Member Since: 31 Jan 2009
Steering stiff - New lower column fitted with guide
The steering on my car became a touch heavier a couple of weeks ago, and wouldn't return to the central position following a corner like it used to. It has been getting progressively worse and now feels like the assistance is notchy. The fluid level is fine, there have been no leaks but the fluid is brown in colour which i am led to believe is sign of a problem (fluid has got too hot). I replaced the aux. belt as I knew it was due and WD40'd the lower universal joint, but no better.
Today I jacked up the front of the car (both front wheels off the ground) and attempted to 'steer' the wheels by hand (yes steering lock is off). It could be moved but felt notchy and almost too stiff to move. So the only other options to eliminate problems before going down the new / recon steering rack route is to disconnect the UJ coupling and slacken of the yoke.
Assuming my rack is fubared does anyone have experience / prices for replacement parts?
Also is it possible to take the rack apart to check for anything obvious?
Last edited by Iain G on 6th Nov 2010 10:06 pm. Edited 2 times in total
Member Since: 31 Jan 2009
This morning I got chance to disconnect the UJ where it connect to the rack. The wheels could then be steered a lot easier when jacked up. The UJ was indeed locked solid on one of it's axis, and stiff on the other. I sprayed penatrating oil on the joint and after using a screwdriver to bend the joint it is more free to move. This is just a temporary fix in order to make sure it cured my initial problem, and I am glad to say the steering is back to how it should be.
The design of the column incororates a rubber damper which aids seizing of the UJ IMHO. When the UJ starts to become stiff the rubber damper begins to perform the role of the UJ. This means the UJ gets to do less and less movement speeding up the seizing of the joint even further.
TLO- Have you got a price for a new column.
25th Oct 2010 10:33 am
Member Since: 31 Jan 2009
For the record - a better picture:
Forget me asking for a price TLO - I see you have put it above.
25th Oct 2010 10:48 am
Member Since: 31 Jan 2009
I have now replaced the lower steering column. Now follows a guide as requested by 'Tawnyowl' and for the use of others in the future.
Difficult: Moderately easy
Duration: 2 hours for first time.
Special Tool: T10 Torx socket if I remember correctly, 300mm worth of 3/8" extensions
Preparation: Try to spray WD40 on the upper and lower bolts a few days before tackling the job.
Raise car and remove front drivers side wheel, support appropriately. Remove plastic shield from near steering rack gaiter, this is held in place by 4 x plastic rivets.
Set the steering to the 12â€™O clock position (this could differ if the steering wheel has been off perhaps). Locate the torx bolt on the lower of the UJ and get your socket in there. There isnâ€™t much room to swing the ratchet. Here is a picture viewed from under the rear side of the lower arm.
Once the bolt is completely removed slide the UJ off the steering rack shaft. This will require a few light taps using a hammer and long bar inserted from the position of the plastic that was moved in step 1. Here is a picture of the access:
The column is really not that tight so should move easily. The joints are keyed so donâ€™t worry about marking alignment.
The upper fixing looks awkward to remove but this is not the case in reality. If you are working with the minimum required length of 3/8â€ extension (300mm - as I was) you will need to remove the second battery compartment cover, and the side section below it. These are all just tabs and take seconds to remove. You will probably need a screwdriver to ease the lowest tabs outwards.
With the steering set at 12'O clock the 10mm head of the bolt should be facing upwards. This bolt was quite tight and required tightening a touch, then slackening in order to break the thread lock / corrosion. If you have small hands you can reach the bolt to pull it out once it has been undone. Failing that some intuition maybe required.
The column can now be removed by pulling it out of the access hole made when removing the lower plastic steering gaitor cover. I found the top shaft connection was held together a lot tighter than the lower connection. So much so I utilised a piece of metal in order to extend the column so I could get some leverage on it. Here is a picture of my installed method, where I used a screwdriver at the end to form a â€˜Tâ€™ (not shown). Alternatively some strong string / rope may be suitable:
The metal extension is held on by re-inserting the torx bolt that was removed earlier.
