Strange Problem, Steering Seems Loose

Discussion of STOCK column, pump, rack, pinion, linkage systems.

Strange Problem, Steering Seems Loose

Postby sk87 » Wed Nov 14, 2012 3:52 am

Hello everyone! You guys have done me right before, so I come seeking your help once again!

I have a 1990 LSC and it has recently started exhibiting some strange behavior with the steering.

First, the steering gets extremely tight, and the steering wheel difficult to move at extreme right or left. After a thorough flush and refill with ATF+4, I am chalking this up to a power steering pump on its way out. Not a big issue, pretty confidant I know what's up with that, but I don't know if it's related to........

The car is doing something that I can best describe as shimmying or meandering back and forth at speeds above 40 ish. When I'm on the highway for example driving in a straight line, it will randomly turn a degree or two to the left or right every few seconds (but not in a regular pattern). The way I picture it in my head is that something like the wheels are loose, and when I hit a small bump or whatever it jacks the loose part over a bit, throwing the car in a new direction. The wheels are not loose, but that's what it feels like. It's nothing dangerous (yet) as it usually only moves me a foot or so left or right before i correct, but it makes driving sorta stressful actually and it feels like I'm pretty much constantly swaying back and forth from the constant course changes.

I know this is pretty unspecific, and the steering systems in cars are something I admittedly know little about. Any help here would be greatly appreciated!
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Re: Strange Problem, Steering Seems Loose

Postby phoenix » Wed Nov 14, 2012 3:01 pm

Sounds like the rack is shot. Possibly compounded by stock control arm bushings which if they are, certainly are not helping. These cars (as any Fox body) can be scary when those parts wear out.

Is the rack original? If so, check underneath for p/s fluid on the rack bellows - you may not see much and it's all probably dirty anyway, but just run a clean rag over the bellows and see if some reddish fluid comes back mixed in with the dirt. That would be additional confirmation, but actually not necessary. I suspect it's time for a new rack!
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1990 LSC SE (a.k.a. "Christine")
1991 LSC (a.k.a. "Ghost")

Christine: Arnott air springs/front, Suncore air springs/rear, CHE rear control arms, 1.5/16" front "Turbo Coupe" bar, Addco 415 rear bar, poly bushings everywhere, 1x2" SF connectors, MM caster plates, KYB shocks, Michelin Defenders, special order factory built Turbo Coupe color scheme cloth LSC buckets (with a matching backseat), factory CD/JBL (resto: Paul Protos)

Ghost: factory air springs, everything stock (except the front buckets out of '88 XR7), factory cassette/JBL (resto: Paul Protos)

latest 3 projects: brake accumulator/system flush (Ghost), rear calipers (Ghost), ignition coil (Ghost)
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Re: Strange Problem, Steering Seems Loose

Postby sk87 » Wed Nov 14, 2012 3:51 pm

As far as I know, the rack is original.

Is an R an R of the rack something I will be able to accomplish myself? I have a full set of good tools, jacks, etc. but like I said, my knowledge of the steering system is not the best.

Is the rack something I can just go to Napa and order, or am I gonna need to do some searching?

Any other parts I should get?

All help appreciated, and thank you for the quick response Phoenix
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Re: Strange Problem, Steering Seems Loose

Postby phoenix » Wed Nov 14, 2012 6:45 pm

This is going to be a royal PITA with the engine in the car. Mine was done with the engine out, it's real easy then. With the engine in place you'll have really minimal clearance. The front of the car will have to be in the air, you'll have to:

- remove both wheels
- unhook the tie rod ends from the spindles (this can be a PITA in itself if they decide to not cooperate)
- get under there and unhook the lines to the rack (main and return), then unhook the rack (this is PITA x 10 with the engine in place and without a lift)

Here's what it looks like, the image shows our rack, rack bushings, and tie rod ends.

http://www.google.com/imgres?num=10&hl= ... 3,s:0,i:88

You can just peek under the car and you'll see it all right away, it'll give you a good idea whether you want to try it yourself or outsource it to a mechanic who has a lift. To make your decision examine the clearance at the lines and how the rack attaches to the chassis and to the steering shaft. I suspect it's going to be a whole lot easier with a lift!!! It's going to have to be your call in the end. ;)

PS: It's a Fox Mustang rack basically, all parts stores will likely carry it - and they should also take your old one for core discount. Ask for a Mark VII rack, of course, but that's why it's so widely available. Mark VIIs carry a lot of Fox Mustang parts!

PS#2: An alignment will definitely be necessary after this is done.

