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Discussion Starter #1
Has anyone else encountered kind of a sloppy or squirrelly feeling in the steering?

I'm not just talking about the loose feeling on dirt roads. Mine has always felt terrible on any semi rough service. But for the past 5-10 thousand miles, my steering hasn't felt normal even on pavement.

About three weeks ago it started to feel odd. Not just sloppy, but kind of pulling to the right some and in general just didn't feel right. I took it in and got an alignment. The squirrelly feeling wasn't quite as bad after, but it is still pulling to the right. Sometimes I notice kind of a pulsing or shudder-like feeling in the steering wheel when applying pressure one way on the wheel. Not enough that I can see the steering wheel moving really, I can just feel it in the wheel.

I'm at about 55k miles. Has anyone else had any of these issues? If so, were you able to find a solution?
 

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If your alignment guy was any good, he would have checked your wheel bearings and steering linkage before doing the alignment. That leaves tire pressure, tire wear (including separated belts), tires out of balance, bad shocks (bouncing tires = sloppy steering), and even "telegraphing" from a drive-line problem, though the latter is way down the list. I guess it's even possible with that mileage that it could be an issue with a brake pad/caliper on the side it pulls to, but I don't see how that would make the steering feel sloppy unless it were somehow intermittent.

If it were me, I'd probably start with verifying the tire pressures are right and then get someone at your friendly local tire store to rotate and balance your tires. Tell them the problem you're having and they'll pay particular attention to the condition of the tires--including separated belts--when they spin them.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Well, I was rotating my tires just a couple days ago, so while I had jacks out, I took the time to jack the front up on both sides.

I can grab both front wheels by hand and they don't budge in any way. So I don't think that's the problem. Tie rod ends feel solid also.

With both wheels off the ground, the steering wheel seems to have a good .5"-.75" play where I can wiggle it around with pretty much no effect on the wheels. But I don't know if that's too much, don't know what it should be.

I did check the pressure of all four tires, and all four are still good and even. Also, the problem feels exactly the same after rotating, so I don't think it has anything to do with the tires. Now, I did only rotate by flipping fronts and rears, they stayed on the same sides. But even so, I just can't see that making no difference at all if it was a tire issue.

I've been trying to pay very close attention to the details of the issue. It's very hard to define though, and it's not terribly consistent. The only consistent thing is that it generally wants to steer to the right.

Turning to the left typically takes slightly more effort than a turn to the right. I also sometimes notice a slight pulsing in the wheel when turning to the left. But again, it's not consistent.

I'm able to drive the truck alright, but these little quirks are driving me insane. At first a long while back I thought I was just becoming hypersensitive to every little thing, but this is not something I'm imagining.
 

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The Factory Service Manual (FSM) says that steering wheel free play maximum is 30 mm (1.18 in.) so it looks like you're okay there.

Increased effort turning left and pulsing in the wheel? Hmm... If everything is mechanically tight and it doesn't follow a wheel when you rotate them, maybe something in the power steering system itself?

It would make me crazy, too. It's worth trying to figure out.

There's a troubleshooting chart for steering on page SR-2 of the FSM. It has some interesting suggestions under the "hard steering" section like a low power steering fluid level and even a slipping drive belt.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The Factory Service Manual (FSM) says that steering wheel free play maximum is 30 mm (1.18 in.) so it looks like you're okay there.

Increased effort turning left and pulsing in the wheel? Hmm... If everything is mechanically tight and it doesn't follow a wheel when you rotate them, maybe something in the power steering system itself?

It would make me crazy, too. It's worth trying to figure out.

There's a troubleshooting chart for steering on page SR-2 of the FSM. It has some interesting suggestions under the "hard steering" section like a low power steering fluid level and even a slipping drive belt.
Yeah, the increased effort and pulsing isn't extreme, but it's sure enough to bother me. I did consider it may be something with the power steering, but honestly I don't know enough about how that works to make a call there. But yeah, the pulsing when applying turning pressure is what made me think there may be something up there.

I've seen some choppy steering motion with tractors equipped with power steering on occasion. The pulse feeling sort of reminds me of that, except with this truck it's hard to tell the magnitude.

I do know the reservoir for the power steering has just the right amount of fluid in it. And I don't really hear anything abnormal here I don't think. Beyond that, I didn't really know what to check there.
 

