The Truth About Cars » steering http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 21 Jan 2015 03:17:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » steering http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Piston Slap: A Primer on Wheel Offset and Backspacing http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/piston-slap-primer-wheel-offset-backspacing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/piston-slap-primer-wheel-offset-backspacing/#comments Mon, 19 Jan 2015 13:26:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=984898   Long-time TTAC Commentator 86er writes: Hi Sajeev, Could Piston Slap furnish me with a be-all/end-all explanation about wheel offsets? The more I try to read up on it on the web, the more confused I get. I’m pretty clear that RWD (at least traditionally) went with the low-offset while the FWD revolution made high […]

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Yum. (photo courtesy: www.crownvic.net)

 

Long-time TTAC Commentator 86er writes:

Hi Sajeev,

Could Piston Slap furnish me with a be-all/end-all explanation about wheel offsets? The more I try to read up on it on the web, the more confused I get. I’m pretty clear that RWD (at least traditionally) went with the low-offset while the FWD revolution made high positive offsets the industry standard, at least in passenger cars.

A few years back, I had purchased a set of winter tires on rims for my trusty ol’ 92 Vic and later after research found out that the rims were medium-offset that went on a 4×4 Ranger of similar years. I’ve heard that putting on a different-offset wheel can hurt steering/suspension parts like ball joints, but I’ve never seen it in black-and-white, so to speak.

Sajeev answers:

Let’s cover the basics of both wheel offset and backspacing: offset is the location of the mounting hub in relation to the center of the wheel’s barrel.  This mounting hub goes to flat surface where car’s suspension holds the wheel (i.e. the hub on the spindle).

http://www.fastcar.co.uk/

Image Courtesy: www.fastcar.co.uk

 

A positive offset pushes the wheel’s hub away from center, closer to the outside of the car. Negative offset is the opposite: sucking the wheel’s hub closer to the inside of the car. Zero offset means it’s smack dab in the center.

I question if the traditional FWD/RWD offset difference still holds water.  While FWD wheels often have a more positive offset than their RWD counterparts, all (most?) modern vehicles have flat faced wheels (for aerodynamics and countless suspension needs?) stemming from a more positive offset wheel. Need proof? Look at your own platform: peep the redesigned front clip and the mandated wheel redesign of the 2003+ Crown Vic.

CrownVicFrontSusp05_06_edited

(photo courtesy: http://www.ridetech.com)

Oh wait, the Crown Vic barely changed at all from 1979 to 2011.  It was such an antiquated pile: must remember to toe the autojourno line, never speak of Panther Love! But I digress…

In theory you should keep a close-to-factory offset to optimize steering geometry and wheel bearing health.  In practice, it might not matter: especially for a set of winter tires. You probably can’t drive aggressive/fast enough to care.  Probably…

There’s also the matter of torque steer on FWD machines, mostly for those with unequal length half-shafts. But most modern vehicles use equal length shafts?  (Have at that, B&B!)

You also need to consider backspacing. This ensures the width and offset of wheel you chose will clear your body or suspension, especially on cars with strut suspensions.  Instead of my usual ramble, I think this video really nails it.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Piston Slap: Divorced Sleeper Flew The Coupe? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/piston-slap-divorced-sleeper-flew-coupe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/piston-slap-divorced-sleeper-flew-coupe/#comments Mon, 29 Dec 2014 13:21:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=963722   TTAC Commentator raresleeper writes: Hello, Sajeev! I need your wisdom and sound advice, Kind Sir. After what could be called a much needed separation from my wife (undoubtedly the beginning of a very long divorce proceeding), I purchased myself a vehicle. A 2006 Accord Coupe v6 6-Speed. On cold mornings, I have noticed that […]

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Honda-Accord-Coupe-EX-L-V6-2006-1920x1080-007

TTAC Commentator raresleeper writes:

Hello, Sajeev!

I need your wisdom and sound advice, Kind Sir. After what could be called a much needed separation from my wife (undoubtedly the beginning of a very long divorce proceeding), I purchased myself a vehicle. A 2006 Accord Coupe v6 6-Speed.

On cold mornings, I have noticed that the steering is hard to turn if the car isn’t moving. Once the car revs just slightly, anything other than idle, the steering effort gets “normal” again. I also hear a whine under the hood on cold mornings, so I am fairly certain that is the power steering pump showing its weakness. Every once in a great while, there is a slight intrusion upon shifting into 3rd. It rarely affects my shifting, but there is a slight notch (best way I can describe it) that I sometimes need to put the extra effort to guide the shifter into while grabbing third.

I paid $9K. The car is the EX model, it has everything besides navigation and the “sport” appearance package (spoiler, etc.). 120k miles. I love this stinkin’ car. I went right to a car which I love and the fact that my estranged wife would hate everything about it makes me smile a little more. It’s a quick little machine.

