Tight Steering

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    Bill Pollard


    Evening everybody,

    I installed a new front disc brake kit along with the new adjustable front axle beam. At the same time I also replaced the upper and lower ball joints. I have also set the toe-in and the camber.

    Now the steering is very tight. The machine shop where I had the ball joints pressed in were aware thet the upper ball joints were directional, The lower ones were not. Since the camber and toe-in was easly adjusted I have to believe the ball joints are pressed in correctly.

    I do find a little play in the steering box and will purchase a new one. However I do not see anything in a bind that would cause the tight steering.

    At speeds above 30MPH it feels like the car is darting from side to side but I really think the tight steering is not letting me control the car properly.

    Does anybody have a solution?

    Keith True


    A dry steering box can do that.Make sure there is some lube in it,plain grease squeezes out and will let it run dry.It needs something like gear oil to lube it.Also,make sure the tie rods and the steering damper are not rubbing  on the frame head anywhere.A frozen damper will do it too,but from what I have seen over the years when the damper goes it dries out and just gets loose.

    Mark Hendrickson


    Bummer…First do what Keith said to do.

    If that doesn’t fix it, to find what is binding, start at steering column. Disconnect it at the rag joint. Then turn the steering wheel. If it is “normal”, then you’ve eliminated that a the problem.

    With the front wheels off the ground, still leaving the column disconnected, turn the front wheels full-lock to full-lock. If it is still way too stiff, then start by disconnecting the pitman arm from the center link. Turn the wheels again. If it’s “normal”, then the steering box is the problem. If it’s still stiff, then the steering box is probably not the problem.

    Next, still leaving everything disconnected that you have already disconnected, remove one side outer tie rod. Turn that wheel lock to lock. If is is stiff then you’ve got a ball joint problem in at least that wheel.

    Go to the side you didn’t remove a tie rod from and turn that wheel lock to lock.

    I think you get the idea. Starting at the steering wheel, you are going step by step in the reverse order of movement of each steering component.

    Let us know how you make out.

    Bill Pollard


    Thanks to both of you for the information.

    Before starting the work the steering was loose to say the least. The ball joints were just barely staying in their sockets. I have already ordered a new steering box to reduce the play that I find there.

    I noticed when I was installing everything back together all the ball joints seemed to be stiff. With just the spindles attached to the control arms, and nothing else connected, it took a little more pressure than I expected to move the spindles back in forth.

    I have driven the car less than five miles since I did the work. I’ll drive it a few more miles and see if they loosen up. If they don’t I contact the retailer back.

    Mark Hendrickson


    If the ball joints are the problem and you decide to replace them, be sure you buy German-made replacements. They cost a little more, but are wel worth it.

    The VW aftermarket is inundated with Brazilian-made junk as you found out when you bought the new adjustable beam.

    I had a set of German-made Type 1 (Beetle) ball joints and just sold them last month to a co-worker who’s restoring a Kharman-Ghia.

    I also had an NOS German Type 1 steering box, and sold that to him too. I am not sure if new German-made steering boxes are still available.

    Let us know what happens.


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