Steering Wheel Issues
Ok this month is a very common issue, I’m going to try and tackle steering wheel straightness and how we can try and ensure we get it right first time every time.
There’s nothing quite as bad as putting everything away, test driving and finding out your steering wheel is out of alignment.
So here’s some useful tips:
- Firstly, ensure your machine is correctly calibrated.
- Ensure you have good condition turn plates (See last month’s Blog).
- Do your vehicle pre-checks, I.E Tyre pressures, Tread wear, joint play etc.
- Check to see if you have clean lenses (CCD) or targets (3D).
- Ensure the clamps are fitted evenly around the rim.
- Ensure run out is done if using un calibrated clamps I.E. 4 point
- Always choose 4 wheel alignment not 2, 2 wheel alignment is for old vehicles where the rear wheels are hidden under arches.
- Try not to sit in the car when you put on the steering wheel clamp, try to lean in instead as this can change the bump steer in the car.
- Where you clamp it is where its going to be, many customers clamp the steering wheel near the end of a castor swing believing the computer is asking you to clamp when straightening the front wheels.
- When undoing seized or tight lock nuts, the extra force could move the steering wheel around. It is only the steering wheel clamp that holds the front wheels straight.
- A lot of customers heat up lock nuts or track rod ends to get them moving, however heat expands metal, so it will give the incorrect readings. Try getting the nut to move freely then cool it down with a cloth soaked in cool water, and then adjust. Or simply just replace the track rod ends as new MOT laws now forbid the heating of these components.
- At the end of the alignment just before you start to remove the heads/clamps, you should be able to click back into the program to the front toe screen, remove the steering wheel clamp and wiggle the steering the side to side, the numbers on the screen should be moving, now try and equal the toe numbers either side and stand back to check the steering wheel, it should be straight, if not, re-centre the wheel and re-adjust the toe.
The numbers are more important than just getting green, the same numbers either side indicates a straight steering wheel.
- On more basic machines such as lasers or even some computers, its so important that you check the rear to ensure the rear is in-line with the front, because if the rear is out of align the car will “crab” and you wont get the steering wheel straight.
The driver in this car would be turning their wheel to the left to drive straight.