Refined Behavior

A No-Cost Cure For Your ’84-’87’s Nervous Steering

Andy Bolig Aug 1, 2001 0 Comment(s)

Step By Step

You can make the changes and then drive the car to the alignment shop if you don’t live too far away. We took the car to Advance Alignment & Brake on Chris’ recommendation, and they did the work right there on the alignment rack.

Before Don and Ruble at Advance Alignment made any adjustments, they checked the original settings on the front end. We had 3.5 degrees of caster initially, which means the upper ball joint isn’t directly above the lower ball joint, but 3.5 degrees behind it. The service manual calls for 3 degrees of caster, but to calm our Corvette’s nervous steering, we’ll be increasing it.

Remove the nuts from the cross-shaft on the upper control arms so you can pull out the bolts.

Jack up the car so you can get to the nuts with a socket.

We needed to disconnect the upper ball joints so we could slide the bolts out past the exhaust.

All we needed to do was take the larger bushing from the rear bolt on the cross-shaft and move it to the front bolt between the cross-shaft and frame. Don suggests that when you tighten up all the bolts, you leave out all of the original shims. You’re changing the whole geometry of the front end, and having the shims will only throw off the person doing the alignment.

Before you install the ball joint, tighten the bolts for the cross-shaft to 63 lb-ft. This will allow you to get to the nuts without fighting the added weight of the tire.

Then connect the upper ball joint and tighten to 32 lb-ft.

With the ball joints and control arms tight, it’s time to take another reading. This simple change gave us another 3 degrees of caster. Increasing the caster will make the car “feel” like it wants to go straight rather than darting from side to side, reacting to different variations in the road. It will also make the car feel more stable.

Corvette Fever editor Ronnie Hartman has an ’84 Corvette. We have seen it a few times. When asked why she drives it so sparingly, she complained that the steering seemed “heavy” and “uncertain.” We were harping on her pretty hard at last year’s Corvettes at Carlisle about not driving the car, when Chris Petris of the Corvette Clinic overheard the conversation. He immediately jumped into the volley, saying, “There’s a cure for that!” He knew what we were referring to and mentioned that the ’84-’87 Corvettes can all exhibit the same symptoms.

Ronnie was relieved to find out it wasn’t just her imagination and that it could be fixed. In fact, it’s amazingly easy to cure this handling problem. Everything you need is already installed on your Corvette; you’ll just need to pay for a new alignment once the swap is complete. Here’s what it takes to calm the nerves on your early C4.

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