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Discussion Starter #1
I have never owned a John Deere with power steering until now. That being said, my 445 has a slight drift to the left if I hold the steering wheel without turning it. Is this something normal with the power steering?


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Check the bushings that that the wheel arms go up through on the front axle (wear), plus check the axle pivot point bushing (wear). Check the tie rod ends (loose/worn out), and the tie rod (bent). Finally check for play in the Power steering
 

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Not normal. The tie rod ends are the place I'd start, assuming you don't have a low front tire and the alignment is within limits. If its AWS, its 10x more critical. Jack the front up and check every joint to make sure each is tight. One loose one will impact steering. From there, check the power steering cylinder ends to make sure they are tight but I'd guess you'll find your issue sooner than that.

If AWS, you also have the front swash plate joints, and a swash plate with joints in the back. Any of these could cause steering issues.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank the two of you very much. I will check those things now. My 445 is not AWS.


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I agree with Fozsey, low tire pressure, Check ALL, or front not aligned properly (toe-in wrong or lacking)

Check these things first, then check wear items.
 

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I'm going with the front end not aligned, easy fix if the tire pressure is good on all wheels. There should be an alignment section in your owners manual.
 

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Maybe it was used to mow the infield at a NASCAR track.:lol:
 

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I have never owned a John Deere with power steering until now. That being said, my 445 has a slight drift to the left if I hold the steering wheel without turning it. Is this something normal with the power steering?


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These things are notorious for wearing out tie rod ends. In fact, I keep a spare set in my spare parts box because when they break, you are going no where as the front wheels will be pointing left wheel left, right wheel right. You can't even back up as it will just act like a clown car...:laugh:....or my neighbor with AWS......who loves to mow in circles..:laugh:...(See, why the deck says "Not a Step" thread...)

Tie rod ends / Steering Linkage
What tends to wear out the tie rods ends faster are those machines which carry a lot of weight on the front axle, such as the snow blower or front plow on these garden tractors on the front quick hitch assembly. It's normal wear, not necessarily meaning anything is seriously wrong............

If it is a tie rod end or linkage issue, do yourself a HUGE FAVOR and spend the extra money and buy the good OEM rod ends from your Deere dealer. I have purchased the "Oregon" brand and others in the after market and they are not nearly the quality and won't last. Also, tie rod ends are threaded in opposite directions with left handed threads or right handed threads so make sure you are getting the one you need. If you aren't sure, remove it and take it with you to the dealer, they will show you the difference and get you what you need. I would be very surprised if they didn't stock these parts. If you have one worn tie rod end, replace both sides while you are doing it. If one is worn, the other is right behind it.

The following information is important to pay attention to and will save you headaches. If you do have a worn tie rod end or other steering part, before you disassemble anything, count the threads exposed on the tie rod ends and when you replace the old part, thread the new part on to the same depth on the shaft. Usually, this will put the alignment right where it should be, unless something else is bent or another part if worn out.

Back to the front steering linkage under the tractor, make sure everything is greased and freely operating, including the front axle pivot in the center of the axle. When you jack the front of your tractor up, the axle should freely lift up and down, left to right (tilt from side to side on the center pivot) and there should be no "wobble" of any of the components.

Steering Wheel and Steering Column Assembly
If your examination of the steering linkages don't demonstrate any wear or failures, this section is likely the next source.
It's also worth mentioning that the steering on these will get "loose" over time and it's often a function of the bushings in the steering column being worn or the tilt steering mechanism wears and causes the steering wheel to "be loose". One of the primary reasons this wear occurs is so many people grab the steering wheel when getting on these tractors and they pull themselves on the tractor platform and seat, which adds side loads to the steering column, which result in these wearing and causing the steering wheel to "feel loose' when wobbled either side to side or front to back.

Depending upon the serial number of the machine, some of these have a steering shaft and some have a steering cable which is flexible. This can be the location of some of the wear which can causes the drift as well. If your steering wheel feels loose at all, and you can move it either front to back or left to right, it very well could be wear in the steering shaft components.

While the steering linkages and tie rod ends and shafts are very straight forward, the actual repair to fix the steering column or wheel is more involved and requires more labor. You have to remove the dash to get the steering shaft out to see what's worn. To be honest with you, if this is what's wrong with your tractor and it's not a loose tie rod end or other linkage issue, the complexity of fixing it is much greater. You are going to want to have a Deere Technical Service Manual to undertake removing the steering column assembly.

