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introduction and request for help



Hello there,
I have a 1997 Toyota Tandcruiser VX petrol which I'm planning to take
overland to Nepal starting in ten days. This trip has been a year in the
planning and a week ago we hit a snag which I'm hoping the wisdom here
assembled will be able to help out with.
Last Friday week we had a minor head-on collision with a ford escort
whos driver was changing a CD while driving round a bend towards us at
20mph. There's a dent in our bumper and he wrote his car off. (He
actually smashed his own windscreen with his fist in anger afterwards.)
Unfortunately the steering now pulls to the left. If you raise the front
of the Landcruiser with the ignition on, the front wheels drift off to
the left on their own. The steering wheel is markedly harder to turn
right than left. There is no oil leaking anywhere that I can see. There
are no visible signs of damage to the steering anywhere.
The geometry is apparently ok and nothing is bent (our normal mechanic
checked this and concluded he couldnt help us). We've put it into a
dealership who have been more or less completely useless. They have no
idea what's wrong and have not even started working on it yet - every
day they say it's something different and have to order a new part
(after getting authorisation from the insurance).
My questions are:
1. any idea what might be wrong?
2. any recomendation of a Landcruiser specialist in London likely to
have more of a clue than the Toyota dealer were talking to?
Apologies for such a long email being my introduction to this list - I
only discovered it's existance this afternoon after posting a similar
message elsewhere.
Thanks in advance
Steve Rawlinson
Claranet Ltd
[Email address removed]
Hi Steve,
Nice introduction - I hope someone on the list can assist, I am afraid I
can't help much, power steering is a little modern for me.
Couple questions regarding the symptoms;
a) when you have the from wheels in the air the steering is OK, it is only
when the ignition is switched on that the steering drift left on is harder
to turn right?
b) how far will the steering move in that state?
c) did the other car make contact either of the front wheels?
d) any unusal noises lock to lock?
I do remember some discussion relating to steering boxes with and without
electrical connections, I think there is a system in the box that varies the
effect of the power steering dependant on speed. If you do have an
electrical connection on the steering box I wonder if it would be OK to
disconnect it and see if the effect is still there? Ideas anyone?
Just in case you don't know there is an active list based in the US, LCML , most listers are
interested in older 40, 50 and 60 series Land Cruisers or "rock crawlers"
with "swampers" but the list is huge and there are some good mechanics on
Good luck.
Malcolm Bagley
Stafford, UK
1975 FJ45 Pickup (In Work)
Unfortunately the steering now pulls to the left. If you raise the front
of the Landcruiser with the ignition on, the front wheels drift off to
the left on their own. The steering wheel is markedly harder to turn
right than left. There is no oil leaking anywhere that I can see. There
are no visible signs of damage to the steering anywhere.
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Hi Steve,
Welcome to the list and sorry to hear of your troubles, not what you
want to hear about before taking off to Nepal.
When you had the collision, were you shunted off course or anything
like that.
One train of thought is that you might have bent the chassis, but that
would take quite an impact and I would have thought it would do more
than just dent the bumper.... unless the impact point was at the pont
that the bumper is attached to the chassis.... just a thought.
My gut feel is that the steering has just been knocked out, either by
an unnoticed impact to the wheel or the sudden sideways movement of
the vehicle.
Obviously you can get the geometry checked at a local tyre shop, but
before doing that check all the steering track rods and tie rods for
noticeable bends, looseness. Also check the steering damper.
If the impact on the bumper was low down, you may find that part of the
other car slid under the front bumper causing damage underneath.
As for LC specialists in London or elsewhere, forget it. There is
nobody in the UK who deals with nothing but LCs and you will also find
that most 4x4 company's only really bolt stuff on, very few have a
decent understanding of the marque.
Having said that probably the best source of knowledge in the UK is
here on the list, otherwise if you are looking farther afield you can
try the 80s list at that has a worldwide coverage.
Do you have any photos of the accident damage that you can chuck up on
a website or email me to put up on a site for you?
Julian Voelcker
Mobile: 07971 540362
Skype: julianvoelcker
Cirencester, United Kingdom
1994 HDJ80, 2.5" OME Lift
You could have knocked and/or bent the steering damper, or it's
mounts. I have known of up-rated dampers doing this. Alternatively,
can you hear any pumping from the steering pump?, sort of groaning
noise, it's low down and may have been shocked.
Regards, Clive.
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I dont think we moved at all, but it's possible.
I would think it's very likely that you're right, but would that on its
own account for the wheels drifting off to the left even when the front
of the car is up in the air?
I don't at the moment but I'll get some today.
Hi Malcom,
Yes, only with the ignition on.
