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Discussion Starter #1
hey guys long time lurker here (hopefully im posting in the right thread category) . usually i can find a thread to answer my questions for whatever i run into working on my 02 focus spi. however im stumped.
last week i started by replacing my front wheel bearings and then since i was down there i ended up replacing my shocks struts and ball joints. i then also noticed that my rack was leaking fluid and once again i figured "since i was down there" i might as well do that too, i should also add that i put new tie rod ends on. i then had a shop do an alignment and the car tracks straight. everything went smoothly but now i have noticed that i have a dead spot in my wheel a few degrees each way when the wheel is a top dead center. it happens no matter if im going 25 or 75. im wondering if there is maybe some kind of adjustment to fix this or if it is a faulty rack. any input is greatly appreciated. thanks
 

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What do you mean a dead spot? Like it stops turning, feels like it wanders around, or what?
 

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Kinda sounds like a bad rack. Maybe someone else can chime in and give their thoughts.
 

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It's probably just a little play due to all the old bushings. Or you may have a little air trapped in the powersteering fluid/ rack.
 

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If it drives fine, doesn't leak or lose fluid level, and doesn't make any noise like it's under stress, I would just drive it.
 

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Honestly, now that I think about it, the alignment is probably why it is doing that, but that doesn't mean the alignment is bad or anything. Also your tire pressure being ran lower than typical can give that effect on the steering response.
 

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If the inner tie rods were tight, and you prob. would have noticed any looseness when changing the outers, try turning the wheel when it's parked to see if the driver's side wheel moves right with the steering wheel.

If it doesn't, you can look back underneath again to check inner tie rod ends & the rack bushings mentioned before deciding the rack itself is worn.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
If it drives fine, doesn't leak or lose fluid level, and doesn't make any noise like it's under stress, I would just drive it.
its a car i fixed up for my mother and she drives it 30 miles to Milwaukee wi every day and she says something still doesn't feel right i will get another alignment and hopefully that helps. i just jacked the vehicle up and both wheels move as they should.
 

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They must move BOTH ways with the SLIGHTEST movement you can make of the steering wheel.

Could easily be a crap rebuild on the rack. Gear wear on the worm/pinion.
 

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i'd rather have a rack with a dead spot than a rack with gears intermittently binding.

Edit: post thought: most new/rebuilt racks come with new inner tie rods, so it's probably not those. more than likely bad rack rebuild or something like a loose drag link. i feel like unless rack bushings are extremely loose you would notice it more under sharper turns rather than highway curves.
 

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A rack with a dead spot can easily mean the rack-to-pinion clearance is loose, that then leads shortly to impacting the gears from looseness which dents the teeth to then start binding/locking up on the dent edges. It may be that preload was not set correctly either. That often leads to a loose spot.
 

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A rack with a dead spot can easily mean the rack-to-pinion clearance is loose, that then leads shortly to impacting the gears from looseness which dents the teeth to then start binding/locking up on the dent edges. It may be that preload was not set correctly either. That often leads to a loose spot.

But this would/should be present at many steering angles and not jut one.



I would say that it's an alignment issue ... since the alignment and steering angles are progressive, whereas the rack is linear.

It would help to know how the front was aligned and what settings too.

Generally, the closer to zero Toe and camber, the more numb the steering will feel; or the slower it will seem to react to steering input.
Zero camber and negative Toe will track very nicely straight, but again steering reaction is a bit slow.
Slightly negative camber with slight negative Toe will give a good 'sporty feel' to the steering, BUT is a little harder on tires.

If you find a good tire/alignment shop, ask them if you can play a little and how willing they are to realign the car a few times according to your preferences.
 

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'But this would/should be present at many steering angles and not jut one.'

Nay, nay, good brother...............the most wear by far is at the steering neutral point since most driving is done straight ahead and most impacts from road issues impact at that exact pinion to rack point. The wear is slight and only shows when you are at that exact point, it will easily roll over to be unnoticed say if you max turn because the wear is only half without the two gears meshed in that exact spot. Generally the notchiness of the wear point only shows with very slight movements of the wheel, if moving more you move right over the wear and do not notice it. I have recovered racks that stuck a little bit by simply running the ties one way to offset the wear slightly to one side of dead straight ahead steering, the driver never notices it again. It's still there, he just goes over it with enough force now that he does not see it any longer. I have also 'rebuilt' racks by yanking the pinion and re-indexing the pinion to rack gear say 180 degrees out to split the wear and stick and driver never sees it again. Car fixed as far as they see. If a slight rattle from being loose is felt at slow roll on uneven surfaces where one wheel rocks back and forth against the other you can add say .005"-.010" more preload to rack pinion to stop that too.

Caster has much effect on numb feeling steering too, the more you have the more the two wheels lock in against each other to promote a positive feeling of steering locked on straight ahead, provided the steering alignment center and the caster center lay on top of each other as they should.
 
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