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Scary handling

Hi. N00b here. Not just to forums but to Porsche motoring. Got my first, an 87 944 S a few months back.

Lately I've been noticing a certain "vagueness" in the steering. That feeling you get when you drive on a heavy frost or ice. Steering feels alot lighter then when I first got the car.

Especially on roundabouts/ring roads. Seems like the thing doesnt want to corner right.

The worst was last week. As I was heading home from work, I was on a twisty country road. Pitch black and kinda damp out so I wasn't driving enthusiastically. When cornering left, the rear end just broke away. 180 degrease later I ended up in a ditch. No damage to the car but scary as hell.

The last car I worked on was an old 1980 triumph spitfire. Just about as simple as they come. But I have no idea where to begin with things like power steering etc etc.

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!
Old 12-21-2005, 11:54 AM
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tire pressure?
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Old 12-21-2005, 11:56 AM
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Could be a bad strut (s).
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Old 12-21-2005, 12:11 PM
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Besides the things listed above, it could also be worn tires or a bad tie rod end.

I'd take the car to a tire shop, have them do an alignment. If a tie rod is bad, they should tell you. If your tires are worn, a good shop should be checking the specs on those, too. Same with struts and shocks.

(I had the exact same problem on my truck. Not that I expect 944 handling out of it, but the steering got very vague recently. I took it in for an alignment and discovered that I had a bad tie-rod end and my tires were right at the wear limit. A new tie rod end and a new set of tires later, my truck is handling better than I ever though possible.)
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Last edited by legion; 12-21-2005 at 12:20 PM..
Old 12-21-2005, 12:18 PM
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Bad u-joints on the lower steering shaft possibly.When i had my s2 it was really scary - would suddenly wander (not like tramlining) and was very un-nerving if i was putting my foot down.Bought a new shaft and the problem went.Grab the steering shaft where it comes out of the firewall and see if there's any movement in the joints.
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Old 12-21-2005, 12:57 PM
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if you were cornering left and the rear end kicked out from behind you, i dont really think that would be a tie rod problem (although i'm sure stranger things have happened... get them checked anyway.)

I'd be putting my money on your tires being the source of the problem..
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Old 12-21-2005, 01:36 PM
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The vagueness from the front end could be a few things, as the others have suggested first get the alignment checked. If this doesn't improve things then there are a few things that could be causing this effect.

Wear in the steering rack, wear in the track rod ends, wear in the ball joints, the dampers and the bearings could be causing this problem.

I've had a similar "whoa ****e!" there goes the tail moment when in the wet, to be honest it wasn't just one moment it was several over a few days culminating with one spectacular slide whilst gently turning into a hairpin.

Soon after I had the geometry checked, it was miles out. The handling of these cars when set up properly is pretty safe and friendly, you need to be pretty aggresive to get the tail move on an N/A 944.
Old 12-21-2005, 01:44 PM
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Thanks guys. Tire pressure is gonna be the first thing I check. An was planning on having it tracked and balanced over xmas, so I'll get them to have a good look while it's downt there.
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Old 12-21-2005, 02:05 PM
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Check and adjust your wheel bearings - cheap & easy.
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Old 12-21-2005, 02:42 PM
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IMO

2 posts. Don't know ya. Are you gonna work out the problem and fix it yourself, or send it out anyway?

Sounds like a problem for sure. WHAT it is, could be many, many things.

If your not gonna go after fixing it yourself, take it to someone who HAS experience with these cars, to find out whats going on. Sounds scary for sure! "vagueness" is not something you should EVER feel with these cars.

If ya want to fix it yourself, then do the above, get the diagnoses, and then do it. Don't delay.
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Old 12-21-2005, 05:54 PM
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If the back end breaks loose, it seems to me the back end may be the one out of alignment unless you feel the front break loose first. If the tires are not flat on the pavement back there, they will break loose and make the back slide. Of course the front sliding around can also break the back loose, but I would check the back first. I would have the caster camber on the back wheels checked as well as struts. It could still be anything to do with suspension or steering....jack the car up and start shaking things to see what is loose. After checking the wheels for looseness, then move on to the steering components such as tie rods, front struts, steering components. There will be something with excess play somewhere, or one or more wheels are out of alignment. These cars should handle very well. Hope this helps.

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Old 12-21-2005, 07:13 PM
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If it's DIY-able then I'll surley do the work myself. Although like I said, this being my first 944 and all, I'm not to clued up on it, so maybe having a garage do the work ( if major) is a good idea.

Had the car jacked up in the air after my little off. As it was th rear that lead the way into the ditch i ended up in. All seems fine on the back. Nothing loose. Just the CV joints sound a little dry.

The feel of the steering feels alot "lighter" than it did when I first got the car. As I distinctly remember thinking that the steering had a nice feel for a PAS equipped car ( I generally dont like the feel of PAS after driving a Spitfire for 5 years)

So first things, tire pressure. Check on the steering shaft UV joints. I'm also gonna check up over the PAS system, fluid leaks etc.

Thanks for the advice so far guys
Old 12-22-2005, 12:09 AM
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not just tire pressure, but tire tread too..
out of curiousity, what rubber DO you have on that car?
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Old 12-22-2005, 12:23 AM
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Thanks. Tread looks good. And other than it having Michelin's on the fronts and Firestones on the rear both 225/50 width/ratio I can't say much more. Until I get a better look at them.
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Old 12-22-2005, 02:04 AM
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Mixing tires is never a good plan. I concur with all the other inspection points and would add checking the steering rack and powersteering fluid level.
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Old 12-22-2005, 03:34 AM
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My guess: front sway bar drop link or clamp is broken.
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Old 12-22-2005, 05:54 AM
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Your 944 is almost 19 years old. If the suspension has never been rebuilt (bearings, shocks, bushings, ball joints, tie rod ends, etc) it might be time. Your problems may be due to multiple components going bad at the same time. Don't wait until the critical component breaks. After I did my '84 she handled like a new car. It was sweet.

Suggestions:
*It's much easier to do the entire front end or back end at the same time. Pull it all apart and put it back together with new stuff.
*Be VERY CAREFUL with the front shocks/springs. They can be very dangerous. If you have never fooled with these then do the rest of the front end and have a shop replace the shocks/springs.
*Do a search of this BBS. There are a few how-to write ups for the suspension. I did one about a year back for the front end.

Cheers
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Old 12-22-2005, 08:04 AM
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Question

i notice you didn't mention how fast you were going and are now trying to blame it on the suspension and who can guess what else.

i wonder if damp really means wet and if you were traveling too fast for conditions.

you didn't mention a ppi before buying and that's where you find out what's good and what ain't.

until it's on a rack and can be looked at by someone who knows what they're doing, you won't know if something broke, is worn out or needs to be replaced.

i'm anxious to hear if it was a mechanical problem and what broke.
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Old 12-22-2005, 03:05 PM
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Heh, nope, I was easily under the limit for the conditions of the road. I.e, no street light and damp/greasy driving conidtions. Which is why it supprised me that it just slipped away so easily. And if there's one thing I can't stand is these "young un's" in souped up 999cc compacts tear-arsing around the streets. (I'm 25)

I've got 2 weeks off over xmas so I'll be able to have a good look at things.
Old 12-22-2005, 11:48 PM
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If you were driving reasonably (which I suspect you were), then I'd be looking into the suspension.
Check what condition the shocks are in, check tie rod ends, ball joints, and have it aligned. These cars are very simple once you get familliar with them. A great resource is Clark's garage ( www.clarks-garage.com ), I have probably read every page of the garage shop manual twice, and am still learning things.
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Old 12-23-2005, 12:11 AM
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