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Steering Wheel Centering

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Hey guys, I was @ the shop yesterday getting some work done on the rear of the car, and now my steering wheel is not centered. I noticed it coming back from the shop, but I am kinda dumbfounded how the work would have caused this. I don't even know if it occurred at the shop, I went for a movie nearby and cranked the steering wheel when I parked. I noticed it on the drive home from the theater, picked up on it pretty quick. Ill try to grab a picture later today, but while driving straight it sits 5-10 degrees rotated clockwise.
 

TMSBOSS

Spending my pension on car parts and track fees.
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3,230
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Illinois
Depending what was done to the rear of your car, this could indicate a problem. If the wheel is now off center when driving because the rear axle has shifted you need to determine why.

What was done to the rear?
 
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I had a watts link installed and had the axle adjusted back towards the center. It was flush with the driver's side panel before the install and now its dead center. Why would adjusting the rear axle effect the front steering? The two systems are totally isolated no? With reference to the body, the engine cannot move, and hence everything around the engine including the steering rack should also stay put.

I thought it was more of a electronic power steering issue, but I have no knowledge of the system.
 
sadil said:
I had a watts link installed and had the axle adjusted back towards the center. It was flush with the driver's side panel before the install and now its dead center. Why would adjusting the rear axle effect the front steering? The two systems are totally isolated no? With reference to the body, the engine cannot move, and hence everything around the engine including the steering rack should also stay put.

I thought it was more of a electronic power steering issue, but I have no knowledge of the system.

If you don't think the position of the rear wheels has an effect on how the car behaves, please think again...

EPAS could be an issue, as well..

Are you lowered???
 
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Yes, I am lowered on Hotchkis springs. I put the springs on the car in May and have driven 6000 kms since.
 
06mach1 said:
Time for a 4-wheel alignment.
+1, if they aligned the rear wrong and then did the front to match you will get a messed up steering wheel. Same issue happened with my dad's fox.
 
The work you had performed could change the axle being parallel to the center of the chassis front to back. Do you have LCA relocation brackets installed also? If these are not located properly when installed they can also effect the rear axle location. The result of the changes has left your car skewd as it drives straight on the road. Your front wheels and your rear wheels are offset from each other. That will effect your steering wheel angle and also the handling of the car in left and right turns one way will not be as good as the other. Suspension work should always be followed by dimensioning the chassis and checking 4 wheel alignment. In fact checking dimensions should have also have been done before the work was started to be honest.
 

Senderofan

Having more fun than should be allowed..in my Boss
My steering wheel was exactly the same when my LCA relocation bracket on the drivers side shifted. Long story...but straightening out the rear axle returned the steering wheel to its rightful position. Perhaps a quick check of the fender gaps will give you a clue ( not very scientific....but was very apparent in my situation.)

Wayne
 
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The car's axle is dead center and the gaps are equal. I remember originally, when completely stock, the axle was more towards the driver side and a gap was noticeable on the passenger side. When I lowered the car on Hotchkis springs, the axle was flush with the driver's side, and there was a very noticeable gap on the passenger side. After the Watts-Link install, the axle is back to center, and completely even now.

Now a few things to note. When I installed my Cortex LCAs, the axle shifted in its perpendicular axis with respect to the car. That is, there seemed to be a rotation about the differential. Basically, one rear tire was closer to the front of the rear fender, and the opposite side tire was closer to the rear of the rear fender. This was puzzling, since I measured the LCAs myself, and both were measured to factory settings. For a few days after, I deliberately found ways to drive through bumps and uneven areas on the highway to create "play" in the rear suspension just in case something wasn't sitting right. After a few days, the gap was gone between the tires and the front and rear fenders on both sides. Throughout all of this, I did not get any odd steering behavior though which led me to believe that the steering and the rear axle position was not related this time around. But I could be wrong, since the way the steering is sitting makes sense. If the axle is rotated clockwise at the rear, than the steering will compensate by rotating clockwise to drive straight.
 

isrboss

Sadil you can't repair your car on the forum, it's time to go get the alignment checked. Then report back with the initial read out.
 
sadil said:
The car's axle is dead center and the gaps are equal. I remember originally, when completely stock, the axle was more towards the driver side and a gap was noticeable on the passenger side. When I lowered the car on Hotchkis springs, the axle was flush with the driver's side, and there was a very noticeable gap on the passenger side. After the Watts-Link install, the axle is back to center, and completely even now.