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I don't know much about power steering, either, so you may be in for some intensive Googling. Take a look at the troubleshooting guide on page 20-21 of this PDF from Gates. It's got some interesting information, and if you have the time, even though it's biased towards the power steering hoses, it looks like there's a lot of good information in there about power steering systems in general that may help you figure out if that could be it or not. Of course, there's always the option of seeking professional help. :facepalm:

In any event, please post if you figure out what this is.
 

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08' Tacoma Dbl Cab
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I had this feeling recently, especially at freeway speeds, it was almost like my truck was floating. I finally got around to taking it to my local tire shop. Had my tires rotated and balanced and they check the alignment. My toe was WAY off! I am talking ridiculously off. I took my truck mudding a few weeks ago and wasn't exactly easy on it. The guy doing the alignment could tell. He came in and asked me "you've been offroading it haven't you?" I told him I had and he said he could tell because there was still mud packed all over in the undercarage...I thought I had rinsed it out well...guess not. Anyway, they fixed the alignment and sent me on my way. My truck drives like it is new again!

I would definitely look at the alignment before doing anything else! Just because you had it done recently doesn't mean it was done right...believe me!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Update:

A little over a week ago I took it in to another Toyota dealership. I would have taken it to the last one to complain first, but they're a couple hundred miles away from my current location.

So at this dealership, I told the guy at the desk that I'd like to ride along with the tech when he drives it so I could point out the problems I was referring to and talk to him about possibilities and what I'd already checked. The guy at the desk half humored me on that, but they never came and got me.

He comes and finds me after about an hour, said the tech didn't notice it pulling but did notice a bit of vibration. He said he couldn't find anything that seemed loose or worn out in all the linkages, and he suggested checking the tire balance. Well I know it's not the tire balance. I told the guy that, and asked if they checked the alignment. He said they did.

So I leave with nothing solved. Then it hits me, did they actually check the alignment or just look up the results from the last dealership.... I call him back, ask if they checked the alignment, he said they did. I said, "Did your tech physically mount the sensors and check himself? Or did he look up the results from the last dealership?". He said he didn't know, he'd have to go check with the tech. He comes back and says since the tech didn't notice the pull, he didn't check it... :headbang:

So tomorrow I'm going to a tire place to get the alignment checked again. If the tire place solves this problem, I'm going to go ballistic on both of these dealerships...
 

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Discussion Starter #11
bet you will always have this problem. it has been around since 2005. some people notice it , some dont
Really? I've never heard of it before. Mine just started doing this bad about 6 weeks ago.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I would bet it is the alignment! My truck has not pulled or jerked the steering wheel since my alignment. Keep us updated!! :thumbsup:
Nope, they said the alignment was off just slightly, but not enough to cause what's happening. I believe they did adjust it to correct it, no effect.

Then they wanted to swap the front wheels to see if it's a tire issue. I told them that I already rotated them front to back, but kept them on the same side. They said it could still make a difference.So I said alright, go for it. I went for a drive with the tech. We both agreed the pull was still there.

I asked what about the rear wheels. They said there was no point in swapping the rear, that couldn't cause the problem. But if that's the case, there was no point in swapping the fronts either, because it was about three weeks ago when I swapped the fronts and backs, and that had no effect.

Don't know what to do now. I can swap the rears myself just to cover that base, but it's not likely to change anything.

I'm running out of ideas. The guy suggested that there could be a problem with a power steering valve, but I don't think he has any idea.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I was just out for a longer drive. 99% of my driving here is local and very little above even 50mph.

All I really have to add is that the pulse is much more substantial at high speeds. Above 60mph, that pulse was a clear as day vibration easily visible in the wheel. Pull to the right is still there as well.

Someone on another forum said this:

Alignment can be "good" (within factory recommended specs) over a fairly large range. If you truck had always been aligned with a little toe-in and some left-right toe difference to compensate for road crown, it might have felt fine. But a new alignment might give 0 toe on both sides. The newer alignment numbers might look better, but would feel more squirrelly.
What do you guys think of that?
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I got an email alert to a response to this thread, but the response isn't showing up here on the site.

But anyway, to answer that reply, I did already take it to an independent place. Last Thursday I took it to a local tire shop. They checked the alignment, said it was only slightly off. They adjusted it, and then also wanted to switch the front wheels to see if that made it pull to the left instead.

