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'91 318is - should I replace the steering u joint assembly?

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    '91 318is - should I replace the steering u joint assembly?

    Hi everyone,

    I recently picked up a fairly clean '91 318is (133K miles) in Atlanta, GA and drove it 10 hours home to VA. It's my first e30, so I'm still learning about these cars. Here's a photo of the car:



    One thing I've noticed is a clunk/thud in the steering. I can hear and feel this thud/clunk. It doesn't happen all the time, but it happens more often than not (90% of the time).

    Here are the conditions when I feel the thud/clunk:

    1. I'm turning the steering wheel from 11:00 to 1:00 and back with the car parked and the engine on. I have long arms, so I've actually been able to stand outside the car, turn the wheel, and have my other hand on the steering joint in the engine bay. Most of the "thud" feels like it's in the steering u joint assembly. It's a loud clunk and I can't pinpoint where it's coming from.

    2. I'm turning the seering wheel between 45 degrees and 90 degrees in either direction. The steering seems like it starts to bind up and provide more resistance than normal. Then I hear and feel the thud and the steering gets MUCH looser.

    3. When the car is on jack stands (front wheels off the ground) I don't hear or feel any thuds/clunking or experience any resistance in the steering.

    The car already appears to have a remanufactured rack in it. I have already replaced the power steering fluid. I have replaced the front control arms because of bad ball joints. I have tightened the coupler on the steering column under the dash (above the pedals).

    So I'm *hoping* that the steering u joint assembly is the culprit (photo from ECS Tuning's site):



    Any thoughts?

    I've searched, but I can't find what is involved in replacing this part on an airbag equipped e30.

    Any help appreciated! Thanks!
    Last edited by mike.bmw; 04-10-2016, 05:48 AM.

    #2
    Sounds like a sticky UJ, I'd replace it to improve driveability.

    Disconnect the battery and leave the air bag system to discharge, I 'believe' it's 10 minutes but I usually allow 30 minutes just to be sure.

    Remove the 2 bolts completely, pry the 2 splined joint slots open to ease removal, lock the steering, make a note of the UJ position, slide (tap lightly) the UJ up the steering output shaft until it's clear of the steering rack input shaft and slide off.

    Anti seize the new UJ splines before installing.

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by Seawolf View Post
      Sounds like a sticky UJ, I'd replace it to improve driveability.

      Disconnect the battery and leave the air bag system to discharge, I 'believe' it's 10 minutes but I usually allow 30 minutes just to be sure.

      Remove the 2 bolts completely, pry the 2 splined joint slots open to ease removal, lock the steering, make a note of the UJ position, slide (tap lightly) the UJ up the steering output shaft until it's clear of the steering rack input shaft and slide off.

      Anti seize the new UJ splines before installing.
      Thanks for the quick response! So it's true that this can be replaced without moving either the rack down or the steering column up? I've read a couple places that one of the two (steering column or rack) needs to move to get enough clearance to remove the u joint/swivel assembly.

      Comment


        #4
        Sound more like the washer between the top mount and spring hat are missing. It will cause the spring to bind and make noise.
        Bought parts from me before? leave your feedback here

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by mr.vang View Post
          Sound more like the washer between the top mount and spring hat are missing. It will cause the spring to bind and make noise.
          Good point! The previous owner forgot to install bump stops and dust boots on the front struts when they replaced them. It's quite possible the washer is missing. Is it #8 in this diagram?

          Comment


            #6
            Yes, #8.

            Sent from my LG-H631 using Tapatalk
            Bought parts from me before? leave your feedback here

            Comment


              #7
              Do the front struts have internal bump stops or should they be visible from the outside? The car appears to have STAGG struts/shocks and some kind of aftermarket spring.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by mike.bmw View Post
                Do the front struts have internal bump stops or should they be visible from the outside? The car appears to have STAGG struts/shocks and some kind of aftermarket spring.
                I don't know about stagg shocks but bilstein have internal bump stops.
                Bought parts from me before? leave your feedback here

                Comment


                  #9
                  Does anyone know if the steering guibo/u-joint assembly can be removed without dropping the rack or pulling the steering column?

                  Comment


                    #10
                    check the big ass nut under the knee bolster that connects the two pieces of the steering column first....tighten the shit out of it, I used a pipe wrench around the nut bearing on the pedal arms and used the steering wheel to tighten the piss out of it....my clunk is gone - worth a shot.
                    Last edited by jrobie79; 04-16-2016, 10:36 AM.
                    1991 318is ---230K - DD
                    1991 318i ---- 308K - retired

                    Originally posted by RickSloan
                    so if you didnt get it like that did you glue fuzzy oil to the entire thing?

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by jrobie79 View Post
                      check the big ass nut under the knee bolster first....tighten the shit out of it, I used a pipe wrench around the nut bearing on the pedal arms and used the steering wheel to tighten the piss out of it....my clunk is gone - try that first
                      Already did that (mentioned it in the original post). It did resolve a different click/clunk sound. The current sound/clunk feel is originating in the engine bay.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        You can replace the U-joint without dropping the rack:

                        1. Loosen that big ass nut to allow the two pieces to slide freely - lower (male) and upper (female) sections
                        2. Go back under the car and take the rack end of the u-joint off first (might be a bitch because that clamping section seizes to the rack splines - I had to pry it open with a big ass flat blade screwdriver - since the big nut is loosened you should be able to push it back towards the steering wheel enough to get it off the rack splines
                        3. Once the rack end of the u-joint is free from the rack, loosen the other end it should just slide down off the steering column. If there isn't enough space to slide it down far enough go back inside and slip the male portion (lower) steering column up into the female portion (upper) of it (possible with loosening that big nut). You should gain enough travel to remove the u-joint
                        4. The u-joint should be free
                        1991 318is ---230K - DD
                        1991 318i ---- 308K - retired

                        Originally posted by RickSloan
                        so if you didnt get it like that did you glue fuzzy oil to the entire thing?

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by jrobie79 View Post
                          check the big ass nut under the knee bolster that connects the two pieces of the steering column first....tighten the shit out of it, I used a pipe wrench around the nut bearing on the pedal arms and used the steering wheel to tighten the piss out of it....my clunk is gone - worth a shot.

                          You can replace the U-joint without dropping the rack:
                          1. Loosen that big ass nut to allow the two pieces to slide freely - lower (male) and upper (female) sections
                          2. Go back under the car and take the rack end of the u-joint off first (might be a bitch because that clamping section seizes to the rack splines - I had to pry it open with a big ass flat blade screwdriver - since the big nut is loosened you should be able to push it back towards the steering wheel enough to get it off the rack splines
                          3. Once the rack end of the u-joint is free from the rack, loosen the other end it should just slide down off the steering column. If there isn't enough space to slide it down far enough go back inside and slip the male portion (lower) steering column up into the female portion (upper) of it (possible with loosening that big nut). You should gain enough travel to remove the u-joint
                          4. The u-joint should be free
                          Thank you!

                          Comment


                            #14
                            how'd it go?
                            1991 318is ---230K - DD
                            1991 318i ---- 308K - retired

                            Originally posted by RickSloan
                            so if you didnt get it like that did you glue fuzzy oil to the entire thing?

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by jrobie79 View Post
                              how'd it go?
                              I'm still trying to decide if I need to order the part. :D

                              After further investigation, I created this thread: http://www.r3vlimited.com/board/showthread.php?t=383909

                              The pinion shaft in the rack moves in/out when I hear/feel the clunk. So it's possible the steering u-joint assembly is fine, but it's also possible the steering u-joint assembly is binding, causing the pinion shaft to move.

                              Comment

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