S4 Spider - Steering resistance, not returning - Alfa Romeo Bulletin Board & Forums
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-26-2019, 05:14 PM Thread Starter
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S4 Spider - Steering resistance, not returning

Hello everyone,

Iíve searched to no avail and have been plagued with a steering issue that seems to be getting worse. My mechanic also canít figure it out, heís trying to pin it on ďmaybe the steering box, maybe the power steering pumpĒ and guess work is not a path I want to go down.

What started a couple of months back after a tight u-turn (and corresponding SNAP sound from the underside) is a very strange heaviness and resistance to returning when cornering. I thought at first I had overdone it and killed the power steering pump, but everything seems good to me in terms of fluid and actual power steering ability.

When the car is at a standstill the steering is very heavy, as if thereís no power steering, but you can feel that the resistance is more upstream than that. When the wheel is turned the fluid level dips in the reservoir, indicating that systems seem fine. When at speed, the steering feels lighter but there is still a strong sensation of resistance.

When sitting in the car you can hear something is scraping or binding in the steering shaft in the cabin, though I cannot figure out where the resistance is coming from.

Has anybody else had any experience with this, is there something common Iím missing?

Thank you!
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-26-2019, 06:12 PM
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When sitting in the car you can hear something is scraping or binding in the steering shaft in the cabin, though I cannot figure out where the resistance is coming from.
Hmm, can't explain how/where something in the column would cause this, but then, I've never owned or worked on a S4. Might the column just be making noise because you are tugging harder on the steering wheel to overcome resistance somewhere "downstream"?

I had similar symptoms on my Sprint a few years back - it was one of the upper link ball joints packing up (see picture below).

The best way to diagnose something like this is to disassemble the steering linkage a bit to isolate where the resistance is. For example, popping the arm off the base of the steering box will isolate the box & column from the tie rod ends & ball joints.

Jay Mackro
San Juan Capistrano, CA

'65 Guilia Sprint GT
'67 Duetto
'91 164L

Last edited by Alfajay; 07-26-2019 at 06:41 PM.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-27-2019, 01:52 AM
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if I heard a SNAP anywhere on the steering I would be concerned!

Did the tight U turn you made snap off one of the steering end stops (photo, circled in red) maybe? They need to be there, you mustn't 'over steer' these boxes

The S4s have a UJ on the steering shaft under the dash (photo 2) check that for smooth operation and that nothing has entwined itself around it.

other that that, I'd check the steering idler, if that bearing seizes the steering gets harder (though with p/s it is more difficult to feel)

Jack the front of the car and turn the roadwheels by hand and try feel, observe or listen for anything untoward.
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Dom - Alfa Spider 1990 S4 - formerly: Alfa 101 Sprint, 2600 Sprint, Montreal - family classics: Jensen Interceptor II, '58 Hooper RR Silver Cloud I, Shadow II, '60 Corvette.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-27-2019, 02:20 AM
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I think there was a steering box recall on 91ís, I canít remember if it was the box or the mounting of the box, it is a big concern though.


1993 Spider Veloce
2016 4c Coupe

1992 Spider Veloce (sold)
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-27-2019, 04:02 AM
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I think there was a steering box recall on 91ís, I canít remember if it was the box or the mounting of the box, it is a big concern though.


1993 Spider Veloce
2016 4c Coupe
It was for the idler arm and the pitman arm. Not the steering box itself.

The recall covered 500 cars.

1969 1750 Spider Veloce w/dual webers, 1969 1750 Berlina, 1971 1750 Spider Veloce w/ dual webers, 1985 Spider Veloce 23,000 orig. miles, {Two} 1986 Spider Veloces, 1987 Spider Veloce bought new, 1988 Quadrifoglio, 1991 164S, Plus several more. I think they are breeding.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-29-2019, 03:29 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you everyone for your replies. To give an update, my mechanic discovered a small crack in the chassis right inbound of the driver’s front wheel (according to him, this is common in spiders).

I don’t know whether it was flex that was the cause, but I had it repaired today (pictured below) and it seems to have alleviated the symptom of the steering not returning after cornering, and everything feels overall lighter at speed. On the other hand, it somehow feels worse at low speed and a standstill, almost as if something is completely binding. It feels as if both front tyres are flat when trying to park.

I’ll look into the previous recommendations and see if I can find the culprit.

(EDIT) Additionally, I’m beginning to think that the “snap” I heard during that u-turn was this crack forming...
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-29-2019, 03:49 PM
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Additionally, Iím beginning to think that the ďsnapĒ I heard during that u-turn was this crack forming...
I kind of doubt that. Cracks in steel usually form gradually and grow with vibration & successive loads.

Glad you found one problem, but it sounds like there is at least one other. Steering resistance at low speed could be a simple as under-inflated tires, wrong wheel offset (have aftermarket wheels?), or incorrect alignment.

Jay Mackro
San Juan Capistrano, CA

'65 Guilia Sprint GT
'67 Duetto
'91 164L
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-29-2019, 04:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LawrenceJuliano View Post
Thank you everyone for your replies. To give an update, my mechanic discovered a small crack in the chassis right inbound of the driverís front wheel (according to him, this is common in spiders).
I had a buddy with an S4 that had the same crack, so I don't think he's wrong.

Tom

1963 Giulia Spider (1750 engine)
1974 GTV
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-29-2019, 05:01 PM
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I had a buddy with an S4 that had the same crack, so I don't think he's wrong.
I don't think he's wrong either; I just think the “snap” he heard during that u-turn was caused by something else. But sure, if his mechanic saw a crack, welded it up and now the symptoms have changed, then there was definitely a crack.

Jay Mackro
San Juan Capistrano, CA

'65 Guilia Sprint GT
'67 Duetto
'91 164L
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