Lotus Elan

Another steering question.....

PostPost by: 2tmike » Wed Dec 11, 2019 11:33 am

I can see that this has been much discussed but maybe someone can give a little clarification on the self centring issue........
I ran my S4 this summer for the first time and felt the steering was not as I was expecting. Many people comment that these cars do not self centre to the same extent as modern cars and my memory isn't good enough to remember what they were like 'back in the day'......but I don't have the impression that they were inferior to the other british light sportscars that I owned then. And this is the only elan I've driven for many many years.
So getting to the point, if I put the car into a medium curve like a large roundabout at normal road speeds I can take my hands off the wheel and the car will continue around the curve by itself. Is this 'normal' elan steering?
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PostPost by: nmauduit » Wed Dec 11, 2019 12:56 pm

2tmike wrote:if I put the car into a medium curve like a large roundabout at normal road speeds I can take my hands off the wheel and the car will continue around the curve by itself. Is this 'normal' elan steering?


I don't think so, not that I take my hands off the wheel that often, but my S4 (hence same caster angle) would gently steer back to straight line when letting the wheel by itself.

There could be several things preventing that, and I would first look into friction (column, rack if overtightened to hide some play, etc. ) : front wheels off the ground, is the steering really free, end to end? then did you get the car to a geometry check (they would give you a paper with the measured values, but a good shop would also detect abnormal behavior and hint at the cause when discussing it). A really wrong caster angle (the main source of return to straight) would mean damaged chassis since this angle is not tuneable on street cars.
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PostPost by: 2tmike » Wed Dec 11, 2019 1:55 pm

Thanks for the reply. I've done quite a lot of basic checks, caster is 3deg, hubs can be turned by hand lock to lock ok with the car jacked, that sort of stuff. Reason for the question is that I don't want to start chasing a result that can't be achieved.
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PostPost by: nmauduit » Wed Dec 11, 2019 5:29 pm

do you feel any friction when rotating the wheels unloaded (or can they be rotated very smoothly with "one finger"), with no hard point anywhere ? then you may also check if something would be touching a/the steering rod/s when the car is on its wheels (not enough clearance) or a similar cause that would not be detected wheels up... from what you describe it could be just a mild friction problem (hence difficult to pinpoint), though I'm pretty sure my car would not keep turning if I let go of the wheel : let see what others can say about that.

good luck !
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PostPost by: Frogelan » Wed Dec 11, 2019 7:27 pm

Mike

It sounds to that running the checks suggested by Nicolas, one by one makes a lot of sense.

Is there enough lubrification in the rack itself ?
Does the steering remain as suggested both on the right and left hand side ?
Are there any surprises in the rear suspension?

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PostPost by: 2tmike » Wed Dec 11, 2019 7:50 pm

Nicolas, Andrew, thanks for the responses.
It's on axle stands at the moment getting a little underbody cleanup and some checks as I'm still getting to know the car.
Yes the front hubs rotate easily with one finger and turning the rack via the hubs feels ok but the wheels will need to go on to be able to tell if there is a suggestion of a tight point. You certainly can't feel anything unusual through the steering wheel with the car up in the air.
Lack of self centring on both right and left turns is a good point - I can't remember !!!! For sure gentle right turns have very little/no self centre but I'm not sure about lefts.
If the consensus is that what I'm getting is not normal then I'm going to have to dig deeper into the issue as it's not a great drive at the moment. I would be really interested to hear other owners views and experiences.
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PostPost by: Donels » Thu Dec 12, 2019 2:18 pm

As per a similar issue discussed recently. Ensure the trunnions are well lubricated with EP90. Disassembly and clean before renewing lubrication if necessary.
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PostPost by: bill308 » Thu Dec 12, 2019 9:40 pm

To properly test, the front must be in proper alignment, caster, camber and toe, and at the proper ride height. S2 and earlier Elans had 7 degrees caster, so a lot more centering force and heavier overall steering compared to later cars.
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PostPost by: oldelanman » Fri Dec 13, 2019 8:19 am

What tyre pressures are you using?
I found that a small increase from the 18psi front figure quoted in the manual made a significant difference to the steering on my car.
If you don't find any obvious mechanical problem, it might be worth experimenting a bit with the tyre pressures before resorting to pulling anything apart.
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PostPost by: Frogelan » Fri Dec 13, 2019 8:36 am

If you have run through the above tests and the problems remain...the only solution is to take the complete front suspension to bits.

Good luck !
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PostPost by: SENC » Sat Dec 14, 2019 1:56 am

With certainty mine would not continue around the curve with hands off the wheel as you describe. While not as self-centering as modern cars, it wouldn't require much forward speed for mine to straighten right out in that situation.
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PostPost by: 69S4 » Sat Dec 14, 2019 6:40 am

SENC wrote:With certainty mine would not continue around the curve with hands off the wheel as you describe. While not as self-centering as modern cars, it wouldn't require much forward speed for mine to straighten right out in that situation.


That?s a good description of how my car feels and drives. But, as Roger mentioned a few posts back, tyre pressures do make a difference, particularly at low speeds. The original 18psi pressure recommendation is way too low for the 155/80 Uniroyals I?m currently running. I?m now at 23 - 24psi and that seems to be about right for road use.
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PostPost by: SENC » Sat Dec 14, 2019 1:55 pm

Completely concur on tire pressure and would start there then on to toe, caster and camber. I'd also check toe on the rear wheels - wouldn't be the first time someone jacking on a wishbone bent it (or later overcorrected in fixing it) and caused conditions at the rear that could create tracking woes.
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PostPost by: 2tmike » Sat Dec 14, 2019 2:10 pm

Thanks all,
From the replies saying their cars do self centre back to straight on a gentle bend I'm going with the conclusion mine does have a problem of some sort. In the summer it had a full geo check and everything was either within tolerance or within spitting distance of it so there are no obvious culprits there. The rack can be turned easily by moving the hubs right and left with the car on stands with the wheels off and I had a brief go at tyre pressures from 18 front up to 25 but that wasn't done very scientifically!! N/S front suspension just stripped to have a look and as far as I can tell it's spot on, everything straight, bushes good, trunion free and no sign of anything amiss. Now for the other 3 corners.......
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