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Car does not drive straight - hit a road bump and it wanders to the left and right WHY? Buick Riviera -64


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Hi I just bought a new car online Buick Riviera 1964, it looks good 20 feet way like most cars, what the seller did not disclose was that the car does not drive straight down the road. Any bump or track in the road the car start to swivel right and left and I have to adjust with the steering wheel not to fly off the road. There is no vibration from tires or steering wheel and when put the front up on jacks I don't find any loose or worn P joint or steering components what I can feel while wiggling the wheel back and fort and up and down. Steering box feels tight and no leaks and tires have air and are Radial tires but it feel like I am riding old Diagonal tire ....

Anyone had the same problem ?

What could it be ?

The car is a road danger as of now .....

Any advice would be helpful

thx

Erik

1964-Buick-Riviera e.jpg

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Looks like it's a modified air ride suspension with larger diameter alloy wheels and wide radial low profile tires. You should get as much info from the former owner as to the mods. Then check out the lowrider forums for tips on this. Most of the guys on here will be glad to help, but with the modified steering, etc. the Lowrider guys are your best bet.

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As can a total lack of caster. I suspect it is in serious need of alignment and things could be bent or shims missing but I suspect with those wheels the kingpin angle does not intersect the center of the contact patch. When that is off all kinds of things can go wonkey.

 

Should add that the further the kingpin angle is off, the more any bump will try to take the wheel out of your hands. Also a SLA steering will be affected more than a rack and pinion.

 

Also would not be surprised if the Saginaw Steering Gear power steering has wear issues (just changed mine out because was hard to drive in a straight line).

 

Really need someone who understands GM steering geometry of the 60s.Those used to modern systems (this century) may not.

 

At least it is not a 65 GS.

 

 

Edited by padgett (see edit history)
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It probably has bump steer because it is so far from original ride height. You need to have a good alignment tech look at that. It may not be correctable at that stance, but it is your best shot.

 

 

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)
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I understand when you mess with Airbags and Hydralic ride hight suspension your are in for something else but those cars supposed to ride like new cars as well if you do it right ...... I had more than +20 cars with air bags and variable ride height and half of them with 20 inch rims and wide tires and never had any problems like this, I had 2 Buick Riviera 63 with bags and 20 inch before and all went straight down the road at 70mph. So this one definitely have some other issues .... The transmission shop i dropped it off yesterday just called me .... they said the idle arm and bushing looks ok but the center arm that is attached to the pitman arm from  the steering box is worn out where the pitman arm attach and needs to be replaced it, i need to source it from another car cause this is not a spare part you buy from you local parts dealer i was told ......

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Bump steer.

Block the frame at ride (driving) height then put a jack as close as you can get to the spindles with the wheels off.

Get a plumb bob and hang it from the spindle, then put some duct tape on the floor and do some experimenting.

Run the jack up and down at near ride height. Maybe take the tie rods off for some comparison.

This is the old dirt tracker way of cobbing things, but works for me.

But I guess before all that you might check the toe.

Adding caster may help but to me it sounds like you are describing bump steer. I don't suppose someone put a rack and pinion under there? (In the wrong place)

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" center arm " drag link ? What are the size and the offset of the front wheels ? Front tire size (doesn't look like much compliance)?Any spacers ? I have a 65 Buick shop manual which goes into pretty good detail, tell me those things and I can tell what is going on (are the A-Arms stock or tubular ?)

Believe it or don't but was using a IBM 360 to model Corvette suspensions for over 1 gee cornering in 1970. Is where "unladen understeer" came from.

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I just came back from the repair shop and they showed me the problem, there is play in the tie rod that is attached to the CENTER LINK that is attached to the power steering pitman arm .... the opposite side IDLE arm are tight and fine so, the only way to fix it to get a new Center link with the tie rod attached to it or make a bushing to remove the play in the pitman arm / tie rod but have to removed it to see if it is fixable or have to replace it .... I guess this is the weekend job me

$44 for a new one but they made to types for  1964-72 Buick A-body Steering Center Link  7/8" and 13/16"   has to know which one I need for mine -64

 

Pitman arm.png

Idle arm.png

Centerling buick 63-72.jpg

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Interesting. The drag link is reversed on my Judge.

