Car sways all over the road

Smurfstang88

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Nov 11, 2019
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I have an issue where my car pretty much feels like a 95 f150 with tons of slop and play and have to constantly adjust steering. It sways all over the road and is especially sketchy to keep under control around turns (i live in rural Va so this is most the roads). Its kind of the point where it feels unsafe especially when i do a little 50-110 pull on the highway, it kinda just goes all over back n forth..
So what i have done to the car is mostly everything in the past yearish, bmr front control arms, bumpsteer kit, new rack, new shocks/struts, maximum motorsports lca’s the sport version, upper and lower torque box reinforcement, still didnt get to the upper controls, and they are quite bad but im waiting to figure out what i wanna get. Car is lowered with bbk springs not sure what height, i think B springs.. just had an alignment. Dont have cc plates yet or subframes, im getting them put on soon, for now they live in the basement lol. The only thing i can think of is the rag joint on the steering column, i had it disconnected when i did the rack obviously but i don’t remember it being visually bad. It does have a bit of play in the steering wheel but not sure if its normal, or if that would cause it. Any input is appreciated!:D
 
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nickyb

WAIT,you now have a pair?
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I'd start by swapping front tires to rear if possible, this will eliminate a out of balance tire/rim.Some reman racks aren't good,check for play.Then you can eliminate the rag joint and install a ujoint. If all fails have frame checked,with no subframes you could have jacked it up.
 

Smurfstang88

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The front tires were just rebalanced while i got the rear replaced.. the rack is a brand new one supposedly not reman. I do notice that the rack moves slightly on the bushings, not sure if its normal for that, but i wouldnt think it would cause that much of an issue, maybe im wrong.. i have new bushings for it but i used the old ones cause the old ones were 2 piece and the new ones were 1 piece if I remember correctly, not sure why they were different, maybe since it was a 4cyl rack and now its a 5.0.. the rag joint seems like it might have play just a bit but i really cant see how any of that would create such a bad driving experience.. but ive been looking at those ujoint maximum motorsports steering shafts but they are a bit pricey, unless theres another alternative.. as far as jacking the car up from no subframes i dont believe thats the case but i guess once i have them put on if they fix that problem then I’ll know:shrug:
 

Mustang5L5

Put lubricant all over the balls
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Have you actually measured bumpsteer to see where you are at? It doesn’t take much to throw it off.
 

90sickfox

Wasn't a pretty sight...and I've got big hands
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Have someone turn the steering wheel, with car off,, and watch the rag joint. There should be no movement in it unless really cranked hard left or right. A replacement is at every parts store. Last I checked it was around 10 bucks. The rack bushings shouldn't have play in them. If you add the rack play to the steering rag joint play it adds up pretty quick. Whoever did the alignment should've shaken the steering system and suspension down before doing an alignment.

If you are having a swaying condition going in and out of hard turns or dips in the road it could also be bump steer. If you drew a line from the center of the control arm bolt to the center of the rotating ball in the ball joint that is where bump steer settings should start. After that it needs to be fine tuned with a bump steer guage.

There are other things up front that can cause sway....like bad control arm bushings. Loose wheel bearings also can cause it.

Are your strut towers rusted out ? That would be the worse cause of sway. It would also mean your car is about to seriously hurt you or someone else.

I see no good reason to do a 50 - 110 pull in a car that drives the way you describe. Makes me completely question your judgment or cognitive skill.
 
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ThinBlue502

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I agree with the above statement regarding safety. PSA over.
My old steering rack bushings looked ok on the surface, but had started to crumble to dust in the rack. I had very similar problems.
 
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General karthief

wonder how much it would cost to ship you a pair
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A small amount of play between the steering wheel and wheels/tires will be magnified astronomicaly, a little here and there can be a lot between the two.
That shop that took your money should be burned down, before you start the fire ask them why the didn't tell you about the excessive play in the steering, you can't accurately align it with sloppy steering.
 
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Mustang5L5

Put lubricant all over the balls
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So, there are two reasons that the car would wander all over the road. The first would be improper suspension setup, and the next would be a mechanical reason.

Lets ignore tires or an alignment for now. The reason the car wanders is through unexpected changes in toe while the car travels down the road. This could be due to a few things. The first thing to check is the suspension components themselves. Bad bushings in the A-arms are a good source for unexpected toe changes causing one or both wheels to toe in and out, which would make the car feel darty. Bad balljoints, and obviouslyt bad tie rod ends as well will cause this. In the steering, the rag joint is a big failure point that tends to introduce enough slop to the steering to make it want to wander, especially as the tires grab the ruts. You'll want to get the front end up on stands, and use a prybar to pull and tug and find if there is any excessive play in the suspension. OEM steering rack bushings will have a little play in them They are rubber after all. Poly or solid is a much better choice but inspect them to see if the play is excessive or occurs without too much force.

Assuming the suspension is 100% mechanically sound and steering is nice and tight, then you can take a look at alignment settings. Assuming toe is set correctly, caster is the next one to look at. These cars are set with entirely too little caster. Adding more will create more high speed stability and make the steering feel heavier when you turn. Next is bumpsteer. It's hard to set bumpsteer without actually using a gauge, but doing so can hurt more than help. Most kits come with a general guideline on what to use, but this guideline is almost useless without taking into consideration that varying toe, and caster settings between cars will affect the bumpsteer when using a standard starting point. With the bumpsteer potentially incorrectly set, as the car dips over bumps in the road, the toe position of each wheel will change in and out, and that can contribute to a darty feel if it's excessively off. I really think that if a bumpsteer kit is installed, it should be measured. Alignment shops will not do this because of the amount of work it takes to properly set it up and measure.
 