Is there anything else I need to have checked maintenance-wise (other than timing belt) before getting too comfortable tossing it about during my morning commute?

As always, thank you kindly. Your assistance here is certainly appreciated.

Sajeev answers:

That’s not a bad machine to celebrate your newfound singlehood!  Congrats on this next step in your life.

“I also hear a whine under the hood on cold mornings, so I am fairly certain that is the power steering pump showing its weakness.”

I am certain that’s normal, most vehicles are less than thrilled with molasses-cold fluids.  These parts are designed to spin warmer liquids, hence the need for a proper warm up routine.

Regarding the transmission and the current mileage, perhaps its time for a fluid swap with fresh Honda fluid or maybe–MAYBE–aftermarket fluids compatible with your transmission.  Or perhaps it’s totally normal with cold fluid, if that’s a valid correlation in your case.

We’ve discussed the basics of used car upkeep before, and I focus on neglected rubber bits: tires, belts and hoses. And new shocks might be a worthwhile upgrade at this age, if a like-new ride (or better than new, with performance parts) matters. Always RFTM for the basics and do a comprehensive visual inspection to make sure nothing else is wrong. (i.e. physical damage from the last owner’s mistake)

Don’t be afraid to get that visual inspection from a mechanic if you have any doubts, especially since they can put it on a lift.

Off to you, Best and Brightest!

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Piston Slap: The Fuel Harbinger of Fusion Steering Fail? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/piston-slap-the-fuel-harbringer-of-fusion-steering-fail/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/piston-slap-the-fuel-harbringer-of-fusion-steering-fail/#comments Mon, 21 Apr 2014 12:35:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=805074 TTAC commentator Bobby Flashpants writes: Howdy Sajeev, I have an unique issue with my 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid. I’ve posted about it at fordfusionforum.com, and no one so far has heard of anyone with the same issue. Here’s the link for the post, and the text is reproduced (and edited to remove site-specific context) below: […]

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TTAC commentator Bobby Flashpants writes:

Howdy Sajeev,

I have an unique issue with my 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid. I’ve posted about it at fordfusionforum.com, and no one so far has heard of anyone with the same issue. Here’s the link for the post, and the text is reproduced (and edited to remove site-specific context) below:

I’ve got a 2010 Fusion Hybrid that’s about 40 miles from hitting 100K. I purchased it used 2 years ago with 69K miles on it. (note – this is as of 2/5/14) Over the last 6 months, I’ve had the issues with the “Service Power Steering NOW” and “Service Advancetrac” warning lights, and the associated deactivation of the electric power steering system. I’ve seen this issue reported before, and I know I’m not the only one who has encountered it.

I’ve had this failure occur 3 times now, and have had the system reset each time – once at a Ford dealer, once at an independent repair shop, and once at a tire center (who claimed that they couldn’t figure out how to do it, but the system was functioning normally again when I started it up to leave). Both the dealer and the Indy shop recommended replacing the steering rack as the only permanent solution, each estimating ~$1500 for the job (which lines up with what others have reported when confronted with this issue).

Here’s the thing, though – after seeing this occur so many times, I’ve noticed that the failures only occur when the fuel level is below 1/4 tank. As long as I fill up when I’m between 1/2 and 1/4 quarter tank, the steering and stability control continues to function normally. I’ve not seen anyone else report this type of correlation?

In the interest of full disclosure, the Carfax showed that my Fusion had been in a fender bender under the original owner, and we had an incident of hitting a curb and a mailbox that required a new wheel hub/bearing, rim, tire, and windshield.

I’m in a pretty small town in GA, with only one Ford dealer. The Indy shop I normally use is usually pretty good (if not particularly cheap compared to dealer rates), so before I make the trek to Atlanta or Columbus for 4th opinions, I wonder if you or any of the B&B have any insight on a cheaper solution for a system that doesn’t appear to really be broken.

Thanks! I’m a long-time TTAC lurker after following Murilee over from Jalopnik, and have soaked up the power of your Panther Love for a couple years now. My best to you and the crew!

Sajeev answers:

Well I’m glad you’ve listened to me, so you know you must sell this formerly wrecked Fusion and for a 2011 fleet-special Crown Vic. Is there any other alternative?

If you must live in the real world, a place I normally dislike, I suggest that opinion from a Ford dealer in a bigger town. Odds are your front suspension’s damage created the steering rack’s problem.  If the damage required a new front hub, wheel and (something as shockingly far away as the) windshield, odds are the steering rack is waaaay out of spec.

Is it possible that a fuel vapor canister’s processor or low fuel warning relay is controlled by the same module that talks to the power steering system? Calling that a stretch is a rather large understatement, even considering the body damage. The steering’s physical damage is more logical.

