Steering Knocking

  1. My model of MX-5 is: 97 MK1 1.8
  2. I’m based near: Portsmouth
  3. I’m looking for technical help or recommendations on a knocking noise coming from the steering.

During driving I have noticed a knocking noise mainly when I go over rough patches of road. Initially I thought this was suspension related but having replaced it all last year and checking the bushes I’m confident this isn’t the cause. I had a chance to properly look today and found that I can replicate the noise by rocking the steering wheel left to right when stationary. I have check the ball joints and they seem to be ok (right one slight knock) and definitely not the cause of the loud knock. Any idea what this could be?

Videos here.

Done any brake work recently?

Yes, discs, pads and a bleed

I thought I noticed movement on the brake pad. Can’t remember since owning a Mk1, do they have spring clips at the front pads.
I once had movement (rattles) on the rear pads Mk1, possibly you have clonking on the fronts, who knows??

Had another look this evening and it’s definitely coming from the centre of the car. I think it’s the u joint but need to dig deeper

I had a similar issue which took me ages to track down. It turned out to be play in an inner track rod ball joint, (in the end of the steering rack). Its not too difficult a job and solved the steering knock.

Finally managed to track down and solve the problem so thought I would feedback for any future forum searchers.

After getting a friend to wiggle the steering whilst I felt around, I found the noise to be coming from the main rack where it meets the steering column. Looking online I found that the pre-load on this joint can become loose if the car has spent it’s life doing tight corners at low speed (sharp driveway). After removing the undertray, opposite to the steering column input you will find a 12mm bolt head with a big 40mm locking nut. The 40mm locking nut was the biggest challenge but once loose you can tighten the preload (specs below) using the 12mm bolt. Once preloaded, relock with the nut and job done.