torque steer issue

TornadoRed

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Aug 3, 2003
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Saint Paul (ex-San Diego)
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2003 Golf GL 5-spd, red; 2003 Golf GLS 5-spd, indigo blue; 2003 Jetta TDI wagon, Candy White
I have looked at other threads and none seemed to suggest a solution to my problem.

Lately my Golf has been experiencing what first seemed like "vagueness" with the steering. Pushing down on the accelerator causes the front end to move slightly to the left; lifting off the accelerator moves it to the right. With cruise control on, none of this happens.

The Golf's suspension has seen a few repairs in the last year: a new set of Koni Reds f&r, control arm bushings on both sides, ball joint on the right, tie rod assembly, sway bar bushing, left hub and bearing. I had the tires rotated and alignment checked, with no effect.

I'm hoping there is something wrong with the Golf, because otherwise I have an inner ear problem, which would be tougher to fix.

Suggestions?
 

Zrowley

Active member
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Mar 19, 2012
Location
Ohio
TDI
2000 Jetta
I recently put coilovers on my jetta. Lowered 2 1/2 in and replaced all my bushings with polyurethane and it threw off my alignment and started to get a little torque steer like your describing. Had an alignment done and fixed my problem.

Also a side note. In the manual transmission VW put in soft engine mounts. If you have done any performance mods you will get torque steer unless you upgrade your dogbone mount and engine mounts.

Hope this helps
 

TornadoRed

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Saint Paul (ex-San Diego)
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2003 Golf GL 5-spd, red; 2003 Golf GLS 5-spd, indigo blue; 2003 Jetta TDI wagon, Candy White
Thanks for your response, Zrowley. But this problem seems to have begun, or at least worsened to the point I sense it routinely, in just the last several weeks. Nothing has been done performance-wise in the past few years.

As I reported, the alignment was checked and this included an inspection of the suspension and steering components. As for the dogbone mount, I tried a stiffer one several months ago and there was so much vibration being transmitted to the chassis, and to me, to make the car very unpleasant to drive. So I went back to a stock component, and everything was fine until recently. So, do you think it could be an engine mount issue?
 

TornadoRed

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2003 Golf GL 5-spd, red; 2003 Golf GLS 5-spd, indigo blue; 2003 Jetta TDI wagon, Candy White
Someone I trust will be taking a look at it tomorrow. I intend to suggest that it might be a motor mount issue, as that is what's left after I eliminate suspension and steering components as the reason.
 

Curious Chris

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Jun 11, 2001
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Pineview GA
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Jetta Wagon 2003 RIP Rockford IL
What happens when you jam the accelerator around a corner? If it pulls to inside then it is classic torque steer.

I used to have this until I put in my WaveTrac LSD.
 

TornadoRed

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Aug 3, 2003
Location
Saint Paul (ex-San Diego)
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2003 Golf GL 5-spd, red; 2003 Golf GLS 5-spd, indigo blue; 2003 Jetta TDI wagon, Candy White
What happens when you jam the accelerator around a corner? If it pulls to inside then it is classic torque steer.

I used to have this until I put in my WaveTrac LSD.
I don't have to jam the accelerator -- almost any slight pressure causes a drift to the left, and lifting the accelerator causes it to swerve slightly to the right.

But I suppose I should have said that after eliminating the steering and suspension components, what is left are the motor mounts and the differential.
 

jacount

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 17, 2012
Location
Willow Spring, NC
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2004 Jetta TDI GLS
That sounds like the exact thing that happened to me after I replaced my suspension. One of the bolts that holds the control arm to the sub-frame got a little bit loose.
 

robnitro

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Joined
Jan 19, 2004
Location
NYC area, NY
TDI
2001 Jetta TDI GLS silver
Accel left, decel right, braking right too?

If so check your right side LCA big rear bushing and if thats fine maybe the smaller front bushing. The ball joint might be bad too but i don't think it can have that much slop!
 

TornadoRed

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Saint Paul (ex-San Diego)
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2003 Golf GL 5-spd, red; 2003 Golf GLS 5-spd, indigo blue; 2003 Jetta TDI wagon, Candy White
Accel left, decel right, braking right too?
I have not noticed any pulling left or right during braking.

I have a very good mechanic, who put the Golf up on a hoist yesterday. He could not see anything wrong with the steering or suspension; and he took a look at the motor mounts. During his first test drive, he did not drive fast enough to experience this problem; so he took it out again and was able to duplicate the problem. He does not know what is wrong, but he said it should be safe for me to drive for now, as the suspension is not about to separate from the frame.

