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Loose steering problem just started-gctid819108

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    Loose steering problem just started-gctid819108

    I have a 2002 Bayliner Capri 215 with power steering. I've owned the boat for a few months and it's been running great. This week I was in a run to the main marina and noticed that if I let go of the steering wheel it would turn left at increasing speed. It was MUCH more pronounced the higher the speed. At 20mph it was definitely 30 it was probably dangerous to let go of the wheel for more than a few seconds before it would likely get dangerous. I don't remember ever noticing that before.

    So I get home today and start searching for reasons, but I'm not sure what keywords would be appropriate honestly. I came across the debate of whether a finned trim tab would be helpful on a power steering equipped boat, but I don't think that is the problem here.

    In taking a physical look at the alpha 1 gen 2 sterndrive, I noticed that I can, by hand, push the sterndrive to the port side of the boat with almost no effort at all. I can see the steering wheel spin around as I do so. I cannot do the same to the starboard side.

    This would make sense as the cause of the problem, as there is something resisting the force in one direction and not the other. If the motor can easily be pushed to the port side, then the boat would turn to port whenever the force of the water pushed the sterndrive the appropriate direction to create that turn to port. I hope that made sense.

    My problem is that I don't understand the mechanics enough yet to know what component would cause that problem. The power steering seems to still be functional, as I there wasn't any noticeable change in resistance at the wheel. Also, I don't know if there is a "right" / "left" side to a power steering unit.

    I'm hoping someone can help point me in the proper direction, so that I can start doing my homework.


    Nipomo, California
    2002 Bayliner Capri 215

    Have you checked your power steering fluid level? Easy stuff first.

    Part of what makes the drive want to turn in a given direction, and I have to ask for some forge here because it's been thirty years since I've had a single engine boat, is the rotational torque/drag along with centrifugal force that causes an outboard or outdrive boat to turn if not for someone at the wheel. There are fins located just above and behind the prop that when properly adjusted will nearly neutralize those forces. Some are an anode, others are a non sacrificial part. In addition, most single cable steering systems have a brake/tensioner to keep the steering from being too free. It's usually controlled by a nob at the bottom of the mounting bezel in front of the wheel. That item would be the first thing I would look at. The "brake pad" may have slipped allowing it to be ineffective one direction and very effective the other.

    If that looks good, some disassembly required, then disconnect the steering rod at the drive tiller and see if the drive swings freely in both directions. I'm thinking it will, but the box needs to be checked. Before or after checking that spin the wheel with the engine off and see what you feel, it may be a stuck actuator valve that supplies fluid pressure one direction or the other.
    P/C Pete
    Edmonds Yacht Club (Commodore 1993)
    1988 3818 "GLAUBEN”
    Hino EH700 175 Onan MDKD Genset
    MMSI 367770440


      You should check if the steering is "creeping" when the boat is docked and idling in neutral, if that's the case there are a special way to adjust the servo steering (described in the manual).
      1995 Bayliner 2452
      Alpha 1 Gen II
      2016 - 5.7 Vortec 4BBL
      Full Closed Cooling