Well either the slight alignment adjustment or tire flipping did have an effect, but it's very minor. The problem is still there, and the pull is still to the right.
 

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I got an email alert to a response to this thread, but the response isn't showing up here on the site.

But anyway, to answer that reply, I did already take it to an independent place. Last Thursday I took it to a local tire shop. They checked the alignment, said it was only slightly off. They adjusted it, and then also wanted to switch the front wheels to see if that made it pull to the left instead.

Well either the slight alignment adjustment or tire flipping did have an effect, but it's very minor. The problem is still there, and the pull is still to the right.
That was me but I noticed after I posted that you already had the alignment checked.

What type of a pull are we talking about here? Does the truck slightly veer to the right or does it take the fatal "dart to the ditch" when you release the wheel?

With wearing road surfaces, crowning, etc it is very uncommon for a vehicle to track completely true. Just wondering the severity of the problem?

I replaced my steering shaft last week and it cured my problem in a hurry, but I had excessive play in the u joint near the steering rack.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
That was me but I noticed after I posted that you already had the alignment checked.

What type of a pull are we talking about here? Does the truck slightly veer to the right or does it take the fatal "dart to the ditch" when you release the wheel?

With wearing road surfaces, crowning, etc it is very uncommon for a vehicle to track completely true. Just wondering the severity of the problem?

I replaced my steering shaft last week and it cured my problem in a hurry, but I had excessive play in the u joint near the steering rack.
I wouldn't call it a "dart to the ditch" kind of pull. But honestly it varies from barely noticeable to a plain as day pull to the right. At it's worst, if I let go of the wheel, I'd be in a ditch within four seconds probably. You can see most times when I'm driving straight, the wheel is turned a good inch or two to the left.

I'm going to be at my wit's end trying to notice any kind of pattern with this thing. This afternoon on my way home, I thought I may have noticed a pattern where it was worse after driving a bit, and not so bad when I first started the vehicle and began driving. To me that would maybe indicate brake or power steering involvement. But, after a little more experimentation, I'm not entirely sure that pattern is valid.

The tire place said it appeared my tires are wearing very evenly. But I've only had this problem for about six weeks now, and the amount of driving I've been doing in those six weeks is pretty minimal.

One other thing though, I do think the problem in the last six weeks has been progressive. I first noticed it about six weeks ago, but after a week or two, I did make about a 2.5 hour road trip back home, several hour trips from there, and then 2.5 hours back here. I think if the problem then was as bad as it is now, I'd have been going insane on that drive. Also, I drove it someplace yesterday that was about 30 miles each way, and at high speeds there is a very noticeable vibration in the steering wheel. I do not remember that being the case on the trip home four weeks ago.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Took a trip home this weekend, 2.5 hours out, 2.5 hours back. Here's what I got out of it...

Nothing about this problem is consistent. At times the steering felt fine. Other times I was getting a minor pulse and pull to the right. Other times I was getting a heavy wobbling and vibration in the wheel, I'm talking really bad. The pull to the right was usually there to varying degrees.

Going on two months now without the problem solved. I'm going to lose my mind with this thing eventually.
 

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How many km's do you have on your struts and shocks? It's my understanding they have a life span of approx 80,000 km's. At 140,000 km's my rig started to wonder at highway speeds. After replacing the struts and shocks it handled much better.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
How many km's do you have on your struts and shocks? It's my understanding they have a life span of approx 80,000 km's. At 140,000 km's my rig started to wonder at highway speeds. After replacing the struts and shocks it handled much better.
I'm just past 55,000 miles now, and on the original struts and shocks. Never had the TSB done.

How would you describe the feel of your truck when your struts and shocks were going out?

That's ridiculous that they would be going out already. I have noticed though that the ride is a bit more rough as well.
 

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I have a hotrod truck that has another subframe spliced in. There are no specs for my alignment, at least nothing under '53 Ford with a '77 MonteCarlo front end..LOL. During my alignment process I had the floating feeling that was described, it's all about proper alignment and these guys are NOT created equal. This is of course assuming that you don't have any belt issues in your tires. Improper alignment can cause floating, a feeling of darting when making a slight turn, you name it, it affects it.
 
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