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Old 06-04-2014, 03:32 PM #1
drallan drallan is offline
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Stiff steering

My 99 ltd 150k has stiffer than expected steering. It isn't too difficult, but it seems to take more effort than I've experienced in other vehicles. I've also noticed that when coming out of a turn if I let go of the wheel it will continue to turn and very slowly straighten up (hopefully that made sense). On other vehicles I have had when you let go of the wheel it will quickly spin back to center.

A bit of history:

Bought the vehicle last summer w/ 135k on it. Used from guy on side of road. Got a good deal but it needed some work. The guy said that he was unaware of any previous accidents (he got it from his Father in Law). Carfax was clean, but it was clear some work had been done. LCA has junk yard markings and there is clearly some metal that was fixed in the engine bay. Either way, got a good price and didn't mind doing some work.

Initially it had really loose and sloppy steering. If you hit a dip in the road it would just wander on its own for a few seconds. Over the past year I've been trying to solve the sloppy steering. I believe that I have solved the slop, but now steering feels stiffer than I would expect. I'm not sure if I messed something up along the way, or if now that I have the slop under control I am just now noticing the stiffness.

I have searched the forums and have tried most of the common solutions, but have yet to fix the problem.

New tires Bridgestone A/T's of some sort (265/75/16? forget exact tire spec, what ever the bigger option for stock size is) when it was purchased ~12k ago

New swaybar links (Autozone brand), 1 was broken ~ 12k ago.

Replaced Steering Rack Bushings last summer ~10k ago. (what ever the recommended kit this website suggests, forget which one specifically)

Power Steering pump flush ~ 1 mo ago

Alighment ~1 mo ago

Lower Ball Joints (Napa) ~ 1 week ago

Now everything seems to be good on the sloppy side, but is a bit stiff. It is my wife's DD so I don't drive it that often, and unfortunately I don't get much help from her w/ regards to diagnostics. I noticed that the steering was stiffer sometime between the bushings and PS flush, but was hoping that the flush and new LBJs would solve the stiffness.

What is my next step in diagnostics? Steering shaft? Steering Guide? I have found a write up for a 4th Gen, do the same steps apply to the 3rd? Things look a bit different from the pics in the thread to what I see under my car.

Is it possible I damaged the steering rack while putting in new bushings? Things were really tight going back together and had to pry the rack in a few spots to get all the bolt holes to line up. Especially where it looks like the rack guide sits.

Other thoughts?

Thanks!

Last edited by drallan; 06-04-2014 at 03:41 PM.
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Old 06-04-2014, 11:08 PM #2
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Same thing was going on with my 98 Ltd. Had the steering rack replaced today along with lower ball joints. Problem gone and steering is like new now. easy to turn and easily returns to center coming out of turns.
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Old 06-05-2014, 08:47 AM #3
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How did you determine you needed to do the steering rack? Did you do LBJs then the rack or both at the same time?

My rack doesn't leak and most of the threads related to replacing the steering rack talk about excessively loose steering, but I haven't seen too many where a bad rack caused stiff steering.

The more I think about it, I'm wondering if I didn't tighten/overtighten the rack guide bolt when I did the bushings. I have a feeling I threw my wrench on everything I saw under there just to snug up (without knowing what it was). I'm going to try and loosen the guide bolt a bit tonight and see if that solves the problem.

If I did over tighten it, will it need to be replaced or can I just loosen it up a bit?

Any other thoughts?
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Old 06-05-2014, 09:37 AM #4
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Stiff steering and poor return-to-center are signs of your caster being out of spec. When did you last did the truck aligned?
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Old 06-05-2014, 10:01 AM #5
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Alignment was done about 3 weeks ago, Ill see if I can find the print out. Everything looked good (all #s were green), the mechanic said it was off a tiny bit, but shouldn't affect anything. The mechanic is a family friend so I trust that he did good work. He is the same guy who changed out my waterpump/timing belt not too long ago.
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Old 06-05-2014, 10:17 AM #6
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I swapped my rack, steering was super loose. Had it aligned and they said all was good. But steering had about 3" slop and would not return all the way. I found my inner tie rod ends where shot on the brand new rack! Lift front end and move tires with your hands and check for side to side play. They should be solid and immediately move the rack steering with zero play.
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Old 06-05-2014, 10:32 AM #7
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Loosen your rack guide. I found that's a way to change the stiffness of the steering. It's actually very sensitive.
It took me a few test drives to get it the way I wanted.

I was doing this because I switched from the roller to the slide type. But both can be adjusted. Loosen that up and go drive it.

I think the requirement is screw it in by hand until you hit resistance. Then go another 1/4 of a turn then back it off 19 deg. It was some crazy instructions. I said forget it and set it to the stiffness I wanted.

Just make sure you tighten down your set screw good and tight. After a few drives I noticed mine had backed out because it wasn't tight enough
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Old 06-05-2014, 11:07 AM #8
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Where is the set screw? From the posts I've seen on here there is just a big nut/cap that holds a spring and guide in place, and a metal ring/washer. Do I just loosen that big nut, or is there something on the inside I have to loosen?
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Old 06-05-2014, 01:38 PM #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drallan View Post
Where is the set screw? From the posts I've seen on here there is just a big nut/cap that holds a spring and guide in place, and a metal ring/washer. Do I just loosen that big nut, or is there something on the inside I have to loosen?
no its super simple. the roller type has a hex head like a bolt but its big, like 24 mm or larger (dont remember) but first you have to take a chisel and brake loose the thin lock ring. brake that lock ring loose and the steering rack guide unscrews.


now if you ahve the slide type its the same but the guide itself has a female socket like an alen wrench.


if you have any more questions send me a PM or just quote me on here and ill see it. i can shoot you some pictures too if u need.
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Old 07-10-2015, 01:29 PM #10
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Thread resurrection!!!

@drallan did loosening the steering rack guide help? I also have a poor return-to-center. I have to "help" my steering wheel to straighten back out or I would run off the road.

The shop I took my truck to for the lift said it looks like someone had recently replaced the rack and pinion all together. (I've only had my 4runner for a couple of months)
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