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New column installed, steering wheel off center by solotwo
Started on: 04-03-2008 07:50 PM
Replies: 11
Last post by: Raydar on 04-05-2008 05:36 PM
solotwo
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Report this Post04-03-2008 07:50 PM Click Here to See the Profile for solotwoSend a Private Message to solotwoDirect Link to This Post
I purchased a column from a yard because my key would start the car, the actuator broke. The column came complete with wheel, so I installed. When traveling down the road with the car going straight the wheel is off center. I have the base steering wheel, so on the other column my right hand would have been at about 2 now is close to 3. So it is off. I pulled the wheel off tonight and discovered that it only goes on one way. So no pulling the wheel off and centering it and reinstalling. My question is this, do I need to get my car into an alignment shop and have them adjust the tie rods to compensate for the wheel being off? The wheel that came off the car is from a 84. It is marked on top of the column in the paint that yards used to identify parts. My car is an 88. The "new" column is from an 88. I can live with this for a while but I would like to get it straight some day. Any suggestions? Oh I do now have delay wipers. My car came with delay and when a previous owner had an altercation they had the column replaced with a non delay column.

Thanks,
S.Williams in Michigan
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jscott1
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Report this Post04-03-2008 08:41 PM Click Here to See the Profile for jscott1Send a Private Message to jscott1Direct Link to This Post
The column itself is keyed as well so it should only go on one way. Sometimes there is enough slop that you can move the steering wheel one spline to get it a little bit closer, but the right way is as you suggest and adjusting the tie rods.

But my success ratio is approximately 0 for 10 alignments to get the steering wheel centered. It drives me crazy when it's not straight but it must be harder than it looks, because most shops just do what the machine says and don't bother to test drive it or fine tune it. Someday I'm going to learn how to adjust my own tie rods, it can't be that difficult.

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AP2k
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Report this Post04-03-2008 09:19 PM Click Here to See the Profile for AP2kClick Here to Email AP2kSend a Private Message to AP2kDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by jscott1:

The column itself is keyed as well so it should only go on one way. Sometimes there is enough slop that you can move the steering wheel one spline to get it a little bit closer, but the right way is as you suggest and adjusting the tie rods.

But my success ratio is approximately 0 for 10 alignments to get the steering wheel centered. It drives me crazy when it's not straight but it must be harder than it looks, because most shops just do what the machine says and don't bother to test drive it or fine tune it. Someday I'm going to learn how to adjust my own tie rods, it can't be that difficult.


Loosen the lock nuts and spin the tie rod. It really is that easy.

Of course keeping alignment isnt quite so easy.
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solotwo
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Report this Post04-04-2008 07:54 AM Click Here to See the Profile for solotwoSend a Private Message to solotwoDirect Link to This Post
AP2K thank you. I'll check it out.
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JazzMan
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Report this Post04-04-2008 09:02 AM Click Here to See the Profile for JazzManClick Here to Email JazzManSend a Private Message to JazzManDirect Link to This Post
Yes, alignment is required to center the wheel because manufacturing tolerances in the column, rack, and tierods all add up to make it virtually impossible to design the centering into the initial build. If after you get it aligned the wheel isn't centered (and it should be, wheel centering is one of the things you pay for when you get an alignment) you can adjust the tie rods your self, being careful to turn each tie rod the exact same number of times to keep the toe setting unchanged.

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solotwo
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Report this Post04-04-2008 09:39 AM Click Here to See the Profile for solotwoSend a Private Message to solotwoDirect Link to This Post
Thank you JazzMan. I'll get an alignment.
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jscott1
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Report this Post04-04-2008 11:28 AM Click Here to See the Profile for jscott1Send a Private Message to jscott1Direct Link to This Post
JazzMan...simple in theory. But in actual practice which way do I turn them? Both clockwise? One clockwise, one counter clockwise? How much? Which direction to center the wheel in what direction?

