1996 Toyota Corolla Misalign Steering Wheel

Tiny
DRACONIS212000
  • MEMBER
  • 1996 TOYOTA COROLLA
  • 1.6L
  • 4 CYL
  • FWD
  • MANUAL
  • 158,000 MILES
After a full right turn, the steering wheel of my corolla will not go back to center. It will have almost 180 degrees turn to the right to stay on a straight line. It will only go back to center if I have a full turn to the right or if I turn it to center in full stop. I already have several alignment and camber but the problem still remains. =(
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Sunday, October 19th, 2014 AT 7:30 PM

4 Replies

Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
There's two common things to consider but I'm not clear on the symptom. The common one is when you turn either way, then the steering wheel doesn't come back to centered on its own, AND the car keeps going in the direction the steering wheel is turned until you pull the wheel back to centered. That's called "memory steer".

The less-common symptom is when the car goes straight down the road after turning and letting go of the steering wheel, but the steering wheel is no longer in the same position. At first that might be the only symptom, but as the cause gets worse, something will shift even while you're driving straight and hitting normal small bumps in the road. That's called "steering wander" and makes for a really miserable car to drive.

What you described could apply to either of these conditions. Memory steer is caused by a binding upper strut mount or less often, a tight ball joint. If your steering wheel is in a different position after making a turn, it's usually because the rack and pinion steering gear is loose and is sliding back and forth on its mounts. That can be due to loose bolts or worn rubber isolators. You should hear and feel clunking associated with that too. Dangerously worn steering and suspension parts can cause a changing steering wheel position, but something would have broken long before it could get bad enough to cause the wheel to be off half a turn.
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Sunday, October 19th, 2014 AT 8:48 PM
Tiny
DRACONIS212000
  • MEMBER
Thanks for the information. Last Saturday I have it checked on a service center but they told me that everything is intact. I also have it aligned several times but I still noticed that my tire on the front passenger side (right side) is still a little turned to the right.

Anyway, could my problem on a wrong steering wheel angle after a right turn is due to a worn Steering Clamp Bushing? That is what I suspected from the start but maybe the mechanic I consulted just ignored that problem because replacing it is a hell of a job.
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Sunday, October 19th, 2014 AT 9:58 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
I don't know which part you're referring to. There's clamps and there's bushings in the steering system, but if any of those are worn, you should have additional symptoms including clunks or rattles.

What you might try is parking with one tire next to a curb so it can't turn, then, preferably with the engine running, try to turn the steering wheel about a half turn either way. If you can turn it without seeing the tires turn at the same time, the rack and pinion steering gear has to be loose and is shifting position. You'll hear it clunking too. If that is not real bad yet, it can be real hard for the alignment mechanic to spot. What I would do then is take the car back when the steering wheel is off-center. I always took great pride in giving my customers their cars back with perfectly straight steering wheels after the alignment. That's a sign of conscientious workmanship. I was very unhappy with myself if someone came back with a crooked steering wheel, but in your case, that will prove to the mechanic that something is shifting and he needs to look closer to identify that and fix it.
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Sunday, October 19th, 2014 AT 10:12 PM
Tiny
DRACONIS212000
  • MEMBER
There's no clunks or rattles and symptoms. I will try to follow the instruction you gave because there is a big possibility that it is really the cause of the problem since the steering wheel return back to it's center position when I turn it into the center when the car is in full stop. I guess my problem is solved. Thank you very much! = _ =
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Monday, October 20th, 2014 AT 2:48 AM

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