Now a few things to note. When I installed my Cortex LCAs, the axle shifted in its perpendicular axis with respect to the car. That is, there seemed to be a rotation about the differential. Basically, one rear tire was closer to the front of the rear fender, and the opposite side tire was closer to the rear of the rear fender. This was puzzling, since I measured the LCAs myself, and both were measured to factory settings. For a few days after, I deliberately found ways to drive through bumps and uneven areas on the highway to create "play" in the rear suspension just in case something wasn't sitting right. After a few days, the gap was gone between the tires and the front and rear fenders on both sides. Throughout all of this, I did not get any odd steering behavior though which led me to believe that the steering and the rear axle position was not related this time around. But I could be wrong, since the way the steering is sitting makes sense. If the axle is rotated clockwise at the rear, than the steering will compensate by rotating clockwise to drive straight.

Exactly, so if the shop didn't fix the rear and aligned the front off the misaligned rear then you get a wonky steering wheel. Not a hard fix though if you find someone competent.
 
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The shop didnt touch the front. Just installed the rear parts. I think the front is compensating for the rear thrust angle and that is the reason for the steering wheel angle when driving straight. I have an alignment appt. for tomorrow, and I will check the length of the arms tonight.
 
I had the same issue when I installed LCA relocation brackets and adjustable LCAs (using Cortex parts). I adjusted the control arm lengths just to get bolts through them and when I adjusted them back to (what I thought was) stock length, there was a noticeable difference between fender gaps---woops.

Does your car still have the steering off axis now that your wheels appear to be dead center? Have you torqued the brackets down again?
 
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Neema, I still havn't touched the car since the problem started, so yes steering wheel is still tilted when driving straight.

The watts link took care of the axle being centered in between the fenders, but the problem is the axle isn't parallel to the front axle, creating a thrust angle.

I also noticed this when I installed my Cortex LCAs myself, but the problem went away after a short while. I thought the suspension just settled by itself. At the time, there was also no odd steering behavior, just a a non-uniform gap between each rear wheel and its fender. Like I said, it went away soon after.

But what I am noticing now is more severe.

How did you solve your issue? When I installed my LCAs, I had the car on jack stands, and jacked the driveshaft which brought the axle closer to the body to allow me to fit the cortex LCAs at stock lengths (18.25 inches) as advised by Filip.
 

Justin

Save the dawn for your dishes!!!
With the car on the ground measure from the front tire to the rear tire on both sides. Should be the same if they are off you won't track straight. I recommend getting it on an alightment machine and get it all sorted out.
 
sadil said:
Neema, I still havn't touched the car since the problem started, so yes steering wheel is still tilted when driving straight.

The watts link took care of the axle being centered in between the fenders, but the problem is the axle isn't parallel to the front axle, creating a thrust angle.

I also noticed this when I installed my Cortex LCAs myself, but the problem went away after a short while. I thought the suspension just settled by itself. At the time, there was also no odd steering behavior, just a a non-uniform gap between each rear wheel and its fender. Like I said, it went away soon after.

But what I am noticing now is more severe.

How did you solve your issue? When I installed my LCAs, I had the car on jack stands, and jacked the driveshaft which brought the axle closer to the body to allow me to fit the cortex LCAs at stock lengths (18.25 inches) as advised by Filip.

Sorry, when I said "centered," I was referring to the wheel being longitudinally centered in the wheel well, not laterally centering the axle. I guess that shouldn't really apply since the wheel at stock ride height may not even be perfectly centered (let alone at lowered ride heights). Justin emphasized the point I was trying to make: check to see if the fore/aft spacing of the wheels is the same in the rear. If the lower control arms are identical in length but your wheelbase is longer on one side compared to the other, I'd assume the problem lies in the brackets.

I haven't fixed my problem yet. I'll try to tackle it this weekend.
 
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The resolution to this hit me @ 5AM last night.

I installed the LCAs and relo brackets.

The shop installed the Watts Link.

Who took care of the panhard bolt that is re-used when just installed the LCAs and brackets, but is removed and must be replaced with a short bolt when installing the watts link????

Lo and behold, the bolt was removed but not replaced with the short bolt when installing the watts link. I went over to get the alignment and told the guys about the issue. We jacked the car up, lets the suspension droop, loosened the blue Ford bolt on the relo bracket, and installed the bolt that was missed. Put her down and she was sitting properly again, in terms of fender gap. Completed the alignment after that, and required some toe on the driver's side. Here are the results. Thanks for the help guys.

SaroshAdil_zps4382ff55.jpg
 

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