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General E46 Forum
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Old 05-10-2017, 11:57 AM   #1
Doc_V
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Car parked, engine off - Should there be *any* play in the steeriing wheel?

With the engine off, key *still* in the ignition so the steering wheel does not lock, and parking brake on; how much [if any] steering wheel play is normal?
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Old 05-10-2017, 12:24 PM   #2
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When engine off and not locked, It should move but feel firm and tight, but should not be any play or clicky business.

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Old 05-10-2017, 02:08 PM   #3
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+1 ^^ Checked mine yesterday.
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Old 05-10-2017, 02:59 PM   #4
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I guess "play" is subjective. The steering rack can allow the steering wheel to have some play of a few degrees. The tires should move when the wheel it turned, but the movement can be difficult to discern so you think you are moving the wheel further than you really need to.
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Old 05-10-2017, 03:00 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Mango View Post
When engine off and not locked, It should move but feel firm and tight, but should not be any play or clicky business.


This.
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Old 05-10-2017, 06:31 PM   #6
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Yes. There should be some. The guibo is flexible and that should give a bit without any assist before you begin moving the actual tires. But the wheel should flick back to where it started. My front suspension was completely redone 5k miles ago


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Old 05-17-2017, 08:47 PM   #7
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Follow up - after replacing the control arm bushing's and sway bar links, there's much less play in the steering wheel. What play there is left, I believe may be due to the uneven wear of the tires from the worn out control arm bushings.
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Old 05-17-2017, 09:06 PM   #8
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I have a good comparison, 2001 330ci vs my 2016 mustang GT. I turn the steering wheel of my GT 1/4" and I feel the tires squeaking on the drive way......NO PLAY at all. The 330ci quiet loose but the rubber bushing have at least 75000 miles on them so their you are. Replace everything and it should be tight again.
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Old 05-18-2017, 09:11 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc_V View Post
Follow up - after replacing the control arm bushing's and sway bar links, there's much less play in the steering wheel. What play there is left, I believe may be due to the uneven wear of the tires from the worn out control arm bushings.
Have you replaced the steering coupler? It's relatively inexpensive, and for me, removed virtually all the play in the rack...
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Old 05-18-2017, 08:28 PM   #10
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balance a quarter on top of the steering wheel; as you rotate the steering wheel, george washington (make sure it's heads up towards you) will roll over roughly 90 degrees. if george falls off your steering wheel due to excessive wheel play then take a look at the steering coupler.
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Old 05-19-2017, 09:41 AM   #11
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There should be no play in the mechanism. Period. Any movement of the wheel should simply be the tires' slipping or flexing.
I have a new flex disc.
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Old 05-19-2017, 09:58 PM   #12
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Power steering racks must have some play in order to work.

The steering column is connected to the pinion via a springy torsion bar. When you turn the wheel, the bar twists. This twisting action allows one half of the control valve to turn relative to the other...and this relative movement opens up the passages for pressurised fluid to flow, thereby providing the power assist.

If you turn the wheel a little with the engine off, it will feel springy - let go and it springs back to where it was. You are feeling the torsion bar.
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Old 05-20-2017, 10:07 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by divil View Post
Power steering racks must have some play in order to work.

The steering column is connected to the pinion via a springy torsion bar. When you turn the wheel, the bar twists. This twisting action allows one half of the control valve to turn relative to the other...and this relative movement opens up the passages for pressurised fluid to flow, thereby providing the power assist.
Wow... doesn't get much more comprehensive than that.

Quote:
If you turn the wheel a little with the engine off, it will feel springy - let go and it springs back to where it was. You are feeling the torsion bar.
^^This right here... And yah, it springs back, so I that's a good thing.

Last edited by Doc_V; 05-20-2017 at 10:17 AM.
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