Lotus Elan

Wandering around the straight ahead - what to check?

PostPost by: JJDraper » Sat Nov 12, 2011 8:13 am

Well, one thing I haven't had (yet) is a worn steering rack, so I can't comment on these symptoms. However I have had the following problems:

- knackered ball joints - poor steering response and a sort of flip/flop in steering action;
- knackered lower wishbones with elongated fixing holes - general vagueness in steering in tight turns with a more vicious flip/flop feel as the steering takes a 'set'; fine at straight ahead though.
- knackered steering UJ similar to all of the above, but also noticeable when stationary as slack in the steering wheel movement; did affect the straight ahead feel as the car weaved, but slowly in a sort of sine wave.
- loose bolts on steering UJ - no effect on handling, but steering wheel can pull up and down by few mils with an alarming clunk at parking speeds.
- finally, not really a fault, but gets to the nub of the original post, different toe in settings. Toe in effects the directness of the steering, such that with no toe in the car is so sensitive to steering wheel input and side winds that it appears to wander all over the place at speed. Very disconcerting on motorways etc. More toe in increases the stability of the steering in the straight ahead position, until you have too much and the steering goes wooden, scrubs tyres and generally just wants to go straight rather than round bends. I understand that for track use and racing (I have no experience of either) the preference is for very low toe in as this allows the driver very direct steering. For road use, I have experience low toe in, and wandering around the straight ahead describes the feeling exactly.

Once you have eliminated all the other possible faults, then play around with toe in to find a setting that suits your use of the car. My preference is for a little more toe in than book settings, as I tend to use the car for longer journeys, motorways etc and driving a twitchy car at high speed on motorways is very tiring.

Here I must put my hands up and say that I have no idea what setting my car has, as I described the problem to Neil Myers who tweaked the toe in to suit my driving.

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PostPost by: nebogipfel » Sat Nov 12, 2011 9:11 am

I know Pete has mentioned this but if the rack height is not set correctly the car will have a tendency to bump steer.

If you don't know the history of the rack/car it's worth bearing in mind.

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PostPost by: jimj » Sat Nov 12, 2011 10:54 am

Last year the car wasn`t exactly "wandering" but I just felt a, sort of, just a bit, is it my imagination? feeling of a lack of confidence at high speed around the straight ahead. Once you notice these things you start to notice nothing else. I tried a touch more toe-in, thinking this would help. It didn`t so I booked the car into a specialist with some really high tech. measuring equipment. All was ok apart from TOO MUCH toe-in. He reduced it to the lowest amount of tolerance which, perversely to my mind, solved the problem.
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PostPost by: 45bvtc » Tue Nov 15, 2011 3:53 pm

I've a spare (low miles) Elan steering rack in my garage; it's yours (no charge) to collect.

I think I have the extension pieces (for the +2), too.

PM me if you want to collect them.
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PostPost by: miked » Tue Nov 15, 2011 6:58 pm

Just to turn this on it's head a bit. What about possible rear "toe out" due to "A" frame jacking wounds on the back tube or just build tolerance. I found an alarming amout of toe out on my S4DHC when string lined. They looked straight as a die. The fitting of new "A" frames with rear toe adjustments made the car much more stable at speed and that nervous feeling went.

On the Plus 2, that I have just put on the road, I got some adjustable "A" frames from John Clegg. Thanks John! :D . I also did the bumps steer settings. The car sit nice and is very stable at speed. I have done about 800 miles in the last 6 weeks. Over the moon with the results of poly bushes, rear toe adjustments and bump steer settings. Good on fast "A" roads with some surface lumps and also fine on the motorway at some decent speeds.


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PostPost by: ecamiel » Wed Nov 16, 2011 6:04 pm

I had a similar problem and redid everything - Bushings, toe front and rear, bump steer, steering rack and ends.
Finally found a blown rear shock. Replaced both rear inserts and the wandering is gone - straight and stable at any speed..
Go Figure.

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