BTW if need to pull the pitman arm, the nut on the spline is speced at 175 lb-ft. and really need a special pitman arm puller with  a 1 5/16" gap. Looks like an early Saginaw 800. There is an art to adjusting them.

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3 hours ago, padgett said:

Interesting. The drag link is reversed on my Judge.               SPEC'D

BTW if need to pull the pitman arm, the nut on the spline is speced at 175 lb.-ft. and really need a special pitman arm puller with  a 1 5/16" gap. Looks like an early Saginaw 800. There is an art to adjusting them.

That's because your Pontiac "A" body has front steer and this Buick is rear steer

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Interesting, thank you. Now I see the drag link aka center link is behind the crossmember, mine is in front.

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Your car is NOT an A Body. GM A Body cars are the intermediate models.  They have totally different front end parts and are not interchangeable with the larger model cars.   About the only choice you have for replacing a center link on a 1st generation Riviera is to have yours rebuilt or to find a used one with little miles on it.  Good luck, this is an ongoing problem with 1st generation Riviera owners. You might search the forum to see who is a recommended rebuilder.

 

Addendum.  I found an old thread. Rare Parts suspension and steering.  The 1917 price was $275 for a rebuild.

Edited by RivNut
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@MrY Come over and visit with us Riviera Owners. We have our own sub-forum. We're  right below the Reatta guys. When you get there check out the Riviera Owners Association. Started back in '84 - bimonthly magazine, list of tech advisors, annual International meet, informational website, members world wide.

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1 hour ago, padgett said:

Interesting, thank you. Now I see the drag link aka center link is behind the crossmember, mine is in front.

You also know that our "A" bodies have a traditional ( for that period of time ) lower "A" arm with a ball joint and two bushings. The Buick does not. They have a single arm connection with bushing and ball joint and attached to the arm is what some manufacturers call a tension rod from the arm to the frame which triangulates the assy. and is a  cheaper way to do a IFS.

See the lower arm with single bushing and a tension rod to the frame? It's just below the sway bar.

 73322725-770-0@2X.jpg?rev=120.

 

"A" body below

74190346-770-0@2X.jpg?rev=69

Edited by Pfeil (see edit history)
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43 minutes ago, RivNut said:

Your car is NOT an A Body. GM A Body cars are the intermediate models.  They have totally different front end parts and are not interchangeable with the larger model cars.   About the only choice you have for replacing a center link on a 1st generation Riviera is to have yours rebuilt or to find a used one with little miles on it.  Good luck, this is an ongoing problem with 1st generation Riviera owners. You might search the forum to see who is a recommended rebuilder.

 

Addendum.  I found an old thread. Rare Parts suspension and steering.  The 1917 price was $275 for a rebuild.

Please read what he said; " The drag link is reversed on my Judge.

 

A Judge is a Pontiac GTO and it's most certainly a "A" body. He has comparing his Judge suspension to the Buick Riv. 

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42 minutes ago, Pfeil said:

Please read what he said; " The drag link is reversed on my Judge.

 

A Judge is a Pontiac GTO and it's most certainly a "A" body. He has comparing his Judge suspension to the Buick Riv. 

I was referring to this post by the original poster.  In it, it surely sounds like he's wanting to buy an A body center link for his Riviera but he wanting to know which thread size he needs.  I was telling HIM that a A body center link will not work on a Riviera. I'm pretty sure he's talking about the 1964 Riviera that he referenced and posted a picture of in his original post that started this thread.  

 

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Posted 7 hours ago

I just came back from the repair shop and they showed me the problem, there is play in the tie rod that is attached to the CENTER LINK that is attached to the power steering pitman arm .... the opposite side IDLE arm are tight and fine so, the only way to fix it to get a new Center link with the tie rod attached to it or make a bushing to remove the play in the pitman arm / tie rod but have to removed it to see if it is fixable or have to replace it .... I guess this is the weekend job me

$44 for a new one but they made to [sic Two] types for  1964-72 Buick A-body Steering Center Link  7/8" and 13/16"   has to know which one I need for mine -64

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Iinteresting discussion and reading .... so my -64 Riviera is not an A-body....