It is more stressful for me to drive when it's like this, unless I can engage the cruise control. When the speed is constant, then it steers straight and true. But otherwise it wants to wander left and right. It's probably causing increased tire wear, too.
 
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Dimitri16V

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Jan 30, 2005
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DE
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01 Golf, 04 Golf
make sure the front brake caliper releases on both sides

a torn front bushing will cause torque steer most times

also have him check the subframe for looseness
 

nkgagne

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Sep 30, 2010
Location
Kitchener, Ontario Canada
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2015 Sportwagen 6M, 2006 Golf GLS TDI (sold)
What nobody seems to have considered is the possibility of a worn differential. I never had a torque-steer problem until I blew a tire and drove for a few days on the full-size spare on the front corner with a snow tire on the other side - slightly smaller. (I know - bad idea...) Ever since that extra stress on my differential, it has torque steered like mad. For the time being I'm putting up with it and I'll likely try to get another used gearbox once the diff decides to properly pack it in (hopefully non-explosively, and at a convenient time - sounds likely, right? :rolleyes:) since the synchros are also feeling less than stellar. Maybe I'll have enough by then to be able to rebuild mine and stick a Wavetrac in... :rolleyes:
 

TornadoRed

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Saint Paul (ex-San Diego)
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2003 Golf GL 5-spd, red; 2003 Golf GLS 5-spd, indigo blue; 2003 Jetta TDI wagon, Candy White
What nobody seems to have considered is the possibility of a worn differential. I never had a torque-steer problem until I blew a tire and drove for a few days on the full-size spare on the front corner with a snow tire on the other side - slightly smaller. (I know - bad idea...) Ever since that extra stress on my differential, it has torque steered like mad. For the time being I'm putting up with it and I'll likely try to get another used gearbox once the diff decides to properly pack it in (hopefully non-explosively, and at a convenient time - sounds likely, right? :rolleyes:) since the synchros are also feeling less than stellar. Maybe I'll have enough by then to be able to rebuild mine and stick a Wavetrac in... :rolleyes:
I am leaning toward a differential problem myself, simply because I've had to eliminate just about everything else. So I might end up with a LSD as you and Curious Chris are suggesting.

A little more background information is in order.

In June 2012, with 372k miles on the odometer, the differential center pin went kablooey and put a hole in the gearbox. A transmission was rebuilt using my original 5th gear in a used case with some new synchros and a new clutch disk and pressure plate. (The 5th gear in the used tranny had been robbed, that's why my old one was used.)

I started to notice this drifting phenomenon/sensation about six weeks ago; it was not there all the time, but I remember the first time it made me dizzy and the second or third time I actually pulled off the road. I was wondering if there was something wrong with my balance, as if I had an inner ear problem. Gradually I realized the problem with not with me.

Two weeks ago I lost all the teeth on my 5th gear. So that entailed removing and disassembling the transmission a second time, this time with 446k miles on the odometer. Everything went into the parts cleaner, to get rid of all the metal shavings and chunks. A used differential gear and spider gear set were used to replace damaged parts. I located and procured a 5th gear locally from club member Greengeeker (Nick).

So, the problem was there before the replacement differential was installed. It is worse now than before. But it did not start after the differential was replaced.

The tires were rotated and the alignment checked. The brakes, steering, and suspension components have been inspected and all check good. The motor mounts have been inspected.

Since June 2012 I've been using some replacement Chinese-built front axles. I asked a different VW expert to rebuild my original axles and he will be putting them back on tomorrow. Then I'm hoping he will take my Golf for an extended test drive and give me his opinion about what is wrong and what it will take to fix it.

Some have suggested that a stock differential is not designed to handle a TDI engine with all the modifications mine has. But, I really haven't changed anything in over five years.
 

Dieselducky

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Sounds like weak lower control arm bushings take a look if they are cracked...if they are not....grab the tire at the 9 and 3 o-clock position and push with one hand and pull with the other...go back and forth....if there is ecessive play change em
 

TornadoRed

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2003 Golf GL 5-spd, red; 2003 Golf GLS 5-spd, indigo blue; 2003 Jetta TDI wagon, Candy White
Sounds like weak lower control arm bushings take a look if they are cracked...if they are not....grab the tire at the 9 and 3 o-clock position and push with one hand and pull with the other...go back and forth....if there is ecessive play change em
Lower control arm bushings were replaced with TT/R32 bushings about
30k miles ago. And they were inspected yesterday, along with everything else.
 

robnitro

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NYC area, NY
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2001 Jetta TDI GLS silver
It's not the differential.. I have never heard of an open diff that failed where one side grips harder than the other!

