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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I've had a 91 900 Aero for a couple of months now, and have noticed that the steering seems to easily track grooves etc. on the road if i drive over them. The wheel is just jolted a bit one way when i drive over stuff like that, and can cause dangerous tracking of the vehicle out of my lane if I'm not on the ball.
Im not too much of an expert with cars, but does anyone know if this is a likely symptom of poor wheel alignment, or is there a steering component that commonly wears on these cars and causes problems like I'm mentioning?

On the note of steering, when i turn my wheel whilst driving there is an audible sort of "sigh" sound. It is mainly noticable with larger amounts of steering wheel rotation. If i try to turn the wheel whilst moving very slowly, i can hear something 'groaning' a bit under the bonnet. i assume this is the power steering pump? Anyone know if these are symptoms of an upcoming power steering failure? Power steering fluid level is ok.

One other thing- Anyone else find that the 900 requires a bit too much steering wheel rotation to turn corners? It seems that if you take several corners in quick succession, or are trying to navigate a tight car park, that your hands are a flurry in trying to get the wheel round enough! Doesn't inspire very spirited cornering. Because there is so much steering wheel rotation, giving a lot of mechanical advantage, I kind of feel a bit distanced from road feel. Just my thoughts anyway
 

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First you need to get the lower ball joints checked, they would be the more likely cause of 'tracking' lines in the road.

Groaning from the power steering is not un-common, possibly a tired pump, old power steering fluid.

There are a few too many turns lock to lock, just something you'll have to get used to.
 

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Phil is spot on. Tracking on ridges in road is lower ball joint play. If they are very worn the tracking can be quite severe. You occasionally get clonking too. Whilst you're doing it, check them all, 3 each side, top, bottom and track rod ends.

All Saab PS systems make a noise sometimes. There several recent threads on this. It just depends how bad it is. If it's not leaking don't worry too much.

Steering could be more direct and higher geared for some people. Just get used to it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks a million guys. I'll look into the lower ball joints as soon as i can. I'd say this is probably the problem, because whilst going over small bumps i do hear a "clonking" like you described.
Pretty sure the steering isnt leaking too badly, but I'll have a look anyway. I've heard that leaky power steering is quite common on these cars.

yeah, as far as the steering goes, it's not too bad. The light steering can be nice to use sometimes, just as i said, it can be a bit of a hassle when the extra turns lock to lock have to be dealt with
 

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Steering rack was designed LONG before short ratio racks became common place so, yes it does feel like it's a lot of wheel action. Steering racks will get sloppy and lose the immediate nimble sensitivity around wheel centre.

hmmm.............you're in Australia, the car is most likely to have had a Commodore or street style wheel alignment applied by some cheap dumb witted tyre outlet who thinks they know best..........
Net result I would guess is the tyres worn predominately on the inside? (negative camber, top of tyre vertical lean in - should be a touch positive camber, that is, tyres ever so slightly leaning out at the top, it should be hardly noticeable), directionally? tyres pointing away from each other (indicating toe out.....) when they should appear to the eye dead straight.
Ball joints? definitely........if I strike one that's iffy, I replace the lot - why put 1 new one in and leave 3 aged ones ready to go kaputz?
I would also suggest the springs may be a big contributing factor. They will sag. I procrastinated for too long over this notion and wished I changed them sooner. The car now absorbs the road whereas the car used to ride ON the road. Suspension is now working within the correct radius of the A arm arcs.
So,
Ball Joints
Steering rack
Springs (shocks maybe)
and
Alignment
Alignment
Alignment.

Good luck.
 

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Phil is spot on. Tracking on ridges in road is lower ball joint play....
My car gets pulled around violently on some exaggerated road ridges,
1 on daily commute so I get to feel this regularly.
I'm fairly certain my lower Balljoints & Trackrod ends are perfect.
I actually thought it might be the tyres I'm running - stiffer sidewall? -
because this 'tracking on ridges' roughly coincides with the changeover to Kumho Ecsta Sports..
 

