Steering Wheel Play/Slack


eREdge

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hey guys, as the title suggest i have been dealing with some play in the steering wheel since i have owned the truck.

The problem doesnt affect my driving, i can move the Steering wheel about an inch side to side while driving without it moving the truck at all. My concern is something in the steering system has worn out and can fail at any moment and lose control while driving.

The previous owner had changed the Rack and Pinion to try and fix the issue and the suspension parts are about a year old and in excellent condition.
i can twist the steering shaft back and forth but it doesnt move when the steering wheel is locked. the steering wheel in the other hand, still has play while locked.

i have searched the forums and only came across this topic in early 90s and 80s Rangers with a steering box. i cant find the steering shaft at parts stores or rock auto. is changing the part as simple as unbolting the two bolts at each end? The service manual says i have to disconnect power steering lines and a bunch of other work.

Pics below of the steering shaft
https://ibb.co/zhS3Xyw
https://ibb.co/S6j0NDs
https://ibb.co/zN7Kyj2
https://ibb.co/qptpVgT
https://ibb.co/r6K1stH
 


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bobbywalter

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My credo
it is easier to fix and understand than "her"
on a 2002 the rack is generally real good.


there are a series of u joints on the inside of the cab and the outside. simple enough to check them all and the tierods and rack mounting.


the rack grommets may be squishy...an inch is not much for a truck. but if it happened suddenly look it the system.
 

pjtoledo

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the second pic shows the slider. the smaller square shaft slides into the larger during a front collision. the square shafts can become loose and easily produce play. it only take a few thousands there to get 1" on the wheel.

that dirty u-joint needs a close inspection.

do you ever push the truck around the driveway without the engine running? without power assist it puts a lot of stress on the column and shafts. that causes play.
 

eREdge

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Thanks for the replies guys but I'm still not clear on what I'm supposed to be looking at. I checked the parts mentioned but not sure how I'm supposed to rule them out. Like I mentioned, the tie rods and suspension are good I have already checked them.

The truck has never been in a serious accident other than the previous owner accidentally leaving the truck in neutral and hitting a small tree leaving a dent in the front bumper
 

bobbywalter

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look under the dash where the column goes through the firewall...theres a series of joints....wiggle the wheel and look for play or loose bolts ect...


maybe there was a heater core replacement at one point and things are loose.
 

eREdge

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Thanks bobby I'll take a look tomorrow or this weekend and report back
 

Mike Tonon

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On my 87, non rack and pinion, there was a screw with a slit on top, secured with a nut, facing up on a forward angle, on the gearbox. With those, if the play was in the gear box, you could hold a flat blade screw driver on the screw, to prevent it from moving, while loosening the nut just slightly. Then you would tighten the screw ONLY A TINY AMOUNT or you’ll wear the gear box right out. Tiny as in, eh, about 1/10 a turn. Then, still holding the screw with the screw driver, tighten the nut back down. If it’s still lose, another 1/10 of a turn. That was the old steering boxes.
 

eREdge

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got under the truck and this time had somebody move the steering wheel back and forth. The wheels dont move at all and i didn't see any suspensions parts like the tie rods move either. Only movement comes from the steering wheel down to the Rack. As mentioned, the Rack was replaced by the previous owner to try and correct the problem.
i'll let you guys be the judge, but it does point to a bad rack seeing how much play it has. The steering wheel was locked btw.



i should also mention, i did pull out the intermediate shaft and inspected it, cleaned it, and looked for anything unusual. No play at the u-joints. i was able to slide the shaft in and out making it shorter or longer with no resistance if that makes sense. But, thats probably normal.
 

pjtoledo

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or inner tie rods.
jack up one wheel only, hold it at 3 & 9 and try to rock it with the steering wheel unlocked.
even if the column to rack connection is bad, the components from one wheel to the other should be solid.
do both sides separately.

then hold pressure on the wheel, push or pull, and have someone move the steering wheel.
that would take any slack out of the tie rods to rack connections and isolate any play between the column and rack.
 

eREdge

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or inner tie rods.
jack up one wheel only, hold it at 3 & 9 and try to rock it with the steering wheel unlocked.
even if the column to rack connection is bad, the components from one wheel to the other should be solid.
do both sides separately.

then hold pressure on the wheel, push or pull, and have someone move the steering wheel.
that would take any slack out of the tie rods to rack connections and isolate any play between the column and rack.
Ok I'll give that a try this weekend. They should be solid though. They were replaced when I did the outer tie rods.
 


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