PS#3: The above link is just for illustrative purposes, a cheap AutoZone rack is going to serve just fine (and feel great by comparison with what's there now), no fancy kit req-d.
Image Image

1990 LSC SE (a.k.a. "Christine")
1991 LSC (a.k.a. "Ghost")

Christine: Arnott air springs/front, Suncore air springs/rear, CHE rear control arms, 1.5/16" front "Turbo Coupe" bar, Addco 415 rear bar, poly bushings everywhere, 1x2" SF connectors, MM caster plates, KYB shocks, Michelin Defenders, special order factory built Turbo Coupe color scheme cloth LSC buckets (with a matching backseat), factory CD/JBL (resto: Paul Protos)

Ghost: factory air springs, everything stock (except the front buckets out of '88 XR7), factory cassette/JBL (resto: Paul Protos)

latest 3 projects: brake accumulator/system flush (Ghost), rear calipers (Ghost), ignition coil (Ghost)
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Re: Strange Problem, Steering Seems Loose

Postby sk87 » Wed Nov 14, 2012 7:48 pm

Thanks again phoenix, I'm gonna take a look when I get home.

Hopefully this will work out for me to do on my own; money is the constraining factor (what's new) and I don't know if I'm gonna be able to outsource this one.
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Re: Strange Problem, Steering Seems Loose

Postby phoenix » Wed Nov 14, 2012 8:52 pm

Just be careful, no matter what you do.

I strongly recommend not putting the old tie rod ends back in if you do this - whether yourself or giving it to a mechanic. They're cheap anyway. And - you'll need 4 new rack bushings (also cheap), for longevity I recommend spending a few extra bucks on poly (Energy Suspension) - beats rubber for steering feel too IMHO.
Image Image

1990 LSC SE (a.k.a. "Christine")
1991 LSC (a.k.a. "Ghost")

Christine: Arnott air springs/front, Suncore air springs/rear, CHE rear control arms, 1.5/16" front "Turbo Coupe" bar, Addco 415 rear bar, poly bushings everywhere, 1x2" SF connectors, MM caster plates, KYB shocks, Michelin Defenders, special order factory built Turbo Coupe color scheme cloth LSC buckets (with a matching backseat), factory CD/JBL (resto: Paul Protos)

Ghost: factory air springs, everything stock (except the front buckets out of '88 XR7), factory cassette/JBL (resto: Paul Protos)

latest 3 projects: brake accumulator/system flush (Ghost), rear calipers (Ghost), ignition coil (Ghost)
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Re: Strange Problem, Steering Seems Loose

Postby CDW6212R » Thu Nov 15, 2012 1:47 am

I'd first check the tie rods for wear, those are usually the first to go. As Olegs said replace those with a rack, but I'd do them by themselves if any seem not tight.

Also carefully check the wheel bearings, those can become too loose over time. Lift a tire off the ground enough to see how much it moves by grabbing at the top and bottom of the tire. Wiggle it there and see how much play you feel in the bearings. There should not be much, just a hair. If there is more than that, tighten the bearings. If they are very loose, then you need to take the bearings out and check them for wear, they will go bad when run so loose.

None of that is expensive, so do that before the rack or the PS pump. Clean fluid solves most PS issues, you might do that again, and try an additive by Lubegard also. I prefer PS fluid BTW, it's basically clear and made for the job. I have Amsoil in mine now, it went in with a new rack two months ago. Regards,
Don
1991 Red Special Edition, my 2nd SE, dead paint, DWS 255/45/17's on 95 Cobra wheels, and soon; DVD/Navi/backup camera, OBDII and the 347, before custom paint.
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Re: Strange Problem, Steering Seems Loose

Postby RoyLPita » Thu Nov 15, 2012 10:46 am

If you get a Mustang rack, remove the little plastic limiters on each side before the inner tie rods.
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Re: Strange Problem, Steering Seems Loose

Postby tomnh » Thu Nov 15, 2012 3:54 pm

One other thing to check, the rack to frame bushings ! I had the drifting problem on my mark. The rack bushings were worn and it tended to drift and worse when I tried to turn. If you do change the rack, get the quick turn ratio one 15/1 .
Since I had developed a leak in the high pressure line, I ripped out the whole thing, pump, rack, tie rods etc. and made them all brand new. made a big difference.
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Re: Strange Problem, Steering Seems Loose

Postby CDW6212R » Thu Nov 15, 2012 9:59 pm

RoyLPita wrote:If you get a Mustang rack, remove the little plastic limiters on each side before the inner tie rods.


