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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?
 

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Couldn't tell you for sure...but the fact that it isn't centered should raise some serious red flags.
 

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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?
That's way out of spec... 1 o'clock is equivalent to 30º from vertical... anything more that 10º means something is wrong...

It could be that the front toe was adjusted improperly (only one side was adjusted, and even then quite a bit), it could be that the rear toe is seriously asymmetric, or the steering rack was replaced/reconnected incorrectly. And then there's always a bent suspension/chassis...
 

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According to the service manual the steering wheel can only fit in one position on the shaft. The only correct way to center the steering wheel is to adjust it at the lower steering column U-joint clamp to the centered rack pinion. Each tooth on the splined pinion is 5 degrees, so 5 degrees at the steering wheel is the maximum amount of adjustment to center the steering wheel that is allowed via asymmetric tie rod adjustment. If your car has been this way since you bought it, I would suspect either it has some bent front suspension parts, or an alignment shop royally screwed up when they performed the last alignment. I hope for your sake it is the latter and you can have the alignment corrected.
 

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The short answer is YES - both in that it should be centred and it will be in a full alignment.
 

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Yes, the steering wheel should be centered in an alignment. You don't even have to get a 4-wheel, but in the case of the Lotus I'd go ahead and do it. You can find the best target numbers if you search around here.

I'd go to a shop that will allow you to see the measurements before and after their alignment so that you know how close they got to what you asked for.

I had a recent alignment (just a two wheel) on one of the DDs and when I got the car back the steering wheel was a decent bit off center. The car also had a bit of a pull. I had to take it back and have them make it right. Very frustrating.
 

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Steering wheels for the most part are designed to be centered to allow clear view of all the instruments.
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.
 

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If you get it aligned someplace like Sears or Walmart... well let's just say you get what you pay for.
 

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I wouldn't expect anyone to do it unless you call it to their attention.
 

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My thoughts,

I've had alignments done on some mid 80s Toyotas. Sometimes the steering wheel ends up not being centered properly. I always take it back and the garage adjusts it for free. For older cars I think it is a lot of extra work for them to readjust but I've heard on newer cars it is probably easier.

Nevertheless, get it sorted if it bothers you. It always bothered me.

By the way I think that the car will drive properly anyways, so it is sort of a cosmetic issue.

I've had the steering wheel out by as much as 50 degrees. If it is anything above 15 degrees away from center I complain.
 

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Mine came new with the steering wheel off-center and had it fixed with an alignment.

How you fix it depends on how the wheel is off center. It could either be because the track rods need adjusting (fixed with an alignment) or the steering column lower u-joint to rack is on the wrong spline (fixed by releasing the rack and reseating it).

It's not just a matter of taking the steering wheel off and putting it back on centered, you need to ensure that the steering rack is first centered first by measuring the track rod ends.
 

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Here'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.
 

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Here'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.
+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.

This assumes, of course, that the steering shaft is correctly aligned with the rack, and not grossly misaligned in step 2 above
 

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+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.
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.
 

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So 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?
 

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by the way, the guy at the alignment shop also said that the car was aligned perfectly now, and I drove it pretty hard through the canyons on the way home. It felt great, just looks silly and its driving me crazy.
 

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So 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?
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. carl
 
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