Lining up steering wheel to center of tires

Steven Bowers

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I have a non power steering 69 Charger…..the true center of the steering wheel is off to the right when the wheels are straight going down the road….it does have dead play in the wheel before the wheels actually begin turning…..it’s had this for many decades….it has a key to line it up on the spline putting it together on the column….how do i get the wheel adjusted so the play it has is more at the 12:00 position instead of being more I’ll say about 1:30…… this steering wheel has always had play in it before the wheels begin to turn….
 

RJRENTON

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I have a non power steering 69 Charger…..the true center of the steering wheel is off to the right when the wheels are straight going down the road….it does have dead play in the wheel before the wheels actually begin turning…..it’s had this for many decades….it has a key to line it up on the spline putting it together on the column….how do i get the wheel adjusted so the play it has is more at the 12:00 position instead of being more I’ll say about 1:30…… this steering wheel has always had play in it before the wheels begin to turn….
IMO....
The FSM shows the toe in alignment specs. If the toe in is at the correct dimensions, but the steering wheel is not centered, the simple way to center the steering wheel is: turn both the tie rod adjusting sleeves in the same direction the same amount, until the steering wheel is centered. This should not change the toe in dimensions but simply move the center link either left or right, depending on the direction of the center link needs to move, to center the steering wheel, but double check the toe in dimension to verify. Just my opinion of course.
BOB RENTON
 

Don Frelier

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The passenger side tie rod adjustment needs to be longer.
Then shorten the driver's side the same amount like Bob said
 

YY1

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I'd mark them across the sleeve and the threads.

That makes it easier to see how much you have turned them and to gauge if they have been turned the same amount.

You can build an effective toe measuring tool (basically an adjustable stick) if you want to verify the toe is the same before and after.
 

Steven Bowers

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IMO....
The FSM shows the toe in alignment specs. If the toe in is at the correct dimensions, but the steering wheel is not centered, the simple way to center the steering wheel is: turn both the tie rod adjusting sleeves in the same direction the same amount, until the steering wheel is centered. This should not change the toe in dimensions but simply move the center link either left or right, depending on the direction of the center link needs to move, to center the steering wheel, but double check the toe in dimension to verify. Just my opinion of course.
BOB RENTON
Am I going to adjust both nuts on each rod….I believe each one has two nuts….also is it common for a non power steering wheel to have some play in it before turning the wheels….actually the car goes straight down the road….but it wouldn’t hurt to have an alignment…also I’m presuming that I should have the front wheels off the ground while doing this….thanks for all the input fellas….
 

Lefty71

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.also is it common for a non power steering wheel to have some play in it before turning the wheels

Could be really worn steering box.... there is also a preload adjustment on the box that could factor in.... I would'nt mess with it unless you have some experience re-doing them or get really comfortable with the service manual for your car.
 

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The steering box does have an external adjustment for free play but if the gears are excessively worn it is best to have it rebuilt or just replace it.
Have you ever taken this car to an alignment shop ? They can adjust the freeplay,(for a charge) and centering the wheel is part of an alignment. Alignment is more than a straight steering wheel. Camber, caster and toe are adjusted. Also steering components are inspected for damage/wear.
Should have it checked at least annually if the car is driven regularly and especially in city or rough road conditions.
Everything wears out.
 

Steven Bowers

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The steering box does have an external adjustment for free play but if the gears are excessively worn it is best to have it rebuilt or just replace it.
Have you ever taken this car to an alignment shop ? They can adjust the freeplay,(for a charge) and centering the wheel is part of an alignment. Alignment is more than a straight steering wheel. Camber, caster and toe are adjusted. Also steering components are inspected for damage/wear.
Should have it checked at least annually if the car is driven regularly and especially in city or rough road conditions.
Everything wears out.
I figure this is most likely the original steering box….car has just under 69,000 miles
 

RJRENTON

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Am I going to adjust both nuts on each rod….I believe each one has two nuts….also is it common for a non power steering wheel to have some play in it before turning the wheels….actually the car goes straight down the road….but it wouldn’t hurt to have an alignment…also I’m presuming that I should have the front wheels off the ground while doing this….thanks for all the input fellas….

