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September 2013 Homepage

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Classic Series Land Rover: Steering Too Heavy

It's a feature of any standard Series Land Rover that it will have heavy steering; the wider the tyres and the more aggressive the tread, the heavier the steering will become. Generally, it will not be possible to turn the front wheels directionally unless they are rotating; it is also stressful to the steering system if you try. This is particulalrly so if your Series Land Rover has the wire spoke type of steering wheel, as these tend to crack with age and can then suddenly fracture if significantly overstressed.

If the steering is even heavier than it should be, then the following areas of concern could be investigated:

Low tyre pressures produce more rolling resistance and heavier steering. This is enhanced by agressive off-road tyres.

Steering box
This may be in need of oil. It uses EP90 and can, for 88in and 109in Series Land Rovers, be added via a filler plug at the top of the steering box. For 86in and 107in models the filler plug is low down on the steering column and there is an air bleed plug on the side of the steering box which needs to be removed briefly to let out air then replaced before adding oil via the column filler plug.

Steering relay
This may need more oil. For early relays, remove the oil filler plug on the top flange and add EP90. For later relays remove any two of the four top flange bolts - one to act as a filler hole and the other to allow air to escape.

Steering adjustment
Some steering boxes have an adjustment screw and locknut on the side. If this is the case, then jack up the front wheels and arrange them in the straight ahead postion. Then, loosen the adjuster and locknut and turn the adjuster by hand until the steering operation is satisfactory.

Ball joint
If any of the five steering ball joints are dry or correoded then they should be replaced. To inspect them, jack up the front of the Land Rover and support it on axle stands. If a steeering damper is fitted, then disconnect it. Check each of the ball joints for excessive movement whilst someone slowly turns the steering wheel in each direction. Some ball joints have grease nipples and these should be greased regularly

Swivel pins
These may be too tight. To check, remove each front wheel in turn and with the vehicle on axle stands disconnect the ball joints and check the movement of the swivel hub from side to side. There should be just a little resistance. Adjustement of the resistance is by changing the thickness due to the shims at the top of the swivel housings.

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