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Old 06-04-2012, 02:38 PM   #1
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Default Loose Steering- Rack or Intermediate Shaft?

To start off I have a 93 with rokkors and car is sitting around 12"F/12.25"R, RB hollow bar with a disconnected rear sway. I put the rokkors on along with new inner and outer tie rods towards the beginning of this year. Not too sure how many miles i've put on them seeing as how my odo is broken. I have also depowered the steering rack which provided good feel at first but is now loose. Which brings me to my issue

Since buying the car in august the steering has never really been what I thought it should be for a Miata. This is what led me to replace the tie rods, which were blasted and although it cleaned up a bit of play in the rack, the problem is still there. To give you an idea of what I'm talking about, when I hit a bump mid turn, the steering wheel deflects a good bit even with a firm grasp on the wheel. This is very unsettling for me and so I tightened up the pinion using the adjusment with the big 40mm washer. Again this returned a bit of the steering feel but it still isn't perfect.

So after all this tinkering I moved the rubber boot off the steering shaft/intermediate u bolt and had a friend jiggle the wheel to check for play in that area. The shaft seems to be fine with no play in it, but where it seems to loose "communication" is where it goes into the steering rack. I'm guessing right at the pinion. I am not to versed with the Miata steering system, but am somewhat handy with a wrench and good buddy Sam Adams.

My question is, has anyone else experienced the pinion or rack itself just going to crap? I have a spare steering rack I intend to put in, but don't want to do so without first knowing whether I should replace the intermediate shaft or if I can just replace that U joint. The intermediate shaft is $250+ and I can't seem to find the u joint being sold by itself. I'd rather not pay for a new shaft if it ends up just being the rack....I hope I've made the issue and question clear enough, and I appreciate any feedback I get, as the crappy steering response is pissing me off.
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Old 06-05-2012, 03:06 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Lovetoturn View Post
I have also depowered the steering rack which provided good feel at first but is now loose. Which brings me to my issue...
Did you do this?



If you didn't... take it apart, weld that shaft nice and solid and then report back.
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Old 06-05-2012, 03:42 PM   #3
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Sure didn't. I decided against it due to all the horror stories I heard of people getting a crap weld on it, only to have a ruined rack. But I have a spare rack so will build that one properly, and get the pinion welded. Might take a bit to get done (busy with work) but I'll report back.
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Old 06-05-2012, 05:07 PM   #4
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i depowered my rack and i have play. i welded the shaft and i have dead space when i turn the wheel. now i know you can adjust the pinion. just not sure exactly what to tighten. im assuming the bolt that holds the pinion so it seats deeper into the rack?
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Old 06-05-2012, 11:04 PM   #5
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Racks get old and wear, it happens.
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Old 06-06-2012, 12:15 AM   #6
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My lazy-depowered non-welded rack was making a clunking sound when transition from left to right and vice versa. Adjustment of the pinion depth fixed it.
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Old 06-06-2012, 12:21 AM   #7
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Not welding the pinion shaft will produce a little bit of play right on center, but it shouldn't affect the overall feel too much. Are you sure you're not just experiencing bumpsteer for the first time? With a car that low, you definitely have some.
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Old 06-06-2012, 01:00 AM   #8
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I have a de-powered '93 rack in my '97 cause my old de-powered '97 rack wore out. It was fine before Clovis, NM. I blame that $hi! hole not the rack. My new rack in that car isn't welded. VERY slight play in a strait line. Not chunking or anything you describe. I'd adjust the pinion or it may be it's just dead
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Old 06-14-2012, 09:59 AM   #9
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Update: so I put the rack in that I had lying around and my steering still feels like absolute crap! I'm at my wits end and very frustrated. I checked the intermediate shaft and the little u joint which seemed to check out with 0 play. However, there was play in the steering column leading up to the steering wheel. Is there a clamp that I should tighten under the dash? I didn't end up welding the pinion shaft bcuz I was just fed up with the feel of it and my buddy with a garage was able to help(rare when our schedules agree). But I looped the lines and my steering feels like its power assisted!! I feel like I'm in the frickin twilight zone! My arms look like al dente angel hair pasta. That being said I'm no he-man but I can turn the wheel with one hand at a stand still. A big departure from the first time I looped the lines. I don't feel safe driving my car so if there's anyone in the charlotte area who wants free beer and dirty hands let me know! I have to get this fixed!
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Old 06-14-2012, 10:17 PM   #10
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well my rack never had play until i depowered it. so i need to adjust the pinion? do i shim it or tighten it so it sits deeper into the rack?
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Old 06-15-2012, 09:14 AM   #11
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well my rack never had play until i depowered it. so i need to adjust the pinion? do i shim it or tighten it so it sits deeper into the rack?
On my lunch break I'll take a picture of what you need to adjust on your rack to tighten it. Remember that when doing so to make small adjustments. I hear it's best to have someone in the car to shake the wheel to test but I didn't and it worked out fine for me. Also it is important to have the weight of the car on the tires whether it be on ramps, a curb or your just small enough to squeeze in there.

However, that is what I did. I went back out to the car last night and tightened the pinion as well as lifting the car back up to 13"f/and 13.25"R (roughly) I have to wait for things to settle. The results are a big improvement over what I was experiencing but still not what I am looking for out of the car. The bumpsteer, while not completely gone, has been reduced by a good bit, and there's not as much "slop". I have ES bushings that are screaming to go in, and might have taken priority now. Once I get a weekend off and some time I'll push those in, get an alignment and see where things go from there. I'm hoping the alignment and bushings coupled with a good wheel balance also gets rid of the 65 mph shimmy too. Fingers are crossed.
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Old 06-15-2012, 01:44 PM   #12
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The first picture shows the "pancake" nut which your supposed to loosen first. I've heard talk of it being 38mm or 40mm. Don't know don't care. All I know is that I wasn't spending that kind of money when an adjustable wrench got the job done. Some will say that it will eat the nut up but it's personal preference at the end of the day. When this is loose you will loosen the nut that i'm pointing out in the second picture. This one turns with a 14mm socket, should be easy enough to find or borrow. When tightening, you want to make sure that the big pancake washer doesn't move so with your adjustable wrench, hold it down and tighten ever so slightly the 14. I found that I had to do this before finding the "sweet spot". Be careful of tightening it too much because everything will bind and you won't be able to move the wheel.

...hope that helped...
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Loose Steering- Rack or Intermediate Shaft?-2012-06-15-12.34.11.jpg   Loose Steering- Rack or Intermediate Shaft?-2012-06-15-12.34.21.jpg  
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