Possible Tire Issues
Also, if this tractor is new to you, look at the tread depth on the front tires and the wear patterns as well as the tire pressures. I have seen where people replace just one front tire and the other is so worn it causes the tractor to "wander" to the side, usually (but not always) the good tire would be "dominant" in pulling it that direction.

"Wheel Alignment"
Also, you can measure the distance with a tape measure between the inside edges of the front of the front tires and the inside rear of the front tires to make sure they are parallel and the steering is "aligned". If you have a discrepancy between the distances on the front and rear inside of the front tires, it will cause the tires to "Plow" which will will wear the tires on the pavement and it will actually scuff the grass when turning. Plus the steering will not be smooth and it will act like it is "fighting you" to some degree and you will feel it in the steering wheel.

Summary
I doubt very much if the problem is actually in the power steering of the tractor, but is more of a basic linkage or mechanical item. Usually straight forward and easily detected once you jack the center of the front axle up so you can "pivot" and check all of the steering linkage, etc.
I have worked on these numerous times so if you need help, feel free to send me a Private message and I will do what I can to help you.
 

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These things are notorious for wearing out tie rod ends. In fact, I keep a spare set in my spare parts box because when they break, you are going no where as the front wheels will be pointing left wheel left, right wheel right. You can't even back up as it will just act like a clown car...:laugh:....or my neighbor with AWS......who loves to mow in circles..:laugh:...(See, why the deck says "Not a Step" thread...)

Tie rod ends / Steering Linkage
What tends to wear out the tie rods ends faster are those machines which carry a lot of weight on the front axle, such as the snow blower or front plow on these garden tractors on the front quick hitch assembly. It's normal wear, not necessarily meaning anything is seriously wrong............

If it is a tie rod end or linkage issue, do yourself a HUGE FAVOR and spend the extra money and buy the good OEM rod ends from your Deere dealer. I have purchased the "Oregon" brand and others in the after market and they are not nearly the quality and won't last. Also, tie rod ends are threaded in opposite directions with left handed threads or right handed threads so make sure you are getting the one you need. If you aren't sure, remove it and take it with you to the dealer, they will show you the difference and get you what you need. I would be very surprised if they didn't stock these parts. If you have one worn tie rod end, replace both sides while you are doing it. If one is worn, the other is right behind it.

The following information is important to pay attention to and will save you headaches. If you do have a worn tie rod end or other steering part, before you disassemble anything, count the threads exposed on the tie rod ends and when you replace the old part, thread the new part on to the same depth on the shaft. Usually, this will put the alignment right where it should be, unless something else is bent or another part if worn out.

Back to the front steering linkage under the tractor, make sure everything is greased and freely operating, including the front axle pivot in the center of the axle. When you jack the front of your tractor up, the axle should freely lift up and down, left to right (tilt from side to side on the center pivot) and there should be no "wobble" of any of the components.

Steering Wheel and Steering Column Assembly
If your examination of the steering linkages don't demonstrate any wear or failures, this section is likely the next source.
It's also worth mentioning that the steering on these will get "loose" over time and it's often a function of the bushings in the steering column being worn or the tilt steering mechanism wears and causes the steering wheel to "be loose". One of the primary reasons this wear occurs is so many people grab the steering wheel when getting on these tractors and they pull themselves on the tractor platform and seat, which adds side loads to the steering column, which result in these wearing and causing the steering wheel to "feel loose' when wobbled either side to side or front to back.

Depending upon the serial number of the machine, some of these have a steering shaft and some have a steering cable which is flexible. This can be the location of some of the wear which can causes the drift as well. If your steering wheel feels loose at all, and you can move it either front to back or left to right, it very well could be wear in the steering shaft components.

While the steering linkages and tie rod ends and shafts are very straight forward, the actual repair to fix the steering column or wheel is more involved and requires more labor. You have to remove the dash to get the steering shaft out to see what's worn. To be honest with you, if this is what's wrong with your tractor and it's not a loose tie rod end or other linkage issue, the complexity of fixing it is much greater. You are going to want to have a Deere Technical Service Manual to undertake removing the steering column assembly.

