjustment for it though.

I remember them doing on my TA for certain. I'm thinking it was one of the firt things they did in the alignment.
 

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The tires will "center" themselves as you drive down the road because the front spindles have positive caster, like the front fork on a bicycle - they lean backwards from bottom to top at about 5-7 degrees.

Each side of the car has a tie rod going from the steering rack to the spindle. How the steering wheel is centered is based on how wheel the alignment shop adjusted these tie rods - which also control toe in and out.

When I align my car before a race, I frequently have this problem. It is easy to get front toe correct, it is harder to get front toe correct with the steering wheel centered.

Assuming your toe is correct in the front, here is what needs to be done to your car (this is pretty easy - 10 minute job if you have done it a few times):
- Turn your wheel straight and visualize which way your front tires are pointed - to the right (e.g. your car will go right if you hold the steering wheel centered). So, you need to move the front of each tire to the left the same amount.
- Loosen the lock nut on the front passenger tie rod and screw the tie rod into the tie rod end making it shorter (moving the RF tire to the left).
- Loosen the lock nut on the front driver tie rod and screw the tie rod out of the tie rod end the same amount as the other side so as not to change overall toe setting, making it longer (moving the LF tire to the left).

An alignment shop will know how to do this.

As a related caution, keep an eye on your harmonic balancer bolt for a few days - those things are notorious for coming out after you take them out and put them back in (actually supposed to use a new bolt when you put it back in). This is the big bolt in the middle of the crank shaft on the front of the motor that holds on the harmonic balancer. I lost a motor last Sept when mine came out. Most good shops will either key this bolt or put red locktite on it to keep it in - neither of which is called for in the service manual. :cheers:
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Subdriver said:
The tires will "center" themselves as you drive down the road because the front spindles have positive caster, like the front fork on a bicycle - they lean backwards from bottom to top at about 5-7 degrees.

Each side of the car has a tie rod going from the steering rack to the spindle. How the steering wheel is centered is based on how wheel the alignment shop adjusted these tie rods - which also control toe in and out.

When I align my car before a race, I frequently have this problem. It is easy to get front toe correct, it is harder to get front toe correct with the steering wheel centered.

Assuming your toe is correct in the front, here is what needs to be done to your car (this is pretty easy - 10 minute job if you have done it a few times):
- Turn your wheel straight and visualize which way your front tires are pointed - to the right (e.g. your car will go right if you hold the steering wheel centered). So, you need to move the front of each tire to the left the same amount.
- Loosen the lock nut on the front passenger tie rod and screw the tie rod into the tie rod end making it shorter (moving the RF tire to the left).
- Loosen the lock nut on the front driver tie rod and screw the tie rod out of the tie rod end the same amount as the other side so as not to change overall toe setting, making it longer (moving the LF tire to the left).

An alignment shop will know how to do this.

As a related caution, keep an eye on your harmonic balancer bolt for a few days - those things are notorious for coming out after you take them out and put them back in (actually supposed to use a new bolt when you put it back in). This is the big bolt in the middle of the crank shaft on the front of the motor that holds on the harmonic balancer. I lost a motor last Sept when mine came out. Most good shops will either key this bolt or put red locktite on it to keep it in - neither of which is called for in the service manual. :cheers:
Hey Subdriver - thanks for the detailed explanation. I actually did know about the tie rod adjustment, but since all they did was R&R the rack they should not have messed that up, correct? In that case, what DID they do that caused it? Could the rack be shifted a bit side to side from its' original position? I just hate to bandaid fixes like this, but if I must, I will just take it to the alignment shop.

Also, thanks for the tip on the HB bolt. I will watch it for sure!
 

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If they took out the steering wheel rack, then they had to split the tie rod ends from the spindle. They may or may not have loosened the lock nut on the tie rod itself.

