That's way out of spec... 1 o'clock is equivalent to 30º from vertical... anything more that 10º means something is wrong...I have an '05 Elise that has a steering wheel that is not centered. The natural position is at 1 or 2 o'clock.
Will this be corrected if I go in for a standard 4-wheel alignment?
This is true, but if a steering wheel is centered on a non-centered rack (one tie rod is significantly longer than the other) the Ackerman effect built into the steering geometry will get screwed up. This leads to one wheel steering faster than the other when you turn the steering wheel which is generally not desirable for a street driven car and leads to strange handling issues during cornering. Dirt track and oval racers will sometimes intentionally set their steering racks off center for better turn in for the one direction they need to turn for a specific track, but they aren't worried about turning the other direction. Here is a short article on Ackerman that describes it well: Ackerman Effect If your alignment shop centers your steering wheel by excessive adjustment of only one tie rod (asymmetric tie rod lengths) or by simply unbolting the steering wheel and repositioning it to center it, you need to find a new alignment shop.Steering wheels for the most part are designed to be centered to allow clear view of all the instruments.
+1Here's what the Lotus Service Manual has to say:
Steering Wheel Alignment
Ideally, the steering wheel should align in the straight running position, with the steering rack centralised and with equal track rod lengths. In practice, a minor compromise to track rod lengths may have to be made.
To arrive at the optimum setting, proceed as follows:
Note that only one splined joint in the steering system allows a choice of position, this being the lower jointto rack pinion shaft.
1. Set the front wheel alignment to specification with equal track rod lengths (see sub-section CI.2). Lotus Service Notes Section HG Page 5
2. Turn the steering to each full lock in turn and set the steering wheel on the column splines such that its orientation in one full lock position is the nearest possible mirror image of its position at the opposite fulllock.
3. Secure the steering wheel before road testing the car and marking the actual 'straight ahead' position of the steering wheel which should deviate from the ideal position by less than 5°. Final alignment is achieved by asymmetric adjustment of the track rods, retaining the overall toe-out setting.
That's how I've always seen guys align my cars. I've asked them about that, and been told that centering the wheel is part of the alignment.+1
Whenever I check my front toe, I always make sure the steering wheel is perfectly centered (I hold a level up to the horizontal lines on the airbag cover). Then I check both the individual toe of each front wheel and the total toe. If I need to make a toe adjustment, I adjust each track rod so that the individual toe is as close to symmetric as possible. The result is that my steering wheel is perfectly centered when running straight.
Just had Ritchie replace my rack. first you need to even the tie rod ends on the rack. measure the exposed thread on each side and add them up and divide by 2.. then drive the car note the position of the steering wheel . remove the steering wheel and reposition it on the shaft to center or as close as you can . then fine tune with the tie rods, also make sure your rear toe is even its very important. carlSo I installed a Titan QR with a friend of mine who is a long time Audi mechanic. We followed the manufacturer instructions, but my friend wasn't too concerned with keeping the steering wheel taped in a centered position. I taped it but between crawling under the the wheel and all the getting in and getting out we moved it a little. When we lowered the car from the lift and drove it the wheel was at like 10 or 11 o'clock, and we thought the alignment shop would be able to center the wheel. I brought it to the alignment shop but the guy said there wasn't enough thread on the tie rod ends to center the wheel. Basically explaining that he had to use all the thread to put the wheels in line, and he wouldn't be able to center the wheel. Does that make sense? Do I have to start over? He advised taking the rack out, turning it to the max in one direction, then half way back (to center), place the tie rod ends equidistant, reinstall, making sure wheel is centered, then realign:shrug:. What are my options?