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Old 02-04-2007, 10:07 PM   #1
bpimm
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1998 Legacy
Green

Default Steering sticking, not returning to center.

The Steering in my 98 L has developed some stiff spots. As you turn the wheel left or right somewhere at about 1/4 turn either way it has a stiff spot that takes some extra effort to turn through, and then it won't freely return to center, you have to help it a little.

Last weekend I ran a rally cross, it was snow and ice on an airport runway so it wasn't real rough and the 6 hour drive home was without the symptoms, they showed up the next morning when my girlfriend took it to work. The struts have recently started to make some creaking noises on bumps so I think they need to be replaced, but I don't see how they can effect the steering like this. That would be a simple solution if that were the case. Has anyone had a similar problem, and if so what was the fix?

I did a visual inspection today and found nothing out of place, I was hoping to find a mangled cone stuck into the steering somewhere, but no luck.

Any insights would be appreciated as there is another rally cross scheduled for this coming weekend and I would like to go again, I think I may be addicted after only one weekend of rally crossing.

Thanks

Brian
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Old 02-05-2007, 12:19 AM   #2
Jonathan
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Quick Silver Metallic

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Possibly your steering rack is on the verge of failing ?

Have you checked you Power Steering fluid level ?

Also how many miles on your Legacy ?
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Old 02-05-2007, 08:44 AM   #3
bpimm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan View Post
Possibly your steering rack is on the verge of failing
Possible, but the mileage is still low. are these racks prone to failure?

Quote:
Have you checked you Power Steering fluid level ?
Fluid is ok.

Quote:
Also how many miles on your Legacy ?
mileage is about 110K.

Brian
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Old 02-05-2007, 09:00 PM   #4
wallytoo
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95 legacy L wagon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan View Post
Possibly your steering rack is on the verge of failing ?
last march, i thought the same thing with mine - '95 legacy wagon. at the time, the steering was very stiff, and wouldn't return to center. effort to steer was very high - wouldn't let my wife drive the car. at that time, car had close to 190K miles. so, since it needed a new clutch and was close to time for a new timing belt, i brought the car up to my brother's garage to replace those along with a new (used) steering rack.

the long and short of it was, even after replacing the rack, the steering was still wrong - very stiff, maximum effort to steer, wouldn't return to center. so, then i figured it must be the pump. got one on eBay for about $25. was getting ready to install that, when the problem went away. hasn't returned, either. now at 207K. i don't know if it was air in the system, but the fluid was never low in the pump reservoir - i haven't added any fluid to the system, in fact.

don't know what to tell you. mine "magically" cleared itself of the problem, which had symptoms exactly like bpimm's.

wally
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Old 02-06-2007, 01:08 AM   #5
Jonathan
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Maybe the fluid has somehow gotten gummed up ? Just a wild guess.
By swapping out his P/S rack, I assume Wallytoo also flushed out his PS fluid.

Maybe you could try a flush and refill (with fresh, clean, brand new PS fluid), and see if after a few days of use if that makes any difference.
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Old 02-06-2007, 01:53 AM   #6
jake15
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does it get tough to turn, loosen up, and then get tough to turn again etc? my friend had this problem and it ended up being the rag joint (the thing that connects the steering column to the steering rack) it had rusted and one of the pivot joints had froze solid so it would cause the steering to tighten when it needed the joint to pivot and loosen when it got over it until it came time for the joint to pivot again.
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Old 02-06-2007, 11:22 AM   #7
bpimm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jake15 View Post
does it get tough to turn, loosen up, and then get tough to turn again etc? my friend had this problem and it ended up being the rag joint (the thing that connects the steering column to the steering rack) it had rusted and one of the pivot joints had froze solid so it would cause the steering to tighten when it needed the joint to pivot and loosen when it got over it until it came time for the joint to pivot again.
I think you are on the right track here. it does do that at about 1/2 turn intervals which is where it would rotate back and forth through the bad spot.

my plan for tonight was to separate the tie rods from the hub's and the steering coupler from the steering column to find out which one of the components was at fault. but now I think I will pull the steering coupler first to inspect. This is the first thing that fits with what I'm feeling. I did a visual inspection of the coupler and it had no slop, but it could be tight.

Thanks,

Brian
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Old 02-06-2007, 11:57 AM   #8
linsavy
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Take a look at the strut tops while you are there. It they were damaged during the rallyx, it would have a similar symptom.
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Old 02-06-2007, 01:40 PM   #9
subielicious02
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gold brown champagne ish

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one really easy way to just ellimanate the problem being power steering is to take off the power steering belt and drive it around the block. i dont think its the power steering but you might as well elimanate the small and easy first, atleast thats how i look at it. good luck!!!

Edit: that was a horrible way of saying it. i meant take off the belt and dirve it around the block to see if the problem is still there, then put it back on.
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Old 02-06-2007, 03:32 PM   #10
bpimm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by subielicious02 View Post
one really easy way to just ellimanate the problem being power steering is to take off the power steering belt and drive it around the block. i dont think its the power steering but you might as well elimanate the small and easy first, atleast thats how i look at it. good luck!!!

