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Discussion Starter #1
Hi All,

I have been chasing a problem on my 88 graduate for quite some time now. It started as a Knock, Knock, Knock during left hand turns (not right hand turns).

My first investigation lead me to rebuilding the idler arm box, which helped a little. Then I found a bad ball joint on the center link which I replaced, but the left hand turn knocking persisted.

Finally I looked to the steering box and tried to adjust it per this procedure:



What I have found is that when I adjust the box so that it is tight when pointed center, there is looseness when turned to the right or left lock position, but noticeably more freeplay when turned left.

In fact, I cannot adjust out the free play when in the extreme left turn position. At that point the idler arm still rocks by 1/4"

My questions are:

1) Is my steering box worn out ?
2) If it is worn out, I'm under the impression that new ones are not available, is that correct ?
3) Should I set the adjustment so that the box is tight in the center position, but the right and left positions are reduced as much as possible ?

Thanks as always !!
 

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I went thru much of the same, and the play is normal to be sloppier the further off center you go. Having said that, our boxes can only be adjusted to achieve #3.

Also, I know that ClassicAlfa in the UK offers a good variety of boxes, idlers, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Here are a few videos to clarify what I'm dealing with

This is the free play in the idler arm after adjusting the steering box about as tight as I think is should be in the straight ahead position. This free play is when the wheel is turned as if making a left hand turn:

Free Play Video

Here is what I hear while simply driving in a circle in a parking lot:

Knock Knock Video

Needless to say, this problem ruins the enjoyment of driving my Spider :frown2:
 

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Discussion Starter #5
That looks like a lot of tie-rod play to me.
You say you changed only one of the center rod ends... I think you need to change the other too.
I don't understand why you would say that. The video shows the idler arm at the bottom of the steering box, and the tie rods are disconnected .

Ball joints, tie rods, center rod, etc have absolutely nothing to do with what's shown in the video.

:confused:
 

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I don't understand why you would say that. The video shows the idler arm at the bottom of the steering box, and the tie rods are disconnected .

Ball joints, tie rods, center rod, etc have absolutely nothing to do with what's shown in the video.

:confused:
Sorry about that... I didn't notice the tie-rods were disconnected. But if you rebuilt the idler box, it doesn't make sense. Could the top nut of the idlers shaft come loose and/or the bent washer? For what it takes to do, pop off the cap and look to see.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Sorry about that... I didn't notice the tie-rods were disconnected. But if you rebuilt the idler box, it doesn't make sense. Could the top nut of the idlers shaft come loose and/or the bent washer? For what it takes to do, pop off the cap and look to see.
The video has nothing to do with the idler box, that is on the other side of the car and is not connected because the center rod is disconnected.

The video is taken from underneath the car looking up at the steering box. I am wiggling the idler arm at the bottom of the steering box.

The free play is withing the steering box.
 

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Ok. Now it makes sense. You confuse me when you refer to the pitman arm on the steering box as the idler arm, which is what the arm in the idler box is best referred to. So all that play is in the steering box. Is that play at the end of the travel of the steering box?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
No problem, it gives me bumps :)

Yes, that play you see there is with the steering wheel turned just about fully left. The box is adjusted so that there is no free play at all when the wheel is positioned straight ahead.
 

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Is the steering box turned to its outer limit?

Turn the steering wheel all the way to the left, and then count how many total wheel turns to the right until you hit the stop. Now turn the wheel back to the left half as many turns to reach the center travel of the box. If this is where you have all that play, this is where you'd try and work out the play using the adjuster nut. If you still have all that play, your steering box may be finished.
 

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No problem, it gives me bumps :)

Yes, that play you see there is with the steering wheel turned just about fully left. The box is adjusted so that there is no free play at all when the wheel is positioned straight ahead.
Ok, than that is normal play at the end of the steering box. So is the video you posted after the new tie-rod end and after center play adjustment. If so, if the idler box is good and there are no other bad tie-rod ends, your problem is not in the steering. I'm starting the think you may have a very bad wheel bearing. When the first start to go they will either start howling, grinding or popping.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
"Ok, than that is normal play at the end of the steering box."

Ahh, that is what I was after, thank you !!

The wheel bearing idea is interesting. That is a possibility, and is easy enough to check.

I've owned my Spider 3 years and I've been working on it constantly. This has been the single most stubborn problem I've dealt with. I just can't seem to nail it down.

It has also been the most aggravating problem, that has had the most profound negative effect on the "fun factor" of driving the car.

I will check the wheel bearing this weekend and report back.

Thanks again !!
 

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Normally the offending wheel bearing is on the side opposite of the direction of the turn. So in your case, it would be the right side bearing, but certainly check both.

Good luck!
 
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