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Steering Feels Overly Affected By Cross-slopes Of Roads


amcdonal86
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If I am driving on a roadway that is sloped to the left, I have to steer to the right about 20-25º just to keep the car tracking straight. If the car is on a flat road, it drives perfectly straight without much correction. I just had an alignment, and I just changed my strut rods and sway bar bushings. This problem existed before I made those changes. The steering doesn't feel unusually vague (no dead zone in the steering wheel, and I'm coming from a Miata with incredibly precise steering/good handling).

What could the problem be? Tie-rods? Tires?

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If I am driving on a roadway that is sloped to the left, I have to steer to the right about 20-25º just to keep the car tracking straight. If the car is on a flat road, it drives perfectly straight without much correction. I just had an alignment, and I just changed my strut rods and sway bar bushings. This problem existed before I made those changes. The steering doesn't feel unusually vague (no dead zone in the steering wheel, and I'm coming from a Miata with incredibly precise steering/good handling).

What could the problem be? Tie-rods? Tires?

Oh boy.. .the crown of the road syndrome.

The steering shouldn't pull very hard either way, on any road. On a typical highway at 30 to 40 feet wide and a "crown" slope 2 to 4 degrees, you shouldn't get much "correction" pull at all. It may get a slight "drift" after a few seconds. When you drive on the opposite side of the road, assuming it slopes the same amount as the other side, does the steering wheel need 20 to 25 degrees of "correction"?

It's not really a pull--it is a drift. Don't you think a drift requires a steering correction? Otherwise you'd just drive right off the edge of the road...

Honestly, I'm not sure if it's that unusual. In North Carolina, the roads seem to have much less cross-slope for drainage. As soon as I come into Virginia (I-81), the "problem" becomes worse. (Virginia seems to have more aggressive road drainage into the median of the highway.) Does anyone else experience something like this? I have experienced in most cars, but not to this degree that I can remember. There is really no problem on arterial/local roads, just on highways.

By the way, I know what I'm talking about when it comes to roads. I am a transportation engineering student and I spent a whole summer working at an engineering firm doing roadway design.

BTW, why on earth would I drive on the opposite side of the road? Do I want to get killed? Hahaha.... But to answer your question, yes, if the road is sloped to the right (more rare on highways), I do seem to have to steer to the left to compensate.

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I'm not sure what prompted you to send me a private email telling me to "go F--- myself"???

Dang Randy...you sure seem to attract the stalkers and the angry. :(

Remind me not to stand near you in any kind of crowd. :D

Hi Billy...

Yeah... I post here trying to be helpful, add some humor, gather some technical insight, read very interesting tricks & tips, appreciate some very interesting experiences and opinions, from all of those who so "nicely" share it.... and then I get attacked via an email by a text-rapist ---- that I was genuinely trying to help!!!! - go figure?? :huh:

Well.... I'm think'n my "butthead" DNA must somehow be seeping through my fingers and onto my keyboard!! :o

I'm 6' 4", 230 lbs, best I could bench press was 430, highly trained in "combat survival", I think I can still put 8 rounds from my Colt Model 70 into the head of the standard police silhouette target at 30 feet in under 6 seconds..... so I guess I can handle a "Go F--- yourself" once in awhile. :P

Although, I do cry at some dog food commercials now. :rolleyes:

My apologies if you were actually trying to help. Humor doesn't usually come across in writing on car forums.

Well anyhow, I'm thinking this is normal, but I've had people drive my car and comment that they think the wheel is cocked to the right. So it's kind of made me self-conscious (about the car). I'm not sure what to think!

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After having my front wheels on my Mercedes aligned, it pulled. I was told by the Manager that "they adjusted it for the crown of the road".

Unlike many mechanical tasks, alignments are part "art". You can put a car within spec, and it can still pull like crazy.

Excuse number one in the Alignment Shop play-book, most often used by those who do not yet have the "Art" aspect of their profession down is: "we adjusted it for the crown of the road". Subjective. Sounds plausible. Sounds technical. Is BullHockey.

