View Full Version : Ooops, car fell off track

03-18-2002, 11:53 AM
Looking for a little help on damage assessment. 1983 A1, GTI Rabbit

Passenger front suspension went from 2.5-degree negative camber to 0 degree and steering wheel appears to be is turned about 30 degrees to the left.

Okay, here’s what happen, approaching a 90 degree left corner (Turn 6, Texas World Speedway, 2.9 mile), just after turn-in, the car went to oversteer, nose of car points at apex, then car drives over apex (all four tires off track), car traveling sideways, (me looking through passenger window), steering wheel at full lock-to the right),I never lift,car never gets passed 90 degrees, and eventually straightens out, I simply merge back on track. Soon as I am back on track, I see that my steering wheel (while driving straight) is turned about 30 degrees to the left.

Park car, see passenger front suspension (wheel), went from 2.5 degree negative camber to 0 degree, but toe looks good, grass between wheel and rim,jack up car, pull off passenger front tire, look for damage, I notice that typically I have about 1-2 mm of clearance between my lower spring perch and the shoulder of the tire at the top of the tire. This clearance is now about ½ to ¾ inch. Therefore, that is where the positive camber is coming from.
But see nothing obviously damaged, I checked top camber plate- nothing moved, tie rod looks straight, lower A-arm looks straight, strut and knuckle area looks good……….(it may be as simple as the knuckle and strut have slipped relative to each other-but that wouldn’t change my steering wheel position?).

Anyhow is there is a typical weak spot on these cars that I can look at a little closer? I realize that I have only spent about 2 minutes looking for damage yesterday before I had to load up and get home.

Thanks folks……….
Ron Vaughn


03-18-2002, 02:43 PM
You either bent an LCA, the strut slipped on the knuckle pinch bolts, or one of the "P" brackets that hold the rack to the body has bent or slipped.

If the strut slipped and changed the camber, the toe could change enough to account for your odd steering wheel angle. That's why setting toe is the very last thing you do in the alignment process.

Make sure you examine the LCA's carefully. They're pretty easy to bend. Look for kinks or distortions in the edge flanges, as they'll indicate a bend.

The P brackets that hold the rack to the unibody are a weak spot on Rabbits. I've broken a few.

It's unlikely that you bent a steering rack rod, but check'em out.

My guess is that you just need to reset camber and re-toe the car.

03-18-2002, 04:53 PM
Not too familiar with the VW front end, but you may want to check to see that you haven't bent a spindle as well as the above checks.

Bill Miller
03-18-2002, 10:11 PM
While it's not unheard of, Rabbit spindles are pretty hard to bend.

I'm w/ the opinion that you bent the LCA. There's a chance that they strut just moved, but I would doubt that. If it did, you probably bent the eccentric pinch bolt and probably bent the strut stamping that it (pinch bolt) rides against. Both of these are stronger than the LCA.

You need to put a straight-edge across the LCA to make sure that it's still true. And while it make not be bent, it may be 'stretched'. I went sideways off the track into a gravel trap and that's what happend to my car. The one side was about 5/8" longer than the other side, when you measured from the center of the wheels. This also cause ~1.5" of toe-out.

Also check that you didn't bend/shift the rack.

MARRS #25 ITB Rabbit GTI

04-02-2002, 11:34 AM
Ok, now I have had some time to check things out....

1) The strut slipped on the knuckle pinch bolts, resetting this caused the steering wheel to go from approximately 40-degrees off of horizontal to only approx 10 off horizontal.

2) The rack slipped slightly (1/8-inch) within the "P" brackets that hold the rack. Have not reset yet, but I would assume that will move the steering wheel back to horizontal.

So, the LCA appears to be fine (as measured with straight edge), tie rods also appear to be straight, strut is straight, and I assume the axle/hub is fine.

During my checking of the front end, I noticed something else. The number of turns required to turn the steering wheel from lock to lock are not equal left to right.

For example:
Left (ccw)== 360 degrees + 320 degrees
Right (cw) == 360 degrees + 220 degrees.

I assume that going off track had nothing to do with this, but rather the car has always been like that (since I got it).
So, I will center the rack within the "P" brackets and then center the rack/tie rods and I should be set.

Thanks for the help (tips) IT group.

Ron Vaughn

Bill Miller
04-02-2002, 11:10 PM

Don't assume that the hub/bearing are ok. Hubs on these cars are a known weak point anyway, and have been known to fail after as little as 4 races. Short 'duty-cycles' is usually the result of the axle nut not being tight enough, but they do fail. If the car took that kind of a shot, I wouldn't fool around w/ it. Go ahead and put a new hub/bearing in the car. For the $50-$75 in parts, it's going to be a lot cheaper than having the wheel fall of the car when it's at speed! http://Forums.ImprovedTouring.com/it/eek.gif

BTW, you're lucky that you didn't bend the LCA, they're soft. Also, make sure you didn't 'stretch' it. Check the diagonal dimensions against a known good on (a new one perhaps?). Also, as the LCA's are only $25, you might want to put a new one on anyway. It may be straight, but there could be stress fatigue you can't see. Cheap parts, use new ones!!!

MARRS #25 ITB Rabbit GTI

Ryan Williams
04-02-2002, 11:28 PM
Ron, in regard to centering the steering on your car: the steering rack is positioned laterally by its two clamps, thus you can not center it by moving it in its "P" brackets, as you refer to them. According to the Bentley, there is a "centering" procedure that allows the rack to be centered. There are two large jam nuts, one on each end inside the rubber boot, that position the tie rod ends. If I remember correctly, you must slide the rubber boots down the tie rods, then loosen each jam nut enough to center the mechanism inside the rack. Once the rack is centered, the tie rods may have to be adjusted or turned. This is a general overview, and I definitely recommend that you read the corresponding section in the Bentley manual. Regards, Ryan Williams.

04-02-2002, 11:40 PM
Jack up the front...
Remove the wheels and tie rod ends...

Turn the steering wheel all the way to the right and place a jack stand against the left tie rod.

Turn the wheel all the way to the left and place another jackstand against the right tie rod.

Now measure the distance between the first jackstand and the tie rod ... move the rack back 1/2 that distance to find center.

Center the steering wheel.

Note: removing the tie rod ends allows the tie rods to remain horizontal instead of falling towards the ground everytime you move them. This makes measuring MUCH easier.

Bill Sulouff - Bildon Motorsport (http://www.bildon.com) Volkswagen Racing Equipment

Bill Miller
04-03-2002, 10:38 PM
<font face=\"Verdana, Arial\" size=\"2\">Remove the wheels and tie rod ends...</font>

That assumes that somebody's already changed the one side so that you can remove the end.

MARRS #25 ITB Rabbit GTI

04-03-2002, 10:42 PM
Good point Bill. I'm referring to a Golf 2 here. I see the original poster has a bunny. YMMV.

Bill Sulouff - Bildon Motorsport (http://www.bildon.com) Volkswagen Racing Equipment