Sunday, February 17, 2008

Steering rod is fixed! My shoulder is sore.

So I got that stupid thing changed out. It was not easy to get it out. I had to knock the snot out of it to get it to come off. 2 hours to get it off, and only 7 minutes to get it back on. Not a terribly difficult job, but took a lot of elbow grease (and shoulder grease) to get the old one off.
I had first bought the tie-rod puller that has the jaws and the screw to pull it off. It probably would have worked fine, but there was no clearance above the center link to fit the puller onto it. I did get it onto the passenger side by turning the wheel, but I found out that the jaws were too far apart and it kept slipping to the side. So, I made a trip back to the parts store to get the one recommended by a few friends. The "pickle fork" type device. They aren't technically supposed to take returns on tools, but the guy that sold it to me was there and I explained to him that it didn't work. He found the one I needed (the fork) and I got $3 back for the difference in price between them.
A note about their loan-a-tool program. You have to get them from the front and ask for one ( a loaner) specifically. I'll do this next time, especially for something that I probably won't use ever again. This tool was only $10 though, so I wasn't too worried about buying it. Parts and all were still less than one hour of labor at a shop.
Haven't taken it for a test drive yet, (waiting on the weather to clear up) but everything seems to be fine. No movement in the steering system now.

Hopefully, I can adjust the steering again to get the excess play out of the steering wheel. I'll put it a procedure for doing this, with pictures even. I did this a couple of months ago to remove some of the play out of the steering wheel. I think if I do this again, it will actually help and improve the steering.

Total cost for this job: $60.99
center link (drag link): $38 (from
ball joint separator: $10
Other stuff I ordered from the internet to get free shipping on the main thing I needed: $12.99 (stuff I needed anyway, but didn't want to order separately)

Monday, February 4, 2008

Steering Troubles

Two weeks ago, while cruising down the highway, I got a horrible shudder from my front passenger tire (like a flat tire). I slowed down and checked for a flat, but everything was good (at first). A few miles later, same thing, only not as bad. I suspected a worn shock or steering component and got out and checked while my passenger turned the wheel from side to side while I checked for a worn component. I didn't see anything, so I kept driving, drove back home and drove all the next week. I kept an ear out for the problem the whole week and could notice something in the steering.
Then I decided to check under the car again, this time on a jack, and moving the wheel around by hand. I found the problem in one of the steering arms. After searching for parts online, and looking again to determine the exact part, I determined that I need a new center link tie-rod. The passenger side of this rod has about 1/2" of slack in it that moves when I turn the wheel. Something is obviously wrong with it.
I ordered a new part to fix this, but its going to be next Monday before it comes in. So, I've garaged it until I get the troublesome component fixed. I don't know how serious this is (I've been driving with it like this for awhile I'm sure), but I don't want a catastrophic failure when I'm cruising down I-20 in traffic.