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Help with weird handling

299 Views 3 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Rex Van Zant
For some time now my 91 na has been making a weird noise during slow speed, sharp turns like when turning into a parking space or driveway. My mechanic said he checked everything out in the front end and told me the only thing he could find was deterioration in the upper strut mounts and specifically the condition of the dust boots/end caps. He said it was not a safety issue, but recommended I do something in the near future.

That was about two weeks ago. The car has been fine since, but today on the way home from work the car seemed to be steering in an odd way. At interstate speed 75 to 80 with the steering wheel dead straight, the front of the car felt as though it was "hunting" or mildly steering on its own. The feeling was almost as though the car was on icy pavement or getting cross wind (only less obvious), but neither was the case. There was no vibration at any speed, I have not hit anything, and tire wear and pressures appear fine.

Any clues what I may be dealing with here? I am not driving this on the highway again until it is checked out. Is it safe to drive or should it be towed to the shop?


91 na
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Someone else may have to diagnose your problem, though it sounds like there's looseness in your front or rear suspension systems. You didn't provide much of a clue about what the wierd noise was when turning sharply. Is it a clunk or a squeek or what?

Some '91na's after 100,000 miles or so develop sloppiness or wear in their rear axle carrier-to-outer tie rod end spherical bearings. Having that loose rear end condition allows the rear wheels to rotate slightly around their vertical axis, as if there was a small amount of rear end 'steering' that you couldn't control. It would provide symptoms similar to 'hunting' you experience. I suggest this because you didn't mention that your mechanic examined your car's rear end... for that's not where one would generally first look for such a problem. To rule out that possibility, jack up a rear wheel off the ground, grab it at the 9:00 and 3:00 o'clock positions, and while pushing with your right hand and pulling with your right, then alternating, see if you can feel any looseness around that imaginary vertical axis. Repeat it on the other side rear. If there's ANY freeplay there, and their shouldn't be, replace the corresponding axle carrier so as to get a new spherical bushing (that can't otherwise be ordered from Toyota). If there's any wear or looseness in those spherical bearings, (i.e. 1/8" or so perceived slop as measured at the rear wheel when twisting like that), there's little danger of losing control, but the sensation is discomforting. Some bad tire brands of all-season tires can also cause that sensation of hunting on certain road surfaces.
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my car had the same problem once. turns out the tires were to big. and when i turned into parking lots/spaces. the tires were just rubbing on the fenders or whatever. and when i was slowing down. the front end of the car dips down or whatever and that made it touch my wheels

what kind of sound is it?
First, thanks for the replies. The noise the car makes is a fairly loud clunk, and you can often feel a slight move of the steering wheel when it does this. Another sound that can only be heard at very slow speed is what I would call a metallic creaking sound as I turn the steering wheel back and forth. The mechanic could not seem to hear this, but with all the shop noise going on I'm not surprised.

To the best of my knowledge, they did not examine the rear end as all the noise I was complaining about was at the front.

Tires shouldn't be an issue here as I am running stock sizes (Goodyear Eagle HPs) all around.

Yes, the sensation was very discomforting.

91 na
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