Steering wheel does not return to Center

Tiny
MY2DRACCORD
  • MEMBER
  • 2008 BMW 528
  • 6 CYL
  • 4WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 122,000 MILES
Steering wheel does not return to Center every time I turn either left or right especially by itself. I have new tires new struts and strut mounts in the front. I have to stop turn the steering to align it straight.
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Tuesday, October 30th, 2018 AT 3:19 PM

15 Replies

Tiny
JONNYB1963
  • EXPERT
Its sounds as if you are in need of a wheel alignment. By the sound of it, it appears that you don't have enough caster in your front wheels. The amount of caster can greatly affect how hard and fast the wheel will return to center. It should be around 6-1/2 degrees positive which means that if you are looking at the strut from the side of the car, the top of it should be leaning backward away from the wheel center. That said, something caused this to happen and I'm not an expert on BMW's but I am reasonably sure that there is not an adjustment for caster, only toe. There are aftermarket kits available to adjust caster. But those involve relocating the strut mounts usually. Did someone put one of these kits on perhaps and goof up the installation?
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Wednesday, October 31st, 2018 AT 12:59 PM
Tiny
MY2DRACCORD
  • MEMBER
No these had this issue before the struts and strut mount were installed but I will try getting other wheel alightment. Thank you.
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Thursday, November 1st, 2018 AT 4:01 AM
Tiny
JONNYB1963
  • EXPERT
Okay, let me know what the specs are on the wheel alignment results if it still persists. They should give you a piece of paper with the numbers (Camber, Caster, and Toe) I looked up the specs on your car and Caster should be 6 degrees 45 minutes (or 6-3/4 degrees) plus or minus 1/2 degree. So I was close!
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Thursday, November 1st, 2018 AT 8:27 AM
Tiny
STEVE W.
  • EXPERT
Wrong caster settings will cause poor centering. So would worn/binding steering components like ball joints, tie rod ends and a bad steering rack.
Does it return to center at all or do you constantly need to return it to center?
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Thursday, November 1st, 2018 AT 1:30 PM
Tiny
KEN
  • ADMIN
Hello,

If the alignment does not fix it it sounds like the rack and pinion is going out. Here is information (below) on how to replace it, cost and labor time.

Parts Information OEM Part Price
Steering Gear
4 - Steering Gear 32106780124 $2646.65

Complete Assembly With Transfer Of Parts B 6.2 hrs
Does Not Include: Wheel Alignment.

Check out the diagrams (below). Please let us know what you find. We are interested to see what it is.

Cheers, Ken
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Thursday, November 1st, 2018 AT 1:31 PM
Tiny
MY2DRACCORD
  • MEMBER
Turning the corner it will be a little off then I will have to recenter it but wide turns it completely off.
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Saturday, November 3rd, 2018 AT 6:34 AM
Tiny
KEN
  • ADMIN
Something is binding. To be sure of what is going on you can disconnect the tie rod ends with the front ends raised up then steer the wheel and turn the wheels by hand to see what is binding, most liking the rack.

https://www.2carpros.com/articles/tie-rod-end-replacement

and

https://www.2carpros.com/articles/jack-up-and-lift-your-car-safely

Please run down these guides and report back.

Cheers, Ken
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Sunday, November 4th, 2018 AT 10:30 AM
Tiny
MY2DRACCORD
  • MEMBER
I went and got a wheel alignment and they said that the left rear camber needs to be adjusted but I have to go to the dealer to do so.
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Monday, November 5th, 2018 AT 8:12 PM
Tiny
JONNYB1963
  • EXPERT
So the front alignment was okay then? Just curious, what does it say about Caster? That part was cut off on the picture you attached.

If the caster turns out to be okay, then I would be inclined to agree with Ken in that you have something binding in the front end that is preventing the wheel returning to center by itself.

Jon
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Tuesday, November 6th, 2018 AT 6:02 AM
Tiny
MY2DRACCORD
  • MEMBER
Here is the full picture:
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Tuesday, November 6th, 2018 AT 7:42 PM
Tiny
STEVE W.
  • EXPERT
For poor return to center the caster would need to be way off. The wrong camber in the rear that picture shows would not cause it. However that reading suggests either worn bushings in the rear suspension or something was slightly bent.
Your issue is in the front suspension, as it was there before the new struts and mounts were installed I would look at other components first. Namely the steering rack, the tie rod ends and the lower ball joints/swivel bearings. It would only take binding in one of them to cause this issue. A simple test would be to jack the front end up enough to get both front tires off the ground. With the engine running, put your hands on either front tire at the 9 and 3 positions and try to turn the tire like you are making a turn. Does it move freely or do you feel an easy then hard spot like binding? If you turn the steering wheel does it feel smooth as you turn or does it get stiffer as you turn it back/forth? Do you hear anything like creaking or popping as you turn the wheel?
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Tuesday, November 6th, 2018 AT 8:03 PM
Tiny
MY2DRACCORD
  • MEMBER
Before I got the struts and strut mounts replaced I did hear a creaking noise but but not any more but I do hear a popping sound.
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Thursday, November 8th, 2018 AT 5:28 AM
Tiny
STEVE W.
  • EXPERT
Does the sound occur when turning the steering wheel or hitting bumps? Popping is commonly a sound heard when a binding part moves.
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Thursday, November 8th, 2018 AT 7:20 AM
Tiny
MY2DRACCORD
  • MEMBER
Turning the steering wheel, every time
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Thursday, November 8th, 2018 AT 1:14 PM
Tiny
STEVE W.
  • EXPERT
Then you have something binding, either in the rack, tie rod ends or ball joints. Jack it up so the front is off the ground and have someone turn the wheel while you listen for the sound. Look at the parts as well. Or find a shop with a chassis ear and they can listen to various parts while the vehicle is in motion. I would get it repaired ASAP as binding like that usually precedes a part ready to fail very soon.
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Thursday, November 8th, 2018 AT 8:30 PM

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