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Discussion Starter #1
Trying to figure out next steps to address a pretty bad bump steer issue in my 05 SE w/ 150k miles.

Symptoms:
1) Any variance in the road surface (ruts, pot holes, manholes, etc.) causes my tires and steering wheel to turn. At speeds under 35-40mph it isn't an issue, but it becomes progressively more obvious as speed increases, to about 80mph where it has put me in extremely dangerous situations (passing lane on a mountain pass, changing lanes and losing control of steering for .25 to .5 second or so).
2) This may or may not be related, but I get noticeable vibration in the car and shaking of the steering wheel at about 55-60mph, which also gets progressively more obvious as speed increases.
3) This may or may not be related, but I have obvious tread wear on my front tires' outer edges.

What I've done so far:
1) Had two mechanics (and myself, for what that's worth) test the ball joints for pliability, and could not get the tire to move (using hands and leverage with crowbar). Tentatively ruled out ball joints.
2) Tested the tie rods for movement, had a ton of movement, so I replaced all four (both sides' inner and outer).
3) Replaced both front shocks with Bil 5100 (with no preload).
4) Replaced the sway bar bushings.
5) Realignment performed after the above work completed.
This fixed some of the bump steer issue (and fixed the cupping that was occurring on the two front tires), but the bump steer is still very much there.

My thoughts at this point:
1) I noticed the sway bar can be adjusted from left to right, is it possible that it's too far in one direction and causes bump steer? No clue here, though I know that it never makes contact during full range of articulation.
2) The sway bar endlinks are pliable by hand as well. Could this cause bump steer?
3) Could the power steering have something to do with the bump steer? I haven't changed the fluid in that. I've also heard about bushing for the steering system, could this cause bump steer?

Any help is greatly appreciated. I'd love to get my rig back to the shape she was in 80k miles ago.
 

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You may have steering rack/column issues. It almost sounds like your rack is super sensitive to any type of back force from different bumps/interactions with the road. I haven’t had any issues with steering so I’m not too well read into the issue. I know steering column bushings can go bad but i’d Think that would just cause x/y movement in the column not really affect steering. But I’m not too sure! I hope you find a solution!
 

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Know that you are not alone ;)


Also know that our highways in the PNW are shit due to chains and studs putting ruts in all the roads. They are not flat and especially in Portland you sometimes are in a luge.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Know that you are not alone ;)


Also know that our highways in the PNW are shit due to chains and studs putting ruts in all the roads. They are not flat and especially in Portland you sometimes are in a luge.
Yeah I read this thread a few times now, that's where I got the idea for the steering bushings. Problem is, they seem to settle on the sway bar bushings, which I've replaced with little effect. When I replaced them, bushing & bracket had come off (I believe on washboard logging roads), and the sway bar had "slid" to one side to the point that I had to tap it back over to reconnect the new bracket to the frame. I'm wondering if there's a proper or improper alignment/positioning of the sway bar that could be a culprit?
 

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I had "bump steer" pretty bad so much that my lady was afraid to drive my car. I have fixed it but I can't say it was any one thing. Your front sway bar coming completely off is a concern - those bolts are supposed to be tightened to 150 ft/lbs !?!?

Here are the things I did on the front end in order over a 6 month period, but I am not sure when the bump steer went away. If I had to guess it was the wheel bearing and hanging brake that was the real issue and all the other repairs reduced the impact.

1 - Alignment
2 - Watched air pressure like a hawk
3 - Replaced worn out original shocks with Bilstein 5100 with slight 1/2" lift
3 - Replaced original sway bar bushings with OEM
4 - Replaced worn out front passenger wheel hub / bearing
5 - Replaced brakes and rotors and serviced calipers - front passenger guide pin was hanging causing uneven wear but no noise
6 - Replaced 7 year old tires - I think the bump-steer was fixed prior to tire replacement

Do your front wheels spin freely when the front is jacked up, out of 4wd? Any grinding noises from your wheels or wub-wub-wub noise?

Are your brakes dragging on one side - maybe a guide pin is hanging?

You say there is adjustment to the sway bar but the FSM doesn't indicate that. Are you sure your sway bar isn't damaged? Is it possible a prior owner was in an accident?

Best of luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I had "bump steer" pretty bad so much that my lady was afraid to drive my car. I have fixed it but I can't say it was any one thing. Your front sway bar coming completely off is a concern - those bolts are supposed to be tightened to 150 ft/lbs !?!?

Here are the things I did on the front end in order over a 6 month period, but I am not sure when the bump steer went away. If I had to guess it was the wheel bearing and hanging brake that was the real issue and all the other repairs reduced the impact.

1 - Alignment
2 - Watched air pressure like a hawk
3 - Replaced worn out original shocks with Bilstein 5100 with slight 1/2" lift
3 - Replaced original sway bar bushings with OEM
4 - Replaced worn out front passenger wheel hub / bearing
5 - Replaced brakes and rotors and serviced calipers - front passenger guide pin was hanging causing uneven wear but no noise
6 - Replaced 7 year old tires - I think the bump-steer was fixed prior to tire replacement

Do your front wheels spin freely when the front is jacked up, out of 4wd? Any grinding noises from your wheels or wub-wub-wub noise?

Are your brakes dragging on one side - maybe a guide pin is hanging?

You say there is adjustment to the sway bar but the FSM doesn't indicate that. Are you sure your sway bar isn't damaged? Is it possible a prior owner was in an accident?

Best of luck!
Awesome info, thank you! I think I need to take a look at the hubs/bearings. I've long wondered if they're getting old, but have written it off and attributed any issues to brakes or suspension. For example, I do notice on higher speed turns (some off ramps or on ramps, wide turns off highways, etc.) the outside tire on the turn (receiving the most downforce) hums with some static feedback felt as well, though I wouldn't call it a grinding necessarily.

