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Alignment Problem Desperate for help.

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Old 12-08-2011, 07:47 PM   #1
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Alignment Problem Desperate for help.

My son has a 2004 Tacoma prerunner that we can not keep the front end alignment on. The truck has a 2 1/2" leveling kit and is running 32" tires. this is a 70k mile truck. I can not find anything wrong. The truck has been aligned by three different shops a total of five times in less than a month. Two of the shops used Hunter lasers machines. The right front toes out severely each time. The frequency between the time the alignment is in until it goes out has reached hours. The last alignment I went to the shop and watched. When done we marked the lower control arm cams and bolts with a paint pen at all eight locations. We marked the tie rod end to rack. Input shaft to rack. Inner rack swivels behind the rack boots. It went out in five hours in normal driving. All the paint marks are still good nothing moved. The tabs are not bent or flatened. I cant see an internal rack problem since its only one side. We have pried on ball joints and tie rod ends and find very little play. This is driving me crazy. Anyone have any ideas???

Mark
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Old 12-12-2011, 06:06 AM   #3
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Can you put up the numbers that the shop is aligning to? Going to the same shop for all three alignments?
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Old 12-12-2011, 06:39 AM   #4
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That last time you had it in and you mentioned they marked everything with paint pens, then you said you drove it and it 'went out' but none of the marks moved?!?! The last 5 times it's been in, what have they had to do to make it within alignment, do they keep having to adjust the same thing further and further out? If none of the alignment adjustments are moving and the alignment is going out, something's giving that shouldn't be. Make sure nothing is broken or cracked (control arms, mounting points to the frame, etc), make sure there's no play in the wheel bearings and make sure all the suspension components are installed correctly and tightened down. Do the shops offer any advice or possible reasons? By the 3rd alignment in a month, the shop should be looking for issues, that's not normal at all! Also, did all this start when you put on the leveling kit?
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Old 12-12-2011, 06:45 AM   #5
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The 04 had a rack and pinion or steering and idler arm?
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Old 12-13-2011, 05:11 PM   #6
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The truck has rack and pinion steering. I tore it down this past weekend. Removed the leveling kit. Removed the lower control arms, inspected the tie rod ends, lower ball joints, looked for cracks or anything out of the ordinary. Inspected the lower control arm bushings and cams. I did not find any corrosion in the bushings. The bushing were not wollered out cracked or appear damaged in any way. The two front bushings appeared slightly softer than the rear so I replaced them for good measure. I could see the rack flex a slight amount on the factory rubber mounts so I replaced them with poly bushings. no signs of external damage to the rack and no leaks. Pulled the boots back on the rack and inspected the inners (sockets). No signs of slop or wear. Put it all back toegether with small 28" tires and the factory wheels, had it alligned again, paint marked the cams, tie rod ends, etc. Monday and the problem persists. None of the paint marks have moved. In fact the problem is getting worse. We have aligned the truck at least four more times maybe more (I have lost count). Go for a test drive and it starts out fine then it shakes and jumps out of alignment. What ever it is is getting worse as the alignment will toe out or toe in to extremes. When it does it the truck feels like the tire came off the rim and it has now started shaking violently to the point it will shake the lights out of the bumper. To the point the tires are draging and squealing. I know it doesnt make sence but I am to the point I think its something internal in the steering rack. I cant believe I am the only one who has ever seen this problem.

Pugga three different shops have aligned the truck and looked at it and cant explain it. Believe me they have looked for hours. The adjusments need to align after the problem changes each time (not continuing in one direction). In some cases the cams have to be moved almost 180 degrees (opposite direction) from the prior adjustment. The problem started after the tires and leveling kit but I have removed them and the problem is still there. Sorry for the long post. Anybody ever see a rack break or have an internal problem?
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Old 12-14-2011, 07:48 AM   #7
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I'm a certified Hunter alignment tech myself. Each time I have seen something like this the vehicle had been modified. Without seeing the truck myself it's hard for me to say what is broken or worn but believe me it is. Sounds like it's a toe issue. Start with a full inspection of the rack. There is something not right. Check the pump as well. Seen many pumps cause the steering to move all by themselves.
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Old 12-14-2011, 07:52 AM   #8
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How are your upper and lower control arm bushings? Rubber bushings don't last forever and it's possible that yours died an early death.

Look over every component for signs of wear and age.
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Old 12-14-2011, 07:57 AM   #9
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Not seeing the truck, that sounds like something is seriously wrong with the steering system. It sounds like you did a pretty in depth tear down and eliminated the suspension components as the culprit. I'm not an expert on the rack and pinion system but could something within that set-up be damaged or broken causing the tow issues?
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Old 12-15-2011, 05:49 PM   #10
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Replaced the steering rack today and so far so good. Still dont understand it but the problems appears to be gone.
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Old 12-15-2011, 09:15 PM   #11
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See it all the time....
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Old 12-16-2011, 06:42 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thelittledoos View Post
Replaced the steering rack today and so far so good. Still dont understand it but the problems appears to be gone.
Jeez, glad to hear the ordeal is over for you, sounds like a lot of work. Are you putting the lift back on or leaving it as-is?

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Originally Posted by brelandt View Post
See it all the time....
See what all the time, what causes this?
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Old 12-18-2011, 01:49 AM   #13
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sheared teeth?
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Old 12-19-2011, 07:24 AM   #14
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steering rack issues...some times it's the seals inside them that fail causing issues. at times it the inner tie rod that has failed. There is a ball joint inside there that can wear from time or other causes and I have seen them pass a dry park test just fine but when you start making the adjustment you have to wait a few seconds before moving on the next step or you will miss the numbers on the screen start jumping all over the place.
Alignment techs don't always have the time or take the time to look for these things. I do about 20 to 25 alignments everyday, so there is a time constraint.
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Old 12-19-2011, 07:32 AM   #15
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Problem is back. Three days with now problem and now it out again. Im out of ideas.
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Old 12-19-2011, 09:03 PM   #16
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wow! Need to have a good mechanic take a look at it. The alignment guys as myself are usually too busy to really find the more unusal thing.
Good luck and I really want to know what you find out.
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Old 12-19-2011, 09:10 PM   #17
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Old 12-20-2011, 08:50 AM   #18
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OK, today is may day off and I was able to fully reread your post. Most of this you may understand already. The camber and caster will pull the toe out. If the toe is neg or out and the tierod is behind the control arm you have to think about the geometry. the truck sags the tierod will push outwards causing pos toe or toe in if the truck rises the tierod will pull in causing the toe out.
You need to take your ride height measurement. Compare this with others or see if it's listed in the FSM. If the ride height is off....why? Is it the coil? A cracked coil or strut bushing?
Anyhow, something to think about. Also never read about your UCA. Lift the truck by the LCA and push and pull the tire at the top and bottom to check the upper ball joint. Then pry on the UCA where it mounts to the frame and see if there is play.
Hope this helps and good luck.
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Old 12-20-2011, 09:03 AM   #19
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also nearly forgot to mention this. The leveling of the truck affects the alignment as well. Look at the rear suspension. If there is a weak leaf the rear will sag the front will lift and your toe will be affected. Is there a lift block? The leaf bushings are in good shape. Is the axle moving around? Look at this too. Ride height affects EVERYTHING.
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Old 01-10-2012, 06:22 PM   #20
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Finally gave up. Traded for 07' double cab. Son is Happy.
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