I will say that the alignment is very sensitive. A two flat adjustment of the tie rod, which is less than half a turn will make a noticble difference in steering wheel position. I see it as entirely possible that just unbolting and bolting the rack can make the same minor change. Plus, I don't see this as a band aid fix. The tires will center themselves based on caster so they will be rolling down the road correctly. Matching the steering wheel position to the tire position relative to caster via tie rod adjustment is fairly normal. As I said, I have to do this more often than not after I set front toe in. :cheers:
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Subdriver said:
If they took out the steering wheel rack, then they had to split the tie rod ends from the spindle. They may or may not have loosened the lock nut on the tie rod itself.

I will say that the alignment is very sensitive. A two flat adjustment of the tie rod, which is less than half a turn will make a noticble difference in steering wheel position. I see it as entirely possible that just unbolting and bolting the rack can make the same minor change. Plus, I don't see this as a band aid fix. The tires will center themselves based on caster so they will be rolling down the road correctly. Matching the steering wheel position to the tire position relative to caster via tie rod adjustment is fairly normal. As I said, I have to do this more often than not after I set front toe in. :cheers:
Thanks: My bet is the rack is not in exactly the same lateral position. I made an appointment with a trusted alignment guy for next Saturday. In the mean time, I will mess with it myself. I estimate it is off by 5 degrees. Based on what you said, I will try a two flat adjustment on both tie rods and see where that puts me.

Sure appreciate the advice! :z:
 

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RalphP said:
I estimate it is off by 5 degrees. Based on what you said, I will try a two flat adjustment on both tie rods and see where that puts me.

Sure appreciate the advice! :z:
Five degrees isn't much. That may end up being a one flat change. My bet is you have more than five degrees if you are noticing it.

If you look at the tie rod from the front of the car, and put a 13mm wrench on the tie rod from the front, you are going to want to move the wrench upward on both tie rods. This will screw the RF tie rod into the tie rod end making that one shorter, and it will screw the LF tie rod out of the tie rod end making that one longer. That will move the front of both tires to the left relative to the steering wheel. After I did that, I would still verify toe is correct overall. Easy for me to do as I have toe plates. :cheers:
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Subdriver said:
Five degrees isn't much. That may end up being a one flat change. My bet is you have more than five degrees if you are noticing it.

If you look at the tie rod from the front of the car, and put a 13mm wrench on the tie rod from the front, you are going to want to move the wrench upward on both tie rods. This will screw the RF tie rod into the tie rod end making that one shorter, and it will screw the LF tie rod out of the tie rod end making that one longer. That will move the front of both tires to the left relative to the steering wheel. After I did that, I would still verify toe is correct overall. Easy for me to do as I have toe plates. :cheers:
Hey Subdriver: You are the man. I made the adjustment prior to seeing this last post, and I actually "Eye-balled" by sighting along the front tires and noting how much of the rear tire I could see. Then I went 2 flats on each side and the "Eye-ball" said good to go so I tightened her up and went for a drive. Perfect. :D

Thanks again and I will take it to the alignment shop anyway so they can check it.
 

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RalphP said:
Hey Subdriver: You are the man. I made the adjustment prior to seeing this last post, and I actually "Eye-balled" by sighting along the front tires and noting how much of the rear tire I could see. Then I went 2 flats on each side and the "Eye-ball" said good to go so I tightened her up and went for a drive. Perfect. :D

Thanks again and I will take it to the alignment shop anyway so they can check it.
Congrats! I actually use a version of the "eye-ball" method when trying to figure out which side to modify toe on, both for front and rear. Say my rear toe in is 1/4" but I want less. I put a six foot level along the edge of each tire and use it as a sight to aid the "eye-ball" method and base my adjustment on what I see. I know how many flats changes how much overall toe, but the side to side part is hard without a complete alignment rig. I've found this eyeball method to more than adequate. :cheers:
 

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I have had the rack out of my car ( when I installed my Hds/cam pkg), and the rack is held in with two bolts. It can only go in in one position. As far as removing the rack, all you do is separate the tie rod ends from the steering knuckles, and slide it out enough to get the balancer off and remove the timing chain cover. The steering coupler has a flat on it , so it can only go back on in one position. You can try loosening the two bolts that secure the rack to the car, and see if that does it. Not sure what changed, but I am sure it is nothing an alignment won't cure.
 
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