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My car gets pulled around violently on some exaggerated road ridges,
1 on daily commute so I get to feel this regularly.
I'm fairly certain my lower Balljoints & Trackrod ends are perfect.
I actually thought it might be the tyres I'm running - stiffer sidewall? -
because this 'tracking on ridges' roughly coincides with the changeover to Kumho Ecsta Sports..
You may be right, but tracking on ridges is a classic symptom of worn ball joints, particularly lower, and Julian is also getting the clonking as well which is a sure give-away. Are you really sure your balljoints are OK.
 

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I really am, I replaced all 6 & I regularly enough check them for play ...
see my other post on rear clunk !! :)
Maybe I need to look closer at the trackrod ends ..
but I'd come to think this was not a symptom of any failing
of the cars .... I hope I'm wrong as I'd like to cure it..
 

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I've got wide wheels and tyres and I had tram-lining problems at first. Did the ball-joints and the steering is now perfect. You don't have wheel spacers on do you?
 

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Replaced all 6, There is only 4 ball joints?

Peva it could be caused by steering play such as inner tie/track rod ends couldn't it? or do only the outer tie/track rod ends cause tracking on grooved surfaces?
 

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No wheel spacers...
Will check the balljoints this w./e...there's no clunk from the front..
& no play last I checked..
Worn rack bushes ?? (never did think they'd have much impact..)
 

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Replaced all 6, There is only 4 ball joints?
Peva it could be caused by steering play such as inner tie/track rod ends couldn't it? or do only the outer tie/track rod ends cause tracking on grooved surfaces?
Well, the track-rod end is a ball-joint. I was being generic not specific.
The track rod ends, that is either end, can cause wandering if worn. But not as bad as lower ball-joints, which are continuously loaded in all directions and hence show wear symptoms more easily and often. The track rod ends and top ball joints don't exhibit the same symptoms as severely as they are generally only loaded in one direction when in normal straight road driving.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Ok, so I just got round to doing the best thing I could think of to check the ball joints. I jacked up one front wheel at a time and tried turnin the wheel perpendicular to the way they normally rotate, and couldn't feel any slop that I thought I'd notice if they were worn badly. I suppose the next question is, does anyone care to share with me the right way to check them? I suppose the noise I hear when I drive over small bumps etc is the clonking people
mention.
I will definitely get a good wheel alignment, but would rather determine whether the ball joints need replacing first, as I'm unsure whether doing it the other way around would require me to get another alignment after the new ball joints went in. I'll have a look at the camber tomorrow morning and check that it is as it should be.
I suppose for a 20 year old car, springs and shock absorbers (neither of which look particularly new on my car) are probably due for replacement, but as a classic poor student i don't know if I should take on the cost. Any recommendations as far as decent replacement springs and shock absorbers go for the 900 aero?
Thanks for all the advice
-julian
 

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I suppose the noise I hear when I drive over small bumps etc is the clonking people
mention.
The clonking noise can also come from worn anti-roll bar bushes, if you have one. If they are worn they allow the bar to contact the body and produce a clocking noise. Located on body under steering rack.

When you checked your lower ball joint did you jack it under the front suspension A arm. This way keeps the suspension close to normal geometry and is the position to check it in. Jacking from the body will leave the suspension hanging and can disguise play. Use this method and try moving the bottom of the wheel in and out.
 

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Unload the suspension by putting a spacer between the lower A-Arm & the body of the car (the tunnel through which it travels) -
use old brake pads or anything that can take the weight..
Once jacked, grab the wheel by both hands & rock it West to East,
& North to South.. if there's play you'll feel it ..

As far as I'm aware replacing ball joints shouldn't necessitate a re-alignment.
 

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Unload the suspension by putting a spacer between the lower A-Arm & the body of the car (the tunnel through which it travels) -
use old brake pads or anything that can take the weight..
Once jacked, grab the wheel by both hands & rock it West to East,
& North to South.. if there's play you'll feel it ..

As far as I'm aware replacing ball joints shouldn't necessitate a re-alignment.
The lower A arm does not travel through a tunnel. The top A arm does and you are right, this is probably the best place to block it, unloading the lower ball completely.
 

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................:cry:
I hate changing steering racks.........
 
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