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Old 07-05-2012, 08:40 PM   #1
BEZ06
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Default Steering Wheel not centered while driving straight? Here's how I centered mine (pics)

I've seen some posts where owners are bothered by their steering wheel being a little off-center while driving straight down the highway.

I noticed the same thing a couple weeks ago, so I fixed it - and it's very quick and easy!!

I do my own alignments when preparing the car for a track event or going back to a street alignment (although I now just run street tires on the track, so I haven't needed to do much but checking for the last year or so).

About a year-and-a-half ago I had the car at the dealer and they did an alignment while it was in, and the steering wheel has been a little to the left ever since:

Click the image to open in full size.


The wheel never has bothered me driving around town or running on local tracks, but I drove it up to the NCM VIR HPDE (about 600 miles each way) and I noticed the slight off-center every time I was cruising down a straight stretch of highway, so I decided to straighten it out when I got home.

The picture is with the car parked, but I turned the wheel to about the position I remember it being when driving down a straight stretch of highway. I took a protractor to the picture and it looks like my steering wheel was about 3 to the left.

So, today I lifted the front end and adjusted the tie rods to straighten the wheel:

Click the image to open in full size.


You don't have to raise it very far to get access to the tie rods - I think I could have done it just on the ramps (the wheels do not have to be off the ground). I wanted to get in their to take some pics, so I took an extra minute or so to jack it up a little higher.

My steering wheel was to the left when driving down the road, and when I came to a stop in the driveway with the steering wheel straight, the front tires were in a very slight right turn.

The picture below is from under the front of the car, looking up and back at the left front wheel and its tie rod:

Click the image to open in full size.


You can see that the tie rod is in front of the control arms, and as mentioned in my case, with the steering wheel centered, my tires were in a slight right turn. That meant that to bring the tires to a straight-ahead position, I would need to adjust the front of each tire to the left.

In order to do that, with the tie rods ahead of the wheel, I would need to screw "out" (extend, lengthen, or loosen) the left tie rod to push the front of the left tire to the left, and I would need to screw "in" (shorten, or tighten) the right tie rod to pull the front of the right tire to the left.

The important thing is to make the exact same adjustments to both tie rods so there will no change in your overall toe setting.

Here's a picture where I'm using a 22mm open end wrench to loosen the jam nut so I will be able to turn the tie rod:

Click the image to open in full size.


You can't get a socket on there, so you'll need an open end wrench of 22mm, although a 7/8" will also work.

After loosening the jam nut, you'll need a 13mm or 1/2" wrench to turn the tie rod. In the picture below you can see at the top left that I've got a wrench on the part of the tie rod that has "flats" like a hex nut or bolt has:

Click the image to open in full size.


Of course there are six flat sections around the tie rod, and I decided to adjust both tie rods the exact same amount - 4 flats, which would be 2/3 of a full turn.

So, I turned the left tie rod 4 flats in the direction that would lengthen/extend it, and the right tie rod so that it would tighten/shorten it. Then I tightened the jam nuts, lowered the car, and took it for a test drive.

Oooooopppss!!!! I went too far!!! The steering wheel was very slightly (maybe 1) to the right.

I drove back to the driveway and up onto my ramps, jacked the car up, loosened the jam nuts, turned the tie rods 1 flat in the opposite direction I had done previously, tightened the jam nuts, and lowered the car - total elapsed time for the second adjustment was 5 minutes.

Another test drive confirmed the steering wheel is perfectly straight now.

So.....it doesn't take long at all to do the adjustment to straighten your steering wheel - you just need to determine which way to turn the tie rods, and how much to turn them, making sure to turn them both the exact same # of turns and in opposite directions.

In my case, it ended up requiring 3 flats (1/2 turn of the tie rod) to straighten my steering wheel from its approximately 3 off-center position.

That indicates that you need to turn the tie rods about 1 flat for each 1 that your steering wheel is off-center.

One last thing - the torque spec for the jam nut is 50 lb-ft, but you can't get a socket on the nut. You'd need a 22mm or 7/8" crow's foot extension in order to torque it to spec, but the biggest one I have is 5/8":

Click the image to open in full size.


So, I have always just used a calibrated hand/arm pull and snugged it down tight and have never had a problem.

Good luck straightening your off-center steering wheel - it's very easy and can be done very quickly!!!