I can see myself spending the whole day messing with it and just screwing it up so bad I have to take it back to the shop.
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AP2k
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Report this Post04-04-2008 12:13 PM Click Here to See the Profile for AP2kClick Here to Email AP2kSend a Private Message to AP2kDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by jscott1:

JazzMan...simple in theory. But in actual practice which way do I turn them? Both clockwise? One clockwise, one counter clockwise? How much? Which direction to center the wheel in what direction?

I can see myself spending the whole day messing with it and just screwing it up so bad I have to take it back to the shop.


One clockwise and the other counterwise. Center the steering wheel and whichever side's tire is pointing out needs to have the tie rod length made so that the tire comes inward. The opposite for the other side by exactly the same number of turns.

It would probably help to have the front end jacked off the ground as it makes it much easier to center the wheel and screw the tie rods. Dithering the wheel back and forth to get all the components lined up doesnt work all that well with so much weight on the components, you know?
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jscott1
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Report this Post04-04-2008 11:20 PM Click Here to See the Profile for jscott1Send a Private Message to jscott1Direct Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by AP2k:


One clockwise and the other counterwise. Center the steering wheel and whichever side's tire is pointing out needs to have the tie rod length made so that the tire comes inward. The opposite for the other side by exactly the same number of turns.

It would probably help to have the front end jacked off the ground as it makes it much easier to center the wheel and screw the tie rods. Dithering the wheel back and forth to get all the components lined up doesnt work all that well with so much weight on the components, you know?


Okay thanks, I'm going to give that a try next time I have the front up in the air.

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Jim Gregory
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Report this Post04-05-2008 04:04 AM Click Here to See the Profile for Jim GregoryClick Here to Email Jim GregorySend a Private Message to Jim GregoryDirect Link to This Post
Here's my sure fire, guaranteed, never fail steering wheel centering method. It won't make your alignment worse- but it won't make it any better, either. It's cheap, and you have an excuse to buy something!! Feel free to send me liquor !!

Go to your local Petco, Fryes, Radio Shack , or wherever, and buy a laser pointer. (Petco sells 'em to tease your pet with, for about fiive bucks. )

While you're driving home, note carefully the position of your steering wheel when your car is going straight.

When you get home, put your car on jackstands in your driveway 6-15 feet from your garage door. Put your steering wheel in the aforementioned position, then lock it by removing the key.

Cut a length of 2x4 long enough to span the diameter of your front tire. Tape the laserpointer to the edge of the 2x4 parallel to its length. Hold the 2x4 horizontally against the side of the front wheel, then push the button so that the laser dot shines on your garage door. You may have to space the 2x4 out far enough to clear the fender.

Have a friend ( You DO have a friend, don't you??) mark the spot where the laser hits the garage door with chalk or something else washable. Duplicate the procedure for the other wheel.

Replace Whatever The Heck you have to, but DO NOT take the car off the jackstands!!

When you're done with the suspension work, unlock your steering wheel. Put it in the position you'd like it to be in when it's centered, then take the key out again.

Hold the 2x4 & laserpointer against the front tire as you did before, and shine the laser on the garage door again. Adjust that tire's tie rod so that the laser hits the same point on the garage door ( laterally, at least) that it did the first time. Repeat for the other wheel WITHOUT moving the steering wheel.

Lock down the tie rods & take the car off the stands. You're done.

[This message has been edited by Jim Gregory (edited 04-05-2008).]

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jscott1
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Report this Post04-05-2008 10:52 AM Click Here to See the Profile for jscott1Send a Private Message to jscott1Direct Link to This Post
Wow I like that laser pointer idea. That could actually work for me.
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Raydar
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Report this Post04-05-2008 05:36 PM Click Here to See the Profile for RaydarClick Here to Email RaydarSend a Private Message to RaydarDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by AP2k:
One clockwise and the other counterwise....


You sure about that?
I was thinking that one side was reverse thread. (I could very well be wrong about this. It's been a while.)

I always count "flats" (as opposed to turns) on the adjustment. Rotate each side an equal number of flats.

Edit - I've never seen a GM column that you couldn't move the wheel by one spline or even more,
The plastic peg that contains the horn wire can be rotated from side to side to accommodate this.

[This message has been edited by Raydar (edited 04-05-2008).]

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