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There is a little play in the steering and it feels a little vague when making slight turns at speed.

I've had an issue with the steering rack attachment before but this seems fine.

Could this be tie rod connectors? Ball joints? Steering rack? Could anyone point me in the right direction to what I should be looking for?

(this is the non-power steering model)

Edit:

I jacked up the car and tested the tie rod connectors and ball joints by shaking the wheel as best I could. From what I've learnt online the wheel should move slightly or they should rattle or click a little if they need replacing. But there was nothing - everything seemed very solid and all the boots seemed intact and in good condition.

  • Have you ever had a front-end alignment done on the car? Bad alignment can cause an odd steering feel, not just a pull to one side or another, and the alignment tech will be able to check the suspension parts while they are at it. – JPhi1618 Oct 13 '15 at 14:31
  • @JPhi1618 No I havent. The wheel is quite unaligned as well. – MeltingDog Oct 13 '15 at 22:28
  • For many cars, the alignment specification calls for a slight "toe in" which means the front tires angle inward like: / \ (very slightly). This has the effect of keeping the car going straight, and it makes the wheel feel like it wants to return back to the center position. On the other hand, if the cars wheels look more like this: \ /, it will have the tendency to feel very unstable and will be a challenge to drive in a straight line. It might not pull to one side, but it will certainly be a hassle to drive. – JPhi1618 Oct 14 '15 at 13:56
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Depending on if your car is left or right hand drive, there is an adjuster on the front (LHD) or rear (RHD) of the rack on the pinion which allows you to adjust the amount of free play.

This is located just under where the column attaches to the rack.

Other things to check are that the column is firmly secured to the rack and all of the columns unions are firm.

It is possible that corrosion in the bulkhead could lead to this but this is usually accompanied by difficulties selecting gears as the linkage is bolted to the rack.

My first port of call would be to check the tire pressures and then have the steering geometry (tracking, etc...) confirmed at a garage with alignment equipment.

I'm afraid that my Mk1 Cabrio GTI bit the dust when the corrosion in the bulkhead where the offside part of the rack attaches got so bad that the rack broke free and detached itself from the column.

  • Is it hard to reach that adjuster? Seems like I might have to remove the entire exhaust – MeltingDog Jun 1 '16 at 22:37
  • On right hand drive vehicles, the adjuster is very awkward to search but dropping the front pipe may help. – Steve Matthews Jun 2 '16 at 8:41
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It could be wear in the center section of the rack, which may be adjusted out as @Steve Matthews said. However, it is a good idea to study the subject of adjusting the rack before attempting to do so. If it is adjusted incorrectly, you could be putting your life at risk. You could adjust away wear in the middle section of the rack, then when you make a tight turn, the rack could lock in place where the rack is not worn to the same degree.

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