Let’s hope people with training on modern Fords can leverage their skills, training materials and connections to Dearborn to solve this one. My money’s on a new steering rack fixing the problem. No way did it emerge unscathed when the wheel busted and the windshield cracked.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Piston Slap: The Minima-Maxima and The Circle of Life http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/06/piston-slap-the-minima-maxima-and-the-circle-of-life/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/06/piston-slap-the-minima-maxima-and-the-circle-of-life/#comments Thu, 09 Jun 2011 14:41:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=396659 Fred B. writes: Sajeev, You recent article about racks prompted me to write.  I am the proud owner of a 1996 Nissan Maxima.  I’ve had it since about 30k miles.  Over the course of its 209k mile life it has garnered additional accouterments along with its original generous kit.  Specifically, the paint has gracelessly aged […]

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Fred B. writes:

Sajeev,

You recent article about racks prompted me to write.  I am the proud owner of a 1996 Nissan Maxima.  I’ve had it since about 30k miles.  Over the course of its 209k mile life it has garnered additional accouterments along with its original generous kit.  Specifically, the paint has gracelessly aged in the Texas sun to a rosy multi-hued patina that varies from nearly bare steel on some of the flat parts to the original red on the sheltered parts.  The car hasn’t lived in Texas all of its life.  Its formative years were spent in Indiana, where the salt festooned winter streets customized the underside.  In fact, it used to make such a racket that I removed the heat shields from the exhaust system.

The interior has also received the gentle blessings of years of use.  The leather rear headrests are cracked, and just recently the driver’s side seat has ripped.  The ebrake boot is shredded, although that is more a function of a poor design, every model of this vintage I have ever seen has a shredded boot.  Otherwise, this car seems to have been built out of lifetime parts.  (I did swap out the stereo, another problem with these models, and I simply stopped changing oxygen sensors after I spent my thousandth dollar doing so.  That was more than ten years ago.  Otherwise, original transmission, engine, pretty much everything.  New belts and other consumables at 100k, regular synthetic oil, probably need to replace the transmission fluid.)

To the point, I no longer take the car out of town.  I pretty much drive it back and forth to work and take two of my children several days a week for a low speed commute and to soccer practice in a medium sized town.  The steering rack is leaking fluid.  It has been leaking fluid for two years.  I top it off every once in a while, and it doesn’t give me a problem.  However, the fluid is apparently dripping onto the front control arm bushings, causing them to deteriorate.  My mechanic says that they will eventually go, but that watchful waiting is ok, and that it is not worth replacing just the bushings because I would have to replace the entire arms and the new bushings would simply be destroyed by the leaking rack.

He is quoting me $1500 for the rack and $700 for the control arm job.  Here’s my question: At what point do I give up on this sun-mellowed beast?  I don’t think it is worth north of $2k for the repairs.  It is still pretty sprightly, comfortable to drive and gets me around.  I can afford another car, but I need five seats and the nothing about the possibilities (other than last chance at a Panther) leap out at me (I am half waiting for the G8 GTs or the 2010 Maximas fall below $20k, but that is at least a year away in my estimation.).  We have a minivan for trips and schlepping the whole family around.  I thought that something like the transmission would give out and make my decision (relatively) easy.  I doubt that the bushings couldn’t just be replaced, but I am not sure how much risk I am taking by simply waiting for them to fail.  If the transmission or engine isn’t going to fail, it means that the car will fail when the bushings go, and I’m not sure I want to be there when that happens.

So, what are your thoughts on doing something with the front end like what you did on your Lincoln vs. just waiting for it to fail?  Also, I haven’t shopped the front end job, but do those prices seem ballpark reasonable?

Sajeev answers:

Since you mentioned it, I don’t hesitate to fix (just about) anything on my rust free, 170,000 mile Mark VIII.  The black leather interior is original, smells kinda luxurious and still gets compliments from random people. With modifications to its air sprung chassis and 330hp on tap, it drives better than most new cars. If I keep my wits about me, I can hyper-mile it to 32 MPG, even on E10 gas.  And I drive it anywhere I want, usually with a grin on my face. Mess with a good thing?

No way. I don’t want another daily driver, much less the associated monthly payment of a newer luxury coupe of this caliber. It’s worth every penny for a Mark VIII in this condition, with an owner so motivated to make it happen. But I am the exception, not the rule. I don’t expect anyone to be even remotely like me.

And for your ride, I’m not feelin’ it. There’s not enough Maxima love in your letter, and this Nissan needs a lot of work. Suspension work is expensive, but worth it.  Interior stuff for cars with no aftermarket restoration support is fiddly and pricey, you’d need a clean parts car (or some luck and a 50% off sale at a junkyard) to do this in a reasonable budget. So this is a car you run into the ground, sell it to the junkyard and start all over again. That is, after all, the circle of automotive life.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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