Possible Tire Issues
Also, if this tractor is new to you, look at the tread depth on the front tires and the wear patterns as well as the tire pressures. I have seen where people replace just one front tire and the other is so worn it causes the tractor to "wander" to the side, usually (but not always) the good tire would be "dominant" in pulling it that direction.

"Wheel Alignment"
Also, you can measure the distance with a tape measure between the inside edges of the front of the front tires and the inside rear of the front tires to make sure they are parallel and the steering is "aligned". If you have a discrepancy between the distances on the front and rear inside of the front tires, it will cause the tires to "Plow" which will will wear the tires on the pavement and it will actually scuff the grass when turning. Plus the steering will not be smooth and it will act like it is "fighting you" to some degree and you will feel it in the steering wheel.

Summary
I doubt very much if the problem is actually in the power steering of the tractor, but is more of a basic linkage or mechanical item. Usually straight forward and easily detected once you jack the center of the front axle up so you can "pivot" and check all of the steering linkage, etc.
I have worked on these numerous times so if you need help, feel free to send me a Private message and I will do what I can to help you.
You are my hero! :good2: This
 

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Someone may have mentioned this, but the early models of 4X5 tractors did not have grease fittings on the power steering cylinder ends. Mine wore to the point that control was very difficult. I drilled it and put grease fittings in, but it was too late. The original lasted for nearly 20 years. The replacement has grease fittings like the later models. It is easy to check by slowly turning the steering wheel to see if the ends of the cylinder moves before the bellcrank moves.

If I could write like SulleyBear, the above paragraph would be much clearer and more interesting. You should write technical manuals SB.
 

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"Wheel Alignment"
Also, you can measure the distance with a tape measure between the inside edges of the front of the front tires and the inside rear of the front tires to make sure they are parallel and the steering is "aligned". If you have a discrepancy between the distances on the front and rear inside of the front tires, it will cause the tires to "Plow" which will will wear the tires on the pavement and it will actually scuff the grass when turning. Plus the steering will not be smooth and it will act like it is "fighting you" to some degree and you will feel it in the steering wheel.
The only thing I disagree with is setting the front wheels parallel. I set for 1/16' to 1/8" 'TOE IN"
I heard this helps the steering wheel return to "center" :dunno:
Also if you have any wear in you tie rod ends that would let the wheels go from parallel to "TOE OUT" when in use the front would "plow".
Just my 2 cents
 

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Discussion Starter #12
The two from tires have the same exact pressure of 12 psi. I also measured TOE IN, and TOE OUT, and they are EXACTLY the same too. I measured several times, and like I said, EXACTLY the same. I really have no play or wear in any of the steering components. Everything is nice and tight. Look like I need to adjust for TOE IN.... correct?


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The two from tires have the same exact pressure of 12 psi. I also measured TOE IN, and TOE OUT, and they are EXACTLY the same too. I measured several times, and like I said, EXACTLY the same. I really have no play or wear in any of the steering components. Everything is nice and tight. Look like I need to adjust for TOE IN.... correct?


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Did you check the pressure in the rear tires?

If your front tires are exactly the same, the pull shouldn't be overly drastic. And checking the play in the ends is looking for small movements n the joints, not necessarily large movements. An 1/8 movement in the ball of a tierod grows exponentionally by the time you get to the tire itself. If you are sure everything is gtg then pull the fronts in an 1/8. It's possible someone adjusted it incorrectly. This might surprise you but most people don't read the manual.
 

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The two from tires have the same exact pressure of 12 psi. I also measured TOE IN, and TOE OUT, and they are EXACTLY the same too. I measured several times, and like I said, EXACTLY the same. I really have no play or wear in any of the steering components. Everything is nice and tight. Look like I need to adjust for TOE IN.... correct?


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When you talk about the steering "drifting", can you give an example of how much it is drifting? For example, in 50 feet of forward movement, how much does it drift if you don't "correct it"? These old tractors don't drive and steer like a car. While the power steering is a huge improvement over not having power steering, the tractors aren't as "precision" as driving a car (road vehicle, truck, SUV, etc.).........

How many hours are on the machine?

Are you noticing this while driving it on the lawn or on pavement? If on the pavement, is the surface at all crowned?

It could even be something as minute as the difference in wheel bearings operating in the front.......Make sure the rear tire pressures are not different.

Does the tractor seem like it has been greased regularly and taken care of from a mechanical maintenance perspective?

