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Series Land Rover Turning Circle Problems

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All models of Series Land Rovers that retain the original leaf sprung suspension have limited turning circle ability. Actual figures for turning circles quoted in the literature vary for each model of Land Rover and also according to who did the road testing or whether the figures were those quoted by Land Rover themselves. Basically turning circles reported range from 35feet(10.6m ) for an 80in Series I to 49ft(14.8m ) for a 109in Series III.

There was a popular trend in the 1970's and 80s' in the UK to convert Series Land Rovers to coil spring suspension. This greatly improved offroad ability and narrowed the turning circle significantly. However, it is now no longer a legal option, for road taxed vehicles to have their leaf sprung chassis modified to accept coil springs. Nowadays, a replacement bespoke coil sprung chassis needs to be fitted to the vehicle to comply with the law. Anyway, the majority of Series Land Rover owners would probably wish to retain the original iconic leaf sprung chassis. This means that major improvements to the turning circle are not possible. Nevertheless, there may be some other options available and these are discussed below.

For all models of Series Land Rover, the maximum degree to which the wheels can be turned is governed by the steering stop bolt located on the swivel pin housing for each wheel. So your first task is to jack up the front of the vehicle and support it safely on axles stands. Then, turn the steering to full lock in one direction. Check if the steering stop bolt is in contact with its adjacent bracket, mounted on the axle flange (photo). If they are in contact and there is ample clearance between the tyre wall and the leaf spring for this wheel and also the opposite wheel, then you could adjust the bolt. However, make sure that you leave adequate clearance between the tyre and the spring. The same procedure should be repeated by turning the steering to full lock in the opposite direction.

Many owners wish to fit wide tyres for either offroad use or for appearance purposes. The problem with wide tyres is that often the steering stop bolt needs to be adjusted to prevent the, usually rear, part of the tyre rubbing against the leaf springs. This has the effect of narrowing the turning circle. In order to keep the wide tyres and retain the original turning circle then wheel spacers can be fitted to the hubs of each wheel. They vary in size from 30mm thick upto 50mm. The thicker the wheel spacer the more stress is placed on the axle due to the additional leverage from the wheels. Only 30mm is recommended as safe use on public roads and in any event the insurance company need to be informed as several companies will not insure Series Land Rover that have them fitted. As with many Land Rover parts, you get what you pay for. Do not be tempted to buy cheap wheel spacers that may well have wheel mounting studs that are built from inferior grade steel that cannot reliably take the stresses involved.
As an alternative to wheel spacers, you may be able to use standard Series Land Rover wheel rims that have a greater offset i.e. the wheel stud holes are set further inside the wheel rim, thus pushing the tyre further out from the leaf springs. There are at least three different offsets available that vary by about 1inch(2.5cm). Just make sure you have a matching pair on the front axle.

If you have recently acquired your Series Land Rover and you don't really require the wider tyres that are already fitted, then you could substitute narrower ones and adjust the steering stop bolts accordingly.

There is also the issue of whether the turning circle is the same in both directions. Some of the original road tests for Series Land Rovers, carried out by various motoring publications, found that the turning circle differed for left and right hand turns. There was no preference found for which direction had the largest turning circle though. So, if your vehicle has a direction-biased turning circle, you will soon be aware of it and the cause should be traced. It may be that your Series Land Rover had a chassis exchange at some point and the steering components were not replaced in the correct alignment. The easiest check for this is to support the front of the vehicle on axle stands, set the wheels straight ahead and then count the number of steering wheel turns taken to achieve full lock in each direction. You can estimate to 1/8th of a turn quite easily. Land Rover stated that the number of turns for the steering wheel to turn from lock to lock was 2.5 for 80in, 2.75 for 86in, 3.3 for 88in and 109in models, 3.75 for the 109in 1 Ton models and 4.25 for the 107in Station Wagon.

steering stop
The bolt on the right should be adjusted to be in contact(as shown) with the stop bracket when the steering is on full lock.

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