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Old 10-28-2021, 07:58 PM #1
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Stiff Steering with a Difference

Hello,
My girl has a 2007 4Runner Sport with 177k miles. Two weeks ago she mentioned her steering felt "a little stiff". Initially, I thought it was in her head because we had just returned from vacation which included her driving my 2018 Jeep JKU for the week.

Out of curiosity, I decided to take the 4Runner for a ride. Three things quickly became apparent:
  1. OMG was she understating the "stiffness'
  2. Vehicle is scary to drive
  3. She's much stronger than me

Off to our favorite mechanic we went. A week and nearly $4k later the vehicle is different, somewhat less stiff but definitely not right.

So far we have had the following work performed:
  1. Changed the power steering fluid
  2. Replaced the power steering pump
  3. Replaced the rack
  4. New tires & alignment

I read other threads on the site, watched the YouTube videos but we have one different scenario. The vehicle feels normal when we drive in the rain. I'm guessing that water is lubricating something that's ready to fail.

Opinions?

Thanks in advance
drew
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Old 10-28-2021, 08:10 PM #2
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Did you do a suspension check? The upper & lower ball joints & tie rod ends, steering shaft joints wheel bearings for binding.

Last edited by 214RUNNER; 10-28-2021 at 08:26 PM.
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Old 10-28-2021, 08:16 PM #3
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Steering wheel got stiff on our 2007 with 216K miles. Was fully fixed and back to normal by changing the one shaft with a universal joint. It connects the steering wheel to the steering rack. This thing gets rusty. Lubrication helps temporarily. The part was about $230 and it was more labor because the rust made it so much more difficult. In any case, all was good after $650 total. I'm surprised that was not the first thing they replaced.
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Old 10-28-2021, 08:35 PM #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imschur View Post
Hello,
My girl has a 2007 4Runner Sport with 177k miles. Two weeks ago she mentioned her steering felt "a little stiff". Initially, I thought it was in her head because we had just returned from vacation which included her driving my 2018 Jeep JKU for the week.

Out of curiosity, I decided to take the 4Runner for a ride. Three things quickly became apparent:
  1. OMG was she understating the "stiffness'
  2. Vehicle is scary to drive
  3. She's much stronger than me

Off to our favorite mechanic we went. A week and nearly $4k later the vehicle is different, somewhat less stiff but definitely not right.

So far we have had the following work performed:
  1. Changed the power steering fluid
  2. Replaced the power steering pump
  3. Replaced the rack
  4. New tires & alignment

I read other threads on the site, watched the YouTube videos but we have one different scenario. The vehicle feels normal when we drive in the rain. I'm guessing that water is lubricating something that's ready to fail.

Opinions?

Thanks in advance
drew
Quote:
Originally Posted by 214RUNNER View Post
Did you do a suspension check? The upper & lower ball joints & tie rod ends steering shaft joints wheel bearings for binding.
Quote:
Originally Posted by camion View Post
Steering wheel got stiff on our 2007 with 216K miles. Was fully fixed and back to normal by changing the one shaft with a universal joint. It connects the steering wheel to the steering rack. This thing gets rusty. Lubrication helps temporarily. The part was about $230 and it was more labor because the rust made it so much more difficult. In any case, all was good after $650 total. I'm surprised that was not the first thing they replaced.
Seeing that you're from the "snow/salt on the road rust belt" I also think it very well could be the intermediate steering shaft, as a simple test look under the hood on the driver's side of the engine, follow the steering shaft from the firewall down towards the rack and pinion assembly until you see a 4-way bearing/U-joint, spray it well with some good penetrating oil/spray then take it for a test drive and see if that loosens up the steering, if so now you know the culprit, the penetrating spray will only be temporary, next step to fix it is to replace the intermediate steering shaft.

This is a common failure after many miles in the rust belt, I too am surprised your "mechanic" didn't check it first instead of throwing several thousand dollars worth of parts at it!!
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Last edited by AuSeeker; 10-28-2021 at 08:38 PM.
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Old 10-28-2021, 09:56 PM #5
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Thank you for the replies. The mechanic might have checked the ball joints & tie rod ends and didn't mention it. I'm going to verify. I will also share the info listed here. The vehicle steering normally in the wet had me scratching my head a bit.

Most parts that face the pavement are quite corroded. My tundra frame quit with much less lol. Often in my town, the road salt is deeper than the snow.

Thanks again
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Old 10-28-2021, 10:07 PM #6
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The fluid surely isn't what's causing what you described but just want to be sure you know the 4th Gen 4Runner doesn't use power steering fluid in the system, it requires Dexron type ATF. That surprises many people, including me when I bought my truck in 2014.