Also, does it appear that any of the front steering pieces have been replaced by the prior owner? Do they look newer or different in any way? If so, perhaps the the adjustment would help.

Sometimes, grass and weeds or other debris can get around the inside of the hub on the front or rear and could cause drag on one side. It gets wound in there very tight sometimes, especially if it has been driven through tall weeds, etc.

If you don't see anything obvious, you could try adjusting the toe in........Personally, knowing the amount of drift before making a suggestion about changing the front adjustment would be important.

Personally, I would be checking to make sure there isn't something in the rear drive possibly causing the drift before I started to make changes to suspension settings.......

I need to refresh my memory of the brake set up on these tractors. I think it's only on one side and if I recall, it's on the right, but I need to double check that. If the brake is dragging on one side and the brake is only on the rear wheels, then that could also cause drift. I will look that up and re-post after I refresh my memory of how that brake works. I have never had a brake issue on one of these machines, so that's why I am not familiar with it........
 

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Someone may have mentioned this, but the early models of 4X5 tractors did not have grease fittings on the power steering cylinder ends. Mine wore to the point that control was very difficult. I drilled it and put grease fittings in, but it was too late. The original lasted for nearly 20 years. The replacement has grease fittings like the later models. It is easy to check by slowly turning the steering wheel to see if the ends of the cylinder moves before the bellcrank moves.

If I could write like SulleyBear, the above paragraph would be much clearer and more interesting. You should write technical manuals SB.
Don, you write just fine......I appreciate the compliment and I forgot about the grease fittings you mentioned.

Right now, this is a project, the replacement of the steering cylinder, that I need to complete on my 455. Deere changed suppliers on these steering cylinders last year and when I ordered the steering cylinder in June or July 2017, I got it this March. That was the only item in my experience with this tractor that the dealer either didn't have in stock or could get in a day or two. But when Deere "re-sourced" these steering cylinders, there was instantly NONE to be found and I looked and looked. My dealer even did a "Machine Down" search for third parties and companies who buy out inventories and re sell them and there were none of the cylinders......new to be had.

Finally, I found a company in Texas making them and the day I found these available from this company in Texas, my dealer called and said my new cylinder was in. It's still in the box, waiting for me to get to it and install it...............Problem is, with the new tractor and new Zero Turn, I don't "need" to make this a high priority, but I should.

My priority right now is a new building for all my stuff......:banghead:

My wife wants me to build a pole building but there is a waiting list right now for up to 8 months to get the workers (Amish and Mennonite) who are known to be both very good at the construction and very competitive price wise.......

Plus I have to get ASSociation approval, which is a mere formality. After all, I plow the driveways of every board member and if they were to give me a hard time, they better go buy a nice shovel...........and some warm clothes....:laugh::lol:
 

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Someone may have mentioned this, but the early models of 4X5 tractors did not have grease fittings on the power steering cylinder ends. Mine wore to the point that control was very difficult. I drilled it and put grease fittings in, but it was too late. The original lasted for nearly 20 years. The replacement has grease fittings like the later models. It is easy to check by slowly turning the steering wheel to see if the ends of the cylinder moves before the bellcrank moves.

If I could write like SulleyBear, the above paragraph would be much clearer and more interesting. You should write technical manuals SB.
The GTT resident tech writer?:laugh:
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I would say the the tractor will drift around 3 feet to the left per 150 feet. It’s not much. Truly.


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The brake is in the rear end housing and (now I recall), it was the only thing which I didn't disassemble when I rebuilt the rear end assembly on my 455 last year.....(or the year before, yep, it was in 2016......) as the brake wear is minimal and works fine.

The brake is on the left side, in the rear housing and it's completely inside of the rear end housing, other than the linkage.

This brake linkage is adjustable and if the brake was dragging even a little, it would very likely pull the tractor to the left......

Make sure all of the brake linkage, from the pedal back is all free, not bound up or restricted and lubricated so it's smooth.

Many people rarely use the brakes on these machines because they will stop when you lift your foot off the directional pedal. But if you are in the habit of leaving the tractor running when you leave the drivers seat, you have to set the parking brake to prevent the tractor safety switch from killing the engine. For those who regularly set the parking brake, the mechanism remains nice and free and usually is trouble free. But for those who Don't frequently set the brakes, the linkage can easily get dried out and can bind up. Since this machine is new to you, you should check the brake linkage and all of the linkage pivot points to make sure everything is free and working as it should.

