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Matt
Matt, Mechanical Engineer
Category: Car
Satisfied Customers: 20614
Experience:  BEng hons Mech engineering, in auto industry 22 years
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I have a Mercedes Vito 110cdi 2002. I have heard a knocking

Customer Question

I have a Mercedes Vito 110cdi 2002. I have heard a knocking sound coming from the steering column for some time possibly 12 months or so. It has got progressively worse and now when turning a tight corner the steering wheel vibrates.
I have been under the van and sort of located where the sound is coming from.
Please could you advise me.
Regards
Andrew.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Car
Expert:  Shantal-Mod replied 2 years ago.
Hello Andrew,

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I wonder whether you're ok with continuing to wait for an answer. If you are, please let me know and I will continue my search. If not, feel free to let me know and I will cancel this question for you.

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Shantal
Expert:  Matt replied 2 years ago.
Hello

I'd 1st check the steering rack mounts - use a lever to move the rack against the van body there should only be a mm or two of movement on the bush - any more than this then replace the bushes

I'd also check the state of the column joints have your assistant hold the steering wheel firmly whilst you jack the front end up so the wheels are off the ground then move the road wheels from side to side to feel for any play

and shake the tyre from top to bottom and from side to side (with someone holding the steering wheel). There should be no play in either direction.

Any play in 1 direction will usually require a suspension joint to be replaced, if there’s play in both directions then the wheel bearing may be at fault.

If theres play only up and down its the strut top mount - to find this one you have to shake the suspension strut it self up and down with the wheel off the ground - so you may need to remove the wheel to check this one.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi,
Thank you for your response. I need to try the things you have suggested over the next day. I have basic car knowledge so I may need to get back to you for advice.
Can you tell me how to attach a photo as it shows the piece making the noise. I have listened quite close up and it seems to be clunking inside. Does this throw any further light on the problem?
Regards
Andrew.

Expert:  Matt replied 2 years ago.
Hello Andrew

you can attach an image using the paperclip button above


Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Matt,

Sorry I can't seem to find the paperclip button anywhere!

Andrew.
Expert:  Matt replied 2 years ago.
Hello

it should be on the top bar of the message panel

can you describe where the clunking device is located?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Matt,

There seems to be no icon bar at the top of the message box! Maybe because I am using an IPad.
Anyway I shall try and describe it to you. It is located where the column leading from the steering wheel enters into the engine compartment it then attaches to the main body of the rack. It seems to be inside there, it makes the clunking noise even if you very very slightly turn the wheel from left to right.
If this doesn't help I will try the laptop instead or is there another way of sending you a picture?
Regards
Andrew.
Expert:  Matt replied 2 years ago.
Hello Andrew

this sounds like the steering column universal joint

should look similar to this

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if this part is worn then there'll be a lot of play in the steering and it should be easily replaced

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Matt,


 


I have tried to attach the photo below. It does seem to be in that area and when I move the steering wheel when stationary there is a lot of play in it.


Please could you give more more details on changing/purchasing the part and I will give it a go. Also is there a way of checking the part before I start work?


Thanks again for your help.


Andrew


 


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Expert:  Matt replied 2 years ago.
Hello Andrew

the grey tubular item is the steering rack and the black item that turns is the column joint

if you do as I mentioned earlier with your assistant holding the wheel while you move the road wheel from lock to lock whilst viewing the components

you should be able to see if there's any slack in the joint - if there is replace it

if the joint is tight and the play is in the steering rack then that will have to be replaced

joints are a lot cheaper than racks
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi,
I have tried moving the wheels from side to side whilst off the ground and there is movement and whilst my assistant is holding the wheel firmly the steering wheel also moves. Do I need to look under the van or does this make things clearer?

