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Steering Slack After LCA Replacement

Discussion in 'PT Cruiser' started by rcalzadilla, Aug 6, 2017.

  1. rcalzadilla

    rcalzadilla Member

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    After both LCAs were installed there is a slack to the steering wheel, which was not there. This is present with car stationary or moving but tracks straight, to me. PT tracks well when moving.
    Suspect I have been driving the PT for years with damaged LCAs. Specifically both LCAs had the same damage: Rearmost bushing's (vertical bolt one) totally deteriorated.
    -When steering wheel is centered (confirmed both tires straight) there is about about a 10 degree of "free movement", left and right, before it has a corresponding effect of movement on the tires. Disconcerting to driver.
    -I raised and inspected, at home, that the tie-rod ends have no evidence of having been disturbed.
    -Had the mechanic look over the problem and he concluded that the steering shaft may be damaged i in some way, maybe U joints. PT tracks well when moving.
    Any help will be much appreciated.

    2001 PT Cruiser Ltd, 104K miles. Pretty well maintained; it's a 2nd car not used daily. Owned it for 13 yrs.
     
  2. ImperialCrown

    Level III Supporter

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    The LCAs have to come out for the bushings, but the rear bushings can be replaced separately without having to replace the whole control arm:
    ControlArm12.jpg
    Was the column disconnected at all? The slack may be from a column coupling bolt that wasn't retightened if it was loosened to lower the crossmember? Rock the steering wheel back and forth while looking under the dash to locate the play.
     
  3. rcalzadilla

    rcalzadilla Member

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    The LCAs and sway bar bushings were the only items replaced. Since I was planning to do the work myself, it would be easier to replace the entire LCAs. At home I raised and inspected both sides for any evidence of other areas were touched and found none. Paid particular attention for movement of the tie rod ends; no looseness. I will raise car again and push the tires for loose just to be sure and report back.
    thanks
     
  4. chuzz

    chuzz Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to Allpar, man. Happy to see you here.
     
  5. pt006

    pt006 Active Member

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    rcal; just checked mine. The front tire moves with only a slight movement of the steering wheel. More testing is necessary. Find a friend to move the steering wheel while you watch for looseness.
     
  6. rcalzadilla

    rcalzadilla Member

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    Thank you for the welcome. I'll be responding to both your= and Imperial crown suggestions. Have to wait until I get some shade of that side of the house this afternoon. It's really hot no breeze. :cool::)
     
  7. chuzz

    chuzz Well-Known Member

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    When the LCA's were replaced, were both wheels off the ground when they were torqued? There's a procedure that has to be followed or things won't be the way they need to be. I can't remember what that procedure is (two brain surgeries and no memory to speak of) ,but I'm sure IC or someone else (pt006?) knows about it. It has something to do with getting the proper load on them. I THINK the torque on the long bolt through the LCA where the large bushing is located is somewhere in the 180 ft.lb. range too. Man, I sure wish my memory worked the way it used to.
     
  8. pt006

    pt006 Active Member

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    rcal; for a 2006 PT the torque for the rear vertical bolt is 185 ft-lbs. ------ For the front horizontal bushing bolt it is 125 ft-lbs. The vertical bolt can be torqued after the LCA is assembled in place. The horizontal bolt should be torqued after weight is put on the front wheels. Note that this is contrary to the factory service manual. But it worked fine for me.

    chuzz; My mind is like a steel trap. I had to look it up twice. The SECOND time I wrote it down on a piece of paper before sitting down at the computer.
     
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  9. ImperialCrown

    Level III Supporter

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    I agree that proper torques and tightening procedures are important.
    He has to determine where the looseness is. Having a helper rock the steering wheel back and forth while you look, should reveal the steering/suspension linkage joint with the free-play.
     
  10. chuzz

    chuzz Well-Known Member

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    Well, it IS a 16 year old vehicle. Parts do wear out. I'm not and never have been a mechanic by trade, so I'm gong to bow out on speculating what it may be. I'd hate to "steer" him in the wrong direction, since I asked him to come join us here!
     
  11. Bob Lincoln

    Bob Lincoln "CHECK FAULT CODES"
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    Check the rack mounting to the frame. My 93 Daytona needed a new right inner tie rod a couple of years ago, and as I put all my might into unscrewing it, the clamp holding the rack to the K-member snapped away (rotted).
    And my truck frame inner rail rotted where the steering box attached, until there was only one bolt holding the steering box to the frame. That was an adventure in oversteer. Both vehicles had custom welding done to fix their problems.
     
  12. rcalzadilla

    rcalzadilla Member

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    Problem solved. Was able to locate a reputable alignment only place, no repairs offered, just FREE diagnosys and alignment. Took them all of 10-15 min to determiner that both inner tie rods have to be replaced.
    Luckily was also able to find a nearby mechanic who did the work and then to car for alignment. Now car drives perfectly.
    A noisy front end was also diagnosed as the new "neoprene" control arm links. They told the neoprene is noisy. Maybe if I disassemble the links and lubricate them it will work, but they say neoprene that is not infused with something it will probably be noisy.
    Again, thank you all for you helpful information.
     
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  13. ImperialCrown

    Level III Supporter

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    I have had trouble with the aftermarket 'poly' bushings. They come in pretty colors but can be junk. I always use OEM.
    It is difficult telling a customer that they need new bushings when they just had them done.
    Live and learn.
     
  14. Gerry G

    Gerry G Well-Known Member

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    I am not certain what you are referring to when you note 'control arm links', maybe sway bar links? Properly torqued there should be no play in the new bushings and no noise, not hearing the noise it is difficult to say. After a few years, I would expect some wear and some 'looseness', not on new bushings. What of the sway bar bushings? I had them replaced on an '02 and the sway bar itself was worn quite a bit under the bushing (Chicago salt probably was a major contributor) enough to have to replace the sway bar.

    Glad you found the sloppiness in the inner tie rod ends.
     
  15. chuzz

    chuzz Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for letting us know what fixed it, man. Aren't you glad I "steered" you over here? LOL
     
  16. pt006

    pt006 Active Member

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    'I'd hate to "steer" him in the wrong direction'? ------- That sounds like a lot of "bull".
     
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