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Old 05-02-2021, 05:14 PM   #1
4eat05
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Default Is the rack truly centered? Alignment q's

Hey all, might sound like a dumb question, but is the PS rack centered in the chassis?

Ever since I bought my 2005 Wrx sedan years ago, the steering wheel has always been crooked, or off center.
I took it to a local shop a lot of ppl recommended for an alignment one time. The printout looked good (not perfect, but pretty good), the car drove well, tires wore evenly, but the steering wheel was still crooked, or off center.

Anyways, I finally got around to replacing a few things, endlinks, balljoints, inner/outer tie rods, and then did a "rough alignment" using toe-boards/toe-plates and identical measuring tapes.
According to this rough method, i got the front tires toed in about 1/32. This is after checking multiple times after multiple drive around the neighborhood. I also tried to keep both tie rods the same length as each other. They are both within 1/32 of each other.
But my steering wheel is still crooked, or off center. Maybe a hair better, but pretty much the same position it always has been.

Do I need to adjust the steering wheel at the steering coupler now? Or was I wrong thinking the rack is centered, or wrong thinking keeping both tied rods the same length is important?

Please help :S
Thanks!
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Old 05-02-2021, 05:19 PM   #2
murrdogg24
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you may have to take the steering wheel off and put it back on
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Old 05-03-2021, 08:18 PM   #3
speedyHAM
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The rack is centered as long as the subframe is not bent. On the left side it is locked in place side to side via the bushing.

If your steering wheel is off you need to pull it and reset it, but that would usually make the wheel a lot crooked. Most alignment shops fix this by adjusting the outer tie rods to make the wheel straight.
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Old 05-04-2021, 06:56 AM   #4
Norm Peterson
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If you adjust the tierod on one side 'inward' and the tierod on the other side outward by the same amount, that'll center the steering wheel without affecting total toe. Way better than having to deal with an airbag in my book.

If the steering wheel is 'off' to the right (counterclockwise as seen from the driver seat, you'd move the left toe in the inward direction and the right to outward. If you're careful enough about counting 'flats', you can get away with adjusting and test-driving to close in on getting the steering wheel centered.


I have a feeling that somewhere along the line somebody made a toe correction by adjusting only one side's tierod. Or the steering wheel wasn't locked down. I suppose it's possible somebody swapped steering wheels, but that ought to be an easy thing to diagnose.


Norm
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Old 05-04-2021, 10:09 AM   #5
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The steering wheel splines are very coarse compared to the tie rods. It's easier just to adjust the tie roads than dealing with moving the steering wheel on the splines. You would have to adjust the tie rods after that anyway as well.

The alignment guy should have set the steering wheel straight first or have you sit in the car and put the steering wheel in the centre.
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Old 05-04-2021, 10:25 AM   #6
Norm Peterson
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4eat05 View Post
I took it to a local shop a lot of ppl recommended for an alignment one time. The printout looked good (not perfect, but pretty good), the car drove well, tires wore evenly, but the steering wheel was still crooked, or off center.
Another possibility is for the rear wheel/axle thrust angle to be slightly off, which would mean unequal rear toes.

If that is involved, you need to get that fixed first.


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Old 05-04-2021, 11:25 AM   #7
T-37
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You want to keep the tie rods approx the same length and the rack itself close to centered.
Power assist has a little bit of dead space on center, but if it's too far off center, it will be applying assist while you're driving straight and it the car will pull to one side of the road.

The tie rod lengths are usually not exactly equal though. The best way to determine if your rack is actually off center is by measuring the number of turns before lock in each direction (note this can be tricky to do with a crooked steering wheel, a small piece of painters tape can help if you place it at the top of the wheel as it sits when you're driving straight down the road).

If there is a large difference in number of turns in each direction, adjust at the steering wheel or linkage (my preference is the linkage so you don't have to mess with the clockspring) so that you have equal number of turns before lock to the left and right with the steering wheel fairly close to center, and then have the car realigned (after adjusting this, the wheel will likely still be off center driving down the road).

If you already have a close to equal number of turns left and right, all that should need adjusted are the tie rods, and you should try a different alignment shop and EMPHASIZE that you want the steering wheel centered.

Last edited by T-37; 05-04-2021 at 11:38 AM.
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Old 05-04-2021, 02:22 PM   #8
Patrick Olsen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T-37 View Post
The tie rod lengths are usually not exactly equal though. The best way to determine if your rack is actually off center is by measuring the number of turns before lock in each direction (note this can be tricky to do with a crooked steering wheel, a small piece of painters tape can help if you place it at the top of the wheel as it sits when you're driving straight down the road).

If there is a large difference in number of turns in each direction, adjust at the steering wheel or linkage (my preference is the linkage so you don't have to mess with the clockspring) so that you have equal number of turns before lock to the left and right with the steering wheel fairly close to center, and then have the car realigned (after adjusting this, the wheel will likely still be off center driving down the road).
The previous owner of my '96 Brighton had replaced the rack, and apparently didn't get things back together in the proper alignment. I had almost a full turn difference going to full lock in each direction. To center the rack I had read online that you go to full lock in each direction, mark 12 o'clock with a piece of tape each time, and then bisect those tape marks with a 3rd piece of tape. I then unbolted the steering wheel, put that new tape mark (with the XXX on it) at 12 o'clock, and the rack was centered with the steering wheel straight.

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Old 05-06-2021, 08:08 AM   #9
4eat05
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I'm aware I can keep adjusting the tie rods to get the steering wheel straight, but at that point one tie rod would be like 1"+ longer than the other side and worried that would make my rack not centered ***129335;***8205;***9794;***65039;
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Old 05-06-2021, 08:17 AM   #10
Norm Peterson
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4eat05 View Post
I'm aware I can keep adjusting the tie rods to get the steering wheel straight, but at that point one tie rod would be like 1"+ longer than the other side and worried that would make my rack not centered ***129335;***8205;***9794;***65039;
Just how far off is that steering wheel? And how close to equal are the turns to full lock, left vs right?


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Old 05-06-2021, 10:40 AM   #11
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I'm guessing the coupler is off a tooth or two if your tie rods are evenly threaded out.
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