PDA

View Full Version : Steering Wheel Play?/Front-End Weirdness


ProfChaos
09-08-2005, 07:57 PM
When I bought Lorena the '96 Cobra, I was aware that there was a weirdness in the occasional excessive play/wobble of the steering wheel. ("As-is" is "as-is", and she's a sweet ride, nonetheless.) Even so, this steering wheel wobble--as far as I can tell--has nothing to do with wheel alignment (my first suspect): I see no abnormal tread-wear on the tires, and the car does not pull to one side or the other. Also, the wheel balance is apparently not the culprit either, as I recently had the wheels balanced and rotated, with no effect to the steering wheel wobble.

Regarding more specifics of the symptoms, I seem to notice the steering wheel wobble most when de-celerating, without brakes applied. At first, I thought it might be weirdness from road crowns, but it seems to behave the same way on various road surfaces, regardless the size of the road-crown.

Am I right in suspecting that there might be steering-gear wear causing the steering wheel to wobble as I de-celerate? Could warped front brake rotors cause the same effect? Or, might there be something in the front suspension/tie rods, etc., causing the steering wheel wobble? ...Or, might there be something else? :scratch:

thanks for your help.
--Professor Chaos

dewone
09-09-2005, 09:52 AM
Indeed warped rotors can cause wobble, I don't think thats your problem if when you apply the brakes the wobble doesn't get worse. Try to get under the car safely with a small pry bar, and at every connection point of the suspension apply pressure to each to see if you get exssesive movement. Like the tie rod ends don't try to pry them out but look to see if the bushing inside is worn allowing to much movement. Go around to each point and perhaps you'll find something.
For the gears in the steering gear box have a friend turn the steeering wheel while you watch the pitman arm. As they turn the wheel left to right.... see if the pitman arm reacts with the movement. If they turn from one way to the next and the movement in the arm isn't in pace with the wheel. The gears may have worn. That isn"t to common though. I suspect your suspension bushings.

bolt-on
09-10-2005, 11:32 AM
For the gears in the steering gear box have a friend turn the steeering wheel while you watch the pitman arm. As they turn the wheel left to right.... see if the pitman arm reacts with the movement. If they turn from one way to the next and the movement in the arm isn't in pace with the wheel. The gears may have worn. That isn"t to common though. I suspect your suspension bushings.[/QUOTE]

I don't think a 1996 Cobra has a Pitman arm. You must have been thinking or your 1930 Buick :rotf: . My first guess is warped brake rotors, but it is puzzling that you have the wobble before applying the brakes. If the car is high mileage the steering rack may be worn out, but this would be indicated by a tendency for the car to wander side-to-side with the car driven straight and the steering wheel held steady. The above is a good suggestion, but observing movement of the tie rods (not Pitman arm) in relation to movements of the steering wheel. Another guess is worn suspension bushings. Ford uses rubber bushings for noise and vibration insulation. If worn out, they may be the cause of the wobble sensation.

ProfChaos
09-12-2005, 01:12 AM
Thanks, dewone, bolt-on.

I suspect that, since the car is a high-mileage unit (110K), both the suspension bushings and tie-rod ends could use replacing, along with the shocks.

Earlier in the week, I talked to an SVT-certified tech (who works on Cobras and performance Mustangs on the side), and he is going to help me "shotgun" the suspension: neoprene bushings, shocks, tie-rod ends, and either an Eibach or a Steeda spring kit...I'll think about the Kenny Brown lower chassis brace, after I see the bill. ;)

Thanks again for your helpful input.
--Professor Chaos

ausie
09-12-2005, 08:13 AM
is it possible for the steering column to be loose or hitting something? IT may be damaged from changing headers or from an impact (that is if the car was rebuilt). I would check the steering column as well if nothing else brings light to the wobble. It may be a power steering pump surge if it is only felt in the steering wheel and the car tracks good. Just a guess.

dewone
09-13-2005, 09:24 AM
Yeah bolton your right. Sometimes I may be alittle old school. We do what we can. Ausie has another thing there that may be the cause though, hadn'nt thought of that. Could be any number of things. Just be carefull, and sometimes the answer is staring you right in the face and you don't see it.
Hopefully you'll find something loose there that can easilly be replaced.

ausie
09-14-2005, 07:25 AM
The more I think of it, the more it sounds like a tie rod end (inner or outer). If you get an occasional creak or pop when driving slow (you definately will hear it) that would point to the lower ball joints. Both ball joints and tie rod ends can be inspected with the front end off the ground. (deep guess, but probably not the cause) Worse case would be a loose K member or at best a worn out motor mount since the front wheels are held in place by the A arm attacted to the K member. Any vibration from the motor may be translated through the K member to the A arms and so forth. I would have the sub frame checked for cracks along the seams where the body attaches to the sub frame (probably one of the more difficult things to locate). When was the last time the snake had a wheel alignment? If all components check out fine, it may just be an alignment issue. If you still cannot determine the cause it may just be a loose bolt (check the strut bearing plate, k member bolts, steering rack mount bolts, etc.....)

My thoughts on the deceleration (motor braking); even though you are not using the brakes at this point, the weight transition increases on the front end by the leverage caused by the slowing rotation of the rear end. The force transfered to the front may compress the suspension, if the car is lowered without the proper steering knucke (or spindal) the compression of the suspension from the deceleration may increase the amount of toe in on the front wheels due to the change in front suspension geometry. I am not sure that would cause a wobble though, but more likely a pull in one direction which may be random occurance. It may be possible that the wheels or tires are not completely round but you probably would notice that even under acceleration or at high speed for sure.

ausie
10-02-2005, 01:40 PM
Just a thought on this, you may also want to check the steering yokes that are located under the dash as well ( I believe it is attaced with set screws to the column shaft).

ProfChaos
11-25-2005, 02:20 PM
When I bought Lorena the '96 Cobra, I was aware that there was a weirdness in the occasional excessive play/wobble of the steering wheel. ("As-is" is "as-is", and she's a sweet ride, nonetheless.) Even so, this steering wheel wobble--as far as I can tell--has nothing to do with wheel alignment (my first suspect): I see no abnormal tread-wear on the tires, and the car does not pull to one side or the other. Also, the wheel balance is apparently not the culprit either, as I recently had the wheels balanced and rotated, with no effect to the steering wheel wobble.

Regarding more specifics of the symptoms, I seem to notice the steering wheel wobble most when de-celerating, without brakes applied. At first, I thought it might be weirdness from road crowns, but it seems to behave the same way on various road surfaces, regardless the size of the road-crown.

Am I right in suspecting that there might be steering-gear wear causing the steering wheel to wobble as I de-celerate? Could warped front brake rotors cause the same effect? Or, might there be something in the front suspension/tie rods, etc., causing the steering wheel wobble? ...Or, might there be something else? :scratch:

thanks for your help.
--Professor Chaos


The issue is resolved: The culprit was two warped front brake rotors. The outer edge of both rotors was both gouged and warped severely--even discolored--from the car having been driven aggressively (by the previous owner) to the point of overheating the rotors; the "floating calipers" were thus reduced to "flopping calipers" that were causing the steering wheel to oscillate--pulse slightly--through the steering linkage.

I had the rotors replaced in Florida as I visited the Tampa Bay area over the weekend, and once the rotors were replaced and new ceramic front brake pads were installed, viola!, the front-end weirdness was gone. :bounce:

Thanks for your earlier input.

cheers,
--Professor Chaos