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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone,

Long time reader but first time poster. I'm new to the Tundra world but am a member of a few forums and appreciate the time enthusiasts spend on these forums. With that said I have done some extensive searching and cannot seem to find a problem like mine. Thanks in advance for your input.

My truck is a 2001 Tundra 4WD with 170K miles. Just bought it about 2K miles ago with torn CV boots, original brakes, blown ball joints and 3 different size tires. The truck came with a Revtek leveling kit, which I believe is 1.5" lift in front and a 1 inch block spacer in the rear.With that said I didn't drive it much before rebuilding the front end myself but dont think it had this problem before I worked on it. I am by no means a professional mechanic but this is at least the 6th or 7th front end I have rebuilt. I followed all torque specs and am fairly anal retentive. I replaced:

Lower ball joints
Inner and outer tie rods
Axels
Upper control arms to Camburgs
Icon extended travel coil overs set at 2 inches
Steering rack bushings, poly
Poly lower control arm bushings
Stabilizer links
Upgraded brakes to TSB specs
Tires are brand new 285/75/16 on factory steel rims.

I didn't change the steering rack but I flushed it with new ATF. Didn't change the wheel bearings because they were fine.

After all that I took it down to the crappy Firestone with DJs specs and they got it fairly close with 3 deg caster, just about dead on zero camber and somewhat crappy tow at .06 and .08 right and left.

Now that everything is complete I have some problems. The main problem is that the truck does not want to return to center after a turn. When I turn either direction it will somewhat return but stop about 30 deg away. In addition, the truck seems slightly unsteady going down the road. I feel like I'm always correcting just slightly.

To date I have had the truck aligned 3 times at 3 different places to get the truck to these specs, I can never get them to set the tow right because no one seems to know what the CAMM is. I am in southern California if anyone can recommend a good alignment shop.

I have also taken the truck to 3 different shops to see if they can figure out something I cant. No one can figure it out and they all agree that the alignment isn't far off enough to be causing the steering problems. They also have all taken the rack loose to check for binding and all say the rack seems fine.

So finally, my questions are:

Can this alignment be causing the failure of the steering to return to center?
Are these symptoms possibly a sign of a bad rack?
What else can cause this?
Could binding ball joints cause this? I used moog but you never know. They have had a few thousand miles to break in by this point and have been lubed multiple times both in the air and on the ground.
Did I miss any other threads with a problem like this?
Is this possibly normal behavior with my setup?
Could the wrong ATF have caused this problem? I used a high mileage ATF, Valvoline Max Life Synthetic.
What should I try next?

Things that have been tried with no benefit:

Lowering ride hight to stock.
Releasing rack to check for binding.
Going down a hill with power off to see if power rack somehow prevented return to center.
Releasing ball joints to check for ease of movement; they were easy to move by hand with no noted notches.

Any and all help is greatly appreciated as I am kicking myself for dumping all of this money into the truck and having this problem.
 

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Hey,

My dad had the same problem with his truck. He had some front end work done recently, but we couldn't figure out why the steering was sticking. He thought it was the power steering pump. He took it back to the shop a few times and they couldn't figure out what it was. The only thing I could think of is that the ball joints that were just replaced were faulty or seized, but they were new parts so it couldn't have been ball joints. Well, dad drove it for about a month before the lower ball joint broke in the mall parking lot. Thank goodness it didn't happen on the highway. He took it back to the shop (not Toyota) and the guy replaced all top and bottom ball joints with Toyota parts at no charge. The mech had never seen this before in his 30 plus years of working. He didn't want to take the chance with the aftermarket parts again, so he put on Toyota parts. A couple extra bucks, but now the truck turns on a dim and we haven't had an issue yet.

This might be your problem or it might not. Just thought I would share cause when I searched the same problem I didn't come across anything either.

Happy Truckin


Hello everyone,

Long time reader but first time poster. I'm new to the Tundra world but am a member of a few forums and appreciate the time enthusiasts spend on these forums. With that said I have done some extensive searching and cannot seem to find a problem like mine. Thanks in advance for your input.

