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Steering rack moving

Posted: Thu May 21, 2020 1:28 pm
by Jeonsah
Hey guys,

Has anyone had issues with their manual racks moving horizontally even when the straps tightened? What did you do to fix it? When I am driving, I can feel my rack moving slightly. I can also see it when I have someone move the steering wheel while I visually inspect the rack. I have tried adding shims under the driverside strap to stop it from moving but its still not tight enough. The car has the red poly uerethane bushing by the pinion gear and then the t3 bushing on the passenger side (LHD).

At this point, I am thinking about tack welding the rack to the crossmember....

Re: Steering rack moving

Posted: Fri May 22, 2020 3:26 am
by jondee86
This is the internet, so just because I don't know anything about steering rack bushes doesn't
mean I can't offer an opinion :mrgreen:


The design of the rack bushes gives them a cotton reel type shape and the overall width of the
bush plus the width of the "flanges" should make the bush a very snug fit both on the rack and
and on the clamp. The D-shaped bush appears to be designed to prevent rotation of the bush
and prevent lateral movement, The round bush just stops the other end flopping around.

I did see one post on another forum that suggests there may be two versions of the D-shaped bush.
One @ 34mm wide and one @ 38mm wide. Something to do with bushes for the KE and AE being
similar but not the same. So maybe if your rack is moving laterally, it may not be wide enough to
make a snug fit ??

Could be worth doing a bit of measuring if the bush has a few mm of slop in the lateral direction.

Cheers... jondee86

Re: Steering rack moving

Posted: Fri May 22, 2020 4:20 am
by Jeonsah
Thanks for the response! I am actually thinking about picking up a set of those bushings you have listed in the picture. I think I will ask them to measure the width of the bushing first. I think the one I currently have is an energy suspension bushing. The one you have listed above is the bushing from Xcessive Manufacturing.

Re: Steering rack moving

Posted: Sun May 24, 2020 6:31 am
by Nick94tt
Usually the bracket strap is snug enough on the lip of the bushing to hold things pretty solid. Is it lateral or vertical movement?

Had a similar situation on a friend's Harley with new bars. Tried shimming and some "dremel knurling" (just roughing up the bars to give the clamps something to bite into.) Eventually used a few wraps of electrical tape. Wasnt wild about that for such a critical part, but 3 years later and we still couldn't knock it around with a dead blow gently.

Not wild about putting so much heat into the rack case but you could run a bead on top of the ridges where the strap secures the bushing to give it more substance to shoulder against. Like you might for an intercooler pipe with no bead tool. I'd try a whole bunch of other things first though.

Could also get unbelievably messy and try to rig up a jig to cast a high durometer bushing in place with the rack installed. I'd say good luck ever removing it without a torch or sawzall at that point though. :lol:

Admittedly I now want to see it done and then see the look on the next guy's face when they try to remove them. :mrgreen:

Re: Steering rack moving

Posted: Fri Jun 05, 2020 4:29 am
by Jeonsah
Installed Xcessive Manufacturing steering rack straps and bushings. They definitely stop the rack from moving. The straps are reinforced and the bushings were bigger and stronger than the previous energy ones. The straps are also shaped slightly different so they clamp down harder onto the crossmember. I would recommend this product.

However, my problem is still NOT fixed. At highway speeds, the car is getting some sort of independent steering happening. Its only slightly but its really noticeable on concrete highways with the tiny slits in the road. While holding the wheel straight, the car will steer left and right. I can feel something moving through the input from the steering wheel and I have to correct it by compensating with steering input.

I have checked that the outer tie rods are tight as can be. I have checked so many things but I dont know what I dont know. Anyone else have any ideas?

Car has the following:

Manual rack
t3 outer tie rods
new but raced on inner tie rods
t3 knuckles
t3 boxy lca's
t3 tension rods
cusco sway bar with energy bushings
ground control coilovers with shortened strut casing

Re: Steering rack moving

Posted: Fri Jun 05, 2020 1:44 pm
by totta crolla
Check the universal joint that connects the steering column to the rack pinion.

Re: Steering rack moving

Posted: Fri Jun 05, 2020 5:11 pm
by jondee86
Another thing to check is that both tie rods are adjusted to the same length...