It will move all the way from left to right with the ignition on, I dont
think we tested full and free movement with it off.
I think this is likely, though I don't know for sure. He hit us on the
offside front corner. The dent in the bumper has not bent the bumper
back to the wheel but I think he probably did hit the wheel.
Thanks for your help.
On 8/31/06, Steve Rawlinson <[Email address removed]> wrote:
Have you checked the following:
- Remove the steering damper
- Raise the front and move each wheel left / right by hand to find if
there 's any play in them
- Still with the front raised, turn the steering wheel left / right
with and without power steering
If you find nothing amiss:
- Check the chassis frame near the power steering box to see if there
are any cracks or play
- Using a tape, measure the front chassis legs using a comon
reference point to see if
there has been any displacement near the steering gear mounting points
Roman (London, UK)
'92 HDJ80
Hi Steve,
Are they drifting off to the left with much force - i.e. can you stop it
with your hand?
I suspect that it might just be a red herring and this might be due to a
minor bit of wear in the steering pump that probably isn't noticeable when
Julian Voelcker
Mobile: 07971 540362
Skype: julianvoelcker
Cirencester, United Kingdom
1994 HDJ80, 2.5" OME Lift
You cannot stop it with your hand from the wheels.
It's very noticeable when driving and only appeared after the accident.
I havent tried that - it's actually in the dealership at the moment but
we're planning to rescue it over the weekend and I'll try what you suggest.
If there is no visual evidence of damage to any of the steering tie rods
(which wouldn't explain the auto-movement anyway) then how about damage to
the steering damper such that oil is prevented from flowing? This would lead
to pressurisation of the damper which would then extend to relieve the
pressure and hence turn the steering.
Have you tried disconnecting the damper?
You cannot stop it with your hand from the wheels.
Just an idea, but if you and your mechanic can't see any damage to the tie
bars, steering damper or the steering arms attached to the knuckles, you may
have a bent or twisted sector shaft in your steering box. If so a
replacement steering box is probably your only practical solution. Milners
do reconditioned ones.
For your wheels to be turning left of their own accord with such force you
can't stop them whilst the front of the car is in the air, and if this is
only with the engine running (?), I think your power steering is turning
them for you - this would likely indicate a damaged steering box.
See what others think, but with the short time you have it may be worth
getting hold of a box and getting it fitted - on the face of it that would
seem the most likely culprit to me.
Best of luck.
1990 HDJ80 UK

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Something to consider - who's paying for all this? I assume that the other
driver was at fault and that his insurers have given the go-ahead for
repairs. However, they will only be paying for things authorised by the
assessor. If the dealer cannot find what's wrong, your best course of action
will be to get involved by finding a suspension expert who CAN fix it and
get the original repairing dealer to agree a sub-let repair. That way, any
bills go to the insurance company.
Above all, don't sign any 'satisfaction notes" on collection until you're
absolutely happy with everything. That way, the repairer won't get paid by
the insurer and they'll still be motivated to fix it.
If you're not getting anywhere, get your insurance company involved and tell
them you're not happy and want to meet with the assessor. Most of them are
good blokes and will understand your concerns.
Above all, it wasn't your fault, so you shouldn't have to pay, but it can be
Hope this helps,
Neill W
On 31/8/06 10:56 am, "Steve Rawlinson" wrote:
This seems to be the consensus - either the dampers or the steering box.
The dealer is adamant that the problem is the steering rack. I know next
to nothing about the mechanics but I can't see how the rack would cause
the drift only when the ignition is on. (If anyone could put me right on
that I'd be obliged.)
The dealer is ordering a new steering rack - does this include the box?
If not I'll order one separately in case the rack does not fix the problem.
Many thanks to everyone for your attention on this.
If it is the box and the other insurance is paying then sod the recon box -
I'd be looking to get a brand new OEM one fitted!
Yes, actually the insurance company (admiral) have been very helpful.
The other chap signed an admission of liability at the scene (not a very
bright chap, bless him) and we shouldnt have to pay, however with the
limited time available I'm more concerned to get it fixed than worry
about who is paying at this stage.
You mentioned suspension experts - are there any you could recommend in
London? I'd be delighted to take it elsewhere but other than toyota
dealerships (who I now realise are not uniformly competent) I'm not sure
where to look.
There is no "steering rack" on an 80, just the box + the various tie rods.
However, if the wheels are turning of their own accord without the engine
running I cannot see how the box can be causing this? The damper maybe but
not the box??
The fact that he is apparently ordering a part that does not exist is
entirely consistent with his performance so far. If it turns out to be a
rack from a different model that would not surprise me either.
That's not quite right - the drift *only* occurs with the engine
running, not without it.