Bob
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Old 07-05-2012, 08:57 PM   #2
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Great info! With your pointers (and David Farmers), I learned the DIY alignment for track days. Over time, it's inevitable that alignment "stack up errors" will angle the wheel. This is a good rule of thumb to get straight again.

Thanks.
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Old 07-05-2012, 09:01 PM   #3
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Cool write up.
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Old 07-06-2012, 09:58 AM   #4
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Another fantastic DIY on the forum!!! Thanks for taking the time to take pictures and posting ...
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Old 05-09-2013, 07:20 PM   #5
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I have to say thanks for your writeup, it worked great. Oddly enough, my steering wheel was off center exactly the same amount as yours and in the same direction. I did 3 flats to the left (both sides) and the steering wheel centered perfectly. I couldn't believe how easy it was to perform.

I had just been to Firestone for an alignment but they never, or forgot, to centered the steering wheel. But after reading your procedure, I decided to try it. I'm glad I did, it saved me a lot of time from sitting in there waiting room if I went back. Plus, I know I did it right.

BTW, I have a 2006 Z51 that just had it's tires changed and just noticed a bigger offset in the steering wheel that prompted me to go to Firestone for the alignment.

Thanks again.
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Old 05-09-2013, 07:47 PM   #6
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Been doing the same to all my cars for years, I do like to see the steering wheel point at center, very distracting even in city driving.

To get a little deeper, over at AutoX/Road Racing section, member froggy47 uses smart stick, attached to car front and rear, car can move fore and aft without changing setup while doing adjustment. Takes a little time to set up but deadly, very neat.

For those interested, among others, he did a video on ytube demo for alignment and steering wheel centering.

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Old 05-09-2013, 07:54 PM   #7
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I need to do this but Im not gonna try....Im just gonna get it aligned
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Old 05-09-2013, 07:58 PM   #8
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BEZ06, you are a real asset to this forum.

I have need annoyed by this fir years but my alignment is so good (30k+ miles on my current tires with plenty life left) that I was always afraid to take it to an alignment shop for fear of them messing it up. Plus the couple of shops I asked said it was too low to get in their lift.

I'm going to have to follow your lead here! Thanks for posting.
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Old 04-20-2014, 02:45 PM   #9
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I followed this thread to a T, and it worked perfectly! My steering wheel looked very similar to BEZ's, maybe just a hair worse. First tried 3 flutes, and then 1 more for a total of 4. Absolutely spot-on! A huge thanks to BEZ!

Just a little clarification for simplicity sake: If your steering wheel is angled to the left when you are driving straight, the proper adjustment to BOTH tie rods will be to rotate the wrench TOWARDS you IF you are looking at them from the front of the car, and the wrench is hanging down, perpendicular to the floor.

Inversely, if the steering wheel is angled to the right when driving straight, you will want to rotate the wrench AWAY from you on both tie rods. As mentioned, keep very precise markings as to where the flutes are before you move them, and ALWAYS turn the exact same number of flutes on both sides.

Again, a great DIY thread!

Last edited by Stavesacre21; 04-20-2014 at 11:38 PM.
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Old 04-20-2014, 05:18 PM   #10
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great I'm now Jumping out of bed to centred mine .. great post thanks
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Old 04-20-2014, 06:55 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Biggie G View Post
I need to do this but Im not gonna try....Im just gonna get it aligned
Be sure and tell your chosen alignment shop that you EXPECT the steering wheel to be perfectly centered when they're done. They should do it without being told. Some won't though.

Nice write up BEZ06. Attaboys and a very well done to you
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Old 04-21-2014, 10:20 AM   #12
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BEZ06, thanks for taking the time to write this up and post pictures! By the way, how are the brake duct hoses working out? Seem to help pad life?
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Old 04-21-2014, 10:52 AM   #13
BEZ06
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeCsix View Post
BEZ06, thanks for taking the time to write this up and post pictures! By the way, how are the brake duct hoses working out? Seem to help pad life?
Well....I dunno!

I installed them early on when I started tracking the car, so I don't really have any pre-duct experience to compare them to.

Many track rats feel a need to upgrade from the OE brakes, but ive found the stock brakes to be fantastic.

If I were a pro racer I'd try and do everything possible to get an extra 1/10 of a second anywhere I could so I might land a better contract or get with a better team.

