Centering the steering wheel.

Brakes, Suspension, Rims and Tires

  1. celticwarlock

    celticwarlock Active Member

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    Greetings, folks .

    I have a '69 NY that rolls straight down the road and doesn't wander, but the steering wheel is a bit off to the left. The car does not need a complete alignment, but I would like to center the steering wheel if I could. Is it possible to do this simply by moving one of the adjustments sleeves just inboard of the tie rod ends? If so, which adjustment sleeve should I move, which direction should I turn it, and how much?
     
  2. Ross Wooldridge

    Ross Wooldridge Senior Member FCBO Gold Member

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    Both tie rod sleeves need to be move exactly equally.

    Count your turns.
     
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  3. Big_John

    Big_John Illegitimi non carborundum FCBO Gold Member

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    Both need to turn the exact same amount but in opposite directions . If you turn one side 1 revolution clockwise, you turn the other side 1 revolution counter clockwise.
     
  4. CBODY67

    CBODY67 Senior Member

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    Similarly, the number of exposed threads on the tie rod ends should be equal, side to side. End result is that the physical toe-in adjustment does not change, but the steering wheel is "centered".

    Similarly, DO make sure you are driving on completely FLAT roadways when you observed this slight off-center situation! The slightest amount of road crown will affect steering wheel position as the car drives down the road, by observation.

    "Centering the steering wheel" is usually a part of any front end alignment procedure.

    In the old days, the "caster spread" was used to help steer the vehicle toward the center of the road on crowned roads. On later flatter roads, this might result in a "pull" to the left, as the car will lead toward the wheel with the most caster.

    Back when radials became common on Chrysler products, the term "radial pull" was introduced to describe a situation where the alignment would be perfect (it's all geometry and measurements) yet the car would want to "lead" in one direction when driving straight on flat roads. The dealers were instructed to alter the caster setting to compensate for the tire issue, so the car would drive straight with a centered steering wheel. The prior bias and belted-bias ply tires didn't seem to have this issue.

    ALSO, when the alignment was done, what was the "setback" measurement? This is the "square-ness" of the rear axle's position to that of the front wheels. If the rubber bushings in the rear suspension allow the rear axle's position to not be "square" to the front wheels' position, then the car will be pushed slightly to one side, which will need to be counter-steered for a small amount.

    On some vehicles, the road crown issue seems to be greater (and more noticeable) than for others. The road crown/slope is necessary for efficient and expeditious water drainages (and related safety). BUT do get the alignment shop to re-check their work and mention the "off-center" steering wheel situation. Might be a little charge involved, too, unless they just missed the settings/adjustments.

    Just some thoughts,
    CBODY67
     
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  5. celticwarlock

    celticwarlock Active Member

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    Thank you for the information, everyone.

    If my steering wheel is pointed to the left, which direction which direction should I turn each sleeve? I know that I can screw this up very easily, and I definitely want to get it right the first time.
     
  6. Polara_500

    Polara_500 Senior Member FCBO Gold Member

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    No guarantees there. I've seen them installed backwards which would reverse the proper direction.
     
  7. luigi164

    luigi164 Active Member

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    If the car runs straight and it doesn't need alignment why not just get the steeringwheel off, make sure the wheels are straight, and put the steeringwheel back on in the "straight on position" ?
     
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  8. mr. fix it

    mr. fix it Old Man with a Hat

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    This is the not recommended solution since it will force the steering box to be off dead centre unfortunately and any alignment in the future will never be 100% correct
     
  9. BLUPORT

    BLUPORT Carpe Diem Cras FCBO Gold Member

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    I just had the alignment done on my 68 Newport, and unfortunately the wheel is off a few degrees to the right. I was considering taking the car back to have it redone, but these are the same yahoos that replaced the compressor on my '15 Mustang, and somehow managed to disconnect the TPS sensor, then had no idea why the car ran like trash... Took it to the dude at the end of the street, we checked it with a string, and while it's not the most scientific method, the wheel alignment is good, she tracks nicely, it's just trying to ignore the 5 degree offset on the wheel.
     
  10. mr. fix it

    mr. fix it Old Man with a Hat

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    You want to shorten the left tie rod sleeve and lengthen the right the exact number of turns
    Start with 1 turn and repeat until you are happy with the position of the steering wheel as you drive
    As noted, keep in mind that you want to have the car pull ever so slightly to the right once you are done
    In no circumstances should you have to steer right to keep the car in your lane with the reason being that if you let go of the wheel it won’t steer into on coming traffic
     
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  11. luigi164

    luigi164 Active Member

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    I don't see the problem. The car runs straight and steers as it should. So I assume the alignment is done correct. If you replace the steeringwheel on the splined shaft a few teeth, you don't mess with the alignment or steeringbox I guess ?
     
