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Discussion Starter #1
Since 2500 miles the steering on my 6 has become vague at the centre dead-ahead position. What's happening is this:

When trying to hold a straight line, the car will tend to gently veer off to one side or the other, more so than normal and regardless of speed, road surface, camber etc. So naturally I steer back to compensate. But the first 5 degree movement on the steering wheel doesn't register. So I turn a little more. Still the response is less than expected, so I turn the wheel yet more. Then the car responds but more than required such that it gently veers off the other way and I'm forced to steer back to compensate. And so it goes on. If you've ever tried to steer a large boat, you'll get the picture. The effect is noticeable from upwards of 25mph, and can perhaps be best described as being like driving in a constantly changing sidewind. At speeds in excess of 80mph there is a definite sense of the front end skittering around as if the wheels can't agree on a common direction, again a bit like motoring in very heavy sidewinds.

The upshot of this is that I now find that I have to constantly modulate the steering around the dead ahead position to a considerable degree in order to keep the car centred on the road. Hence what was originally a relaxed yet exciting drive is now a rather unnerving and stressful exercise.

My tyres are Bridgestone 215/45 R17 tyres as supplied with the car. After 3500 miles in total there is as yet no visible sign of uneven tyre wear which I might have expected if the cause of the problem was down to tracking/misalignment of the front wheels. My dealer is also at a loss.

I still have the long reported clunk from the offside tie-rod where it links to the steering rack, so it's feasible that any play there might result in the wheels not tracking together with precision. Yet my dealer says the clunk/end play at this joint is normal.

Does anybody have any suggestions that might help point us in the right direction?

Thanks in advance,
Harley
 

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Replying to Topic 'Steering problem -- thoughts anybody?'

i do notice my car tends to move off the side by a bit and i have to compensate...however i have to pay more attention on a road that's smooth to see
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Ichi... "a road that's smooth to see..." ?

Did you finish your message?

Sorry you have a similar problem. Does it bother you?

Everybody's talks about how sharp and direct the steering is on the 6, and I can remember mine was too.

Not the case now though and I'm baffled as to why.
 

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Replying to Topic 'Steering problem -- thoughts anybody?'

no it doens't bother me....i think it's the road over here not sure....u say 5 degree movment on the wheel does not register...seems kinda harsh

i don't have that problem....my steering is sharp and accurate just that the car tends to go to the side like what u say

but then i don't have 2500 miles on my car yet.
 

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Reading Topic: Steering problem -- thoughts anybody?

Is the pavement new and smooth? If the road is bumpy, rough, or has ruts, that could affect your steering. Wider, lower profile tires tend to succumb to that more, though 215 isn't that wide. Had 245's in the front on my last car and a bumpy section of road could throw my direction off quite a bit. Definitely had to keep a grip on the wheel most of the time. Ruts were the worst. Required constant short steering corrections left and right else I'd be playing pinball with the guard rail and the cars on my right.
 

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Reading Topic: Steering problem -- thoughts anybody?

Have you checked the pressure in the tires? Is your power streering reservoir full? Is your steering wheel loose by any chance?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
All of the above tak

The two possibilities left that I can think of are: misalignment of the front wheel tracking; OR air in the power steering system. Would anybody agree that either of these might contribute to my problem, or think it unlikely? Perhaps bleeding the power steering system might be a start?

All other thoughts to date have been checked:

Ichi:
- The 5 degree movement becomes 10, then 20 and so on before the car responds as you expect, and then the car comes around too far so you swing back to compensate. Another example is that I can coast down a smooth, level incline at 15mph and gently turn the steering wheel very slowly to the right: I can be at the 10-past position with the steering wheel yet the car is still travelling in a perfectly straight line! Now that's weird and should point to something blatantly obvious. But my dealer says they can't suggest a cause, and because Mazda UK can't even tell them where to start looking they're reluctant to spend time searching for a solution and definitely won't offer me any guarantees of a solution.

Kyler13:
- Yes, I get the same jittery behaviour over rough surfaces with these tyres. That's not a part of my reported problem, though I do feel the 6 is somewhat less forgiving in this respect than other front wheel drive cars I've had with similar tyre sizes.

XrIeSvlis:
- Yes, I've tried a range of tyre pressures from 30psi through 36psi front and back and the only difference more pressure makes is that you feel the ruts more and the cabin noise goes up a tad.
- First thing I did was check the power steering reservoir. That's full.
- Steering wheel is not loose, and the dealer has checked the linkage at the bottom of the column just before it passes through the bulkhead.

I've also had the wheels off checking for untrue spin, wobble, strut/joint play etc. and can't find anything obvious myself. There's no obvious tyre wear yet either so it's impossible to tell whether the tracking might be misaligned unless I pay to have it checked, but my dealer wants to charge me the best part of a day's work for this privilege.

So far my dealer has offered no suggestions as to what might help--they haven't even offered any of the thoughts shared between us here so far on this thread! So what happened to qualified, experienced technicians eager to rise to a challenge and capable of using a little common sense, I wonder? All I get from my local dealer is an unhelpful "please feel free to bring it back if you're still not happy, Sir" situation which gets Mazda off the hook but helps me none. I guess dealers sometimes don't want to get involved with warranty work they're unsure of, perhaps for fear of not being able to justify a reclaim to Mazda for their time if they fail to come up with a result?

Thanks again for your thoughts.
 

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Reading Topic: Steering problem -- thoughts anybody?

