Very heavy / stiff steering?

Hi guys,

Sorry, I thought I had the ROM in the trunk, but no, I guess I left it in the city and am currently at the summer cottage.

My steering (on the LHD 1950 MKV DHC) became veery heavy recently. Also when I had to force it I seem to have screwed up the manette wiring plus there is now some serious free play between directions. So the car is not safe to drive. I already took out the manette plus wiring (or what was left of it) and I loosened both the steering box, connections to steering arms and the idler box. I lubed them all, but still the steering is so stiff I can not change wheel angles with the front wheels off the ground by just twisting the wheels, like I used to be able to. What gives? What could be binding? What should I try to figure out what’s wrong? (Before I take apart the whole steering column and the steering box. )


The tension adjuster screw 36 on top of the steering box case could have got loose and the rockershaft 24 jumped up out of position, dragging on the top cover 30?

Or it could be:
Lower ball joints
Upper ball joints
Tie rod ball joints inner and outer
Track rod ends (DHCs should all be the rubber type, not the earlier screw pin threaded type)

1 Like

A continuation of dividing into smaller segments for each check may work.

My Mark V requires a force of about two pounds at steering wheel circumference to turn the steering wheel when the car is off the ground.

The clearance of some steering parts near the frame can be only a few millimeters. Two nuts (see Plate CZ.27 and CZ.70) can rub on frame. I have seen frame scoring where drag on CZ.70 has occurred on cars.

Once friction of whole system visually has been checked, next step might be to disconnect CZ.73, which is part C.3071 Tube only, in Steering Connecting Tube Assembly. I would measure the connection position of the tube before removing to help with alignment setting when reassembling. Removal of the tube allows isolation of left and right side steering components. This will allow checking movement friction on side opposite to steering wheel, including to see if binding is occurring in the idler lever assembly.

1 Like

Maybe this picture is better.

Pekka, I think you are describing a sudden change. That would tend to suggest the steering box rather than the ball joints.
That’s why I’m thinking the Rocker Shaft N and/or the Roller on Nut Spigot F are out of position.
Roger is suggesting the nuts at the bottom end of Rocker Shaft N and the Pitman arm extending forward from there or the same nuts on the idler end could drag on the chassis.

It could be both problems working together.

1 Like

Hi Rob,

Yes, sudden change. I did check the steering box and idler arm pins amd nuts that are close to frame rail when the car is jacked up, but not scuffing, also I tried to lube and wiggle all joints, but no chamge. The steering box adjustment screw was very tight, so any change must have happened inside the box or the steering column. I can barely turn the adjustment screw.

Very helpful pics, thank you. I will read the ROM and try to figure out what to try next. :+1:


I agree with Rob. A sudden change with this severity indicates something serious has occurred in the box but it also will be unusual and there may be no one on this forum who has experienced a similar fault.

I would start with removing the top cover and witness what is happening when you turn the wheel back and forth. My money is on the culprit being the ball transfer tube having failed causing the balls to jam, seizing the rotation.

1 Like


I was thinking about that but wanted to first get to know what to expect and also so I don’t do anything that would make things go ballistic. :slight_smile:

I’m not sure about RHD cars, but in LHD MKV the steering box sits half way under the front wing so I am trying to also figure out how to get the whole thing out of the car. Not easy I bet.

Also I was wondering what would cause the huge free play in the middle, probably the balls not being where they should be?

If I turn the steering wheel in one direction amd the front wheels react, I will have to make almost one complete turn the opposite direction before the wheels start to turn that way. :frowning_with_open_mouth:


Removing the top cover does not create any other problems and you can remove it without surprises. Depending upon the amount of oil remaining, you may get spillage. Its only mechanical purpose is to provide a reaction against the top of the sector shaft and the adjustment screw and locknut are adjusted for minimal clearance.

The removal of the steering unit complete is very well described in the service manual but in summary, it is lifted up to about horizontal and taken out to the front between the headlight and the radiator grille over the wing. There is a bit of messing around to clear things out of the way and LHD is more tedious than RHD.

The adjusting screw should not be very tight, did you loosen the locking nut before trying to turn the adjusting screw?