My truck is a 2001 Tundra 4WD with 170K miles. Just bought it about 2K miles ago with torn CV boots, original brakes, blown ball joints and 3 different size tires. The truck came with a Revtek leveling kit, which I believe is 1.5" lift in front and a 1 inch block spacer in the rear.With that said I didn't drive it much before rebuilding the front end myself but dont think it had this problem before I worked on it. I am by no means a professional mechanic but this is at least the 6th or 7th front end I have rebuilt. I followed all torque specs and am fairly anal retentive. I replaced:

Lower ball joints
Inner and outer tie rods
Axels
Upper control arms to Camburgs
Icon extended travel coil overs set at 2 inches
Steering rack bushings, poly
Poly lower control arm bushings
Stabilizer links
Upgraded brakes to TSB specs
Tires are brand new 285/75/16 on factory steel rims.

I didn't change the steering rack but I flushed it with new ATF. Didn't change the wheel bearings because they were fine.

After all that I took it down to the crappy Firestone with DJs specs and they got it fairly close with 3 deg caster, just about dead on zero camber and somewhat crappy tow at .06 and .08 right and left.

Now that everything is complete I have some problems. The main problem is that the truck does not want to return to center after a turn. When I turn either direction it will somewhat return but stop about 30 deg away. In addition, the truck seems slightly unsteady going down the road. I feel like I'm always correcting just slightly.

To date I have had the truck aligned 3 times at 3 different places to get the truck to these specs, I can never get them to set the tow right because no one seems to know what the CAMM is. I am in southern California if anyone can recommend a good alignment shop.

I have also taken the truck to 3 different shops to see if they can figure out something I cant. No one can figure it out and they all agree that the alignment isn't far off enough to be causing the steering problems. They also have all taken the rack loose to check for binding and all say the rack seems fine.

So finally, my questions are:

Can this alignment be causing the failure of the steering to return to center?
Are these symptoms possibly a sign of a bad rack?
What else can cause this?
Could binding ball joints cause this? I used moog but you never know. They have had a few thousand miles to break in by this point and have been lubed multiple times both in the air and on the ground.
Did I miss any other threads with a problem like this?
Is this possibly normal behavior with my setup?
Could the wrong ATF have caused this problem? I used a high mileage ATF, Valvoline Max Life Synthetic.
What should I try next?

Things that have been tried with no benefit:

Lowering ride hight to stock.
Releasing rack to check for binding.
Going down a hill with power off to see if power rack somehow prevented return to center.
Releasing ball joints to check for ease of movement; they were easy to move by hand with no noted notches.

Any and all help is greatly appreciated as I am kicking myself for dumping all of this money into the truck and having this problem.
 

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Premium Member
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11,253 Posts
Can this alignment be causing the failure of the steering to return to center?
That is ultimately a question for DJ, send him a PM if he doesn't see this in a day or three. I did experience wandering with excessive toe, slightly more than what you have but not by much.

Are these symptoms possibly a sign of a bad rack?
Possibly, but first figure out if it's incompetence or mechanical failure preventing three alignment shops from setting toe correctly. My money is still on the alignment. Other possibility is air in the line, when you flushed the rack.

What else can cause this?
Only thing I can think of is the orbital valve on the steering rack.

Could binding ball joints cause this? I used moog but you never know. They have had a few thousand miles to break in by this point and have been lubed multiple times both in the air and on the ground.
You mentioned the Moog joints are easy to move by hand. I would personally be extremely leery of installing any ball joint which was not tight from the factory. If they're easy to move by hand, they already have enough play to allow minor changes in the alignment when you're driving. In contrast, my Toyota LBJs were tight when they arrived, and they neither have nor need grease ports. Ball joints don't break in, they wear down.

Is this possibly normal behavior with my setup?
Absolutely not.

Could the wrong ATF have caused this problem? I used a high mileage ATF, Valvoline Max Life Synthetic.
Doubtful. However, are you SURE there are no air bubbles trapped in the rack?

