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Steering Won't Return To Center

USNA1969

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Sep 12, 2005
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93
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Maryland
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1972 Big Block/4-Speed
My steering tends to return to center after a turn, but never quite makes it all the way. Also, it seems to be neutral, that is, if I turn slightly to the right, it tends to stay there. Same for the slight turns to the left. Is this an aligment issue, like the camber setting? I haven't seen any abnormal wear on the tires, although I only put 5K miles on it in the year I've owned it.
 

Yoda

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Amarillo, TX
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1981 UL5
Hi there :w

First thing I'd do and suggest would be to check the power steering fluid level ;) .. there is a cold setting and one for hot fluid checks. Also check for leaks in your power steering system e.g. pump, hoses, ram and control valve. Last I would check the control valve adjustment. I know the proceedure is around here somewhere, and if you need it I'm sure we can find it ;)

Good luck

Bud
 

Evolution1980

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ZZ4, 700R4, Steeroids rack & pinion, VB&P Brakes
Rare81, wouldn't a worn gearbox / worm gear also potentially cause this?

USNA, do you have any slop in the wheel when it's centered, meaning excessive left and right movement from center without affecting the actual steering?
 

Yoda

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Rare81, wouldn't a worn gearbox / worm gear also potentially cause this?

USNA, do you have any slop in the wheel when it's centered, meaning excessive left and right movement from center without affecting the actual steering?

It would ;) but I tend to start with the easy stuff first, eliminate them then move on to more expensive repairs ;LOL.... nice call Andre'

Bud
 

GTR1999

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New Haven CT
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1969,1972,1975
Check the aligment and the control valve balancing. If the box was worn then you would have a lot play in it on center. I just had to go back over balancing the rod after the car was still drifting to the right after an alignment. Disconnect the ram from the bracket with the fornt up in the air. Center the wheel a start the car- does the rod pull to one side or stay centered?
 
Joined
Jan 1, 2002
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7,246
Location
Washington, Michigan
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'67 Marina Blue Convertible
The other key contributor to straight tracking and steering returnability is the caster setting; with power steering, crank in all the positive caster you can, usually around 3* - 3.5* is about all you can get. Makes a BIG difference.

:beer
 

USNA1969

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Sep 12, 2005
Messages
93
Location
Maryland
Corvette
1972 Big Block/4-Speed
Bud,
The system is good for leaks and the steering box is in good shape, as is the rag joint. I've adjusted the slack out of the steering by backing off the 5/8 in bolt and tightening the adjustment screw.
I'll look for the procedures for the control valve. I remember seeing it before on another thread, but can't remember the details.
Thanks for your help.
Rick
 

USNA1969

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Sep 12, 2005
Messages
93
Location
Maryland
Corvette
1972 Big Block/4-Speed
John,
Bud recommended checking the control valve, which I'll do.
If that doesn't help, I'll go for the alignment. However, I don't have the original size tires - I have P245/60R15. Will the full caster adjustment affect tire wear or other handling characteristics?
Thanks for your help,
Rick
 

jdp6000

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Aug 23, 2004
Messages
646
Location
Aurora, Ontario, Canada
Corvette
1982 CROSSFIRE
My steering tends to return to center after a turn, but never quite makes it all the way. Also, it seems to be neutral, that is, if I turn slightly to the right, it tends to stay there. Same for the slight turns to the left. Is this an aligment issue, like the camber setting? I haven't seen any abnormal wear on the tires, although I only put 5K miles on it in the year I've owned it.


You can adjust and tighten up the steering box. Its been awhile since I've done it. I recall having to raise the car from the center, both wheels off the ground. Once up there is adjustment that can be made with the bolts on the power steering box. Anyone have the instructions??

Jim
 

Yoda

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John, However, I don't have the original size tires - I have P245/60R15. Will the full caster adjustment affect tire wear or other handling characteristics?
Thanks for your help,
Rick

It will track and return better, and will have no effect on tire wear; steering effort will also increase, particularly at low speed, but that's not noticeable with power steering.

:beer
 

muddywaters

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Aug 25, 2002
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765
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wilkes-barre,pa.usa
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1988 white 4+3 coupe 99 Torch Red 6spd. coupe
Steering/Align

Just thought I'd share this, I had a 70 coupe Blue on Blue, ( too much Blue), it had a non-original 400 small block, it ran unbelievable, had power every where, anyway, I put headers and alum. intake on it, we figured we eliminated about 40 lbs. compared to the cast factory parts. There wasn't huge gains in performance, since it ran so nice to begin with. I noticed on the highway at higher speeds that it would wander where it didn,t before. My alignment shop, who is the only shop that worked on all of my Vette's because they always did an outstanding job, judging by the way the car felt. Anyway, I explained what I did, he suggested putting 1/2 degree of caster over factory settings and it made a world of difference.You would't think that 40 lbs. mattered, adding caster adds to the weight on your front tires, from a leverage point of veiw.
 

74bigblock

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Sep 30, 2003
Messages
1,163
Location
Barrington, IL
Corvette
2008 Z06
This sounds to me like your power steering assist is shot, or your power assist mounting bushings are shot. This is the thing that looks like a shock absorber attached to your tie rod links. Check it out... the mount is on the drivers side to the chasis.

Dave
 

80VetteL82

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Apr 19, 2006
Messages
110
Location
Boston, MA
Corvette
1980 L82 Black/Red
Get the alignment checked, it sounds like it could be an alignment problem so I would start with that because it is a fairly simple fix. Im sure you guys already know this, but there is 3 parts to an alignment. Toe, Camber, and Caster. Toe is basically the angle in which each wheel is aiming, Camber is the angle of how the wheel sits on the ground (i.e. if you camber is too far out the outer tread on your tire will wear faster than the rest of the tire because it is leaning more on the outter part of the tire.) And finally (to get back on topic..sorry) the Caster is basically what causes the wheel to return back to center after turning. How is your alignment otherwise? Do you notice any pulling while driving, or abnormal tread wear? If so its definitely an alignment issue. But like I said its pretty cheap (we charge $65 I believe)for a front end alignment, so personally I'd get it checked either way. Sorry for the long post. ;-)

80vetteL82
 

USNA1969

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Sep 12, 2005
Messages
93
Location
Maryland
Corvette
1972 Big Block/4-Speed
The control valve is ok and i had the alignment checked - it was within spec. The steering doesn't pull either way. If I point it straight ahead, that 's where she goes. But it won't return all the way back after a turn. Sometimes, though, something seems to be "binding" when turning.
 

USNA1969

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Sep 12, 2005
Messages
93
Location
Maryland
Corvette
1972 Big Block/4-Speed
Muddy,
How would I tell if it's the pump. It doesn't leak and there isn't any noise coming from it. I always thought the pump was one of those items that let you know it ready to fail by making a lot of noise.
Rick
 

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