Yes, I did. Now I have the top open, nothing obvous, except that the locating thing in the slot of the cover wanted to push & twist the cover very much inwards, towards the engine. But turning the steering wheel CCW (as in turning left) corrected ii into a vertical position.

Something is astray but I can not figure oit what it is. I will post a few pics from my cell phone shortly. Thank you, everyone .


You mean the roller F on the nut spigot P was dragging in the slot?
The nut spigot P should be free to rotate slightly toward or away from the rocker shaft N as you turn the wheel. There are ball bearings inside the transfer tube Y.
With the roller F removed, see if the nut spigot rotates freely a little bit.


When I opened it, the roller F was pushing the cover towards engine quite a lot, turning the steering wheel left (CCW) cured the problem.

The slot in the cover does not look worn, all parts except D, the preload spring seem to be there. I think the spigot P sits very tightly, something wrong on the inside. :frowning_face:


Hmm, somebody put axle grease in there instead of the usual SAE 140 oil.
There is not really an easy way to flush that stuff out. Maybe wash it out with gasoline.
Can you remove the nut on the lower end of the rocker shaft, pop off the Pitman arm, and pull the rocker shaft out?

Hi Rob,

It’s not axle grease nor vaseline, it’s Penrite’s Steering Box Lube, has worked well IMO, oil would drain out through the worn felt seal very quickly.

Sure I can try to wash it out and try to move the bits a little. I haven’t yet really figured out much.


The roller’s only purpose is to keep the nut vertical as it moves up and down along the worm. There is no significant load on it and the wear in the cover groove should be almost nothing if the box has been constantly lubricated.

From what you say, it seems the nut is gripping the worm in some way which leads me to think my earlier assumption that there is something wrong in the ball transfer tube area is still relevant and is the place to start. The box needs to come out and be dismantled. Even if, for some reason, it mysteriously came good, it is unreliable and could seize at any time. The cause needs to be rectified before driving again.

Not a five minute job and you’ll have to be careful you don’t damage anything around the facia and the cabin internals as you manipulate the box up and out and back in again. Let us know the cause when you can as it will be of interest to the forum. Good luck!

The only thing from my distant teenage memory that had similar symptoms was when a family member dismantled something faulty, they found one ball had broken into two hemispheres.

So you’re trying to do this at your summer cottage? Do you have tools? Do you need us to copy the instructions from the Service Manual?

Hi all,

I started the process of getting the steering box out of the car. Carbs and generator out (again, I’m getting good at this) and the dash / instrument panel out.



Getting there, step by step, steering wheel and dash panel out.

I find that some DPO or mechanic was not too concerned about longevity nor safety:

2002 when I bough the car it turned out not to have at all:

  • horns
  • wires for reverse lamps
  • rear shocks as it had a Ford Fairlane rear axle and rear drum brakes
  • 2-3 of the original 14 mountings for body to chassis were there, the rest were not
  • front anti-sway bar

Those were addressed to get the car MOT’s which took place in England 2008.

2014 I found out that the bloke who had set timing in the 1970’s hadn’t bothered to secure the locking tabs for the two camshaft bolts. The locking tab was there, just it had not been bent as it should have been, result: both bolts snapped off while driving, fortunately no damage in a pushrod engine, an XK engine would have been completely ruined.

2017 the head gasket failed, I replaced it with a composite one and serviced the cylinder head which resulted in much better running.

2019 cyl nr 4 collapsed and piston fell apart, exh. valve snapped off. Not sure what caused what → complete engine rebuild.

2021 oil pump shaft jumped after I had blocked the excessive oil pressure relief valve due to a broken (overtightened) brass part. :frowning: → Replaced all main bearings (except the rear one) and big end bearings. The reason the shaft could jump was that someone in the past had left off the snap ring that is supposed to be on the oil pump (& rev counter) shaft. :frowning:

2023 steering jammed, taking it apart I found out there was NO snap ring on the steering wheel column either! So in case I had pulled the steering wheel really hard, it would have come right off with manette etc. complete! :frowning:

Now that snap ring, C.1036 can easily be purchased from the usuals, not the case with the various little engine part locking tabs and snap rings.


At the end of the day: do you know what cased your snapping?