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straight6pwr

e34 notchy steering

Question

OK guys, just posting here to see if any of you have experienced this before, and what your solution was. I'm going to dive in and check the things I can, but hoping someone has dealt with this before.

I hopped in my e34 for the first time in awhile Tuesday. Nothing was amiss. I drove it again last night, and bam, the steering is all cattywampus. Basically, there are extreme stiff spots at random points in the steering range. The spots didnt change throughout driving. Imagine the steering wheel is a clock - the stiff points are approximately at 2 o'clock when steering to the right, and like 9 o'clock when steering to the left (this is just to explain they are at random spots, the position is irrelevant). After turning through the stiff point, the steering lightens again. It also prevents the wheel from properly centering when returning.

Things to note: The fluid level was not low, although it has been leaking forever and i've just been topping it off over the years.  And, the pump is obviously working to some degree, because they steering is light in some of the range.  FYI - the e34s do not have steering racks, they have the steering box (what garbage!)

The internet has theories, I'll list them in order of likelihood based on my opinion:

1. Steering u-joint in engine bay is binding.

a. It has dried up and needs lubrication / b. an engine mount is bad (unlikely, i have poly) and it is hitting the headers.

2.Power steering fluid is kaput. Cavitation due to leaking has introduced a lot of air.

2. The main belt is slipping on the power steering pump.

2. Steering u-joint is contacting exhaust headers. A bad motor mount is letting the engine rest incorrectly. (UNLIKELY, since I have newer poly mounts.)

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58 minutes ago, straight6pwr said:

The strut mount bearings are dead/binding.

I've dealt with this before and it really feels like it's directly in the steering wheel.
It's an odd thing,  but it makes sense.

If you jack the car up and turn the wheel does it feel any differently when compared to it being on the ground? 

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43 minutes ago, GunMetalGrey said:

I've dealt with this before and it really feels like it's directly in the steering wheel.
It's an odd thing,  but it makes sense.

If you jack the car up and turn the wheel does it feel any differently when compared to it being on the ground? 

i certainly would prefer it be the mounts to tearing apart the power steering system. glad to hear its a real possibility.

first step will surely be lifting the car, inspecting the u-joints and belt and seeing if the weight off the suspension changes the feel.

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I flushed the power steering fluid on the compact a few weeks ago. It's pretty simple to do, and the system seems to bleed it's self back out just fine. Probably won't fix your problem, but it fixed mine (groaning when turning left really quickly, old fluid looked and smelled bad)

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22 hours ago, RobZR said:

Also inspect the centerlink and idler arm pivot bushing. 

Mine had tight steering and wouldn't return to center,  the idler arm pivot bushing was practically seized.

 

i've replaced the idler arm about 5 times on this car. i think theyve had a bad run of parts. the idler arm is actually worn out and super loose again, but thats a separate problem.

got the car up on jacks finally. the notchiness was still present with the car off the ground, and i even loosened the top nut of the strut bearing to get all pressure off the bearing, no change.

i visually inspected the u-joint, and it looked fine, albeit dry. however, upon turning the wheel while watching the joint, the stiffness did seem to coincide with exact half-turns of the joint. so, I pb blasted it and then coated it in grease. the steering was much improved! still not perfectly smooth again, but it appears to be the problem. I'm going to go back under there and clean/regrease it again after a week or so.  the replacement part is actually really cheap, but based on the location and this car being a v8 model, my suspicion is ill have to lift the motor or drop the subframe to replace it. 🙄

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24 minutes ago, straight6pwr said:

i've replaced the idler arm about 5 times on this car. i think theyve had a bad run of parts. the idler arm is actually worn out and super loose again, but thats a separate problem.

got the car up on jacks finally. the notchiness was still present with the car off the ground, and i even loosened the top nut of the strut bearing to get all pressure off the bearing, no change.

i visually inspected the u-joint, and it looked fine, albeit dry. however, upon turning the wheel while watching the joint, the stiffness did seem to coincide with exact half-turns of the joint. so, I pb blasted it and then coated it in grease. the steering was much improved! still not perfectly smooth again, but it appears to be the problem. I'm going to go back under there and clean/regrease it again after a week or so.  the replacement part is actually really cheap, but based on the location and this car being a v8 model, my suspicion is ill have to lift the motor or drop the subframe to replace it. 🙄

If you need one of those motor support bars to lift the engine you're welcome to borrow mine!

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thanks joe!

u-joint: bmw $140/ mtc $30

i finally found an e34 specific write-up, and its not bad, so long as there is room to access the pinch bolts, which I think there was.

Quote

Not sure if the 530 has a different design but this is the process I use on my u-joints.

To make the whole replacement process easier align the steering wheel in a straight ahead position. Make a note of how well the steering box alignment marks line up when the steering wheel is straight ahead. If they're off by a lot, then the box alignment marks need to be lined up, the wheel pulled and straightened and an alignment done to straighten the steering wheel. Here are the marks on the steering box. Note how the pinch slot on the u-joint lines up with the marks.

Undo the large steering column spline nut under the dash to be able to slide the splined shaft into the column.

Undo the top u-joint pinch bolt and remove it. Slide the splined shaft up and out of the top of the u-joint. If it's stuck you can spread the u-joint slightly by tapping a screw driver into the pinch bolt slot of the u-joint.

Then remove the u-joint from the box.

 

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On 10/29/2018 at 12:28 PM, straight6pwr said:

bit the bullet and ordered a new joint. i want this resolved before the snow flies.

thanks for steering my in the right direction, guys.

 

Pun Intended. Did you get it fixed?

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2 hours ago, Jdesign said:

Pun Intended. Did you get it fixed?

yup! ill cross ref. from my touring thread below.

twas the u-joint. after removing it, one of the bearing was so seized up i couldnt rotate it by hand. replaced it, and handling is back to the normal e34 vagueness again! you know in old timey movies when a person is driving in a straight line, but is wiggling the steering wheel back and forth constantly?

giphy.gif

you can do that in an e34!

 

 

 

 

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