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Thread: Steering column failure? Massive Steering Unpredictability

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    Main County
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    336

    Steering column failure? Massive Steering Unpredictability

    Hi everyone! Before I throw my wallet at the car, I thought I'd ask for a second opinion from some of the brilliant minds here.

    Video of the issues I'm seeing: https://youtu.be/W6lgR8zr_Yc


    Symptoms:
    So I have a vagueness in my wheel. When entering cross winds, I have to massively correct (20 degrees correction?). On my commute home, I'll be driving straight on a well-paved road and suddenly it'll pull in a different direction. Additionally, I hear a cluck under some low speed bumps. My Main Street to my house has some rough bumps and sometimes I will correct as much as roughly 30 degrees of steering. Or on my way to work on that same rough road, I can be pulling 20 degrees to the left and then need to steer straight, but both steering inputs keep the vehicle facing the same direction.

    So here's what I've done: I sent it to my alignment shop figuring one wheel was seriously out of toe who then told me everything was in spec, and they checked the suspension while they were in there and also said they didn't see anything peculiar. I then went in myself to see anything, and my suspension seems really tight. I replaced the entire suspension about 25k miles ago and have been driving pretty calm for those last 10k. The rebuild includes coupler, tie rods, control arms, control arm bushings, and a gold-tag rack swap.

    Why I suspect the steering column:
    When inspecting my suspension, I suspected the steering guibo had gotten really loose. Also in a brief inspection, I could remove the airbox and grab the steering shaft and hear a clunk similar to what I sometimes felt in the floor while driving. Then once I got the car in the air, I noticed that where the top of the steering shaft met the bottom of the steering column met could move a lot.

    So obviously the U-joint at the top of the steering shaft has to rotate, but it wouldn't make sense that that rotational point could move on the x or y axis for directness or steering feel. It would make sense that that could cause unpredictable steering. I also had my friend with a E85 Z4 (aka low E46) show me the play in his shaft, and he couldn't move his lower steering column if he tried.

    Today I removed the footwell panel and found a similar amount of play. The upper shaft moved a little but I also suspect it isn't meant to take direct load. Nonetheless, I believe the bottom of the steering column should be a fixed point. I also suspect the damage is from having fat 255's up front, aggressive driving, a poly steering guibo and having the steering column pulled all the way outward.

    Any feedback is appreciated!
    | My YouTube Channel | Instagram|

    BMWCCA GGC: 530872
    "You canít connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards." - Steve Jobs

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    Main County
    Posts
    336
    bump. I hear a clunk when spinning my rotors with the wheels off. You feel it reverberate in the tie rod. The clunk is louder and more distinct on the driver side, leading me to believe it's the rack. I don't know how a rack can have a variable distance between the left and right, but that's how it feels. Perhaps the shaft is moving forward and backward and that's how the toe feels like it's changing. That could also potentially explain why the clunk is more distinct over bumps when on a hill.

    I am also able to twist the tie rods by hand with minimal effort. Perhaps they are toast as well.

    Any feedback is appreciated.
    | My YouTube Channel | Instagram|

    BMWCCA GGC: 530872
    "You canít connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards." - Steve Jobs

  3. #3
    Your tie rods are toast. Iíd start with replacing them and seeing if the issue still persists.


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    2006 Coupe | Black Sapphire Metallic | Natural Brown | Gruppe M Intake | Corsa TSE3 | Michelin PSS on Apex ARC-8 | Koni Yellows |

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    Main County
    Posts
    336
    Confirmed. Yes, tie rods are toast. They are in awful shape. I can spin it freely just with my hand, the ball joints are so sad. Bought new ones. Can’t wait to hold the old ones. A little bit of shame to my alignment place. It’s “hard to ignore” bad. The tie rod must have twisted during adjustment
    | My YouTube Channel | Instagram|

    BMWCCA GGC: 530872
    "You canít connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards." - Steve Jobs

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    Main County
    Posts
    336
    Attempted tie rods. While trying to unscrew the tie rod, I had the pleasure of watching my steering rack shaft move about a half inch in any direction it pleased. So, that's my issue.

    Practicably (to me), I have a spare steering rack lying around. I replaced my perfectly fine purple tag for the yellow tag that's currently in my car. So I'm installing the purple tag next weekend as I'll need some crush washers.
    | My YouTube Channel | Instagram|

    BMWCCA GGC: 530872
    "You canít connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards." - Steve Jobs

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