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Thread: DIY Sticky/Clunky Steering Fix

  1. #76
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Denver, CO
    Posts
    3
    My Cars
    2005 BMW Z4
    Quote Originally Posted by Bmwha View Post
    I recently purchased two '03 Z4 3.0i's for my son and me. Living in Florida, it is in the 90s every day. When purchased, my car's steering did slightly stick. As time went on, the steering stuck so much the car became difficult to drive. This drove me to take matters in my own hands after reporting the flaw to highway safety. Being a mechanic my whole life, enough was enough. This is how I fixed mine-- yours may be different and this guide is for informational purposes only. I take no responsibility for anything you do on your own, this serves as educational information to the community. Try at your own risk.

    1) After several hours of investigating the location of the problem, I disconnected the battery.

    2) I moved the driver's seat as far back as possible before disconnecting.

    3) I then removed the panel below the airbag panel. It has 4 screws.

    4) Disconnected interior light wires and moved the panel aside.

    5) The steering column is made in two pieces. The upper and lower part. I located where the two aluminum housings bolt together.

    6) I then took a 1/8" drill bit and drilled a hole exactly dead center where the upper and lower housing come together. When drilling through the aluminum, the drill drills quickly through the aluminum and kind of comes to a stop. At this point, I feel the drill bit hitting the post. Stop before going through the post.

    7) Acquire a long shanked grease fitting (these are self tapping).

    8)In my case, I then bored that original hole with a 7/64" drill bit about 1/8" deep to expand the beginning of the hole to accommodate the grease fitting.

    9) Started the grease fitting with a ratchet and socket while holding it straight and turning at the same time until the fitting starts to seat itself. Took about two turns.

    10) Then, I got my grease gun, pumped 2 squirts of grease (this may vary, try 1 pump and go from there) and reassembled the car.

    11) Problem fixed for over a month and the steering is smooth again. If the problem arises again, grease again.

    Let me know if you have any questions. I can't put up pics because I'm new but I'll be glad to email you them.
    Hi. Can you tell me where I can find a self tapping zerk? I have tried the local auto parts places and home depot. I have drilled in the spot BMWha shown but only had regular zerks, not self tapping. I tried to make some threads but it's not deep enough.

    Another question, when you drill into the spot, can you see right through it if you shine a light into it? Will it look hollow? Just wondering if I drilled deep enough. When I look in, I can see an opening to the side but not straight, if that makes sense. Any help would be appreciated.

  2. #77
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    The Netherlands
    Posts
    1
    My Cars
    2003, BMW Z4 3.0
    Thanks BMWha! I live in the Netherlands and have a 2003 BMW Z4 3.0.
    Unfortunately my car has also a lot of sticky steering. Because of the sticky steering became worse I decided to follow your instructions.
    Thanks to your excellent write-up I was able to resolve my sticky steering problems!!!!!
    Thanks again for this fix! The sticky steering is gone!

  3. #78
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    1
    My Cars
    E85 Z4 Evo, E91 320d,
    hello guys It would be very interesting, what kind of grease you used, for fix the sticky steering Problem. regards utzeman

  4. #79
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Fl
    Posts
    124
    My Cars
    2003 Z4 3.0i
    Excellent, I'm glad it worked for you Mbo. Utzeman, I believe any standard car chassis grease would work.

  5. #80
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Victoria BC
    Posts
    109
    My Cars
    2004 Z4 3.0 6 speed
    Quote Originally Posted by Bmwha View Post


    6) I then took a 1/8" drill bit and drilled a hole exactly dead center where the upper and lower housing come together. When drilling through the aluminum, the drill drills quickly through the aluminum and kind of comes to a stop. At this point, I feel the drill bit hitting the post. Stop before going through the post.


    8)In my case, I then bored that original hole with a 7/64" drill bit about 1/8" deep to expand the beginning of the hole to accommodate the grease fitting.
    Bmwha...Can I assume #8 is a typo and you expanded it to 9/64" from 1/8" which is 8/64? Any particular reason the entire hole could not be 9/64"?

    Thanks...

  6. #81
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    SCOTLAND
    Posts
    1
    My Cars
    735I E38
    Had to do this to my missus's 55 plate 2.0. It always felt like it had a notch either side of the straight ahead position, which was worse when the car got hot inside. aircon blowing to floor cooled the column and made it less of a problem but it was still there. After checking out an old column, you can make life easier if you want by drilling into the front face of the housing, go gently as its not the thickest bit of alloy, you can do it from the drivers seat as you look under the dash, saves you having to try and squeeze under the dash to see what you are doing. Total transformation in the steering on the car, don't think it was ever so smooth. Three or four shots of grease job done....no more sticky steering.

