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Play in steering?

Discussion in '1973-1991 K5 Blazer | Truck | Suburban' started by GaBnn3, Oct 12, 2005.

  1. GaBnn3

    GaBnn3 Registered Member

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    There is play in the steering of my 1988 Chev Suburban V-10. My wife drives it, usually, and complains about it. I didn't know what the cause could be. I notice in the LMC Truck catalog that they offer a steering shaft assembly that can correct this problem. However, they also sell reman steering gears. Their catalog says that the OEM shaft can't take much abuse. Is the shaft likely the problem, or something else? How can I tell if it's the shaft or the gear? Thanks, much appreciated.
     
  2. Hossbaby50

    Hossbaby50 3/4 ton status

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    The first thing to check for is loose steering box bolts. Next check for cracks around or underneith the steering box. This is a common problem with these style Chevy's. If there is cracks you need to have them welded up and also install the weld in steering box brace kit. If there is no cracks then you need to look at other steering related parts such as tierod ends, ball joints, or steering box.

    You can also add in a bolt on steering box brace to help make the frame more rigid at the steering box. The weld on kit or the bolt on kit will usually take alot of slop out of the steering.

    Harley
     
  3. GaBnn3

    GaBnn3 Registered Member

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    Thanks for the reply. Much appreciated.
     
  4. pauly383

    pauly383 Daddy383 Staff Member Moderator

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    Bear in mind though , being an old recirculating ball GM vehicle , even with all the components new , there will be just a little play :D
     
  5. ZZ4x4

    ZZ4x4 1/2 ton status

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    Also, check :
    Rag joint between the steering shaft and steering box.
    Bushings at spring eyes and frame

    You can tighten the steering box by adjusting the gear load with the allen bolt ( I hear ).

    Good luck
     
  6. 5kerblaz

    5kerblaz Registered Member

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    The allen bolt Mr. ZZ is talking about is an adjusting mechanism. Loosen the retaining nut just enough to be able to turrn the allen bolt. Adjust the allen bolt 1/8 turn at a time (clockwise for less play) until you get what you want. Then tighten the nut. You CAN get it too tight so be patient.

    My wife used to complain that my Blazer was "all over the damn road" until I adjusted it. Maybe let your wife (or other) drive it and adjust until the complaining stops.
     
  7. shane74

    shane74 1/2 ton status

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    Ok, just to set the record straight..

    DO NOT ADJUST YOUR STEERING BOX! Very rarely is steering play ever in the steering box itself. That nut at the top adjusts the gear mesh inside the box. If you mess with it, you can cause yourself some very serious issues. They are set from the factory with approx. 4 in. lbs. of drag to them. If you increase or decrease the drag, the gears do not mesh correctly and you will find yourself not being able to steer. There have been several situations where someone adusted that top nut and then found themselves in an accident because the steering gears bound up and they couldn't turn.

    I had this happen personally. I had play in my steering. I recieved some bad advise and "adjusted" my steering box. It made a slight improvement in the steering, but didn't correct it completely. Anyway, I left it "adjusted". About 3 weeks later, I was driving down the freeway at approx 75 mph. I was coming out of a long sweeping turn and I COULD NOT TURN MY STEERING WHEEL! I was in packed, fast moving traffic. I was headed for the other lane and lots of other cars at a very fast pace. I had the presence of mind to hit the flashers, hit the horn, and hit the brakes as fast as possible. Traffic scattered around me, and I made it to the shoulder of the road, but I could have killed someone and myself!

    My problem was my wheel bearings on the drivers side. NOT the steering box.

    You need to check everything else BEFORE you even consider the steering box. Check;

    1. Rag joint
    2. Drag link ends
    3. Tie rod ends
    4. Wheel bearings
    5. Check for loose spring bolts (shackles and u-bolts)

    Do a search on the subject of adjusting the steering box. This has been covered MANY times before. It is a VERY BAD IDEA.

    Sorry to come off so strong, but I damn near killed myself and other innocent people on the road following bad advice. If your steering box has that much play in it, the gears inside are shot. It needs replaced. Period.
     
  8. 5kerblaz

    5kerblaz Registered Member

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    Damn. Sorry for the misdirected advice and thanks for providing a more detailed picture of what to do first. Clearly, check all of the obvious wear points before focusing on the gear. If it's worn simply replace it. And I meant no disrespect toward your wife.
     
  9. GaBnn3

    GaBnn3 Registered Member

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    Thanks you all for you interest and concern. I hadn't yet attempted a fix, so no harm done. I've found the advice on this forum very helpful and appreciate the experience found here. Thanks all.
     
  10. shane74

    shane74 1/2 ton status

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    No worries. It wasn't intended as a slam on you at all. Its just that everytime I see this subject come up, I get a little excited. The pucker factor on that one was HUGE for me. I'm still waiting for the dang seat cushion to dislodge enough for me to remove it from my arse! :wink1: I swear it went so far up my rectum I could taste it in the back of my throat! :eek1: :p:
     
  11. 6.2puller

    6.2puller 1/2 ton status

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    Just to help clarrify what happens when you adjust that steering gear:

    The gear is set with a precise amount of backlash at the factory. The adjuster nut allows them to tighten it up till the backlash is in spec just like you would when shimming a ring and pinion. Over the years the worm gear in their wears in the middle where you are generally driving. The gear is approx 4" long and you spend most of your time in the middle inch so it wears and you get some play in the stearing.

    The problem comes when you tighten that backlash out in the middle. Say the factory spec is .004 backlash and it has warn to .015 backlash in the middle. You adjust that back so their is .004 in the middle but then one day you turn sharp, 90* turn. The gear at that point had little if any wear so you have just smashed the two gears together with a .011 interferrence fit. The steering then locks or becomes very hard to straighten out and you end up in a world of trouble.

    So yes you can adjust your adjusting nut but it should be done after replacing any warn parts in your steering including the worm gear in the steering box. Even after that it is wise to adjust the box with the steering at full left and then full right turns.

    Hope this helps explaine why some people get away with adjusting the box and some end up in a near death experience.
     

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