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Old 04-26-2010, 08:55 AM   #1
96hb
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Default Replaced lower ball joints...now steering is very tight!

Over the past month or so I have been slowly replacing front end suspension components. First I replaced upper and lower control arms, shocks (all 4), and inner and outer tie rods. When I got an alignment after all of that my car still had some wandering issues and the alignment tech said I needed a new steering rack (mine is manual, btw). Well I knew I already needed lower ball joints, so I decided to replace those first since I don't have enough money for a new rack and don't know if I should buy one or attempt to rebuild mine.

After installing the new LBJ's and putting everything back together, my steering is VERY tight now. Is it possible to over tighten the castle nuts on ball joints and tie rod ends? I torqued everything to factory specs and even adjusted my rack guide, but still steering is so tight now that the wheel will not return to center after a turn like it's supposed to. Did I do something wrong? Has anyone else had this happen? Like I said, everything in the front end is now brand new, except the rack itself. Help?
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Old 04-26-2010, 08:58 AM   #2
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Default Re: Replaced lower ball joints...now steering is very tight!

No, it's not possible to overtighten the castle nuts to a point where it will affect your steering. The ball joint studs are tapered to fit into a tapered hole in the knuckle, which is what the castle nut tightens against. It's not affecting the actual rotating portion on the inside of the ball joint.

Now I don't have a manual rack, but I would say it has something to do with your rack guide adjustment, since you say you did adjust that. Maybe too much?
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Old 04-26-2010, 09:01 AM   #3
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Default Re: Replaced lower ball joints...now steering is very tight!

over tightening the balljoint and tierod end nuts shouldnt matter considering me and the guys at work always just zap em down with an impact gun and have no probs. A bad rack will effect steering wheel returnability so theres a good chance thats your problem right there
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Old 04-26-2010, 09:17 AM   #4
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Default Re: Replaced lower ball joints...now steering is very tight!

I probably adjusted the rack guide a good 5-6 times. I did like the manual says. Loosened huge locknut, tighten 14mm nut all the way, and then back off about a quarter turn and lock the huge locknut back down. That's how it's set as of right now. I did try adjusting a bit more loose, but then there was too much slack or play in the steering wheel. This just sucks because if I do need a new rack, then the money I spent on the inner tie rods last month was a waste. Is there anything to check in the column that would cause play at the wheel? I still have a good amount of play in the wheel before the tires begin to turn.
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Old 04-26-2010, 10:52 AM   #5
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Default Re: Replaced lower ball joints...now steering is very tight!

I just thought of something. The manual says that when you loosen the 40mm locknut you are supposed to loosen the 14mm bolt and then tighten it. I never did this, I just turned it until it was tight and then backed it off a quarter turn. I don't see how it would make a difference, but should I have loosened that 14mm bolt all the way, and then tighten it until it seats, before backing it off?
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Old 04-27-2010, 05:27 AM   #6
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Default Re: Replaced lower ball joints...now steering is very tight!

Well, I checked every nut and bolt from the column down to the rack mounting bolts and everything is tight. I adjusted the rack guide (again) to no avail. The play is definitely coming from the rack and pinion. Guess I'll have to replace that, too. F...M...L!
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Old 04-27-2010, 07:44 AM   #7
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Default Re: Replaced lower ball joints...now steering is very tight!

Hey, can't be as hard as when I replaced my power rack a couple years ago. I got a rebuilt rack from APSCO, a quality company that uses OE Honda parts in their rebuilds for around $240. The guy who does my alignments got the rack for me at cost.

www.apscoonline.com

Unfortunately it appears a manual rack costs more than a power one. Odd.
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Old 04-27-2010, 08:41 AM   #8
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Default Re: Replaced lower ball joints...now steering is very tight!

[quote=96hb;42292023]I torqued everything to factory specs and even adjusted my rack guide,[/QUOTE]



readjust.
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Old 04-27-2010, 08:50 AM   #9
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Default Re: Replaced lower ball joints...now steering is very tight!