The easiest way I found to insert the new column was to extend it to its full length and push it through to itâ€™s rough position. Then, get on your knees around the wheel hub position and guide the shaft up with your right hand. Towards the top of the inner wheel arch you can make out the upper shaft joint through a small window between all the heat shielding. This gives you something to aim for, once you have jointed the top of the lower column section the rest is just the reversal of disassembly.
Donâ€™t forget to apply thread lock to the column bolts!
Last edited by Iain G on 7th Nov 2010 11:44 am. Edited 1 time in total
6th Nov 2010 10:05 pm
Member Since: 22 Oct 2008
Location: Here and there
Good write up and pics Iain
Will be doing mine sometime over the next week , cheers
7th Nov 2010 10:07 am
Member Since: 01 Dec 2008
Location: Sunny Surrey
Thanks to Ian G and other contributors to this thread. My steering has felt heavy (rather than notchy) for a while now, and I was blaming the Pirelli ATRs fitted a few months back, but after seeing this thread I thought I'd take a look at the lower column UJ. After disconnecting the bottom coupling (where the shaft connects to the steering rack) I found the UJ to be stiff in 1 axis and completely locked in the other! The ball bearings have obviously broken down in there, and there was no way of freeing up the movement even with an extension put in the bottom of the shaft to act as leverage (in the confined space available). So, on the phone to our trusty parts guru Nick @ Yeovil, and a few days later a nice shiny lower column arrives by courier (thanks Nick - excellent service as ever ).
This job definitely takes a bit of care and ingenuity to do, but is within the ability of most home mechanics with a half decent socket set etc. The bottom bolt is undone by using an E10 Star Socket, and takes a bit of trial and error to find the best angle and socket drive to work with given the limited space available. The bolt needs to be withdrawn all the way to be able to release the column from the rack, and you may need to give it a tap to free it. Then for the top bolt, which is a standard 10mm A/F Hex Head bolt. Like Ian G says, you need enough extensions to be able to reach the bolt head through the gap between coolant hoses next to the aux battery box. I didn't find it necessary to release the side of the battery box, and the bolt came undone OK (I sprayed some PlusGas on it a couple of days ago), but the fun starts when you want to remove the bolt without dropping it into the depths of the engine bay (you can't drive to the local stealership to get a new one 'cos the steerings disconnected ). I ended up using a pearl catcher (Google it!) taped to a long thin piece of wood, but there are other ways of course, depending on what you have to hand. (You may be able to get hold of the bolt through the big grommet that the column passes through at the bottom of the battery box, but I didn't try this) Just be patient, and it helps to lower the vehicle to access height so you don't have to reach over so far. Once the bolt was out and cleaned up, I tried to pull the shaft off from underneath but it was rusted solid on the upper column, so I used a small piece of metal about 4" long and tapped the lower column off through the grommet opening in the bottom of the battery box. There's just enough room to get the metal drift and a hammer in there, and a few taps had the lower column pushed off. Be careful not to turn the steering wheel too much with the column disconnected!
Fitting the new lower column wasn't too difficult, although I could have done with some help getting the new bit fitted to the top connection as it's hard to see the end of the upper column from underneath. I don't know what the torque figures are for the bolts, but as stated by Ian make sure you use some thread lock, and check the steering lock to lock before going out for a road test.
I now have nice light steering and it even centres itself after a corner, whereas before the wheels would stay at the angle they were left at unless I pulled the wheel back to centre! (Amazing what you put up with when it very gradually gets worse over a long time!)
Apologies to my lovely Pirelli ATRs for saying they were heavy (to steer) compared to my old Wintracs - all is forgiven Previously:
2005 D3 2.7 TDV6 S
1984 90 2.25 Petrol CSW
1992 90 200TDi Hard Top
1995 Discovery ES 300TDi
2003 90 TD5 Truck Cab
20th Jan 2012 12:25 pm
Member Since: 15 Apr 2010
Location: King's Lynn
Once again, thanks to all on this forum..... Mu steering had been getting heavy and notchy for a while now and I feared the worse. But gave the U/J a dousing of WD40 last night and it's light and free once more...
Fingers crossed that will do it for a while, otherwiseI'll be fitting a replacement.
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