The actual length is not crucial as it depends on camber and how you set your toe-in. Just
measure both sides from a reference point on the rack and turn the rod ends in or out until
both sides are the same. Check your toe-in again and when it is correct tighten the rod ends.

Cheers... jondee86

Re: Steering rack moving

Posted: Fri Jun 05, 2020 8:13 pm
by Nick94tt
Another is tram-lining. Got some big ass tires up front? :D

Solid alignment shop may be able to help.

Happens on my Supra depending on the pavement. I've got 265/35/18 Pilot Super Sport 3's up front.

Used to happen on stickier 17" tires with a 45 sidewall as well, for what it's worth.

Roughly grooved concrete like you would find on overpasses or bridge expansion joints (or when they strip a road to repave) is usually the culprit.

In the wheeled beer can that is an 86, I'm sure it's a helluva lot more unsettling though. :lol:

It just occurred to me. If you really want to see if you can take a bite out of the driver's seat with no teeth, run the same roads after pulling the front swaybar. :mrgreen:

Re: Steering rack moving

Posted: Fri Jun 05, 2020 8:24 pm
by Nick94tt
My guess is a lightweight car, one of the smallest steering racks ever used (usually with a quick ratio or depowered rack that further lowers feedback resistance), wide low profile fronts, and maybe a bit of bump steer...

*wiggle wiggle wiggle*

Kind of thing steering dampers are good at.

Admittedly, we all do tend to go for the super tight, drives on rails, oversized go kart approach on these cars.


Just remembered a tech article about increasing the spring tension on the rack and pinion. A little increase might do it. ^_^

Credit to Mig.

Small increase might dampen the tramline feedback.

Re: Steering rack moving

Posted: Sat Jun 06, 2020 2:39 am
by totta crolla
also check the front wheel bearings.

Re: Steering rack moving

Posted: Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:08 am
by morgan
There's also something else to look at, if this hasn't been resolved yet. With the older racks, and rebuild ones, the pressure might not be set correctly. On the back side of the rack, below the input, there's a large "set screw" with an allen head drive in it. That is held in by a larger ring to lock it in place. Behind that you have a spring and a bushing/guide. If the pressure isn't set properly, there's a lot of feedback and basically, the rack shaft can move around more than it should. I had this issue years ago when I rebuilt a rack. While I set it at the same measured depth as it was when taken apart, it needed more pressure after the rebuild. Here's a generic picture...
23/24 ride along the shaft
25 applies the pressure, but not well enough if 26 isn't tight/deep enough
27 locks 26 in place

loosen 27, tighten 26, lock with 27. keep adjusting until you feel it better (FSM specifies a torque setting i believe).

Re: Steering rack moving

Posted: Mon Jun 08, 2020 9:29 am
by Jeonsah
Thanks for the input guys. I ended up figuring out what the issue was! I jacked the car up and shook the wheels again. The driver side wheel would move left and right about 1/4" an inch. Upon close inspection, I found out that the steering knuckle had become loose on the ball joint. After tightening the ball joint nut again and a couple test drives, I can say the problem is gone. I'm so happy haha. I ended up fixing so many steering related things while in search of this problem, Hopefully it should be good for a while now.

For future reference, if anyone runs into the same issue, here are some things to look for on your AE86:

1. Check tie rods and balljoints by jacking up car and wiggling the wheel up + down and left + right with your hands. Up + down means ball joint. Left + Right means tie rods or loose knuckle. If the wheel moves in all directions it could be both problems or the hub itself is loose.

2. Make sure you steering rack is not moving. Have someone turn the steering wheel from lock to lock as you watch the steering rack. When the wheel steering wheel direction changes, any movement in the rack will be most notable. You should not see any movement from the rack. I looked where the steering rack bushings are.

3. Verify the intermeddiate shaft does not have any slop in it. If you disconnect the shaft from the rack, you can shake it to see if it has play. The play is where the shaft goes inside the steering column. If there is play then you should glue it in with some sort of adhesive.

totta_corolla - During my investigation of this problem, I did find that my passenger wheel bearings are beat up. So ill be replacing those soon. Thanks for the input.

Morgan - I know exactly what your talking about. I had to tighten mine and test drive it over and over to get it to feel correct! Thank you for the input.

Re: Steering rack moving

Posted: Mon Jun 08, 2020 10:35 am
by totta crolla
Great, well done and thanks for the feedback.