Loose steering gets... very loose in fift gear! - Defender Source
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  #1  
Old November 23rd, 2014, 12:06 AM
Spanish Fly
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Carlos Soldevila
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Loose steering gets... very loose in fift gear!

Well, I am getting to know my "new" 1990 Defender 90.
Steering is very loose, and there is easily a couple inches or more of play on the steering wheel before the front wheels react to my steering.

But things get somewhat wild (and dangerous!) whenever I get into fifth gear!

I don't seem to have much control! Shift back into fourth, and it does the trick. I get more "traction" it seems and response from the front wheels when I work the steering wheel.

Just don't know where and how to start with this issue....

thanks
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  #2  
Old November 23rd, 2014, 12:29 AM
chuckc4
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I would stop driving it immediately until you figure it out. Sounds like multiple items may be loose or very worn--drop arm pivot, tie rods....
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  #3  
Old November 23rd, 2014, 01:43 AM
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5th gear obviously has nothing to do with it.
you have dangerously worn front end parts and your tires are out of balance or misaligned and hitting their "stride" at ... well if its anything like mine.. I hit 5th gear at like... 25 mph.. .

Jack up the front and start inspecting. these things can go from bad to wheels pointing in opposite directions instantly.
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Old November 23rd, 2014, 01:57 AM
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Steering is easy to diagnose. Get under there and look for worn components. Have someone turn the wheel while you look for play.
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Old November 23rd, 2014, 08:41 AM
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Manual or power ?
Sounds like the clearance @ the worm gear needs adjusting. Very simple and takes only a minute or two. If that is loose I'd guess your drag link and tie rod ends are shot as well. These trucks have pretty decent feel when the steering is right.
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Old November 23rd, 2014, 08:57 AM
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check swivel ball tension as well.
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  #7  
Old November 23rd, 2014, 09:01 AM
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Personally I wouldn't even bother troubleshooting. Just dive in and replace all the tie rod ends, renew the swivels and redo the bearings. In addition look at renewing the steering box.
Another thing that can make the truck wander are the radius arm bushings and trailing arm bushings where they attach to the chassis.
Get it sorted pronto.
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  #8  
Old November 23rd, 2014, 10:45 AM
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Replace everything is silly...it could be all brand new for all we know (doubt it, but...)

You need to lay under the front of the truck while somebody wiggles the steering wheel back and forth. Look at all the tie rod ends and the drop arm off the steering gear/box. Also look at where the drop arm connects to the box and also the vertical shaft in the box could be worn and moving back and forth instead of roundy-round. Make sure the box is securely mounted to the chassis and not moving around, and also look in the engine bay and make sure lower column shaft u-joints are not flopping around and that the bolts securing them are all there and tight.

Swivel pre-load as sonoronos suggests usually does not result in free travel at the steering wheel. I've driven trucks with 1/4" play with worn out upper pins and you don't notice it if everything else is set up correctly. But, they do need to be checked out and the way to do that is as follows:

chock the rear wheels. Jack up one front wheel. grab the tire at 6 and 12 o clock and try to rock it in and out. if there is any more than *just* perceptible movement, you have a problem. have a helper sit in the car and stand on the brake pedal. If the movement goes away then the problem is in the wheel bearings. If it doesn't, then there is wear in the swivel kingpin setup that will need to be addressed.

Usually if the swivel pre-load is bad and the wheels aren't well-balanced, you will get death wobble in the steering wheel after hitting bumps.
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  #9  
Old November 23rd, 2014, 02:16 PM
Spanish Fly
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Carlos Soldevila
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Thanks for all the answers
Let's see what I can find.
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  #10  
Old November 23rd, 2014, 06:10 PM
Spanish Fly
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Carlos Soldevila
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Found that there is a loose ball joint on the drag link. (right front wheel)

When steering the wheel, this is where there is some travel before the wheels actually start to move.
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  #11  
Old November 23rd, 2014, 06:27 PM
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Carlos Soldevila
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The loose ball joint I found is #10 on this image.
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  #12  
Old November 23rd, 2014, 06:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spanish Fly View Post
The loose ball joint I found is #10 on this image.
Replace it. No big deal. Get a torch and a pipe wrench to get it and the other end off and then refit the other end and the new ball joint with antiseize.
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  #13  
Old November 23rd, 2014, 07:27 PM
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check rear axle bushings too (all components for that matter) if it sways, it makes the front end uneasy to control. (thing of fish tailing) ...good luck.
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  #14  
Old November 23rd, 2014, 11:51 PM
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Yea these things all have similar life spans. If i do a ball joint i usually do everything. Bushings and all. When it gets loose its constantly hammering everything... By the time it gets as bad as you say... Its upped the tolerances on everything.

Ball joints in pairs at least. You fix one thing the other loose parts will become more evident and start to kill your new stuff. Ask any jeep owner...
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