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Troubleshooting stiff turning


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2006 Wakesetter 23LSV

Had it a year now. When I first bought it the steering was a little stiffer than it should have been, and typically it was while moving. At the first of the year I added one shot of grease in each zerk fitting on the rudder. When I looked at it, though, it looked like it hadn’t had any grease put in it in a while. It was waaay too clean. After I added the grease and rode around for a half a day the steering really cleaned up.

Now, towards the end of the season I have some stiffness coming back in while I’m moving. I’ve been hesitant to add more grease because I’ve read what happens if you add TOO much. However, I’m still leaning towards adding another shot or two in each fitting, but I want some forum feedback first. (I also have a new steering cable sitting here, but I REALLY don’t want to spend time swapping that out until it’s absolutely time.)

Symptoms –

When it IS stiff:

While the boat is moving through the water. And if memory serves correctly, it’s tighter turning to the right. It’s not “I have no power steering in my car and I’m only going 5 mph” kind of tight, but it’s not as free and smooth as it should be.

When it’s NOT stiff:

Sitting still, out of the water or in the water – doesn’t matter. Steering is relatively smooth, no catches or tightness, as long as I’m not moving it’s good.

Possible causes, in order of least work to greatest…

1. Rudder needs more grease.

2. Steering cable needs to be lubed (I read if you disconnect at the helm and add trans fluid down the cable that it can help)

3. Steering cable needs to be replaced.

4. Bearing or rudder box is going out?

Based on my symptoms, what are your thoughts?

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Your symptoms sound a lot like the bushings are loose allowing the rudder to c*** while in motion which creates the stiff steering. Between steps 3 and 4 you can insert: check rudder for side to side and vertical play & correct as the solution. Vertical play can be reduced via a washer between the tiller and rudder, new bushings for side to side play. Grease will also take up some of the play and it does loosen up the steering. Troubleshooting and correcting that might actually end up as a 5 on work required but the cost will be much less.

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