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groaning steering noise

Posted by nomis3613 
September 23, 2009 12:15AM
Hi guys,
Can someone please give me a rundown on how the steering system works, and what to check out to fix a rubbing noise?

For a while now, my car has had a groaning when I turn the wheel occasionally. I just got a M-Tech II wheel (yay!!) and now the noise is more frequent. It seems to happen when I am not on flat ground, which makes me think something in the system is moving out of place, causing 2 parts to rub. The noise seems to be caused in the cabin, but I'm not fully sure about that.

Any ideas?

Thanks
September 23, 2009 07:03AM
I am certainly a noob as far as these cars go, but from what I understand this could be as simple as needing a power steering fluid change and or flush. Check the fluid color, clear with a slight yellow or cherry red. I just watched a show called wheeler dealer where they cleaned up a 325i touring and one of the things they did was a simple PS fluid change, took him about 15 minutes. Good luck!
September 23, 2009 04:59PM
clarifying question time!

When does the noise happen?
Only turning in one direction, or both?
Only in a tight turn, or any angle?
Is it constant, or come and go?
Is it predictable (like at a certain point in the steering, or only when accelerating etc) ? i.e. Could you sit me in the car and demonstrate it with ease?

It could be anything from a steering rack issue (fluids or something more mechanical), fenders rubbing, wheel bearings, or something else. When the sound happens is important :-)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1989 - E30 - M20 - Manual. Approximately 270,000 miles
2000 - E46 - M52TUB28 - Manual. Approximately 110,000 miles




Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/23/2009 05:02PM by Earendil.
September 23, 2009 10:17PM
Quote
Earendil
clarifying question time!

When does the noise happen?
Only turning in one direction, or both?
Only in a tight turn, or any angle?
Is it constant, or come and go?
Is it predictable (like at a certain point in the steering, or only when accelerating etc) ? i.e. Could you sit me in the car and demonstrate it with ease?

It could be anything from a steering rack issue (fluids or something more mechanical), fenders rubbing, wheel bearings, or something else. When the sound happens is important :-)

Another one to add to your list is the bearings at the top of the front shock tower. If they dry out, they can make this groaning noise. Mine did that several years ago and I discovered that the new ones which had been put in were never properly lubed. I loaded lots of grease into them and they've been fin ever since.

The power steering fluid thing is probably the most common cause though. Be sure to use ATF and NOT PS fluid!
September 23, 2009 10:33PM
Quote
Archeo-peteriX
Another one to add to your list is the bearings at the top of the front shock tower.


*mentally adds this to the list of parts he didn't know his car had*

Why no, I'm not a mechanic. I just play one on the internet smileys with beer

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1989 - E30 - M20 - Manual. Approximately 270,000 miles
2000 - E46 - M52TUB28 - Manual. Approximately 110,000 miles

September 24, 2009 01:25AM
thanks guys!

@ land_sea_air: the fluid is a disgusting colour! We flushed it like 4 times a month ago and it got better, but still not great. The mechanic then gave it another couple of flushes and it's still not right. But he says that E30s are often like that, they be working fine even if you never get the fluid clean.

@earendil: rubbing happens mostly for low-speed lots of lock turns (ie parking). Not always, seems to be when crossing a gutter or something else that would cause the front wheels to be at different heights. Both directions of steering. It's not predictable, sometimes I cross a gutter etc, turn the wheel, and there's no noise.

It sounds to me like the rubbing is the steering wheel on the surround, but only happens occasionally so I reckon something is flexing somewhere in the steering system to cause the occasional rubbing. It's got worse since I put the new wheel on, but then again I hadn't driven it for a month before fitting the new wheel, so maybe it's not.

@Archeo-peteriX: Thanks for the tip, it's getting new shocks and springs soon, so I'm sure the mechanic will fix it then if it's a problem in the shock tower
September 24, 2009 07:27AM
There is a metal screen somewhere in the system that can become clogged and restrict fluid flow even if you have good fluid, you may want to look into this and see if you need to flush in a different direction. (again I'm only going by what I've read in the past couple days)
September 24, 2009 09:54PM
Quote
nomis3613
It sounds to me like the rubbing is the steering wheel on the surround, but only happens occasionally so I reckon something is flexing somewhere in the steering system to cause the occasional rubbing. It's got worse since I put the new wheel on, but then again I hadn't driven it for a month before fitting the new wheel, so maybe it's not.
There is a spring loaded pin that contacts the copper horn slip ring on the back side of the steering wheel. It needs to be greased or it will make a rubbing noise as the steering wheel is turned. It's the pin you can see in this photo directly below the steering shaft.


October 20, 2009 01:05AM
grease added > noise fixed

Thanks, Ferd.
October 20, 2009 09:36AM
Quote
nomis3613
grease added > noise fixed

Awesome! thumbs up
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