  7. #82
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Victoria BC
    Posts
    109
    My Cars
    2004 Z4 3.0 6 speed
    Quote Originally Posted by scottie999 View Post
    Had to do this to my missus's 55 plate 2.0. It always felt like it had a notch either side of the straight ahead position, which was worse when the car got hot inside. aircon blowing to floor cooled the column and made it less of a problem but it was still there. After checking out an old column, you can make life easier if you want by drilling into the front face of the housing, go gently as its not the thickest bit of alloy, you can do it from the drivers seat as you look under the dash, saves you having to try and squeeze under the dash to see what you are doing. Total transformation in the steering on the car, don't think it was ever so smooth. Three or four shots of grease job done....no more sticky steering.
    Any Chance of a photo showing the location of your grease zerk please?

  8. #83
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Fl
    Posts
    124
    My Cars
    2003 Z4 3.0i
    Quote Originally Posted by Stromtech View Post
    Bmwha...Can I assume #8 is a typo and you expanded it to 9/64" from 1/8" which is 8/64? Any particular reason the entire hole could not be 9/64"?

    Thanks...
    As long as the grease fitting can make its own threads in the hole without falling out, you're good. Pictures and video are posted in the thread. Let me know if you need more.
    Last edited by Bmwha; 07-24-2013 at 09:44 PM.

  9. #84
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Conroe, TX USA
    Posts
    2
    My Cars
    Z4 04
    Hi, I have an 04 Z4 sticky steering, I drilled a hole where the two pieces meet and did not put a grease fitting, but got a needle attachment for the grease gun and pumped 3- 4 shots in it. It did not help, so I figured maybe the grease was not getting to where it needs to be, so I got spray can of lithium white grease with a long plastic nozzle and sprayed about 10 shots up in it, it did not help either. I measured the depth of the hole and measure about 5/8" before hitting bottom. Do you have any idea if my hole is not deep enough, but thought I was hitting something solid? Do you have any other suggestions? Thanks, Glenn, Lake Conroe, TX

  10. #85
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Victoria BC
    Posts
    109
    My Cars
    2004 Z4 3.0 6 speed
    Glen...I tried a similar idea, drilled the hole and then inserted a spray tube and shot some Rem Oil (Remington Gun Oil with silicon) into the area. It has made a considerable difference. I don't get the stick on center nightmare I had before so driving in a straight line at speed is now a pleasure. The steering just feels a touch heavier after parking in the hot sun, but much smoother and not sticky.

    I think adding the Zerk and pumping in grease would force lube into areas that spraying does not get to. My first spray did nothing so I cut the end of the straw at 45 degrees and rotated the can while I sprayed. That did the trick as it sprayed more to the side. I'll try a couple more spray shots as I prefer using a thin oil. I am concerned grease might dry up and be impossible to remove later.

    But this does show that Bmwha has nailed the problem. Scottie seems to have found another drilling location but no pics yet to show exactly where to drill...not sure if his car is the same as I don't know what a 55 plate 2.0 is. I don't see the spot Scottie talked about when I'm sitting in the drivers seat...but again Scottie's solution indicates that the problem can be resolved with lube.

  11. #86
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Northeast US
    Posts
    3
    My Cars
    2005 Z4 3.0i
    Hi Stromtech. I like the no grease alternative idea as well. When you say you shot "some" lube would you estimate it was the equivalent of a few pumps of grease ? A couple of 10 second shots or a quarter of a can? If the sticky steering problem is gone, would you please explain why you plan to try a couple more spray shots? It has been a few days since you wrote your post. What is the outcome? Thanks in advance.
    Last edited by natspar; 08-09-2013 at 02:01 PM.

  12. #87
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Victoria BC
    Posts
    109
    My Cars
    2004 Z4 3.0 6 speed
    Natspar...I shot the lube for about 10 seconds and then rotated the straw and did another 10...

