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Old 03-19-2012, 12:39 PM   #1
carnot
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Default prelude steering wobble, new rack and tie rods

1995 Honda Prelude SE
225k miles on chassis

A couple of weeks ago I was at the drag strip and noticed that at the end of the ľ mile as I was slowing down my steering wheel began to shake and wobble back and forth at speeds between about 60 mph and 30 mph. My trap speed is about 110 mph and everything is smooth under braking until I get to about 60 mph. I know most people are going to first think warped brake rotors but since then I have checked the runout and pad thickness and everything is well within spec; full brake overhaul about 5k miles ago including new calipers, rotors, and pads.

Considering how many miles are on the chassis, I began to suspect something related to the steering system and I had a mechanic friend check it out as well and we determined that the inner tie rods were worn out. The steering was somewhat vague and notchy before so that made me suspicious about the tie rods anyway. I probably could have gotten away with just replacing the inner and outer tie rods, but considering the rack was original I decided to replace the rack as well and save myself some work down the road. I completed the job over the weekend and got an alignment last Monday. The mechanic who performed the alignment didnít mention any worn components or trouble with the alignment. The toe was a little out of spec from replacing the rack and tie rods but he got everything straight according to the printout. I went on an open interstate and did some high speed brake checks and the wobble that was present before seemed to be resolved. The following weekend I took a road trip and noticed that at highway cruising speeds 60-70mph, there is a slight wobble/vibration felt through the steering wheel. I also noticed that in order to have the car track straight I have to turn the wheel slightly to the left 5-10 degrees. While going straight if I let go of the steering wheel the car wants to drift to the right. I thought the wobble/vibration in the steering wheel at cruising speeds might be from a tire out of balance so I had the wheel balance checked and everything was good.

I am at a loss and would love some input from you all with steering/suspension expertise. I am beginning to wonder if this problem could be from wheel bearings. I donít hear any noise pointing to wheel bearings and I figure the alignment mechanic would have noticed that. Thanks in advance.
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Old 03-20-2012, 05:31 AM   #2
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Default Re: prelude steering wobble, new rack and tie rods

I had a similar problem with my IS300 (I know it's not a Prelude but still haha). I would get a vibration and wobble in the steering wheel at about 50mph and above. In addition, I would get a wobbling when braking from highway speeds. My car would pull to the left though. I got an alignment done, wheels balanced, etc.

I had replaced the pads and rotors about 2k miles ago and the runout was fine. I put the car up on jack stands to have a look and the driver side front wheel was pretty hard to turn. I took the caliper off and noticed that the piston had not fully retracted and the pad was dragging on the rotor.

So check out your brakes and see if the pads are dragging at all
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Old 03-20-2012, 07:55 AM   #3
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Default Re: prelude steering wobble, new rack and tie rods

Thanks for the feedback, I'll double check to make sure the calipers are performing correctly but I am gonna bet they are since I replaced them 5k miles ago. I am going to check the end play on the front wheel bearings this weekend to see if that is in spec.

Any other thoughts?
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Old 03-21-2012, 04:42 AM   #4
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Default Re: prelude steering wobble, new rack and tie rods

My 95 Prelude does almost the same thing AFTER a complete overhaul of the entire suspension. So my only guess is that the PS rack I converted to manual has some sort of play in it even though it has been adjusted.

Have you adjusted the steering rack tension? Upper/Lower ball joints good?
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Old 03-21-2012, 08:02 AM   #5
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Default Re: prelude steering wobble, new rack and tie rods

I have not adjusted the steering rack tension but will look into that. Did that make a difference in your case Hawkze? I have new lower ball joints and the uppers are in decent shape.
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Old 03-21-2012, 11:43 AM   #6
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Default Re: prelude steering wobble, new rack and tie rods

Quote:
Originally Posted by carnot View Post
I have not adjusted the steering rack tension but will look into that. Did that make a difference in your case Hawkze?
Yeah, it helped a little, but that was because I converted it to a manual rack and needed to take up the slack from the missing fluid pressure. It still isn't perfect

Do you have play in the wheel when the car is just sitting still? That would be the rack if you do....
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Old 03-22-2012, 04:03 AM   #7
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Default Re: prelude steering wobble, new rack and tie rods

There is no significant play in the steering wheel. I checked for wheel bearing end play yesterday and I measured none...
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