Wandering steering/loose U-bolts

A number of factors, including tyre pressure, wear and wheel alignment, can affect the steering.  In addition to these, for those used to driving saloon cars and not familiar with MG’s, the quickness of the steering ratio combined with a seating position much closer to the rear axle produces a sense that the car is overly lively due to any required steering corrections being less than a conventional car.

This page deals with one particular cause of steering irregularity – loose U-bolts on the rear axle, which causes the rear axle to steer the car as the U-bolts allow it to move at a small angle rather than being square to the direction of the car.

This condition is very easy to detect:

  • With the car travelling at a steady speed, -doesn’t have to be fast, 30 mph will do – steer so the car is travelling straight.   Then without altering the steering wheel:
  • put full power on, then
  • lift off the accelerator

If the U-bolts are loose, the car steers one way with power on, the other with power off.

Loose U-bolts are exacerbated by old hard spring pads, which can be so bad that no amount of tightening will remove the effect. New pads instantly address this and remove the rear end steer at normal tightness on the U-bolt (30 lb-ft).  For this reason, in conjunction with their inexpensive cost, I always replace the spring pads if I have the U-bolts undone unless they have only very recently been fitted.

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