The adjustment is at the tie rod adjusting sleeves. There is one split adjustable sleeve, secured by a clamp band at each end and at each end of the center link and connects the tie rod end. There is both a left hand thread and a right hand thread in each sleeve to allow for adjustment. As noted by others, the steering box has two adjustments....one on the steering shaft, where the steering shaft enters the box (bearing preload) and the second adjustment is on top of the steering box, which adjusts the steering shaft gear mesh (sector gear) to internal worm shaft. These adjustments are outlined in the FSM. Hope this helps....others will offer their suggestions.....
BOB RENTON
 

YY1

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Check the slip joint (metal box the steering shaft goes into) for slop.
That's pretty common and cheap and fairly easy to rebuild.

Yes- loosen all four nuts (2 per side) and rotate the sleeves both in the same direction.
They make a "G" shaped tool for this, but I have used a large pair of channel locks.
As long as you don't put a death squeeze on it. I use the area where the nut/bolt is.
Clean the threads and sleeves real good first so they will turn free and so you can see your marks.
 
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kbfallon

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Check the slip joint (metal box the steering shaft goes into) for slop.
That's pretty common and cheap and fairly easy to rebuild.

Yes- loosen all four nuts (2 per side) and rotate the sleeves both in the same direction.
They make a "G" shaped tool for this, but I have used a large pair of channel locks.
As long as you don't put a death squeeze on it. I use the area where the nut/bolt is.
Clean the threads and sleeves real good first so they will turn free and so you can see your marks.

What I do also is Liberally Spray the nuts/bolts with some good penetrating oil along with the tie rod threaded ends in side the adjusting sleeves ahead of time before alignment and after loosening the clamps, tap a chisel in between the openings in the adjusting sleeve and then you can turn them pretty much by hand.
 
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MoparLeo

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If the wheel still doesn't seem straight when driving down the road you may have a thrust angle problem. Again this is something that is checked during a normal, complete alignment at a shop with modern equipment.

thrustangle.jpg
 
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Steven Bowers

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What I do also is Liberally Spray the nuts/bolts with some good penetrating oil along with the tie rod threaded ends in side the adjusting sleeves ahead of time before alignment and after loosening the clamps, tap a chisel in between the openings in the adjusting sleeve and then you can turn them pretty much by hand.
Actually my Charger goes down the road straight….it’s just that the steering wheel is about the 1:00 to 1:30 position ….I have a non power steering Charger….
 

hunt2elk

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If the wheel still doesn't seem straight when driving down the road you may have a thrust angle problem. Again this is something that is check during a normal, complete alignment at a shop with modern equipment.

View attachment 1180042
Curious if you have run across this often and what is the fix? Reason I ask is the shop that does all my alignments got a new 4 wheel machine last year. Had my Super Bee done 2 years ago on the old machine and it was fine. This new machine checks the thrust angle and he said my rearend is 2 degrees off pointing to the passenger side. Does it pay to mess with it?
 

Steven Bowers

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Well my Charger has always had dead play in the steering wheel since I’ve owned it…..43 years…..I’ve never had any shop tell me my rear ended was ever out….I figure as a few guy said that the tie rods probably need adjusted to bring my wheel closer to the 12:00 position…..I guess it would hurt me to have my Charger aligned and I’ll know for sure….
 

MoparLeo

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If your car has an excessive thrust angle problem, one of two things to check.
#1 If car was in an accident and you have a subframe issue, or
#2 there a problem with the rear axle housing not being centered.
Now if there was no accident damage then the answer is the rear axle housing not being square.
This could be because of prior spring/housing replacement and the assembly was not centered properly before being tightened down or something could be loose.

A thrust angle alignment does not correct the thrust angle it only aligns the front of the car to the centerline of the rear axle.
A standard alignment centers the wheel while the car is sitting static (not moving) and ignores the rear axles centerline.
The car may crab slightly down the road( this is obvious on trucks mostly)
But the steering wheel will be straight as you are compensating for the rear axles misalignment when you do a thrust angle alignment.
Thrust angle alignments have been done for over 30 years now.
 
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