I have readjusted the damn guide a dozen times or more. If I loosen it any more, there is a shitload of slack in the steering wheel. Why not give a little advice instead of just posting a damn emoticon. Do you think it's impossible for a rack and pinion to go bad? I have read your posts before and that's what I get from them.

Oh and Patrick, I'm not worried about replacing it. I'm just frustrated because I have been replacing bad parts in my front end and it just feels like it's neverending. And I've found rebuilt manual racks for $198.
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Old 04-27-2010, 09:14 AM   #10
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Default Re: Replaced lower ball joints...now steering is very tight!

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Originally Posted by 96hb View Post
I just thought of something. The manual says that when you loosen the 40mm locknut you are supposed to loosen the 14mm bolt and then tighten it. I never did this, I just turned it until it was tight and then backed it off a quarter turn. I don't see how it would make a difference, but should I have loosened that 14mm bolt all the way, and then tighten it until it seats, before backing it off?


do it right, or take it to a shop with more competency than you.

(thats my advice.)
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Old 04-27-2010, 09:15 AM   #11
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Default Re: Replaced lower ball joints...now steering is very tight!

theres nothing to "rebuild" on a manual rock other than the rack end bushing. if you can remove the rack yourself, you can repalce the bushing for an extra $10.

do it all right, and you should not be having any issue.
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Old 04-27-2010, 09:17 AM   #12
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Default Re: Replaced lower ball joints...now steering is very tight!

I did. The alignment tech said the rack and pinion was bad. I am plenty competent. I have never taken my car to a shop to do anything other than mount and balance tires and alignments.

So you're saying that nothing else in the rack can go bad except for that bushing in the end?
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Old 04-27-2010, 09:20 AM   #13
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Default Re: Replaced lower ball joints...now steering is very tight!

No need for attitudes or implying incompetency. Honestly if what the OP described above happened to me, I'd be in here asking the same thing. He said after replacing the lower ball joints, the steering felt really tight. As in, before he replaced them the steering felt fine. I suppose it could be some crazy coincidence with the rack suddenly having a problem at the same time the ball joints were replaced, but I would be wondering if something having to do with the ball joints caused the problem, even though it's very doubtful the ball joints have anything to do with it.
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Old 04-27-2010, 09:21 AM   #14
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Default Re: Replaced lower ball joints...now steering is very tight!

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So you're saying that nothing else in the rack can go bad except for that bushing in the end?
No, he said there's nothing else that can be replaced (i.e. rebuilt).

I'm with you on the DIY thing. Been driving my car 9 years and over 200K miles and it's never been to a shop other than for alignments and body work, and once for A/C discharge/recharge. I even take my wheels off and take them to a shop in our other car to get tires mounted.
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Old 04-27-2010, 09:27 AM   #15
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Default Re: Replaced lower ball joints...now steering is very tight!

Thanks patrick. No before I started replacing things on the front end, the steering was VERY sloppy. After replacing the upper and lower control arms, and inner and outer tie rods, it was better, but still not perfect. I did get an alignment after all of that. Then I replaced the lower ball joints. Now the front end is tight, but the steering is still not right. There is too much play in the wheel AND it's stiff to turn. If I adjust the rack to make it more loose, the steering is WAY too loose. I have adjusted it per the helm's manual and I still have wiggle and free play at the wheel AND hard steering. I am very frustrated because I want my steering right. I'm afraid that if I go through all the work of taking out the rack to install that bushing, it won't fix the problem. Would that bushing being worn out translate into slop where the column and rack meet and a knocking sound coming from there?
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Old 04-27-2010, 09:32 AM   #16
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Default Re: Replaced lower ball joints...now steering is very tight!

I'm really not too familiar with manual racks so I'm not sure. Tyson is much more familiar with them.

When you say "hard" steering, do you mean like "heavy" steering, such as taking the PS belt off a car with power steering and trying to turn the wheel and pushing that fluid and pressure around in the lines? Does it fell "heavy" when you're driving the car, or have you only tried it when parked?
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Old 04-27-2010, 09:35 AM   #17
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Default Re: Replaced lower ball joints...now steering is very tight!