What should I try next?
Send DJ a PM and include the alignment numbers. Re-bleed the rack. Engine off, cycle lock to lock a few times, watch the fluid level. Engine on, same thing, also watch for bubbles. It sounds like you know what you're doing, though, so maybe it was just one of those things that happens by accident, or an air pocket is not the issue.

Any and all help is greatly appreciated as I am kicking myself for dumping all of this money into the truck and having this problem.
It's a pain, but you will work it out, and then you'll have an excellent truck in good working order. Keep on it.

-Sean
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Hey,

My dad had the same problem with his truck. He had some front end work done recently, but we couldn't figure out why the steering was sticking. He thought it was the power steering pump. He took it back to the shop a few times and they couldn't figure out what it was. The only thing I could think of is that the ball joints that were just replaced were faulty or seized, but they were new parts so it couldn't have been ball joints. Well, dad drove it for about a month before the lower ball joint broke in the mall parking lot. Thank goodness it didn't happen on the highway. He took it back to the shop (not Toyota) and the guy replaced all top and bottom ball joints with Toyota parts at no charge. The mech had never seen this before in his 30 plus years of working. He didn't want to take the chance with the aftermarket parts again, so he put on Toyota parts. A couple extra bucks, but now the truck turns on a dim and we haven't had an issue yet.

This might be your problem or it might not. Just thought I would share cause when I searched the same problem I didn't come across anything either.

Happy Truckin
I have been leaning towards the problem being ball joints too is just hard to believe they can be bad right out of the box. I've always regarded moog as a good aftermarket brand. Thanks for the reply as I've been feeling as though I'm the only person in the world with this problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the extensive reply Sean. I have been going DJ would chime in but didn't want to bother him if I didn't have to since he answers so many questions like this.

As far as alignment goes I went and got a fourth alignment. My final specs this time are:
Caster 2.7 and 2.8
Camber -0.6 and -0.7
Toe .05 and .05

This is as close to djs specs as I've had so far and I have had no improvement in the memory steer however the truck now tracks very strait. For the first time I can take my hands off the wheel for an extended period and the tires surprised me by making much less noise. Even if the alignment is not optimum I feel I can rule out alignment causing the memory steer. There should be enough caster and a correct enough toe for the truck to be forced into a straight line.

I can't seem to find much info on what an orbital valve is. Is that the part on the rack that connects to the steering column? Can that even be changed?

As far as the ball joints go I was more worried about them being too tight so I guess I described it from that perspective. What I was getting at is that they felt pretty much like I'm used to a joint feeling. It was movable by hand but not loose or sloppy feeling.

I think I'm going to go ahead and try re bleeding the rack since it's a cheap diagnostic tool at this time. That will help me make sure there are no air bubbles and that the viscosity is not an issue. My thinking on the viscosity possibly being a concern is that a higher viscosity should theoretically make the steering more powerful. That means it would turn easy by moving the wheel but at the same time it would have a greater resistance coming back to center on its own. It's just a thought but I am healing at straws here and again is a cheap try for a remedy.

Maybe by the time I try bleeding the rack DJ or anothergreat forum member will have some good input as well.

Thanks for your encouragement. It really was needed as I want to really enjoy what I know is a great truck.
 

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11,253 Posts
I'd drive on that alignment. While it could be improved a hair, it's good. The orbital valve (it's not, really) or more appropriately the control valve is the small chunk at the pinion gear with the hydraulic lines running between it and the right side (the hydraulic side) of the rack. OTOH I've never heard of one of these going bad.

Let us know what you find.
 

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2015 Toyota Tundra DC SR5 5.7L
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Those are horrible camber numbers. You're going to get significant wear on the inside of the front tires with that. With your lift, camber should be set close to zero.

The other specs are excellent.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Those are horrible camber numbers. You're going to get significant wear on the inside of the front tires with that. With your lift, camber should be set close to zero.

The other specs are excellent.
Yes. It's sad that this is the best alignment I have been able to get so far. I notice you live in the ie, any chance you can recommend a good alignment shop?
 
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