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Steering Problems

Hardpivot

New Member
Joined
May 13, 2013
Messages
23
Mornin fellas,

I have a 1971 Bronco with 5.5" of lift, new BFG KM3 tires, chevrolet 1 ton knuckles, and heim joint steering. Shocks, ball joints, knuckles and heim joints are all new. It was professionally aligned by 4wheel parts last year. The steering box is about 5 years old and does not appear to have any excessive play in it.

My Bronco has always had a bit of steering play, but for the most part it tracked straight and was very controllable on and off road. I flat tow it usually and in flat towing it has always pulled nicely and without problems. Recently tho, when I'm towing it and right about when I hit 60 miles an hour, it starts to sway. The swaying becomes progressively worse until its whipping my 1-ton pickup around the road and I have to slow down to a near stop to get it back under control.
I feel the problem when I'm driving the bronco aswell. Anytime I let off the gas quickly, it jerks to the passenger side and serves a bit before I can get it under control. And if I hit rail road tracks or rough road it flys all over the place. I'm afraid to drive it because I don't want to loose control and roll it. I have had issues with death wobble in the past, but this is something different.

Let me know what what you gurus think.
 

DirtDonk

Contributor
Bronco Guru
Joined
Nov 3, 2003
Messages
43,567
Sounds like fun. Not!
Still could have something to do with tire wear, because it has changed over time. But other things wear out as well.
How are they overall angles on your trackbar and draglink with all that lift? Is it all custom and fairly well lowered?

Got pics?
 
OP
OP
Hardpivot

Hardpivot

New Member
Joined
May 13, 2013
Messages
23
The trac bar and it's brackets were all replaced professionally by sexton offroad at the same time I did the steering box and have run fine for the last five years. I just checked the bushings on it and they seem to be fine. The upper and lower connections are also tight.

I'd would say the angle of the trc bar is right around 5 degrees out of level on flat ground. I did take a picture, but I'm not sure how to post it here.
 

DirtDonk

Contributor
Bronco Guru
Joined
Nov 3, 2003
Messages
43,567
That 5 degrees sounds pretty sweet actually. Very low I'm thinking. Even lower than factory perhaps. Almost shocking with that amount of lift too!
Do the trackbar and drag link match at least closely? I'm assuming yes, since you say it drove well for the previous years.

I don't remember if we've talked about it, but there is a be-all/end-all test that you can use to find literally ANYTHING loose in the front suspension/steering/bearing system. If such looseness exists, it'll find it.
That's where, with the tires fully on the ground, a helper turns the steering wheel back and forth about a quarter to half a turn in each direction. No need to go further (though they can) but it must be done continually while you watch closely everything under the front end. Crawl around under there while the wheels are steering and closely inspect things like trackbar ends, rod ends, wheel bearings (you can see this by the amount of movement between the brake rotor and the knuckle), and pretty much anything else. Including finding cracked frames under the steering box where you can't normally see it or move it by hand.
Most of this stuff is not checkable by hand until it's VERY worn out. Using this test you can find stuff that's just starting to wear out and might not be enough alone to cause a problem. But add them all together and you have the potential for trouble.
Definitely worth doing on a Bronco now and then. Especially when trying to track down a changing issue like you have.

Paul
 

DirtDonk

Contributor
Bronco Guru
Joined
Nov 3, 2003
Messages
43,567
Oh, and even though you don't think it's related to Death Wobble, perhaps it's still a tire that's failing internally and just starting to let you know.
You could try rotating the front tires to the back as a quick check just to see if anything changes. Might, or might not get rid of anything, but if the characteristic even changes, it means you're narrowing things down a bit.

Paul
 

jamesroney

Contributor
Sr. Member
Joined
Sep 11, 2007
Messages
816
Loc.
Fremont, CA
Mornin fellas,

I have a 1971 Bronco with 5.5" of lift, new BFG KM3 tires, chevrolet 1 ton knuckles, and heim joint steering. Shocks, ball joints, knuckles and heim joints are all new. It was professionally aligned by 4wheel parts last year. The steering box is about 5 years old and does not appear to have any excessive play in it.