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Would that bushing being worn out translate into slop where the column and rack meet and a knocking sound coming from there?
yes.

this is an obvious question and answer.

you obviously have read everything that i've repeatedly said about the rack end bushing and yet you still ask the same questions.

what is not getting thru your head?


and you very clearly said you adjusted the rack and now its tight. what is the disconnect? you failed to adjust it properly. and you havent yet fixed the problem of sloppy steering.

ive always said the rack end bushing is probably the first to go and the main thing to be fixed. yet youve done it last.

so why is the problem not clear to you?
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Old 04-27-2010, 09:39 AM   #18
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Default Re: Replaced lower ball joints...now steering is very tight!

Why do you feel the need to be an ***? Do you get off on it, or is it just because that's the honda-tech way?

Thanks for your 'help'.
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Old 04-27-2010, 09:42 AM   #19
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Default Re: Replaced lower ball joints...now steering is very tight!

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No need for attitudes or implying incompetency. Honestly if what the OP described above happened to me, I'd be in here asking the same thing.
i've called you out on your own dumb stuff too.

like admitting to not tightening your upper control arm bolts completely and then wondering why they squeek and have so much play.

feel free to ask questions. i will feel free to call anyone out when they do something illogical and wonder why they arent getting the right response to their illogical actions. i would expect the same to me.
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Old 04-27-2010, 09:51 AM   #20
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Default Re: Replaced lower ball joints...now steering is very tight!

call me an *** if that makes you feel any better too.

im not here to be friendly. i offer advice and straighten facts. i dont have to say it with a smile, im not customer service.
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Old 04-27-2010, 09:53 AM   #21
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Default Re: Replaced lower ball joints...now steering is very tight!

Fair enough. I just ordered the bushing. If it doesn't work, you will know.
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Old 05-01-2010, 09:08 PM   #22
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Default Re: Replaced lower ball joints...now steering is very tight!

Did the bushings solve your problem? The steering in my EG is starting to get really tight. Not sure what the problem is with it, but I just pulled my motor since the car is getting paint and I am tempted to just throw in a new rack and pinion.

Any thoughts Tyson??

And sorry for the thread jack
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Old 05-03-2010, 05:32 AM   #23
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Default Re: Replaced lower ball joints...now steering is very tight!

Nope. It did fix the little vibrations I was feeling from the passenger side, but I still have the same clunking coming directly from the pinion shaft area, and play at the wheel. I have done numerous rack guide adjustments, which aren't helping my particular problem at all. I don't understand why you can't just replace the pinion shaft. Even the damn Helm's manual states to replace it while overhauling a rack, but of course, you can't buy just that one piece. Oh well, I'm going to be getting a new rack soon enough. I'm really tired of dealing with this problem.
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Old 05-03-2010, 07:57 AM   #24
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Default Re: Replaced lower ball joints...now steering is very tight!

the "clunking" youre talking about, it happens when you turn the wheel at a stop? or when youre driving straight?

you also need to check the tightness of the Ujoint at the pinion shaft. that is easily a cause of play in the steering wheel.

i think you need to keep messing around with the rack guide adjustment. it took me several tries to get it "just right".
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Old 05-03-2010, 08:37 AM   #25
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Default Re: Replaced lower ball joints...now steering is very tight!

I can hear the clunking while driving or sitting still. No matter where I position my steering wheel, there is a good inch or more of slop before the wheels move. It is very weird, almost like there's a tooth missing somewhere or something. I did check the column u-joint and everything there is tight. It moves immediately with steering wheel input. The slop and clunk I am hearing is coming directly from the pinion shaft.

I have fooled with that rack guide more than a dozen times. No matter how tight or loose I set it, I still get that play at the wheel. I mean I can tighten it all the way and the slight play is still there. That pinion is obviously a wear item. Otherwise, why would the Helm's manual state to replace it, along with the pinion seal and rack end bushing?
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