I do have my steering set behind the A-arm and not like one of the pictures seen previous in this tread which show it in front of the A-arms.

 

Center Links – often called Drag Links – are the critical connection between the driver side and passenger side steering.

The Idler Arm is one of the most commonly worn steering components.

Poorly designed joints from the factory quickly loosen and cause excessive play in the steering.

 *1964-1967 GM “A” Body cars use one of two center link designs, measuring the diameter is the easiest way to determine which is needed (13/16″ or 7/8″)

 

What are they talking about regarding (13/16″ or 7/8″)  ?  

Is that the hole for the Idler bolt to go into or ?

I just removed the Center Link P-rod/tie rod from the pitman arm and it is not even close to (13/16″ or 7/8″) more like 5/8 or 16mm when I measure at the top of the Coned threaded bolt on the center line P-rod that goes into the pitman arm .... so it much smaller that (13/16″ or 7/8″)

I am confused ....

 

I was going to order them from this POL but they too want to know if I have (13/16″ or 7/8″)

https://www.performanceonline.com/1964-72-Buick-A-body-Steering-Centerlink/

 

Last resort is to have mine removed and sent for rebuild ... but I don't think my shop like to have my car on a lift for 1-2 week

while they rebuild mine original center link so I hope to find one to bring with me when I go to the shop so they can do the swap in one day......

 

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26 minutes ago, MrY said:

Iinteresting discussion and reading .... so my -64 Riviera is not an A-body....

I do have my steering set behind the A-arm and not like one of the pictures seen previous in this tread which show it in front of the A-arms.

 

Center Links – often called Drag Links – are the critical connection between the driver side and passenger side steering.

The Idler Arm is one of the most commonly worn steering components.

Poorly designed joints from the factory quickly loosen and cause excessive play in the steering.

 *1964-1967 GM “A” Body cars use one of two center link designs, measuring the diameter is the easiest way to determine which is needed (13/16″ or 7/8″)

 

What are they talking about regarding (13/16″ or 7/8″)  ?  

Is that the hole for the Idler bolt to go into or ?

I just removed the Center Link P-rod/tie rod from the pitman arm and it is not even close to (13/16″ or 7/8″) more like 5/8 or 16mm when I measure at the top of the Coned threaded bolt on the center line P-rod that goes into the pitman arm .... so it much smaller that (13/16″ or 7/8″)

I am confused ....

 

I was going to order them from this POL but they too want to know if I have (13/16″ or 7/8″)

https://www.performanceonline.com/1964-72-Buick-A-body-Steering-Centerlink/

 

Last resort is to have mine removed and sent for rebuild ... but I don't think my shop like to have my car on a lift for 1-2 week

while they rebuild mine original center link so I hope to find one to bring with me when I go to the shop so they can do the swap in one day......

 

Correct your Riviera is not a "A" body. It's on the "new for 1963"  "E" platform.

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Take a look at this website. Rivowners.org consider joining.  In their bi-monthly magazine, The Riview, you will find a large classified section.  What ever is being reproduced or sold used, you will find it there.  I'm sure one of the many used parts vendors will have a center link that you can send out for rebuilding.  Then you sell yours to the next guy that needs one rebuilt.  It always help when asking for references for parts to let everyone know in which part of the country you live.  I can think of 5 off the top of my head - Northern California, Michigan, Kentucky, Arizona, and Pennsylvania.  The ROA will be having its annual International Meet in Branson, MO the last week of June, 2021.  You can find pictures of previous year's meets on the website. It's at least worth a look.

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I almost bought a 65 GS when returned from SEA but bought a 70 GS Stage 1 instead. Much better autocross car particularly with Delrin and Olds 'vert sway bars. Wonder if a 64 Grand Prix would have the same setup. Anyone know ? Think all GM was using the Saginaw 800 by '64.

 

Looks like your joint at the pitman arm is pressed into the drag link and NSS.

