Steering

Tiny
TMORTONINSC
  • MEMBER
  • 1999 NISSAN PATHFINDER
  • 6 CYL
  • 4WD
  • AUTOMATIC
Ran thru some water and now my steering wheel alignment is off. If I turn sharp to the left then steering wheel is lined up (using a clock) 1-7 position instead of the 3-9. When turned hard right it will go to 5-10 position. Sometimes it will go back to normal after a few turns. Any ideas what is causing this.
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Thursday, June 30th, 2011 AT 2:34 AM

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Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Do you mean it's lined up at those different clock positions when turned full left as compared to full right, or do you mean the steering wheel isn't straight when it returns to center and you're driving on a straight road?

It's common to be in different positions when you turn fully the two ways because the rack and pinion assembly is never centered perfectly in the car, and both steering links are used to adjust the "toe" of each wheel for best tire wear. That means the internal rack in the assembly isn't perfectly centered within the housing when you're driving straight, and that is normal and common. The difference in how far the steering wheel will turn in the two directions will not be different by very much.

If you're saying the steering wheel will be in different positions when driving straight ahead, that happens when the rack and pinion assembly mounting bolts are loose or fell out. As the assembly slides sideways it turns the two front wheels. You have to correct for that by turning the steering wheel to get the wheels straight again. The same thing can happen on some cars when there is a worn control arm bushing, ball joint, strut, or upper strut mount. Anything that lets a wheel shift position can affect the steering wheel's position, and those things can move and cause changes while driving. An inspection by a tire and alignment shop will identify the cause of a shifting steering wheel.
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Thursday, June 30th, 2011 AT 7:04 AM
Tiny
TMORTONINSC
  • MEMBER
The steering wheel is not straight when it returns to center and I am driving straight. Thanks for your answer.
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Saturday, July 2nd, 2011 AT 6:47 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
That would be a loose rack and pinion assembly, ... Most likely. It is also possible for a worn strut to allow a front wheel to wobble in and out on top. That would cause the vehicle to pull to one side and you would have to turn the steering wheel the other way to counter that pull. I think you would find different symptoms though including an unstable feeling while driving. An inspection at a tire and alignment shop will identify whether I'm right about the loose rack assembly.
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Sunday, July 3rd, 2011 AT 2:38 AM

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