    Since my last post I have not had any sticky or notchy steering and it has been very hot here.....the only thing I have noticed, and it could be because I am constantly feeling for trouble, is the steering feels a bit heavier after the car parked in the hot sun...not sticky or notchy, just seems a bit heavier. That's why I intend to blast some more Rem Oil in there... quite a bit drips out after spraying so best to put some rags down on the carpet.
    Overall, I am now very happy with the way it is ...time will tell how long it lasts but if I have to spray some oil once a year it's a far cry from replacing the steering column. I left the under dash panel off for now.

  13. #88
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Northeast US
    Posts
    3
    My Cars
    2005 Z4 3.0i
    Thanks for the clarification. Leakage only from the injection site or from other locations along the shaft or housing ?

  14. #89
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Victoria BC
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    109
    My Cars
    2004 Z4 3.0 6 speed
    Only from the injection site...i think it's the lube that splashes back off the shaft...that's why i cut the end of the tube 45 degrees to try and get it to spray more to the side. That did the trick for me

  15. #90
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Northeast US
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    2005 Z4 3.0i
    The 45 degree cut was a perfect solution. It's cold and rainy today so I'll give it a try tomorrow. Thanks for the details.

  16. #91
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Conroe, TX USA
    Posts
    2
    My Cars
    Z4 04
    I cut the 45 degree angle and this made the difference. My results are similar to yours, sort of heavy but not notchy......vast improvement. Thanks!!!!!

  17. #92
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Victoria BC
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    109
    My Cars
    2004 Z4 3.0 6 speed
    Yes, from what I have read on the NHTSA site, BMW re-engineered the steering column in June 2006 with increased tolerances and changed to a new lubricant. I suspect the tightness we feel is due to the tolerance issue and the column is binding when something expands in the heat. The lubricant has taken away the notchy stick on center feel which is a vast improvement. The car is once more fun to drive.
    I also noticed the car getting better each day so perhaps it's taken a bit of time for the oil to work it's way into the right places...I plan to blast more in soon and see if there is any further improvement. With the under dash panel off it's very easy, only a couple of minutes to shoot some in.

    We should all thank Bmwha for coming up with the idea and producing the video on where to drill and lube.

  18. #93
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Williamsburg, VA
    Posts
    1
    My Cars
    2004 BMW Z4 2.5l
    I too have the sticky steering problem with my 2004 Z4. During the summer in Virginia it is at its worst. Thanks to BMWHA for apparently solving the problem. My only concern is that those who have tried it are introducing a variety of lubricants into the steering gear that may not be compatible with the components. BMW changed to Kyodo Yushi Multemp SC-U in 2006 but I have not been able to find a source for this grease in the US. I want to try this fix but I am concerned that regular auto grease or other products may damage the gears. The Kyodo website lists this product as "High-temperature long-life grease for plastic parts. Contains special plastic lubricity improver and effectively reduces friction of plastic gears exposed to high surface pressure. Suitable for EPS plastic gears."

  19. #94
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Victoria BC
    Posts
    109
    My Cars
    2004 Z4 3.0 6 speed
    Quote Originally Posted by Z Vier View Post
    I too have the sticky steering problem with my 2004 Z4. During the summer in Virginia it is at its worst. Thanks to BMWHA for apparently solving the problem. My only concern is that those who have tried it are introducing a variety of lubricants into the steering gear that may not be compatible with the components. BMW changed to Kyodo Yushi Multemp SC-U in 2006 but I have not been able to find a source for this grease in the US. I want to try this fix but I am concerned that regular auto grease or other products may damage the gears. The Kyodo website lists this product as "High-temperature long-life grease for plastic parts. Contains special plastic lubricity improver and effectively reduces friction of plastic gears exposed to high surface pressure. Suitable for EPS plastic gears."
    If you source that lubricant please let us know...in the meantime my Rem Oil has eliminated my sticky steering and I seriously doubt a fine gun oil will damage any plastic or other parts. Plastic gears in appliances and other items have been lubricated with various grease products for many years and I am not aware of a plastic gear deteriorating or failing due to a lubricant. I think it could be many years after I sell the car before that comes into play. I would venture that not lubing the gears will more likely expose them to possible damage, that sticky notchy binding has to be hard on them.

    As far as I'm concerned the alternative was to be over $3000 for a replacement column so I'm happy to accept the minor risk and the great steering.

