Day 15 - Phoenix to Santa Barbara (11/19/11)
Took 10 all the way home - 467.2 miles. I only have a couple vehicle-related interesting observations:
First, the LX450's steering was sloppy. This was something we had noticed shortly after getting the vehicle five months before. There was an inch or two of steering wheel "dead spot".
This was not a big deal when going slow and turning a lot. But, going 70mph+ in a straight line was a chore. A small deviation in a vehicles straight line path should require a small input to the steering wheel, right? For our truck, we had to overcome the dead spot before it would begin to turn. If you were to steer a bit too much and have to correct the other way, you'd first have to overcome the inch or so dead spot in the other direction! This got really taxing after a while.
This got borderline dangerous just north of Palm Springs where all those windmills are. Whenever a strong gust occurred, the LX would be blown off its straight course. The dead spot then had to be overcome before steering input would be responded to. This delay meant we’d be blown off-course a few feet sometimes! Not fun at 70mph. So, we had to slow down.
[As a post script, it was a worn steering box as I suspected before the trip. All the ball joints, tie rod ends, bearings, etc. were checked out and fine. The solution was a new – no remanufactured box available from Toyota – steering box and the associated, updated pitman arm to the tune of $2300! I’m not sure I would say the steering is $2300 better, but it is better now…]
The other interesting observation was the noise the rocket box was making in response to the increased wind. I have not experienced this before over the thousands of miles we have run with it on. It was bouncing a bit more than normal (as seen through the sunroof). We checked it a few times and it appeared solid and secure.
Trip = done
Next, I’ll post some stats and final thoughts at some point. I hope you all enjoyed my narrative – it sure did take a lot of time/energy!