Edit: that was a horrible way of saying it. i meant take off the belt and dirve it around the block to see if the problem is still there, then put it back on.
I don't think it has anything to do with the power part of the steering because with the front end jacked up and manually turning the front wheel I can feel it. I think it's mechanical not hydraulic.


Quote:
Originally Posted by linsavy
Take a look at the strut tops while you are there. It they were damaged during the rallyx, it would have a similar symptom.
A possibility also, the symptoms didn't show up until the next day, and the 6 Hour drive home was symptom free. but even so they are on my list to check.

Thanks
Brian

P.S. subielicious02 I love your color description, it sounds like the color of my sons 92. someone at an autocross labeled it "off mauve" which Jeremy hates. is it this color? an attempt to film from my car as a chase car with hand held camera. http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...nw+rally+cross

Last edited by bpimm; 02-06-2007 at 03:39 PM. Reason: saw subielicious02's color description
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Old 02-06-2007, 04:28 PM   #11
subielicious02
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gold brown champagne ish

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Quote:
Originally Posted by bpimm View Post
I don't think it has anything to do with the power part of the steering because with the front end jacked up and manually turning the front wheel I can feel it. I think it's mechanical not hydraulic.




A possibility also, the symptoms didn't show up until the next day, and the 6 Hour drive home was symptom free. but even so they are on my list to check.

Thanks
Brian

P.S. subielicious02 I love your color description, it sounds like the color of my sons 92. someone at an autocross labeled it "off mauve" which Jeremy hates. is it this color? an attempt to film from my car as a chase car with hand held camera. http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...nw+rally+cross
i think my color is a little lighter then that. i wish i knew what it was called. thats the only thing i can describe it as. your car looks more like a charcoal. am i right?
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Old 02-06-2007, 04:37 PM   #12
bpimm
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Green

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I think Jeremy's is champaign beige, at least that is what someone told me. Suby has some interesting colors in the past.


Quote:
Originally Posted by subielicious02 View Post
i think my color is a little lighter then that. i wish i knew what it was called. thats the only thing i can describe it as. your car looks more like a charcoal. am i right?
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Old 02-06-2007, 04:45 PM   #13
wallytoo
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan View Post
Maybe the fluid has somehow gotten gummed up ? Just a wild guess.
By swapping out his P/S rack, I assume Wallytoo also flushed out his PS fluid.
actually, i didn't change the fluid, or flush it. just added to the reservoir after replacing the rack. the level was not low prior to changing the rack, and the amount in the rack is a pretty small volume. don't believe it was gummed up, based on the fluid that drained from the old rack, and the fact that with the new rack, the symptoms didn't change.

i suppose it could be the "rag" joint, although i never did anything to it to make the symptoms disappear.

wally
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Old 02-06-2007, 05:38 PM   #14
subielicious02
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gold brown champagne ish

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Quote:
Originally Posted by bpimm View Post
I think Jeremy's is champaign beige, at least that is what someone told me. Suby has some interesting colors in the past.
hmm...i know what you mean. i love the color, its like a goldesh brown and when the sun hits it it has like a purpelish color to it. i should look up the color code. did you find out what your problem was.
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Old 02-06-2007, 07:38 PM   #15
bpimm
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1998 Legacy
Green

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Quote:
Originally Posted by subielicious02 View Post
hmm...i know what you mean. i love the color, its like a goldesh brown and when the sun hits it it has like a purpelish color to it. i should look up the color code. did you find out what your problem was.
That sounds like it, but they had several interesting colors in those years.

I will do some more troubleshooting tonight when I get home from work and see if I can nail it down.
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Old 02-06-2007, 10:08 PM   #16
bpimm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jake15 View Post
does it get tough to turn, loosen up, and then get tough to turn again etc? my friend had this problem and it ended up being the rag joint (the thing that connects the steering column to the steering rack) it had rusted and one of the pivot joints had froze solid so it would cause the steering to tighten when it needed the joint to pivot and loosen when it got over it until it came time for the joint to pivot again.
You Nailed it jake15. Tomorrow I'll see if the Subaru dealer has a new one and how many pounds of gold they think it's worth.

Thanks for all the suggestions.

Brian
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Old 02-08-2007, 12:37 AM   #17
bpimm
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1998 Legacy
Green

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All Fixed, nice and smooth steering response again.

Thanks Guys for all the ideas.

Brian
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Old 02-08-2007, 02:33 PM   #18
jake15
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6speed w/ brembos bishes!

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sweet, glad you got it fixed.

how many pounds of gold did it cost you?
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Old 02-08-2007, 04:05 PM   #19
bpimm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jake15 View Post
sweet, glad you got it fixed.

how many pounds of gold did it cost you?

It wasn't as bad as I expected, $156.00 with shipping and tax for an $75.00 item IMHO.

I bought all the parts to make one for my 76 F250 4X4 and it cost me about half as much and the joints were twice the size.

Brian
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