View Full Version : Steering hard steering / tire size

04-21-2015, 09:49 AM
I thought I posted this message yesterday but I must have hit something wrong

My 1953 Starliner is sooooo hard to turn at low speeds. I currently have radials on it and I am told that proper bias ply will make all the difference. Another opinion is that it may by a lubrication problem with king pin, etc issues.

I am considering ordering 710-15 bias play tires. These have a 4.5" wide tread. There are H78-15 bias with a little wider tread but I suppose that will make it incrementally harder to steer. I'm not sure what the difference is in the G and H series numbers versus the numerical.

I would appreciate any recommendations or experience anyone has had with this steering issue
Mike D

Dick Steinkamp
04-21-2015, 10:21 AM
"Hard steering" is a relative term. Some might call the steering normal in the same car another might call hard. However, big car like a 53 Commander is going to be somewhat hard to steer for most operators when parallel parking. You may want to have owners of similar cars drive yours and let you know how they compare.

I don't believe installing bias ply tires will help. In fact, I have heard the opposite...that installing radial tires on a car formerly equipped with bias ply tires made it easier to steer. With the bias ply tires you are also going to give up the good ride qualities, handling, traction, quiet, long life, etc. that radials are noted for.

You don't say what size radials you are running, but if they are the common 205/75/15s there shouldn't be a tire problem. Make sure they are inflated to 30 pounds or so.

I'd get the car up in the air and check the steering. Can you spin the steering wheel and have the wheels turn freely? If not, is the Ross steering box adjusted too tight or needing lube or worn out? Does the front end need greasing? Any other front end parts worn?

04-21-2015, 03:03 PM
This problem usually boils down to a condition/lubrication/alignment problem (unless you have huge tires).
Start by checking the suspension/steering components.
Lube everywhere - the upper thrust washers on the king pins are particularly critical for steering.
Get the alignment as close to spec. as possible.

04-21-2015, 05:02 PM
How long does it take to eat a whole tire?

Mike Van Veghten
04-21-2015, 05:56 PM
Agree with lubrication problems.
Unless you run your tires too low on pressure.
As noted, at least 30 psi should be used. I normally go with 32/34 psi. This also helps stabilize the radials so that they handle better. Some radials, depending on the construction style, they "can" be very different, and more pressure is a very good thing, especially on the cheaper radials.


04-21-2015, 09:07 PM
I have radials on Ford rims on my 53 Commander HT, and while it is clearly manual steering, it is not unusually hard to steer at slow rolling speeds. As others have said, I think you have lube, alignment, or steering gear problems, or a combination of these.

04-21-2015, 10:52 PM
How long does it take to eat a whole tire?

A Good-Year!

How is that age poll going?

04-21-2015, 11:02 PM
I agree with lube and alignment, but also run max (cold) PSI in the radials, as specified on the side of the tires. Even with PS in all of our GT and 56J Hawks, I usually run 35-40 PSI in the front, with about 4 PSI less in the rear. It makes them handle and steer better.

04-21-2015, 11:13 PM
I think I remember the H78X15 replacing the old 7.60X15 (way TOO Big) but it is not an exact science since the various brands do not even match in the same size.

04-23-2015, 03:13 PM
I agree with what Dick and the others have said. My 1950 Studebaker has 205-75-15" radials at 32 pounds pressure and steering like it has power steering.

Greasing makes a big difference. I wouldn't switch to bias tires, but I would make sure the wheel alignment is correct and no parts need to be replaced, and all the moving parts are well greased.

t walgamuth
04-23-2015, 03:30 PM
I have always heard the putting on Radials will make it harder to turn when sitting still. I'd never give up the much superior handling characteristics of the radials though for a little more ease of steering. You just have to steer while moving even if its just rolling little....makes all the difference. If a still turn is unavoidable, just use two hands on each pull of the wheel.;)

I used to have a 51 Caddy hearse with manual steering. With radial tires that 5900# beast was a handful at parking speeds but a dream on the highway!

04-23-2015, 04:02 PM
V8 vs. 6 ?? Wagon vs. 2dr ? Do the geometry. If I was a cruizin' kind of guy, going on the highway often and to open field meets..... I would always ride on radials. My truck very rarely sees the highway and the 6-ply bias tires bring me back....... isn't that where we all want to go ???