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ok, I have sent out some request for Buick Riviera parts guy,

Like you said, try to find a used one and have it rebuilt and then swapped

I saw there is a rebuild shop Rare Parts in Stockton CA, like 2hour from San Jose

or

http://fcrcmachine.com/rare-parts-center-link-refurbish-service-1963-1965-buick-riviera-26781/

want $260 for one and want your core in return

 

Also I learned today, my car is NOT a A-body so I can stop looking for those sites since it would not fit my E-body -64 Riviera.

 

Here is a good Buick Site explaining all GM body styles ....

https://classicbuicks.com/shop/body-rubber-hood-pads/gm-body-style-chart/

 

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12 hours ago, padgett said:

 Wonder if a 64 Grand Prix would have the same setup. Anyone know ? Think all GM was using the Saginaw 800 by '64.

 

 

Please explain. Same set up as what a "A" body? No, 64 GP / Catalina are same frame suspension ( different spring rates and ride height ) and are rear steer. They are "B" body. 

Edited by Pfeil (see edit history)
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Yeah we checked out the rear suspension yesterday when it was up on a lift

see pic on how the rear bags are mounted on a Riviera

 

I had the center support bearing replace cause there as noise coming from there

Had this done on another Bag -63 Riviera I had in the past as well

 

But the BIG problem is the wandering steering

which we tracked down to the center link Tie Rod that goes on the Pitman arm there was 2mm pay in either direction

but the IDLER arm Tie rod is firm like new .....

 

The bad new is you can not buy new replacement center link for the E-body  (which you can do for Buick A-body)

So I have to take this one off and send it in to Rare Parts suspension in Stockton Ca ....

 

It is a hard work out, crawling around on a drive way and tie rods that is snug like it's welded on

I am too old to craw around like this but my shop does not want to tie up a lift for 1-2 week to have mine removed and sent away for rebuild

so I have to do it on my drive way where it can sit for a week or two ... awhaaaaaaaaaaaaaa !!!

thx

buick rear 2.png

buick rear.png

center linkage buick.png

Edited by MrY (see edit history)
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Just realized more confusion: "is play in the tie rod that is attached to the CENTER LINK" Ok have it your way but the tie rod bushing is in the tie rod which is not the pitman arm bushing which is in the center link. You can't tell the players without a score card.

 

 

 

rivdrag.jpg

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You have six points where you can have wear. On the ends of the center link you have the pitman arm and the idler arm bushings. Close to the ends you have the holes (2) for the inner tie rod end bushings. Then you have the outer tie rod end bushings (2) that connect to the spindles.

453fd7cfff93b2e4c9072f5fc488bd90.jpg.9faf6268efb4134377ebe4d295ddbcc0.jpggroup-6-steering-old-buick-parts-cars-inc.jpg.21aa426075d953904e8d83e77e091db8.jpg

 

 

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Mine problem was wear/play in the center link bushing that attach to the pitman steering arm

but the Idler arm bushing was just fine

Center link for Buick 1963-1965 are the same but there is no new parts made and your have to refurbish your old one , 

(NOTE: for the Buick A-body they make new one)

Sent it out to Rare Parts, they just don't do ONE side but have to do both a $314 plus shipping for return

https://rareparts.com/about-us

 

After this is fix, I have to do another test drive to see if problem is gone, or more tie rods need to be replace,

but from what we could tell when car was on a drive up lift and one man wiggle the steering wheel,

we could only see wear/play at one place (ie  center link bushing attached to pitman arm)

 

center link buick 1964.jpg

Pitman arm.png

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If the bushing is rubber, press in some nails between the center link and the bushing to make it tighter around the pin.  Might get you by long enough to see if the steering problem is resolved.  Do not do this if you think there is any possibility it could come completely loose in service.

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3 hours ago, MrY said:

Center link for Buick 1963-1965 are the same but there is no new parts made and your have to refurbish your old one , 

(NOTE: for the Buick A-body they make new one)

 

Assuming the ends are the same... could you buy a new one for the A-body and have a competent machinist/welder put the new ends on your drag link?

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When I first got my '63 riviera I had to constantly correct the steering.  The bushings on the pan hard bar were worn out. Replacing them made a big difference in how the car handled .

 

Kevin 

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