Last edited by Bluesky 07; 10-28-2021 at 10:10 PM.
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Old 10-29-2021, 06:53 AM #7
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What is wrong with my steering?

Steering Column U-Joint

2005 4Runner Stiff Steering - Toyota 4Runner Forum - Largest 4Runner Forum

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqPF_SNueyg
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Old 10-29-2021, 07:56 AM #8
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That Youtube video posted by @Bossman above is a very good one to watch.
Gives you a clear idea of what the problem is and a sense of how much of a pain it can be to remove it. That's why when my mechanic charged me more than he originally estimated the job at I fully understood and gladly paid him.
In theory it's straight forward but in practice a pain.
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Old 10-29-2021, 12:56 PM #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imschur View Post
Hello,
My girl has a 2007 4Runner Sport with 177k miles. Two weeks ago she mentioned her steering felt "a little stiff". Initially, I thought it was in her head because we had just returned from vacation which included her driving my 2018 Jeep JKU for the week.

Out of curiosity, I decided to take the 4Runner for a ride. Three things quickly became apparent:
  1. OMG was she understating the "stiffness'
  2. Vehicle is scary to drive
  3. She's much stronger than me

Off to our favorite mechanic we went. A week and nearly $4k later the vehicle is different, somewhat less stiff but definitely not right.

So far we have had the following work performed:
  1. Changed the power steering fluid
  2. Replaced the power steering pump
  3. Replaced the rack
  4. New tires & alignment

I read other threads on the site, watched the YouTube videos but we have one different scenario. The vehicle feels normal when we drive in the rain. I'm guessing that water is lubricating something that's ready to fail.

Opinions?

Thanks in advance
drew
It's disappointing to see that he had the rack out and did not inspect/replace the intermediate steering shaft.

As others have already mentioned, this is generally the issue for stiff steering. Replacing mine turned the 4Runner from driving a bulldozer to driving a sedan.
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Old 10-29-2021, 01:28 PM #10
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+1 on the above.. that's a really big shame.. sure was nice of the mechanic to start with the most expensive parts first but sounds like he was just checking off component items related to the steering system.. good thing is at least you know have a brand new pump and rack to hopefully last you the remaining lifetime of the vehicle once you get the intermediate shaft replaced.
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Old 10-29-2021, 04:22 PM #11
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I have a suggestion that I have mentioned in other posts. If you have a grease gun, get a needle fitting. It looks like a needle that goes in your arm but it's for grease. Our 4runners do not have greasable fittings on the front end. Insert the needle in the boot of any of the tie rods or ball joints and pump until grease comes out.

Makes a world of difference. Fitting is about 3-5.00.
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Old 10-30-2021, 08:55 PM #12
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I verified with the mechanic, says he did check the steering shaft. The 4Runner is going back to the shop Tuesday. I'm going to request he replace the steering shaft regardless. Sounds like if by some chance it's not the problem it will be soon. I do believe it is the problem though. Tomorrow I'll grease the other components just for sport.

Thanks for all the helpful advice.
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Old 10-31-2021, 08:42 AM #13
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I had a similar symptom and I had the lower intermediate steering shaft replaced. The U-joint gets rusted and swollen and very hard to turn. I shopped around; the cheapest I could find the genuine Toyota part (45203-35310) for was $145. Chinese ones are far less costly, but query the quality. It's not a particularly complicated job for a mechanic to do except that it's apparently a bear to get the splined slip fittings separated on the old one. Steering is so, so much smoother now.

I don't know if this would help in your case but apparently it's a very common malady in 4th-gen cars.



Quote:
Originally Posted by imschur View Post
Hello,
My girl has a 2007 4Runner Sport with 177k miles. Two weeks ago she mentioned her steering felt "a little stiff". Initially, I thought it was in her head because we had just returned from vacation which included her driving my 2018 Jeep JKU for the week.

Out of curiosity, I decided to take the 4Runner for a ride. Three things quickly became apparent:
  1. OMG was she understating the "stiffness'
  2. Vehicle is scary to drive
  3. She's much stronger than me

Off to our favorite mechanic we went. A week and nearly $4k later the vehicle is different, somewhat less stiff but definitely not right.

So far we have had the following work performed:
  1. Changed the power steering fluid
  2. Replaced the power steering pump
  3. Replaced the rack
  4. New tires & alignment

I read other threads on the site, watched the YouTube videos but we have one different scenario. The vehicle feels normal when we drive in the rain. I'm guessing that water is lubricating something that's ready to fail.

Opinions?

Thanks in advance
drew

Last edited by 2003V8LTD; 10-31-2021 at 10:39 PM.
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