The parking brake linkage is part of this entire set up. You want to make sure the brake is releasing correctly when it is set and then used and released. The parking brake is one of those items that if you use it often, it's likely to work properly. But if it's rarely used, it's likely to be stiff or hanging up in the linkage, which could cause a drag / drift issue.......

Also, as Don Robinson mentioned in his post, these steering cylinders are known to wear out. Usually, they get some slop in them from normal wear, which takes some of the "tightness" out of the steering. This could certainly cause a drift / wander based upon wear.

Usually, these are replaced when the seals fail and the cylinders start to leak hydrostatic fluid.

The easiest way to tell if the ends are worn on this steering cylinder is to jack the front wheels up, put jack stands under each side of the axle at about the frame rails of the tractor so the front wheels can turn fully left and right while suspended on the stands and have someone else start the tractor and slowly turn the wheels left and right and watch the reaction of the steering cylinder to the bell crank, like Don Robinson mentioned.

If the cylinder is dripping hydro fluid, there is no rebuilding it.......It has to be replaced. But if there is no fluid leak, but there is
some wear in the rod ends of the steering cylinder, you will have to decide how much the steering drift or wander bothers you.

If you are able to replace the steering cylinder yourself, it's about $400 (with taxes, etc). Personally, if the steering cylinder isn't leaking and has just a little wear in the ends (which I would expect to find) it's a decision you will have to make about the importance of the drift to the left and tightness of the steering. If you have to have the dealer do this, I would expect the total repair bill to be in the $600 to $700 range depending upon what else might need to be replaced in the process, just FYI.......

The illustration below is of the brake linkage on the tractor.......There is more to it than most realize until they get into working on it and they are usually shocked all of the parts and pieces and how they all must work together.......

Item 1 shown below is the actual brake pedal on the left side of your tractor. Check to make sure it sets and releases the parking brake easily. Spray all of the pivot points with some good, non dirt attracting lubricant like a "Chain Lubrication" in a spray can used for motorcycles. This lube works good as it won't attract dirt, which just gums up everything over time.. I don't recall there being any grease fittings on any of the pivots.

Items 2, 3, 4 and 5 are all attached to the actual parking brake lever on the dash.........

Item 29 is the rod which connects to the actual brake part of the rear hydrostatic housing. It's behind the left rear wheel of the tractor, up under the operator platform where the seat is mounted.......

 

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Don, you write just fine......I appreciate the compliment and I forgot about the grease fittings you mentioned.

Right now, this is a project, the replacement of the steering cylinder, that I need to complete on my 455. Deere changed suppliers on these steering cylinders last year and when I ordered the steering cylinder in June or July 2017, I got it this March. That was the only item in my experience with this tractor that the dealer either didn't have in stock or could get in a day or two. But when Deere "re-sourced" these steering cylinders, there was instantly NONE to be found and I looked and looked. My dealer even did a "Machine Down" search for third parties and companies who buy out inventories and re sell them and there were none of the cylinders......new to be had.

Finally, I found a company in Texas making them and the day I found these available from this company in Texas, my dealer called and said my new cylinder was in. It's still in the box, waiting for me to get to it and install it...............Problem is, with the new tractor and new Zero Turn, I don't "need" to make this a high priority, but I should.

My priority right now is a new building for all my stuff......:banghead:

My wife wants me to build a pole building but there is a waiting list right now for up to 8 months to get the workers (Amish and Mennonite) who are known to be both very good at the construction and very competitive price wise.......

Plus I have to get ASSociation approval, which is a mere formality. After all, I plow the driveways of every board member and if they were to give me a hard time, they better go buy a nice shovel...........and some warm clothes....:laugh::lol:
Sully, I know you hardly need my input on your steering cylinder but I can tell you after reading some horror stories on other forums about changing the AWS steering cylinder, I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was. I changed mine in October and, like you, had issues sourcing one from the dealer. My local dealer did find one in Georgia but wanted $360 plus extra handling to get it to me so I put the brakes on and started looking around. I ended up finding one used on fleabay for $160 with verifiable hours. So far so good.

I'm also going to get the seals and cut mine open and rebuild it to have a spare.
 
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