However, I just run HPDE track events for fun, and the stock Z06/GS brakes work great.

There is only one thing that I had a problem with once, and another forum member with a GS had last week at Sebring - and that is a pad pin bolt backing out. The other owner with the problem last week had the pin damage the spokes of his wheel and take a chunk out of the caliper.

My ducts just end blowing cooling air near the rotor, but a better solution is some of the spindle ducts that do a better job directing the air into the center of the rotor.

I do get good wear out of pads (I use Carbotech XP12/10, or Hawk DTC 70/60), and I still crack a lot of rotors. Whether I get better life out of stuff with the ducting, I don't know!

Bob
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Old 05-28-2014, 09:40 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BEZ06 View Post
Well....I dunno!

I installed them early on when I started tracking the car, so I don't really have any pre-duct experience to compare them to.

Many track rats feel a need to upgrade from the OE brakes, but ive found the stock brakes to be fantastic.

If I were a pro racer I'd try and do everything possible to get an extra 1/10 of a second anywhere I could so I might land a better contract or get with a better team.

However, I just run HPDE track events for fun, and the stock Z06/GS brakes work great.

There is only one thing that I had a problem with once, and another forum member with a GS had last week at Sebring - and that is a pad pin bolt backing out. The other owner with the problem last week had the pin damage the spokes of his wheel and take a chunk out of the caliper.

My ducts just end blowing cooling air near the rotor, but a better solution is some of the spindle ducts that do a better job directing the air into the center of the rotor.

I do get good wear out of pads (I use Carbotech XP12/10, or Hawk DTC 70/60), and I still crack a lot of rotors. Whether I get better life out of stuff with the ducting, I don't know!

Bob
BEZ06, thanks for the write up, I'll be doing this; this weekend. You Sir are a Rock Star...

I also track my 2010 GS, only have had it to one event so far. I do have the spindle cooling hardware. I don't know about pad life because I change pads from street to track. I am no expert by any standard, but, my research states that spindle cooling hardware vs Z06/GS brake ducts is to improve braking by reducing heat and not leting the brake fluid get to its boiling point. I'm sure that cooling these high heat areas is a good thing. But, when tracking hard, I'm concern about better braking then pad life. Again, I'm no expert.

At Watkins Glen....braking late and hard is all the rage..
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Old 06-03-2014, 08:42 AM   #15
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OK, got this completed yesterday. It took three tries equaling a total of 7 "flats" (Reference BEZ06 Post.)

I followed BEZ06's post and it worked perfect. The steering wheel is dead center, the car tracks straight under acceleration, braking and coasting. All for ZERO DOLLARS!!!
To BEZ06........Thanks...

When it comes time to rotate the tie rod: I would add this to BEZ06's thread.

I placed an index line on the tie rod end, and then turned the jam nut close to the tie rod end with an index line on it. As you turn the tie rod with the 13mm wrench, the jam nut rotates. Placing the index line on the tie rod end helps accurately turn both tie rods equally.

Bottom line, great thread BEZ06.
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Old 06-03-2014, 08:58 AM   #16
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FYI,

One flat (not turn, but flat) on the tie rod will result in a 1/16" change in toe...for those that want to make quick adjustments at the track.
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Old 06-08-2014, 09:57 PM   #17
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for some good info.
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Old 06-09-2014, 02:02 PM   #18
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Maybe add this to the stickies postings?
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Old 06-25-2014, 07:27 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justasheet View Post
Maybe add this to the stickies postings?
I have an '07 Z06 with around 30K miles on it and it's always tracked perfect with great tire wear. So my alignment must be pretty darn good. I never noticed my steering wheel off center, but a couple of weeks ago I replaced my steering wheel with one of the new 2013 wheels - just for appearance. On a short trip into town yesterday I noticed it was off center - just slightly and not near as much as the first photo shows. But it bothered me. I now have to make sure all my tire pressures are perfect and take it for a longer drive. I'm hoping that the splines on the new steering wheel are not slightly different from the old wheel - that will be disappointing. But if so, I'll be checking out this thread again.

Thank you for the information.

Ray
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Old 08-01-2014, 01:11 PM   #20
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Thank you for this information! Got a new DSV wheel and it's slightly off center so this will help my OCD brain.
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Old 08-01-2014, 01:11 PM
 
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