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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My g/f has an 03 xterra with a funky front end issue. Had the entire front checked at a reputable suspension specialist (buddy works there too) everything checked out ok cept for the rear sway bar bushings (replaced). Power steering pump has been seeping and we knew this and they said it was prob. shot and could be causing this issue. I'm going to replace it soon as she orders it. Now for what it's doing... If any of you have prev. owned an older 4x4 with a steering dampener in the front that is going bad than you'll know exactly what I mean when I say the front wobbles. 50 mph is the worst. Everything in front but the p/s pump checked out. Is the pump crapping out common for this gen? If so could it be creating the symptoms she's getting? Tires also wearing correctly, lugs tight, wheel bearings I re-packed less than 15k ago when I did her rotors. I know there are lots of similarities between these and the frontys so thats why I'm asking. It isn't wandering so much as a side to side shimmy/wobble. Any thoughts appreciated.
 

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Make sure its not any of the lines to the PS pump before you replace the pump itself, I have seen lines leak a bit on these trucks as did mine. Also double check the idler is good because those definitely go out on first gens and can cause the shimmy you describe... just a couple suggestions.

.... also if this truck is stock right?
 

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Wheels balanced?
Did she hit a curb?
Is there play in the steering (wheels not moving when the steering wheel turns).
How many miles?
Bent rim?

Because you repacked the bering doesn't mean it's not worn. How about the races?
Lift the SUV place one hand on top the wheel and one on the bottom if you can move the wheel in and out then you need bearings or races or both I'd replace both).


I have never really heard too many people stating their PS pump was failing causing this issue. Actually never heard too many people saying that their PS pump fail. So, no, I don't think it's common. What has been more common is the center link and steering box itself.


I'm going to say an unbalanced tire. I had this before and I'd only notice it at around 55 mph. However, it would not pull to either side so if the SUV is pulling then it could be front end alignment and a unbalanced tire.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Well front was aligned when it just went in. Races/bearings are good (no wheel movement) No curb strikes, tires balanced. Not a unbalanced type of hop...more side to side wobble causing the steering wheel to wobble (turn) like I said it feels like a truck with a bad steering damper.(tho it doesn't have one.) Truck is stock 149k on it but like I said it was completely gone through (inspection at the susp. place). Idler arm just replaced by me 2wks. ago. Center link, and steering box checked out too. puzzled. Even checked for a blown tread in the tires but nothing.
 

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One way to make sure it's not wheel related is to take of the wheels from back and place on front.

I'm no expert but if all your parts in the steering are solid (as you think) and it's been aligned (as say the alignment expert) I'd say it's in the wheels. Here is why. I took my wheels to get them balanced and they did just that when they mounted my tires on new rims. The NISMO rims are all nice and I did not want lead weights on the outside, I wanted sticky weights on inside. And at about 45 - 55 mphs the front end would start to shake. I had to find a new place to rebalance the wheels. Like I said I am no expert but switching the wheels should give you a different feel if it's the wheels.
 

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I'm with Joe on this one. What it sounds like is a balance/truing issue with the wheels/tires, and the reason why you get the shimmy is that you have some worn steering parts (most likely the centerlink) that cannot restrain the wobble from the tires.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks gang! My buddy who works at the place I took it is going to talk to his boss to see if they can't take it in pro-bono as it obviously still has an issue. He seems to think they'll gladly do it. (he's one of their head mechs. been there over 20yrs.) I'm going to look into the tires more. She did have them recently rotated and I did check psi on them.I'll have to get it in the air again and recheck torque and such. Center -link sounds like a def poss. It def. isn't right. She said it did it a little before the last rotation. Never was a fan of chasing down a diagnosis.
 

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I think you hit the head of the nail. If it did it a little bit before rotation and does it more now then it has to be the tires/rim/balancing/all. She could have felt the wobble in the seat more than the steering wheel. If that was the case then it means that you moved the wobbly wheel up front. Remember rotation is just front to back. The guys that rotated the tires may have done a cross pattern.
 
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