Alfa Romeo Forums banner

1 - 20 of 46 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
318 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
The steering on my 72 Spider is so heavy, that it requires putting one's whole body and two hands to turn the steering wheel.
This CANNOT be normal -- well, at least in comparison with what I remember of my 67 Duetto from 40 years ago.

Suspension mods by prior owner were lowering springs and Konis.
The car, of course, has no power steering, and everything else on it is essentially stock.

Anyone with a diagnosis or suggestions how to magically lighten up the handling?

I had seen in a recent post regarding leaking steering boxes that packing the boxes with 00 grease (for instance) is recommended as a temporizing measure (evidently lasted for over 2 years reported by one forum member).
Could packed grease in a steering box cause such hard steering?
IIRC, there was an adjustment screw on some model cars' manual boxes that could make the steering tighter or looser? True?

Thanks.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
17,707 Posts
The adjustment screw was used to take up free play. I suppose if it were over-tightened it could make the steering box difficult to operate.


If you jack up the front end how easy is it to turn the steering wheel? With the tires off the ground there should be very little effort needed to go from lock to lock. With the tires on the ground steering effort will of course be higher. Once rolling, the steering effort should be light & easy.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
11,681 Posts
I believe that most '72 spiders have Burman steering boxes, which do not have that screw to loosen/tighten the steering. Later spiders used ZF brand boxes, which do have the screw. So check the brand of your's - easiest way to tell is simply to look for a slotted head adjuster at the top of the box - and let us know.

Excessive caster can cause hard steering. And, as 6Alfas pointed out, so can wide tires. As ghnl suggested, jack up the front end, see how easy is it to turn the steering wheel, and report back.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,491 Posts
If your steering system is healthy have a look and see how much castor you are running. Lots of castor will make the steering heavy but the car will go in a straight line with barely a finger on the wheel.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,901 Posts
As mentioned, tire size and type will have a huge effect on steering effort. Alignment will also effect steering effort, particularly caster and toe settings. What condition are the ball joints in? If you jack up the front end, as suggested by Eric, not only assess the steering effort but check the ball joints and tie rod ends also.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
318 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
There is no problem with the car tracking down the road - goes great - straight with minimal corrections, and no problems on curves.

Tires are 185/70-14 on Cromadoras.

Will get the car up on jacks tomorrow or Sunday, and check ease of steering and ball jts/tie rods.
WIll check what type steering box I have.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
11,681 Posts
There is no problem with the car tracking down the road - goes great - straight with minimal corrections, and no problems on curves.
No, that wasn't the point. Castor and/or toe-in could be off and the car would still go great - straight with minimal corrections, and no problems on curves.

Tires are 185/70-14 on Cromadoras.
Well, that should be OK

Will get the car up on jacks tomorrow or Sunday, and check ease of steering and ball jts/tie rods.
Oh, that reminds me of another possible cause. The upper link on my Sprint went bad a few years ago. These ball joints are "lubricated for life" which is just another way of saying that they fail eventually. The ball joint dried out and the car suddenly became very hard to steer.
 
  • Like
Reactions: alfaloco

·
But Mad North-Northwest
Joined
·
11,450 Posts
Will get the car up on jacks tomorrow or Sunday, and check ease of steering and ball jts/tie rods.
WIll check what type steering box I have.
Yep, start there. Should be very light and smooth with the wheels off the ground.

Have you checked to make sure it's full of oil, though? That should be the first step.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,967 Posts
Wheels in the air, steering from lock to lock should be smooth, easy, and free of play.

A misadjusted Burman box can be real stiff, but that involves taking out shims, it just doesn't happen by accident - whoever starts playing with these shims, hard to do in place, would be really incompetent to install a misadjusted box on the car. A box packed with grease will be a little harder to turn, but not to the degree you describe.

You have just bought this car? Was it in longtime storage? There could be a seized joint in there, I'm especially thinking of the idler arm as a potentially guilty culprit.

A Spider on decent sized tires and rims should not feel like a truck. If all is smooth, a visit to a competent alignment shop is in order. Hmmm. Another challenge.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
390 Posts
Had the same thing with a customers car once. New lower ball joints fixed the heavy steering. The joint seemed perfectly fine in every respect. Boots not split and no play. Jack the car up and the steering is fine. On the ground, the car's weight goes through the old joint, loads it up and is hard to turn.
I hope this helps.
Good luck
 

·
Registered
'giulia spider sixteen00
Joined
·
87 Posts
low tire pressure is another possible cause.
 
  • Like
Reactions: archeologist

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,720 Posts
Continuing discussion about caster: I use significant caster change for handling adjustment on my Autocross Spider but too much of a good thing can be counter-productive. Additional or excessive caster will result in much heavier steering since turning the wheel actually raises the car. It also results in equally strong wheel centering force from turning since the car weight encourages the front wheels to return to straight ahead. Does your Spider exhibit this condition?. As a quick check while driving, turn the wheel a good amount and then let go (make sure you have room on the pavement) . From your description the steering wheel should almost snap back to straight ahead with the same force you used to turn it. For an additional quick check look at the position of the upper suspension links; the inboard ends should be approximately centered in each recessed mounting "box".

Of course, the above is irrelevant if something else is mechanically wrong with the car...
 
  • Like
Reactions: alfaloco

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,324 Posts
Stock 105 suspension will not allow much more than 3 degrees caster ... adjustment is physically limited by the slots the upper arm moves in ... this is not enough to make the steering that heavy as long as you only turn the wheel when thew car is rolling.

Tires can make a huge difference but again not to the extent suggested ... look for something binding or a combination of factors.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
14,297 Posts
Join a gym ;)
Pete
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
318 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
Wow - big thanks for all the great inputs -- including the gym advice, which I think is the BEST solution. So, I'm joining today, and I fully expect that by Monday, the steering will have improved.

I THINK the tire pressure is good, but only using my "eye-pressure-gauge" (they do not appear to bulge). Yah, I will check using modern technology.

OTOH, this car was owned by a performance enthusiast, and I'm betting he set the castor to maximize this. YES, the car wants to self-center -- which I thought was really neat.
George - when the outside temperature gets above 32deg, I'll make the run out to the detached garage and check "...the position of the upper suspension links; the inboard ends should be approximately centered in each recessed mounting "box"...."

Zed - GTK where to get a replacement box if necessary.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,428 Posts
I think something has to be wrong. I run 205 width r compounds and max caster, plus an undersize wheel (just about as bad as you can make it short of running a wide body kit and slicks). The steering is heavy at a dead stop but it’s not bad at all once the car is moving even just a little- no need to “he man” it.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
17,707 Posts
1 - 20 of 46 Posts
Top