Those limiters are good to have if the wheels have been swapped to wider 17's etc.

If a person was changing to a new rack($250+), there's only one best choice. Get a 2003/04 Cobra rack, from Ford, remanufactured(or used if you can find one), and a matching 94-04 Mustang steering shaft. That bolts into any 90-92 Mark VII, while an 84-89 will required a hybrid steering shaft(MM-##13 for about $230).
Don
1991 Red Special Edition, my 2nd SE, dead paint, DWS 255/45/17's on 95 Cobra wheels, and soon; DVD/Navi/backup camera, OBDII and the 347, before custom paint.
98 Mountaineer with Continental DWS 255/55/18's, big sway bars, custom brakes. Soon to be A4WD with XP8 bumpers and wing.

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Re: Strange Problem, Steering Seems Loose

Postby matt5991 » Sun Jan 27, 2013 2:42 pm

I know it's not part of the steering system but check the rear control arm bushings too, when they're really lose it makes the car wander a lot almost like a steering problem. Especially in higher winds

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Re: Strange Problem, Steering Seems Loose

Postby CDW6212R » Sun Jan 27, 2013 4:14 pm

Ditto, you have to hunt steering and wandering issues carefully. Don't make any conclusions in any winds, and avoid higher speeds to check things. Those rear control arms do allow the back end to move side to side a lot, and way more in wind, or with worn out bushings.
Don
1991 Red Special Edition, my 2nd SE, dead paint, DWS 255/45/17's on 95 Cobra wheels, and soon; DVD/Navi/backup camera, OBDII and the 347, before custom paint.
98 Mountaineer with Continental DWS 255/55/18's, big sway bars, custom brakes. Soon to be A4WD with XP8 bumpers and wing.

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Re: Strange Problem, Steering Seems Loose

Postby 3James » Tue Feb 26, 2013 1:26 am

With the tierods removed can you turn each wheel freely if not the problems your balljoint are to tight mines had this same issue factory grease turned to glue.
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Re: Strange Problem, Steering Seems Loose

Postby tomnh » Thu Mar 21, 2013 5:40 pm

It also might be the bushings that hold the rack to the body. If they are worn, the whole rack will shift back and forth. I had that problem and replacing the bushings cured all that sloppy steering.

The rubber bushings are probably stock and worn out. I have seen people replace everything except the bushing and the problem stayed the sa. New bushings and presto.. all fixed,

Good luck
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Re: Strange Problem, Steering Seems Loose

Postby scanky1988 » Sun Mar 24, 2013 10:44 pm

Hi Guys..
Very interseting reading the threads on steering issues. My 1988 LSC has developed the wandering problem. However mine will dive left or right and try to stay there. Gets me thinking that a ball joint is frozen. I have removed the factory plugs and installed zercs, greased them with no change. I replaced my power steering pump [rebuilt is all I could get] about a year ago as it was noisey. It took 3 pumps before I got one that was normal.. Now to the issue at hand.
I have not been under the nose while sombody works the steering wheel. But with the vehicle shut down and turning the wheel side to side I get some clunking noise from up front. I suspect the rack as the culprit. I read about checking the bushings but am in the dark there. I need to aquire a Service Manual for the LSC. Does anyone have a recomendation how to obtain one.

Thanks, Tim B.
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Re: Strange Problem, Steering Seems Loose

Postby artbaileyjr » Mon Mar 25, 2013 12:44 am

Hi Tim.
I picked up all of my service manuals on Ebay. They come up pretty regularly. Your '88 is almost a carbon copy of the '89, so actually either will work. I indiscriminately use either one, myself.

Here's a listing for an '89: http://www.ebay.com/itm/1989-Lincoln-Ma ... 61&vxp=mtr

Here's a listing for BOTH the service manual and an EVTM for an '89. (Better to have both): http://www.ebay.com/itm/1989-Lincoln-Ma ... b8&vxp=mtr

I didn't see a current listing for an '88.

Good luck,
Art
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Re: Strange Problem, Steering Seems Loose

Postby tomnh » Mon Mar 25, 2013 8:10 pm

The bushings that I was referring too, are the 4 rubber bushing that hold the rack to the frame, the bolts go through them and act as a shock absorber for the rack. The problem is that they are rubber, 24 year old rubber. It get all worn out and soft and squishy allowing the rack to shift back and forth. Thus your clunk.
Replace them with new urethane bushings, there are 2 front and 2 rear. Get it on a lift and it is about a 1 hr job.

Now try that first before you spend a lot of money on the front end. :o
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