Question about 1989 Pontiac Bonneville

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1989 Bonneville Hard to turn.

I have a 1989 Bonneville that has become very hard to turn. Normal straight road or gentle curves are not a problem. Turning a corner at an intersection is the problem. It feels like a Universal Joint binding when I turn. That is, the resistance goes up and down as you turn. Or another way to describe it, resistance then break free over and over as you turn. If I put it up on jacks, it turns very freely in both directions, no binding. I don't feel any excessive play in any direction in the steering wheel or in the drive wheels. I have looked at the U-Joints in the steering column and visually appear to be in good shape. How do I determine if the problem is the U-Joints or farther down in the steering without tearing everything apart? Is anyone familiar with this problem?

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  • dardo13 Jul 17, 2009

    I was wrong on the year. It is a 1992 rather than 1989. I mixed up my daughters cars. Would the diagnosis still be the same



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The problem u are discribing is a failing rack and penion sterring control, the symptoms fit 100%
a rebuilt unit is less than $150.00 there is a tag on the steering unit you will need the number off that tag to get the correct part, there were a number of diff ones used in your car.

Posted on Jul 17, 2009


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1. I would not be concerned because if there was a failure in the ABS you would definitely get an ABS warning light and the ABS and most likely the stability control/traction control systems (with added warning lights) will all switch off .

2. You can test if the ABS is operational. On a very quiet damp surface, straight, wide road( with NO other cars around), apply your brakes hard from a very low speed - up to 20 mph ONLY driving in a straight line - until the car stops. The front brakes should attempt to lock up under hard braking and if the ABS is operational you will feel it kick in and the brake pedal will pulsate as the ABS constantly allows brake pressure and then releases it to prevent the wheels from locking up on the damp road. If the ABS does not kick in be ready to release the brake pedal quickly to allow the wheels to rotate so you can steer the car safely. Without the ABS the front wheels should begin to lock up on the damp road surface due to the low level of tire grip. ONLY test this at very low speed and ONLY when driving in a straight line on a straight section of wide road with no other vehicles around.

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If the struts are shot as you say then they need to be changed. Continued driving will only worsen them. This will result in increasing problems controlling the cars movements especially when going over bumps. The car will start to wander all over the road and it will become increasingly difficult to maintain a straight line while driving. At some point they will probably break without warning. Worn shocks will greatly shorten the life of ball joints and tie rod ends, not to mention tires.
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Cars need routine maintenance to stay roadworthy and struts wear out. They need to be repaired on a regular basis. Suit yourself but ignoring or putting off the repair will only cost you more money down the road. At this point in time you have control over what that cost will be, down the road you may not have that option. Hope this helps.

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