Regards
Andrew.
Expert:  Matt replied 2 years ago.
Hello Andrew


If you move the steering to full lock 1 way so you can see the column joint then repeat the wiggling excercise you should be able to see where the slack is

from your description it sounds more likely to be the column joint which needs replacing
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Matt,

Ok I have tried doing what you have suggested but I am struggling to see everything without getting under the van then I can't move the wheel! But from what I can see, the rubber boot on the rack is moving in conjunction with the wheel moving and the column is also slightly moving also.
Sorry if this doesn't help matters but struggling to understand exactly what to look for!
Expert:  Matt replied 2 years ago.
Hello

Ok

in that case remove the road wheel on drivers side

then have your assistant move the steering slowly back and forth about a 1/4 turn whilst you look closely at the column joint where it enters the steering rack

if the top half moves exactly in sync with the bottom half with no time delay then the joint is OK
and then the steering rack will need checking

if you hold the steering wheel steady and try to move the road wheel slowly back and forht can you then feel any 'clunk ' or slack

if you can either the rod end at the wheel is faulty or the steering itself

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Matt,

I will try this tomorrow as it is too dark now! But regarding the last point when the steering wheel is being held steady and I move the wheel back and forth it does make a clunk noise and also the steering wheel actually moves in your hand.

Andrew.
Expert:  Matt replied 2 years ago.
Hello Andrew

this does sound like a worn column joint to me

but do the tests as I've described and you should spot it
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi,

Would it be possible to send me a diagram or picture of the location and what the joint should look like as it may help me understand what I am looking for.
Thank you again for your patience!

Regards
Andrew.
Expert:  Matt replied 2 years ago.
Hello Andrew

you've already sent me a picture of the joint- i've circled it in red

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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Matt,

Ok checked out the column joint and all seems to be moving correctly in sync. I have looked at the track rod ends and one definately needs replacing whilst the other probably could do with doing. I have been up close to the where the column goes into the rack and when the steering wheel is moving slightly from left to right it makes the clunking noise. In fact driving home tonight every single slight undulation in the road the noise was heard and it sounds like a shaking noise like metal banging on metal. Do this make any sense?
Regards
Andrew.
Expert:  Matt replied 2 years ago.
Hello

OK thats sounds like the rack may be worn then
you can get them rebuilt which is a cheaper option than replacement

http://www.power-steering.co.uk/
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Matt,

Thanks for your response. I just have a few questions that I would be grateful if you could take time to answer for me.
1. Unfortunately I live in France so the rebuild by then UK comany may prove too difficult so can I purchase the part on the net?
2. Is changing the rack a huge job and can it be undertaken without a huge amount of knowledge.
3. Would it be possible to send me a breakdown of the installation.
4. Could you give me an indication of man hours to change this part
5. Is is dangerous to continue driving with the worn rack.

Thank you again for your time.
Andrew.
Expert:  Matt replied 2 years ago.
Hello Andrew

if you can find the part on the net and its a genuine replacement ( not a Cheap chinese knock off) then that should be fine

the main issue with replacing a steering rack is access

usually you can get to the mounting bolts fine but you then have to remove other parts in order to draw it out

I'd start by removing the road wheel on 1 side and take a good look at how easy it will be to draw the rack out through the wheel arch

I'd estimate about 3 hours to swap a steering rack

however before replacing the rack

1st replace the steering joint as the play here may be masking the issue or making it feel worse at the rack


and yes its quite dangerous to drive with worn steering components as you'll lack fine control over the vehicle and have to constantly correct it
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Matt,

Thanks again. Just a further question regarding the rack as that is it possible to the remove the pinion without removing the rack? I have managed to put my hand on the top of the rack where the steering column joins and I can move this slightly to make the clunking noise.

Regards
Andrew
Expert:  Matt replied 2 years ago.
Hello Andrew

I don't think its possible as the pinion shaft is pressed through the casing so to remove it you need puller onto the casing which you won't have room to do with the rack in situ

still well done to narrowing it down

sorry that I can't come up with a French reconditioning firm for the steering rack

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