  20. #95
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Cedar Falls,Iowa
    Posts
    2
    My Cars
    2005 z4
    Quote Originally Posted by Stromtech View Post
    If you source that lubricant please let us know...in the meantime my Rem Oil has eliminated my sticky steering and I seriously doubt a fine gun oil will damage any plastic or other parts. Plastic gears in appliances and other items have been lubricated with various grease products for many years and I am not aware of a plastic gear deteriorating or failing due to a lubricant. I think it could be many years after I sell the car before that comes into play. I would venture that not lubing the gears will more likely expose them to possible damage, that sticky notchy binding has to be hard on them.

    As far as I'm concerned the alternative was to be over $3000 for a replacement column so I'm happy to accept the minor risk and the great steering.
    Looking for a little help. I drilled a hole in the spot that was indicated 5/8" deep. It did not appear to go all the way through housing to the rod. My hole was a little off center so would I need to go deeper to get to the rod? I like the idea of the spray but I'm guessing if the hole is opened up to the actual rod it won't do any good. I'm a little hesitant to go further without clarification. Thanks

  21. #96
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Victoria BC
    Posts
    109
    My Cars
    2004 Z4 3.0 6 speed
    Quote Originally Posted by z4iowa View Post
    Looking for a little help. I drilled a hole in the spot that was indicated 5/8" deep. It did not appear to go all the way through housing to the rod. My hole was a little off center so would I need to go deeper to get to the rod? I like the idea of the spray but I'm guessing if the hole is opened up to the actual rod it won't do any good. I'm a little hesitant to go further without clarification. Thanks
    When I was through the soft metal the drill bit hit the steering shaft which is hard steel...You will know when you are through because the drill will be reluctant to go further. If you are dead center or close to the center you will hit the post after getting through the 5/8 soft metal. I'm guessing the shaft is at least one inch so you would have to be way off center to miss it but the further off center the deeper the shaft will be. Use a 1/8 or slightly larger bit such as 9/64 and it will provide lots of room for the spray straw to be wiggled about.

    My steering is like new again, no sticky steering, no notchy steering and after the lube has now worked in, no tighter steering when hot anymore. I'm ready to re-install the under dash panel...that's how confident I am that this will last. If I have to do it once a year I consider it nothing compared to three thousand plus dollars. Bmwha nailed this problem.

  22. #97
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Wallkill, NY
    Posts
    1
    My Cars
    2004 Z4 2.5
    Performed Bmwha fix yesterday - had been dealing with the sticky steering off/on, but was leery of drilling into the column. However, given $3500+ repair or 30mins of time to try to resolve squirreling steering, chose the latter. I went with Stromtech version using Rem Oil w/ 45 degree cut to spray tube. Left car sitting in sun all day (although sunny, temp was only around 68 degrees NY). Interior hot but not as hot as say on 80+ degree days when problem really noticeable. Drove for around 1/2 hour and did not notice any stiffness nor tightness, but will continue to monitor. To all on this thread, especially Bmwha, thanks! Technical details - used 1/8" drill bit, centered to 5/8" depth. When I sprayed the lube, heard the fluid going inside, only a little dripped back out of hole. Going to leave under dash panel off for now in case I need to spray more.

  23. #98
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    KL, Malaysia
    Posts
    2
    My Cars
    2003 Z4
    Hi BMWHA,
    i have the same sticky steering on my z4 3.0 2003, i almost felt-up of this. Glad to see your post. could you pls email me the video(if you have it), and more pictures.
    Thank you.


    terence
    Last edited by terenceltw; 12-21-2013 at 02:38 AM.

  24. #99
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    KL, Malaysia
    Posts
    2
    My Cars
    2003 Z4

    Thumbs up

    Hi Guys,

    Did the same, it fixed.

    Thanks BMWHA.

  25. #100
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Maarssen, The Netherlands
    Posts
    1
    My Cars
    BMW Z4 3.0i, 2003
    Hi BMWha, (hope you reed this after 2 years since you posted your sticky steering topic)
    I'm Roel van Hunnik, a 58 year old guy in the Netherlands, an I recentley bought my first Z4. a 2003 3.0i. Stuppid enough I didn't reed the Bimmer forums beforehand so now I think I got a sticky-steering nice little z4. (when will I ever learn?)
    Before I start srewing and drilling I like to ask you if your reapair method hold out. In other words: Do you stil have your Z4 and is it stil steering well?
    Hope to hear from you. If not Thanks for putting my nose in the right direction. I will try and watch this forum but I won't mind if you email me direct :-)
    Best regards, Roel G van Hunnik.

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