I haven't noticed any uneven brake wear, and replaced the rotors and pads a few months ago. Harder to say on dragging, since due to bumpsteer anytime I brake the car dives towards the lowest point in my lane. Once in the ruts, it tracks straight as I continue to break.

Long story short on the lost sway bar bracket & bushing; I initially attempted to replace them and couldn't get the bolts off - ultimately I had to take the bumper off to get proper access (also a great opportunity to use duplicolor's bed liner, which I highly recommend) - anyways, I think what happened is that I someone loosened it without actually getting it out, so when I took it the next weekend up into the hills, the washboard roads did the rest. Back into town to find the bracket gone, the bushing loosely wrapped around the bar.

But, when I loosen the bolts/brackets now, there is a TON of side to side pliability on the sway bar. I could push it probably 6" towards either tire. Looking at it, unless this is a sign that the end links are shot, Idk how it would be damaged, it's a pretty simple bar.
 

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The treadwear on the outer tread tells me that your alignment is probably off. The outsides of the tires wearing is indicative of either incorrect toe or caster. If its toed in too much, what happens is if you hit a bump with the left tire, it loses traction but the right doesn't. since the tire is pointing too far left, the car will go left. If its toed out, you hit a bump with the left tire and the car will "bump" to the right. Having dealt with a lot of race car suspension, that's where I'd start... with an alignment, instead of throwing parts at it first. Also, a good alignment guy will be able to tell you if suspension/steering parts are worn or broken. Thatll give you a better idea of what's going on.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
The treadwear on the outer tread tells me that your alignment is probably off. The outsides of the tires wearing is indicative of either incorrect toe or caster. If its toed in too much, what happens is if you hit a bump with the left tire, it loses traction but the right doesn't. since the tire is pointing too far left, the car will go left. If its toed out, you hit a bump with the left tire and the car will "bump" to the right. Having dealt with a lot of race car suspension, that's where I'd start... with an alignment, instead of throwing parts at it first. Also, a good alignment guy will be able to tell you if suspension/steering parts are worn or broken. Thatll give you a better idea of what's going on.
Definitely was my feeling as well, originally. Two alignments later (the first I think was absolute crap, but the second I trusted), I'm thinking the alignment is a symptom itself, not the cause. If alignment is the issue here, then the alignment fell out of spec almost immediately after getting it done. Any idea on potential causes for alignment going to shit right away (noting that I've got new inner & outter tie rods, shocks, swaybar bushings)?
Also, any litmus test questions to find a good alignment/suspension shop? There's a hundred to choose from...
Thanks!
 

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How are your alignment bolts? Are they in good shape? What about Power Steering bushings?

As for a good alignment shop, I'm not sure how to tell which ones are good or not.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
How are your alignment bolts? Are they in good shape? What about Power Steering bushings?

As for a good alignment shop, I'm not sure how to tell which ones are good or not.
Cam Bolts? I bought new but the mechanic who was doing the work said the current bolts were fine & didn't need replacement. Steering bushings are a suspect on my list of plausible causes.
 

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I don’t think the sway bar is related to your steering problem. However it shouldn’t be sliding back and forth. Here’s my experience on my ‘14 Xterra Off Road.

I noticed the end of my front sway bar was rubbing against the lower mount of my coil-over and I could bang the sway bar back into place. The sway bar has a collar that keeps the lateral position. The collar had one little pin that kept it in place. The pin had sheared off and the collar was sliding around.

I took the sway bar off, repositioned the collar, and welded a couple little dimples in the steel bar on either side of the collar - couldn’t weld the collar bc it is aluminium. Simple effective fix.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I don’t think the sway bar is related to your steering problem. However it shouldn’t be sliding back and forth. Here’s my experience on my ‘14 Xterra Off Road.

I noticed the end of my front sway bar was rubbing against the lower mount of my coil-over and I could bang the sway bar back into place. The sway bar has a collar that keeps the lateral position. The collar had one little pin that kept it in place. The pin had sheared off and the collar was sliding around.

I took the sway bar off, repositioned the collar, and welded a couple little dimples in the steel bar on either side of the collar - couldn’t weld the collar bc it is aluminium. Simple effective fix.
This.

Any pics on this collar? I've spent a lot of time looking at it and haven't seen any sort of collar.
 

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This was probably 4 years ago and currently my HeftyWorks bash plate is covering the evidence.

From feeling around behind the bash plate I think there are 2 collars (makes sense). Each is just inside the mounting bracket on both sides of the sway bar. Therefore the driver side collar keeps it from slipping left and PS collar keeps it from slipping right.

I think you can just make out the collar on the far end of the bar in this pic.
123306
 

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This was probably 4 years ago and currently my HeftyWorks bash plate is covering the evidence.

From feeling around behind the bash plate I think there are 2 collars (makes sense). Each is just inside the mounting bracket on both sides of the sway bar. Therefore the driver side collar keeps it from slipping left and PS collar keeps it from slipping right.

I think you can just make out the collar on the far end of the bar in this pic.
View attachment 123306
This sounds exactly like what I noticed when replacing the bushings. I'll take a look at the collars this weekend. Thank you!!
 

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IIRC the collar is two semi circles sandwiched around the sway bar. The sandwich is held together with a couple of weak rivets. If you have only one collar (or none) it’s possible they broke off when your mounting bracket got lost.
 

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A poor man’s repair (PMR) could be a couple of U-bolts around the sway bar just inside the mounting brackets. I don’t see any reason not to go the PMR route on the sway bar. Some folks have just removed the sway bar entirely.
 
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