Last post on Oct 18, 2007 at 7:33 PM
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Buick Park Avenue
#1 of 8 Changing a steering ratio for better steering performance
Jul 16, 2007 (3:29 am)
I have a 2003 Buick Park Avenue Ultra. I'd like to make it feel more like a sport sedan and one way to do that will be to change the steering ratio. I'd like to get more wheel movement for a given amount of steering wheel movement. Does anyone know how or if this can be done? Buying a replacement rack assembly will just give me the same ratio. Thanks.
#2 of 8 Re: Changing a steering ratio for better steering performance [pau03]
Jul 24, 2007 (5:49 pm)
Just checking to see if the reply is working. Why won't anyone answer?
#3 of 8 Re: Changing a steering ratio for better steering performance [pau03]
by MrShift@Edmunds HOST
Jul 24, 2007 (9:11 pm)
It's a hard question is why. Probably no one has ever done this to a 2003 Buick before so it would have to be answered by someone into experimentation. I'm not sure it could even be done without extreme re-engineering--that is---another car's steering rack.
Quick steering per se isn't necessarily desirable anyway. Sometimes really good alignment, "corner balancing", better tie rods and better tires does wonder for "turn in", if that's what you want.
#4 of 8 Re: Changing a steering ratio for better steering performance [Mr_Shiftright]
Jul 25, 2007 (2:59 pm)
The question of "why" is based on the fact that I've had sports sedans and sports cars in the past. To go around a clover leaf I've never had to turn the wheel more than an 1/8th turn or so. The Park Avenue takes about a 1/3 of a turn. Plus, there is no feel to the steering because it is so heavily assisted. I've got that part figured out because I've built an electronic control that gains up the current to the magnasteer actuator. Now I actually have to put a small amount of "umph" into turning the wheel and that has helped. But the correct "umph" should have to come from actually turning the front wheels, not fighting a magnet. That's where the road feedback is developed.
The car has 130,000 miles on it already. The guy who owned it before me must have lived in it. I wouldn't mind putting another steering rack into it if I knew that I could find one that would bolt up and fit properly and it would have a better steering ratio.
I wanted a big highway car and this Park Avenue Ultra fits the bill. I just think that with some creative mods I could make it into a big comfortable car that doesn't handle like a barge.
#5 of 8 Re: Changing a steering ratio for better steering performance [pau03]
by MrShift@Edmunds HOST
Jul 25, 2007 (4:48 pm)
Well I'll have to think about this and get back to you. I just don't know enough at the moment.
I'm still not sure that you want to do this though...putting very quick steering on a car that's not built for it...well...could be a bit treacherous...you might end up with a very unbalanced car at the exact moment you don't want one.
#6 of 8 Re: Changing a steering ratio for better steering performance [Mr_Shiftright]
Jul 25, 2007 (5:32 pm)
Lots and lots of reasons why you shouldn't do it.
130,000 miles- This car is far past it's prime.
As mister shiftright said, putting a tigher rack on a car not meant for it, means that it may act different than expected at the wrong time.
I doubt there is a plug-play rack that would fit that car any tighter than the current one.
Save up and buy a grand-touring car with a less barge-like feel
#7 of 8 Re: Changing a steering ratio for better steering performance [pau03]
Oct 18, 2007 (12:06 pm)
Hey pau03, I have a park ave also and I was thinking them same thing. I tried to do some research for you and I came up with this. Try to go to a junkyard and find a pontiac bonnville look at it rack, it should mate up in the PA. The problem is what do you do about that power assit on the PA? Leave the connector unattached(cover them up) ad that should do the trick. Good luck
#8 of 8 Re: Changing a steering ratio for better steering performance [bucksys]
Oct 18, 2007 (7:33 pm)
I had already contacted the company that does the rebuilt racks for O'Reilly Auto Parts. I had the same idea about the Bonneville. The guy told me that the Bonneville rack would bolt up. Unfortunately, it would have the same steering ratio. They both use the same gears. He did tell me that the spool valve would be different which would increase the effort needed to turn the wheel, but not the steering wheel/tire angle ratio. That may improve things somewhat but I had already designed my own amplifier to put on the Magnasteer actuator coil. That would electrically increase the steering effort. I've kind of put this project on hold because I'm still fighting this friggin' vibration issue with the wheels and suspension. If I can't get that fixed I'll get rid of the car and try something else.
By the way, the Bonneville SSEi's have Magnasteer like the PA. So if you can find one of them you should be able to connect in your electronics. I'm not sure if they use the same current algorithm so it might be a little funky that way. Good luck. PAU3