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Leo
Leo, Auto Service Technician
Category: Dodge
Satisfied Customers: 770
Experience:  2005 Dodge ASE master technician of the year
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Steering wheel will not return to center at any speed.

Resolved Question:

Steering wheel will not return to center at any speed. Makes it hard to drive down the road. Slight hesitation when curving. Does not bind up in any way. Please help.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Dodge
Expert:  Leo replied 6 years ago.

Hi Brad,

What model is your dodge? If it's a pickup is it a 1500 or a 2500/3500?

Have you had anything done to attempt and repair the problem?

Looking forward to hearing back from you!

Leo

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
2500 4x4
no attempts to fix the problem
Expert:  Leo replied 6 years ago.

Hi Brad,

These are tough online, it's one of the problems where a good road test would go a long way!

The first thing I'd be looking for is a loose tie-rod end.. They can be tricky to pick up when the truck is of the ground, they often feel tight. The best method I've found is to have a helper move the steering wheel back and forth a quarter turn or so, while looking under the front of the truck at all the tie-rod / drag link ends.. If one is loose you'll be able to see the play in it.

The next thing I'd check would be the steering damper.. If it's leaking oil it's suspect. I'd consider removing one end and manually moving it to be sure it's not frozen up.

If everything checks out to this point, I'd jack the front end up and check for any play in the balljoints, and then have the alignment checked.

The worse case scenario is a steering box problem, the toughest part being it's a matter of eliminating everything else.

This is a tough on to really give you a 'answer' on, but I hope at least I've given you some information to help you out. Remember there is no need to click accept unless this information is helpfull to you!

Any questions don't hesitate to reply back and ask!
Leo

Leo, Auto Service Technician
Category: Dodge
Satisfied Customers: 770
Experience: 2005 Dodge ASE master technician of the year
Leo and 8 other Dodge Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I had the front end replaced 20,000 miles ago. I realize this is a tough question. I am primarily concerned with saftey driving the vehicle. Any other input would be appreciated considering the front end replacement. Again I know this is a hard diagnosis w/o driving. Thanks again for any suggestions.   Please respond so I can Accept the answer.
Expert:  Leo replied 6 years ago.

Hi,

You had the front end replaced.. As in the whole thing, or did they go through it and replace the worn components?

The part that make me concerend is the 'slight hesitation when turning' I take this as perhaps some free play in the steering?

WIth any steering issue, if something feels wrong it generally is.. At least have a good inspection done at a good repair shop for serious defects.

Leo

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
When i said slight hesitation when turning, I meant it is not as easy as normal. It is slightly harder to turn while driving down the road. I apologize for my misinterpretation. I am looking for the receipt for exactly what they replaced in the front end. I assume that they only replaced the worn compontnts as I have a full replacement bumper on the front and I know that wears on the front end more than normal. There is no free play in the steering whatsoever. The steering wheel stays where I turn it while driving down the road. Thanks again for your input.
Expert:  Leo replied 6 years ago.

Hi,

I think I have a better idea of the issue now.. I just assumed it had some play / wandering going on..

If it's harder than normal to turn the wheel, and you have to steer it back to straight ahead manually then something is starting to freeze up in the front end..

These can be even tougher problems to pinpoint as it often involves unhooking the steering linkage checking for frozen ball - joints , etc..

The biggest things I've been seeing are failed steering dampers (as noted above) and frozen front axle - universal joints... I don't even know if your truck is 4wd, but if it is and the u-joints are starting to freeze up, when you make a sharp corner on blacktop at a slow speeds (like a parking lot) it'll feel like it's in 4wd and jump around even when it's not..

I think if you peek at the steering damper you'll find it's leaking.. this would be even more likely if they replaced it with an aftermarket unit.

Leo

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I dont think it is a a frozen u-joint even though it is a 4x4 because it does not jump in a parking lot situation. I can see it possiby being a ball joint situation since it has been replaced 20,000 miles ago and could of had a bad part etc. Would the best thing to do is lift the front end off the ground and check it out? It does act like it is in 4x4 driving down the rosd but does not jump or skip like its is engaged at a parking lot skip.???
Expert:  Leo replied 6 years ago.

Hi,

Checking the u-joints is fairly straightforward.. They never seem to be loose, always frozen (or at the least very stiff).

If you jack the front tires off the ground then turn the steering wheel all the way to the left or right (doesn't matter).. now try to rotate the wheel like it was going down the road.. you'll feel it get tight / loose / tight / loose as you spin it. If they are real bad you won't be able to spin it by hand at all. The longer the truck, the less noticeable it is in parking lot type turns.. regular cabs with 6 ft boxes will about rip the wheel out of your hands, while 4 door 8ft box trucks it's barely noticeable. It depends a lot on how badly frozen up the joint is getting (if that makes sense).

Here in the northeast where the use a lot of salt on the road in the winter, we do lots of them..

Ball joints will be tougher to pick up on, if they are frozen there likely won't be any play.. if you manually turn the wheel back and forth (with the motor off) you may be able to hear a grind / squeak type noise from a bad one though.. If not then you have to unhook the drag link so you can turn just the wheel / hub to access for binding.

Leo

 

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