My guess would be power steering or alignment, had a very similar problem with a 1996 Grand Cherokee. It was the alignment...
 

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Reading Topic: Steering problem -- thoughts anybody?

I would try both of the things that you suggested harley. Try the bleeding first as it is cheaper to do that than an alignment. If that doesn't cure it, then try the alignment.

Here's another thought before you do the alignment. Take a look at the front 2 wheels. Check to see if they are both centered in their 'orbit' of the wheel well. I THINK this may be called 'frozen caster'. The wheels should be center. My previous car had a problem with this and behaved as you described. I'm also willing to bet that when you step on the accelerator the car pulls to one side and then when you release the accelerator, you've corrected the pull so much that the car pulls to the other side.
 

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Replying to Topic 'Steering problem -- thoughts anybody?'

Thanks guys, I guess I'm looking in all the right areas.

XrIeSvli, you bet right--it pulls to the side when accelerating hard, and over-corrects when backing off the gas, just as you suggest. I'll double check the wheels visually as you mentioned and keep slogging away with my dealer.

Incidentally I had an independent technician look at the car this morning. He thought the power steering should self-bleed so shouldn't be the problem unless there's a constant leak in the system. Like you, he also suspected alignment; however he also thought the excessive play and associated knocking at the tie rod inner end where it attaches to the steering rack was something of a concern which should be investigated regardless. Strange that my dealer believes this issue to be normal for the 6. I think I need to change dealers...

Thanks again,
Harley
 

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Reading Topic: Steering problem -- thoughts anybody?

i already got a power steering changed... it was dead! no response at low speeds...

they told me at the dealer by looking under the hood that i had problems since the begining, and i can tell now that the response has never been so quick before...
 

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Replying to Topic 'Steering problem -- thoughts anybody?'

QUOTE
Originally posted by harley


            Thanks guys, I guess I'm looking in all the right areas.  

XrIeSvli, you bet right--it pulls to the side when accelerating hard, and over-corrects when backing off the gas, just as you suggest. I'll double check the wheels visually as you mentioned and keep slogging away with my dealer.  

Incidentally I had an independent technician look at the car this morning. He thought the power steering should self-bleed so shouldn't be the problem unless there's a constant leak in the system. Like you, he also suspected alignment; however he also thought the excessive play and associated knocking at the tie rod inner end where it attaches to the steering rack was something of a concern which should be investigated regardless. Strange that my dealer believes this issue to be normal for the 6. I think I need to change dealers...

Thanks again,
Harley[/b]
This car is brand new and you obviously have a warranty. I would take it to the dealer and demand satisfaction or take to another dealer. The price you paid for the car includes a warranty to cover THEIR mistakes in design/manufacturing.
 

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Reading Topic: Steering problem -- thoughts anybody?

I would be suspect of the "excessive play and associated knocking at the tie rod inner end where it attaches to the steering rack." There shouldn't be any play or knocking at this joint. You might need and new tie rod end. A toasted joint here could account for the loose steering you mention.
 

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Reading Topic: Steering problem -- thoughts anybody?

If the dealer is giving you problems and you lived in the US you could have looked into the specifications of the Lemon Law which pretty much says you are guaranteed a new car of equal or greater value than yours if the problems meet certain requirements... that would be cool.

I have 2,800 miles on my car already and I haven't noticed any problems in steering. My car is still so centered that on a flat smooth road I can drive a long time with no hands before the car starts drifting in any direction.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Nico...

No, we don't have a 'Lemon Law' as such in the UK like you have in the US, although goods including cars bought after March this year fall under new revisions to consumer legislation which levels the laying field a little to provide more rights for the purchaser. What this is worth in practice though remains to be seen.

Good to hear your 6 is in good trim, Nico. There's no way I can take my hands off the steering wheel for even a second, not because it pulls as such, but because I need to be at the ready to constantly correct against the incessant wandering. I think I'm going to pay for an independent report, then my dealer and Mazda will have to play ball.
 

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Reading Topic: Steering problem -- thoughts anybody?

My car pulls *ever* so slightly to the right sometimes ... hardly at all really, but it was something I mentioned to my dealer. The rep there told me that a tiny pull to the right was there by design so if you fell asleep at the wheel your car would pull itself off to the right instead of into oncoming traffic. I wonder how true that is...
 

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Reading Topic: Reading Topic: Steering problem -- thoughts anybody?

Arcanlaw, that sounds like bull to me. Maybe you could try driving on the left side of the road (probably a one-way street) and see if it pulls slightly to the left. It could simply be the curvature of the road, designed to let the rain run off easier.
 

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Reading Topic: Reading Topic: Steering problem -- thoughts anybody?

Actually a lot of people say that the 6 drags to the right. Ours do too...
 

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Reading Topic: Reading Topic: Steering problem -- thoughts anybody?

She sounded pretty confident in that explanation, no "let me think up some BS" pause or anything. Just said that after a few block past your last turn of the wheel, it's supposed to *ever* so slightly pull to the right. Safety measure of BS, lots of people seem to concur that that's what their car does.
 

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Replying to Topic 'Steering problem -- thoughts anybody?'

QUOTE
Originally posted by Arcanlaw


            My car pulls *ever* so slightly to the right sometimes ... hardly at all really, but it was something I mentioned to my dealer.  The rep there told me that a tiny pull to the right was there by design so if you fell asleep at the wheel your car would pull itself off to the right instead of into oncoming traffic.  I wonder how true that is...[/b]


LOL. BS. Thats one dumb ass rep.
 
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