My Bronco has always had a bit of steering play, but for the most part it tracked straight and was very controllable on and off road. I flat tow it usually and in flat towing it has always pulled nicely and without problems. Recently tho, when I'm towing it and right about when I hit 60 miles an hour, it starts to sway. The swaying becomes progressively worse until its whipping my 1-ton pickup around the road and I have to slow down to a near stop to get it back under control.
I feel the problem when I'm driving the bronco aswell. Anytime I let off the gas quickly, it jerks to the passenger side and serves a bit before I can get it under control. And if I hit rail road tracks or rough road it flys all over the place. I'm afraid to drive it because I don't want to loose control and roll it. I have had issues with death wobble in the past, but this is something different.

Let me know what what you gurus think.
Please post your alignment specs.

If the caster is anything less than 6 degrees...the conversaation ends.

FYI, I can flat tow my 1970 Bronco with the drag link disconnected, and the steering box on the workbench. It tracks behind my pickup like it's not even there.

I've posted this somewhere before. If the alignment and geometry are correct...nothing else is critical. If the alignment and geometry are NOT correct...everything else is critical.

And what is a "chevroet 1 ton knuckle?" Are you running a D60 up front?
 
OP
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Hardpivot

Hardpivot

New Member
Joined
May 13, 2013
Messages
23
Oh, and even though you don't think it's related to Death Wobble, perhaps it's still a tire that's failing internally and just starting to let you know.
You could try rotating the front tires to the back as a quick check just to see if anything changes. Might, or might not get rid of anything, but if the characteristic even changes, it means you're narrowing things down a bit.

Paul
Thanks Paul. I will try out your suggestion when I can get someone to help me with it. I've actually tried that out before, but I was really only checking to see if the gear box was worn out. I did look any closer than that. I do appreciate your help.
 

SteveL

Huge chevy guy
Joined
Jun 24, 2001
Messages
11,234
Be weary of anything 4wd does. They "professionally " aligned my friends 70 blazer. They also installed a 2" suspension and 33s. 1st the forgot to balance the tires. Then he noticed the truck wondered pretty bad. They told him it needed a new drag link. Then a steering box. Then one day we checked the alignment. We ended up toeing it in 1 1/8". Then it drove perfect. I've heard plenty more horror stories of their work.
 
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Hardpivot

Hardpivot

New Member
Joined
May 13, 2013
Messages
23
Damn, thanks for the heads up on that. Maybe I just need someone else to double check the alignment.
 

DirtDonk

Contributor
Bronco Guru
Joined
Nov 3, 2003
Messages
43,567
Toe-in does make a huge difference in road feel while driving. Can't say what it does for towing, but it can't be good either!
I tested mine over a 15/16" range recently and it was definitely not happy until you got to the sweet spot. Just changed a little (about 1/16") from that spot a couple of weeks ago and it definitely acts more fidgity and squirrely.

Paul
 
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Hardpivot

Hardpivot

New Member
Joined
May 13, 2013
Messages
23
Damn, well I know where to start now. Alignment first and while their under there maybe they can look of anything worn out.
 

DirtDonk

Contributor
Bronco Guru
Joined
Nov 3, 2003
Messages
43,567
Yep, gotta start somewhere. And things do wear out. Even more often on our rigs it seems sometimes!
Any number of things might be incorrect, or wearing out, or aging out, or just busted up without you noticing until it drove funny.

Good luck. And definitely let us know what you find at each step.

paul
 
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Hardpivot

Hardpivot

New Member
Joined
May 13, 2013
Messages
23
I'm in Salt Lake City, but I was planing on taking it to a shop owned by one of the Utah Bronco Club guys.
 
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Hardpivot

Hardpivot

New Member
Joined
May 13, 2013
Messages
23
Please post your alignment specs.

If the caster is anything less than 6 degrees...the conversaation ends.

FYI, I can flat tow my 1970 Bronco with the drag link disconnected, and the steering box on the workbench. It tracks behind my pickup like it's not even there.

I've posted this somewhere before. If the alignment and geometry are correct...nothing else is critical. If the alignment and geometry are NOT correct...everything else is critical.

And what is a "chevroet 1 ton knuckle?" Are you running a D60 up front?
Sorry that was a typo, they are chevrolet Dana 44 knuckles. Unfortunately I have the alignment specs.
 
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