The front control arm bushing is hard to tell if its worn or not, but I have heard of stories where it failed and caused similar issues. The back bushing is easy to look at yourself... and the lower balljoint can be checked easily... jack up the questioned wheel and try to wobble it by holding your hands at the top and bottom.

Another idea is that the tie rod may have slop.. in that case, turn the car on and try to wobble the wheel with hands on left and right sides... it will move, but if slop you can feel it.

Also, toe out can cause issues like you state, because of the crown of the roads (where the outer edge is lower than the inner).
When I got my first car, they did my alignment on a laser aimed machine "perfect".
But later on after some jerky steering feel, I adjusted it myself (using a technique taught by an old timer friend) and got it perfect.

Sigh, I'm tired of these "mechanics" and "experts" and "tuners" telling me that this or that is wrong and right, and later on finding they were full of horse$%^&"
 

TornadoRed

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Saint Paul (ex-San Diego)
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2003 Golf GL 5-spd, red; 2003 Golf GLS 5-spd, indigo blue; 2003 Jetta TDI wagon, Candy White
My original mechanic had me bring the Golf in Thursday. He wanted to make sure the engine was "straight", so he loosened the mounts, checked the position of the engine versus the frame, then tightened everything.

Absolutely no difference.

I can be cruising at a constant 60 or 65 or so, and I can make the front end move left and right with the accelerator pedal.

I have an appointment with a different mechanic this week. Though the mechanics at the first shop seem very competent, I think I need a new set of eyes and brains to solve this mystery. And the new mechanic is a TDI guru, which is a plus. I need this fixed before the ice and snow get here; and this can't be good for tire longevity.
 

OW10tdi

Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2010
Location
SF Bay Area
TDI
02 Golf & 02 Jetta
TornadoRed, did you ever figure out what the problem was? I just started to have this problem this morning and would be interested in how you fixed it.
 

TornadoRed

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Saint Paul (ex-San Diego)
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2003 Golf GL 5-spd, red; 2003 Golf GLS 5-spd, indigo blue; 2003 Jetta TDI wagon, Candy White
TornadoRed, did you ever figure out what the problem was? I just started to have this problem this morning and would be interested in how you fixed it.
Yes, the problem turned out to be the forward bushing on the lower control arm. Not the one that folks often replace with the TT bushing, but the other one that is not so visible.

This shop manual diagram is not even from a Mk4 VW, but the front suspension is similar. The bushing in question is marked as #5 in the diagram, not the #6 bushing that wears out more frequently and that everyone knows about.

 

krhartman

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May 30, 2017
Location
CA
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Jetta Wagon 2003, Golf 2005, Vanagon 1982
which side

Tornado, which side had the bad bushing? I am dealing with this same issue of torque steer after doing complete suspension and steering refresh. Had the car aligned and still pulling hard to the left when I am accelerating. Was not an issue prior to all the new parts - springs and struts, control arms and ball joints, tie rods, axel on passenger side, rear springs and struts and new rear brakes and rotors. Alignment mechanic told me to change my motor mounts.
 

TornadoRed

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Location
Saint Paul (ex-San Diego)
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2003 Golf GL 5-spd, red; 2003 Golf GLS 5-spd, indigo blue; 2003 Jetta TDI wagon, Candy White
Tornado, which side had the bad bushing? I am dealing with this same issue of torque steer after doing complete suspension and steering refresh. Had the car aligned and still pulling hard to the left when I am accelerating. Was not an issue prior to all the new parts - springs and struts, control arms and ball joints, tie rods, axel on passenger side, rear springs and struts and new rear brakes and rotors. Alignment mechanic told me to change my motor mounts.
First, note that the thread title is misleading as the problem had nothing to do with torque steer. It was the forward control arm bushing -- not the rear lower control arm bushing that commonly wears out. It was causing the suspension to shift to the left and right during acceleration and deceleration.

If you replaced the entire control arm on each side, and not just the control arm bushing, then your problem is not the same as the one I had.

But I am thinking ... if this only started when the new parts were installed, then maybe there's a loose bolt somewhere. Something which should be tight is not.
 
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