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Steering and Buckling

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by Kiqman, Jun 6, 2005.

  1. Kiqman

    Kiqman 1/2 ton status

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    I have an 89 k5 with a 3" suspension lift and 33" tires. It still has the factory tie-rods/ball joints many of which have busted grease bladders. It's a little worn out and loose - big deal right - it's a 4x4 that sees very little highway use. I did have a busted front leaf but had that replaced months ago. I still grease the zerts when I change the oil just for good measure. My problem is that when I'm traveling at any type of speed and begin turning left the truck will often track left suddenly as if someone jerked the steering wheel. It doesn't do this turning right and this problem just started in the last 6 months? Yesterday I was pulling a slight left turn on the freeway and about shot into the wall! It scared the (*^*(&% out of me! Driving slower around in the city around 90degree corners and through tight parking lots the steering seems just fine and responsive? Put this rig on the freeway and it feels like all my lug nuts are loose. It's an old rig but it's only an 89! I've driven 70's models that are tighter than this. Replacing all of the balljoints and tierods is an expensive laborious project! I have noticed that when I'm traveling straight my steering wheel is turned a bit to the left and it used to sit straight. A longer steering arm fixed most of my bump-steer. How do I tell if it's time for a new steering stabilizer and or shocks?
     
  2. 73k5blazer

    73k5blazer Unplug the matrix cable from the back of your head Premium Member

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    I think your problems are beyond steering stabilzer.
    Yes replacing ball joints and tre's is a PITA, but it must be done just the same. Just because it's expensive and time consuming doesn't mean it shouldn't have to be done. If they are worn, they are worn.
    The fact that your steering wheel is off says that your drag link is worn, or perhaps your new steeering arm caused it (did you adjust your drag link when you put the steering arm on).
    Other causes for loose front end include spring shackle bushings, body mounts, wheel bearings, cracked frame by steering box, etc etc etc....remember too these trucks weren't praised for thier handling when new, so keep that in mind.
    Here's an old post about loosness and wandering..

    The common problems are:

    Problem:Worn Tie-Rod ends
    How to Check: Raise front of truck, grab a front tire on the fore-aft axis, wiggle and watch for tie-rod slop

    Problem: Ball Joint Wear
    How to Check: Raise front of truck. grab a front tire on the up-down axis, wiggle and watch for ball joint slop. Lower truck, watch for any movement in ball joint slop as weight is transferred onto wheels from jack.

    Problem: Loose Front Wheel Bearings
    How to Check: Same as for the ball joints, but the tire wiggles too much and you don't see the play in your ball joints, your wheel bearing require adjustment for replacment.

    Problem: Drag Link Wear
    How to Check: Raise front of truck. Have a helper turn the steering wheel back&forth while you hold on to the front drivers tire, watch for slop in the drag link. Also grabbing the drag link with your hand and wiggle can show the wear sometimes too.

    Problem: Loose Collapsable Steering shaft
    How to Check: Get two pairs of vice grips, clamp one pair on lower section, one pair on upper section, grab both pairs and attempt to wiggle in opposite directions. If ANY play is detected, replace the shaft. This is the most overlooked piece of the steering system and usally is the second most common cause of loose steering on these trucks.

    Problem: Loose Rag joint
    How to Check: This isn't as common. Raise front of truck. Have a helper turn the steering wheel back and forth while you watch the rag joint. Look for play.

    Problem: Cracked Frame
    How to Check: With truck on ground, have a helper turn the steering wheel (Truck can be running for power assist) and look for frame wiggle in the area of the steering box. Also, with engine off, simply inspect the frame around the steering box. Cracks usally show up on the top of the frame rail and just infront of the forward bolt holes (hidden, unless you can weasel of look at the inside/back side of the frame rail, which usally requires a mirror)

    Problem: Spring fasterns/bushings/mounts
    What to do: Tighten your spring and axle fasteners, they may be loose. Check for bad spring bushings front & rear. Check the sway bar bushings as well. If you've put lift blocks on our front axle, remove them, they are dangerous and illegal in most states and a very likly cause of loose steering.

    Myth about steering box adjustment:
    There is a common myth that adjusting the allen bolt on the top of your steering box will tighten steering. This is just a myth. What is will do is place more preload internally on the sector shaft and cause you to have to put more effort into turning the wheel (More torque required to turn). It will not remove any "play" from the system. If you have sloppy steering or the truck is wandering and tough to control, adjusting this WILL NOT help you at all. Additionaly, if you adjust it improperly, and place too much pre-load on the sector, it will break, leaving you without steering, and in a potentially very bad situation. People like to belive this myth because it is easy and free. But it won't help with sloppy steering. So avoid it. Adjusting this properly requires removing the box and putting it on a "tool" or machine that will tell you exactly where the pre-load should be. It is adjusted at the factory and requires no furthur adjustment.
     
  3. Kiqman

    Kiqman 1/2 ton status

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    Steering Arm

    The new steering arm was installed a few years back and the steering wheel was straight until the last several months. So to answer your question, no, there was no adjustment done to the draglink at the time the new arm was installed. Steering box to frame was welded due to the "chevy crack" at the same time. Spring shackle bushings on driver's side were replaced last summer when the broken leaf was replaced - should I do passenger side leaf bushings too?

    Your comment about the body mounts has me thinking. I also get a lot of wobble/movement when starting from a stop or coming to a complete stop. The whole damn truck seems like it's ready to fall apart. I thought maybe it was my rearend but it makes no noise? I thought it might be bad rear brakes but it coasts like a dream in forward or reverse. Where are these body mounts you mention - can they just be torqued back down? I think the fact that I lived in the salty utah environment was a death sentence for my K5. I may be better off selling but that breaks my heart. Is it possible for an 89 to be rusted beyond redemption. The frame is rusty but does that mean it's weak? This summer is make or break - either I get this thing up to snuff or the wife is going to force me to get her a (very quietly) car...
     
  4. rusty79beast

    rusty79beast Registered Member

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    Not sure if you are having the same problem that I had in a 1 ton passenger van it was a ford probably less than 5 years old. It was a school van we took from Michigan to Montana and back. On the way back we just about bit it on the freeway in Montana doing 90+ The steering would just push us all over the place even if we kept the wheel straight! We brought it to a ford dealer and all he did was rotate the tires from the bad front ones to the new ones that we had on the back. After that it didn't do it anymore, so don't know what really was wrong or if it was the tires. So my advice would be to maybe look at the condition of your tires. Hope this helps
     

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