Also as Randy said, the last step in the alignment process is to re-center the steering wheel. Hell, I do a quick and dirty alignment on the Rubicon regularly as I change suspension and tire combinations. After the quick alignment, last step is to always make my steering wheel straight so I don't look like I'm driving some 70's Cadillac hoopty.

On a side note: Randy, you are a much bigger man than I. Had someone popped some random, sociopathic "Go F yourself" PM without provocation, I certainly wouldn't be feeling helpful and posting on their issue. A quick "ignore" and let them find their own way without my help would have been the order of the day.

Cheers to you Randy.:cheers:

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My apologies if you were actually trying to help. Humor doesn't usually come across in writing on car forums.

Well anyhow, I'm thinking this is normal, but I've had people drive my car and comment that they think the wheel is cocked to the right. So it's kind of made me self-conscious (about the car). I'm not sure what to think!

Hi Alan,

No harm no foul. Your apology is happily accepted. Sometimes my posts tend to be injected with too much humor and it is sometimes difficult to decipher the full intent. I've been accused of being too analytical and too direct. I'm sorry if my post sounded like I was making fun of your issue.

On your car, any good quality alignment shop should be able to determine if there's anything mechanically wrong with the front suspension, and they should test drive your car after the alignment to determine if it tracks normal. One common complaint with alignments is the steering wheel is not centered - and that's annoying has hell. After a wheel alignment, the car should not be pulling left or right, the steering geometry is designed to track straight, and have some degree "return to center" feel. Crown of the road slopes can effect steering as well as wind, but usually just inducing a slight to heavy drift effect. Tires and tire pressure can effect steering.

I have actually had a wheel alignment performed on my 4 wheel drive truck after installing new tires, with no pulling either way before taking it in. After the alignment the truck had steering pull. I was about to leave for vacation and had to adjust the caster myself and test drive it to finally get it to track without the pull. A reputable, quality mechanic, transmission shop, or alignment shop are not always easy to find.

A brand new vehicle with new tires may be aligned according to the manufacturers alignment specifications and track normal. However, a vehicle with mileage may not end up with normal tracking with the factory alignment specs. At that point, a road test and adjustment to the alignment can be made to correct the steering.

After having my front wheels on my Mercedes aligned, it pulled. I was told by the Manager that "they adjusted it for the crown of the road". I asked him which road and which crown, because I drive on many many roads and highways. In my opinion, that comment was just a lousy excuse for a poor wheel alignment. I ended up taking the car into a chassis expert and the owner said he had been doing alignment and chassis work for 30 years. He laughed when I told him my $50K car had been aligned for the "crown of the road". He drove the car for 10 minutes, put it on the rack, and had it fixed in 15 minutes, test drove it again to be sure. I've yet to see any factory alignment specification where the "crown of the road" adjustment is listed.

If you have concerns, you might consider taking it back to the alignment shop for their opinion.

Let us know how it turns out.

Thanks Randy&Bonnie. I think I will get new tires first, and then see if that makes a difference (I need new tires anyway, if I tried to get an alignment right now, they would just harass me and try to sell me overpriced tires!!!). :)

I will keep you guys posted.

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I thought about this some more, and did a little more research. Respectfully, I still do not know where you are getting this idea that I ever suggested that there is some sort of alignment spec that cures "cross slope drift". But that's beating a dead horse!

Anyhow, I started searching for videos about strut mounts, and I found an interesting series of videos about strut mounts, found here:

http://www.expertvillage.com/video/12257_s...ts-problems.htm

If you watch the video "how strut mounts case tire blowouts", it become clear that having bad strut mounts can severely impact the suspension geometry of the car, especially camber.

http://www.expertvillage.com/video/12258_s...mounts-tire.htm

I suspect that this could be the key to my steering drift on cross sloped highways. I am replacing them tomorrow, so I will let you guys know how it goes!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, strut mounts did nothing. But in the spirit of following up on each problem thread I post, the solution was new tires!

Now the car drives straight as an arrow! My old Dunlop SP Sport 4000 A/Ss were completely shot, and the sidewalls were cracking. I can only assume that the sidewalls were mush!

So for anyone who may be exhibiting these problems, take a look at your tires. If they're old and cracking, you definitely need to replace them! Thanks for your help, guys!

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