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Old 05-30-2007, 07:28 AM   #1
RangerX
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Still Fighting Steering Wheel Play

Hi guys-

I've posted in the past about steering wheel play, and chatter I've been having.

Here are the symptoms:

When driving somewhat rough roads, I seem to get excessive steering wheel chatter, caused from the road. I have a considerable amount of 'loose' play in my steering wheel that can be felt when the car is off, and while driving. I've noticed on a certain part of the highway (that is a bit rough) when I accelerate hard, the wheel chatters a bit, but only slightly... in that range of where the 'loose' steering wheel play exists.

On a perfect flat road, this problem does not exist...

I took the wifes Z4 out, to try and replicate the problem in her car. Though the car does pull a bit due to the crowned roads... her steering wheel stays tight and has absolutely no chatter. So something is definately up with my car...

What I have done so far:

-Brand new rims and tires for summer (yay!), with balancing and alignment.
-Brand new control arm bushings
-I had my mechanic inspect the entire suspension, including the control arms, and he said every looked fine... (except for the CAB's which he replaced)


I found this link here, which started to make me think....
http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthr...ght=wheel+play (FLEXIBLE COUPLING FOR STEERING)

Then I saw this link in that thread:
http://www.realoem.com/bmw/showparts...42&hg=32&fg=30

Do you think this could be the culprit? I don't have the knocking noise that some have had with a worn coupler, but I do have the play, and the excessive chatter from the road.

Also, I'm assuming since I have a 2003, I should go with the second #2 item (from 04/2001) correct?

Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks
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Old 05-30-2007, 08:00 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RangerX View Post
... I found this link here, which started to make me think....
http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthr...ght=wheel+play (FLEXIBLE COUPLING FOR STEERING)

Then I saw this link in that thread:
http://www.realoem.com/bmw/showparts...42&hg=32&fg=30

Do you think this could be the culprit? I don't have the knocking noise that some have had with a worn coupler, but I do have the play, and the excessive chatter from the road...
There's a good chance that changing the flexible coupling (guibo) will fix the play. The way the coupling is made, if it's worn, it may or may not chatter. If you're a DIY guy, it's easy enough to take it out and inspect it. It's obvious if it's worn. It should be solid and rigid, you will not be able to twist it by hand. If you can twist it, then it's worn.
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Old 05-30-2007, 08:03 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ssm1991 View Post
There's a good chance that changing the flexible coupling (guibo) will fix the play. The way the coupling is made, if it's worn, it may or may not chatter. If you're a DIY guy, it's easy enough to take it out and inspect it. It's obvious if it's worn. It should be solid and rigid, you will not be able to twist it by hand. If you can twist it, then it's worn.
Good info. The chatter I have is really only from shitty roads, which isn't as noticeable at lower speeds. Only on the highway where the road sucks is where I get a slight chatter....The play is driving me nuts though, it just feels so sloppy. I'm not really a DIY guy; I have no tools. This should be a quick job for my mechanic?

Anyone else care to comment?

Thanks ssm1991
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Old 05-30-2007, 12:26 PM   #4
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Anybody else? Or do you guys agree that the coupler is a suspect?
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Old 08-04-2007, 07:58 PM   #5
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Did you ever get this fixed OP? I have the same issue and am thinking about changing the bushing. The steering in my brothers 330ci is so much tighter than mine.

My experience was that after my CA bushings were replaced, I noticed a wobbly / jerky steering wheel at speed. Car was aligned and wheels were balanced. This makes me think that the new stiffness of the CA bushings is now showing the wear in the steering coupling. I too am fine on certain roads, but not others...same speed, so know its not a wheel out of balance.

i think I am going to try this fix myself. I had the car up on ramps the other day and it appears to be easy access to this part. For $35, its cheaper than an alignment or a balancing.

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Old 08-04-2007, 11:02 PM   #6
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it might be something as simple as fluids.

using power steering fluid for the power steering when ATF is supposed to be used.

that will loosen up the steering and make it feel as if components are worn.
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Old 08-24-2007, 06:07 PM   #7
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coupler
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Old 07-13-2011, 07:17 PM   #8
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So I changed my control arms bushings to the Poly's ones and i still have about 2'' left and right play in my steering wheel, I was told it could be the ball joints and or links. Does anyone know that this might be the issue or coupler is known to cause such issue? Please advise.
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Old 07-13-2011, 07:37 PM   #9
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^ Steering rack coupler can allow play in the wheel like that..let me try to dig up a thread for you.
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Old 07-13-2011, 07:40 PM   #10
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Yeah, steering rack coupler (steering guibo) or possibly worn tie rod ends. I think the tie rod ends have ball joints in them. The front control arms also have ball joints in them, but I am not sure if failed balljoints in the FCAs can cause loose steering feel like you're describing.

What you can do is put front of car on jackstands and put friend/girlfriend/parent/fanatic in driver's seat to turn the steering wheel while you hold one front wheel at 3 and 9 o'clock. Given your symptoms, the friend should be able to turn the steering wheel a bit while the wheel doesn't move (or you can turn the wheel while the steering wheel doesn't move). Then observe from under car. If tie rods are moving more than the steering knuckles, or you can wiggle the tie rods easily, problem is tie-rods. If steering wheel can turn but the tie rods are not moving, then probably your coupler/guibo (or failed steering rack). Probably two ways to observe the guibo... from above remove airbox and shine flashlight down (might need to remove upper intake boot). From below, remove splash shield and observe steering column with flashlight from below (might need to remove reinforcement plate).

Last edited by LivesNearCostco; 07-13-2011 at 08:21 PM.
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Old 07-13-2011, 08:13 PM   #11
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I had a lot of play in my '01 and a new coupler didn't fix it. It could be your steering rack or tie rod ends.
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Old 07-13-2011, 10:38 PM   #12
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I see something along this title of thread come up about 5 times a year. In most the cases one of the last things they do is replace the steering guibo, and the thread suddenly ends. I've replaced mine at 150k. Made a world of difference. The steering was as tight as it was when I purchased the car. From the explanation you give, I'd say the steering guibo is your problem. If you have tools and can DIY it's not too difficult at all.

To inspect this you can put your car up on ramps, locate the steering guibo and have someone move the steering from side to side while watching the guibo. Some have noted excessive play. Even if you can't see much play, it's a rubber component that tends to breakdown over time so replacing it won't hurt anything and may solve your problem.

Here's the DIY for the steering guibo: http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthr...steering+guibo
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Old 07-13-2011, 11:53 PM   #13
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I agree sounds like the steering coupler.
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Old 11-22-2012, 05:58 PM   #14
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I changed my cab's to the poly kind and I was having the car lifted yesterday and I saw them sticking out the housing, any advise if this is risky to be driving on, what's the cause, I don't track the car or drive it aggressively and it's less than 10k miles on them.
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