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Smurfstang88

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Thanks for all your input, i realize it sounds foolish in the way I described it doing high speeds the way it is, but its not to the point i dont have control over it, but i just dont have as much as i think i should, also it doesnt get driven still and it was pretty much a test drive.. anyways i do notice some play in the rag joint so ill buy a new one and put the new rack bushings in and see if that helps, then go from there:nice:. As for the bumpsteer, I’ll admit i pretty much havnt got a clue how to adjust it i sorta just put a couple spacers on each side n figured that would be better than regular rod ends lol, I’ll definitely look into doing it more correctly once i get the rest of this figured out. As for that shop yep they obviously arent very good at their job maybe I’ll pay a nice visit, on top of that for a 70$allignment they didnt even bother to try to mess with caster/camber, and as soon as i got it alligned i shortly noticed it still pulls to the right, oh well.. no none of the bushings are bad in the control arms, they are poly bushings in the new bmr arms/new raised ball joints. I just put new rotors/ bearing in. Shock towers are very clean no rust on the car.
 
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General karthief

wonder how much it would cost to ship you a pair
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Talk to them, they may help you out with a realignment after the parts swap, don't lay blame, go in with ' man, that was a narley ride, I found the rag joint kinda suspect, oh those rack busings were a little soft so I'm replacing them, can we do anything with the alignment?
If they say no then set it on fire, ahhh, wait, don't do that, just kidding :shrug:
BTW, some modern front end shops struggle to get these older cars where they need to be, are you running CC plates?
 
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KRUISR

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Too much toe out and a loose tie rod will get you wobbling like crazy.



bumpsteer.jpg

To minimize bumpsteer you want these two lines as parallel as possible. Top line is between pivot points on inner and outer tie rods, lower line is centerline of control arm bushing and pivot point of ball joint.

Even when they are parallel it is not perfect (zero bumpsteer), but it is pretty close. One thing that contributes to it being not perfect is the control arm is 13" between the pivots and tie rod length between the pivots is about 13.5"-13.75". If they were the same dimension and parallel you would have zero bumpsteer.
 
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Smurfstang88

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Talk to them, they may help you out with a realignment after the parts swap, don't lay blame, go in with ' man, that was a narley ride, I found the rag joint kinda suspect, oh those rack busings were a little soft so I'm replacing them, can we do anything with the alignment?
If they say no then set it on fire, ahhh, wait, don't do that, just kidding :shrug:
BTW, some modern front end shops struggle to get these older cars where they need to be, are you running CC plates?
That’s exactly what Ill do, good advice! It was already a couple months ago almost so hopefully that doesn’t effect the outcome.. i do realize they could have trouble with CC but they didnt even say anything about it whether or not they couldnt do it or what, they seem to have just simply not bothered.. i do not have CC plates yet
 

Smurfstang88

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Nov 11, 2019
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Too much toe out and a loose tie rod will get you wobbling like crazy.
bumpsteer.jpg

To minimize bumpsteer you want these two lines as parallel as possible. Top line is between pivot points on inner and outer tie rods, lower line is centerline of control arm bushing and pivot point of ball joint.

Even when they are parallel it is not perfect (zero bumpsteer), but it is pretty close. One thing that contributes to it being not perfect is the control arm is 13" between the pivots and tie rod length between the pivots is about 13.5"-13.75". If they were the same dimension and parallel you would have zero bumpsteer.
Thank you very much for this, it is already helpful for me to understand it better, and cant wait to try to adjust it more properly. Just the information i needed!
 

Smurfstang88

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This is how mine looks right now, i havnt messed with it yet, how far off?
 

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Smurfstang88

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Update: found a dorman rag joint at oreillys, had a fun couple hours or so taking the old one off and puttin the new on:fuss:. Let me tell you what a world of difference:eek:. I just wanna say if anyone has the same sorta problems that I was having and you kinda think that could be an issue because everything else is goodnuff, its worth every curse word you spit while changing it out. It solved my issue and the wheel has no play that i can feel whatsoever. I dont feel like drivin my car off a cliff now(on purpose or on accident;)). So for the ones saying you should just drop the 300$ on the mm steering shaft instead of replacing it, nah i think its worth spending 9$ and a couple hours of fun with a beer every however many years it takes for it to give out again instead:shrug:. Just my 2 cents:coff:
 
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General karthief

wonder how much it would cost to ship you a pair
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It's a one of those "because race car" things that once you swap the rag joint for the solid one you'll want one on every car you drive. But it is a pricey upgrade a street car doesn't need,
 
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KRUISR

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The black lines being current state, the red line would be very close to parallel.
Front Geometry.jpg

What's interesting looking at the picture, specifically the spindle are to tie rod, if you had '96-04 spindle (with everything else the same), you could probably use a stock outer tie rod and be pretty close to parallel. In case your wondering, I use a spindle from an '01. So look above at the pic of mine and how much lower to the ball joint my upper line goes at the wheel.
 
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2000xp8

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I've done both, a replacement rag joint and the MM unit.
My thoughts were that the MM was notably better.

Regardless, if i were you i'd get those subframe connectors installed.
Each time you stiffen up a part of the suspension, the stress goes to the next weakest link.
So you have done a good portion of the rest of the suspension, which is fine and all, but you have left the weakest link at the worst possibly location, the chassis. That's where the damage happens that you can't fix with a wrench.
If you keep driving the car hard this way, don't be surprised when you doors don't line up anymore.
 

limp

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I've done both, a replacement rag joint and the MM unit.
My thoughts were that the MM was notably better

Pleased to hear this after spending $249 for this UPS delivery last week..... I had no option as I am upgrading my 83 to an 03 rack....
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