  12. BLUPORT

    BLUPORT Carpe Diem Cras FCBO Gold Member

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    Essentially the steering shaft is now a few degrees off to one side by doing that. Technically it's pretty harmless IMHO.
     
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  13. 300C

    300C Member FCBO Gold Member

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    I did exactly that nearly 30 years ago on my '68 300 (bought new by my folks).....never been a problem. Car was aligned and ran true but the steering wheel was canted just a tad. Pulled it off, moved it about 2 teeth and its been the same ever since. Granted I don't drive it much or hard, but it's never been an issue. Alignments can be tricky and the info on these posts is spot-on re: adjustments. I drove the tech crazy aligning my '64 Crown Imperial after its restoration....same problem but he did get the steering wheel centered per adjustments made as described re: tie rods...took some time but he persisted.

    Good luck!

    bob
     
  14. Moseman

    Moseman Well-Known Member FCBO Gold Member

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    That could work, but on some C Bodies the splines have one cut missing which will only allow you to put the steering wheel in only one location on splined shaft. See the FSM and it will show the correct way to install the steering wheel. (I just did this on my 78)
     
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  15. Big_John

    Big_John Illegitimi non carborundum FCBO Gold Member

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    ^This^

    It's called a master spline and I think they are all done like that. At least all the ones I've ever had apart did . The steering wheel is "clocked" on that master spline.
     
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  16. BLUPORT

    BLUPORT Carpe Diem Cras FCBO Gold Member

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    I had no idea it was indexed. I still haven't taken mine off to fix the wobbly turn signal lever.
     
  17. Big_John

    Big_John Illegitimi non carborundum FCBO Gold Member

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    Take the horn and wheel center off and there's an access hole so you can tighten the screw that's probably the cause of your problem. No need to pull the steering wheel
    D18C3047-82A9-42A5-B18A-73F18ED4AA7F_zpswispkzio.JPG
     
  18. BLUPORT

    BLUPORT Carpe Diem Cras FCBO Gold Member

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    It definitely is the issue. I popped the horn cover off, looked at it, and went "Meh... Maybe next time." I can't find my Xcelite drivers anywhere, and my regular bit driver is too big to fit down in there, so I'm procrastinating, thanks to other issues popping up. (Like my passenger side vent window that doesn't close tight, and seems to be a magnet for water lately.)
     
  19. mr. fix it

    mr. fix it Old Man with a Hat

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    I'll do my best to stay on track here...:p

    The steering box needs to be centered first then alignment done with that in the center position or it will not sit right on the pinion & sector shaft center point causing return to center/neutral driving.
    When I did alignments, I would center the box, then use the drivers' seat belt to lock the steering wheel in position then check the alignment check on the car

    I unlocked the wheel to do the caster/camber checks/adjustments.
    Made preliminary adjustments then once close to done locked the wheel and made sure it looked good on the rack.
    Set the toe in then test drove & then made note of the steering wheel position.
    If I had to would make sleeve adjustments to make the final finesse adjustments so the customer would be happy.
    nothing worse than a steering hweel off the center position...
    Road test afterwards making small tie rod sleeve adjustments if there was a pull and only after switching the tires either side to side in the front or front to back.
    If it does then it is tires which is no big deal unless they are worn strangely.

    You can test the box for center position by jacking the front up and turning the wheel full end to end(left to right) counting the number of rotations from left to right then dividing it in 2 giving yo the center position.
    A lot of inexperienced or hack alignment mechanics would pull the steering wheel and change the position but this is not the way to go for a good alignment.
    If you do the quick end to end test and find the car turns left or right then first remove the horn button and see if the factory spline notches line up
    The splines & notches are there for a reason which is to center things for proper steering geometry left thru right...
    If they do lineup then move onto the sleeve adjustment which will likely fix what you have or even as mentioned above, swap the tires side to side to see if it changes the pull while driving down the road.
    If the steering wheel is not lined up, then fix that first and then road test & if still an issue or worse make the sleeve adjustments until you are happy with the drive and position of the wheel
     
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  20. celticwarlock

    celticwarlock Active Member

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    You mean, shorten the driver's side and lengthen the passenger's side, since my steering wheel is cocked to the left, correct?