Facts about steering slop....


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rlith
02-24-2005, 06:46 PM
I've seen a lot of threads lately here and on other boards regarding steering slop and their various causes and fixes. Some answers have been outlandish, some good. I'm starting this thread to try and show true causes of steering slop as opposed to suspension problems.

Steering slop is cause usually by 2 things. A worn steering box, and/or a worn intermediate shaft..
Most people feel drifing in their front end (as opposed to pulling) and automatically zero in on suspension parts. I.E. Tie rods, pitman arm, idler arm, hubs, et-al. The best way to determine if you are having suspension vs steering slop problems is to look at the wear pattern on your front tires. Suspension problems will cause wear/alignment problems and steering slop will not.
Also most suspension problems will cause virbration or hum (aka road noise)


For steering slop, if you drive your car/truck and you can move your steering wheel back and forth several inches before you feel the slightest resistance or see that your car is actually moving, you have steering slop.

The 1st thing that wears is usually the intermediate shaft. This is the shaft that connects your steering wheel column to your steering box. At the base of this shaft is what's commonly called the "Rag Joint". The reason it's called a rag joint is because it is made of a mixture of cloth and asbestos. They use the rag joint as a vibration dampner for steering. For this purpose it does a good job as it's stiff, yet flexable. Unfortunatly like everything else, it wears and becomes too flexable and thus develops the play in your steering.Saturation of moisture and other fluids, heat and cold also contribute to this wear.

The solution? Replace the intermediate shaft. This will greatly improve your steering tighteness and responsiveness. Here is a picture of my own worn intermediate shaft that I replaced yesterday. As you can see in the picture the rag portion (where the red arrow points to) is worn and slightly crooked. This comes from stretching and wear...

http://www.pghconsulting.net/teal/ishaft.jpg

Replacing this is easy. Simply pull back the plastic cover at the base of the shaft. (do not lock the steering wheel, it will only make it tougher to get off or back on). You will see a single bolt going through the collar. Use an 11mm socket on an extention and remove. Now, using a long screwdriver or a prybar, pry the shaft backwards towards the firewall. The shaft will collapse into itself. (For older trucks or just really stiff shafts, spray the shaft with wd40 or similar lubricant so it slides into itself easier).(Good time to change that #3 spark plug)

Now, once it has slid back enough lift the shaft up and pull it straight out. Install the new one in reverse and tighten down the bolt.

Note: The collar is keyed with a flat spot within the splines, so if you feel that you have to force it on you don't have it on the steering box correctly. You will NOT need a steering wheel alignmentt when you put it back on.

Note 2: You might also want to think about a solid intermediate shaft unit from summit or jegs. Slightly more vibration and slightly more expensive than an gm shaft. But you won't be worrying about that rag joint.


Now, the other half of the slop problem is the steering box. This comes from high miledge and worn gears within the steering box. You have 3 options here..

1: tighten up the set screw on top of the box-- MAY help for the short term, but is not a cure. Within 1k miles it will be back to where you started.

2: Rebuild the steering box.-- Is a cure but not as easy as it sounds. Some kits can cost more than a new box

3: Buy a new steering box. Either new or a low miledge used one.

My personal preferance is #3. This also gives you the option to get a higher ratio steering box. Either an OEM gm or a good aftermarket box. I reccomend using a ZQ8 steering box. These offer a 12.1:1 ratio over the stock 14.7:1 ratio. This will take off about a full turn off your steering wheel without sacrificing any radius. A low miledge used box will cost around $125.00 from most wrecking yards, or about 500 new from the dealer. Simply make sure it comes from a truck with the ZQ8 rpo code or an Xtreme (they all have the zq8 rpo code) These boxes are the exact same ones used in the 86-89 Iroc Z-28's. They improve steering resposiveness like you wouldn't believe.
Many aftermarket companies make good steering boxes with the same ratios and installation is very easy.

Note: If you have a 4x4 and get a new steering box, get a new pitman arm, don't use your old one. They are only 25 dollars. If you run 2wd, you have a solid pitman arm and don't require a replacement.

Slop will be caused by either one of the above or both together. I hope this thread as it developes becomes helpful to people.

hootymo
02-25-2005, 12:00 AM
thats an awesome post!!! just had to say something, thanks for a very imformative and useful how-to, especially for us blazer owners :)

blazee
02-25-2005, 09:31 AM
Back when I was researching before I bought my blazer, I read about some issues where the bolt in the intermediate shaft wasn't tightened and it could loosen up, causing steering slop. It also said that it could fall out and you would loose control. I haven't found any recall info on it. I will search and see if I can find it again and give more details.

rlith
02-25-2005, 09:50 AM
I can't see that happening as the bolt has locktite on it. Though it's easy enough to snug the bolt down (11mm socket)

blazee
02-25-2005, 10:02 AM
I found a similar story for cadillac, I keep looking for the one about Blazers:

GM recalls 51,000 2003 Cadillac CTS cars
By Associated Press

http://www.detnews.com/pix/folios/dot.gif
DETROIT -- General Motors Corp. (javascript:companybox('GM')) on Friday announced a recall of about 51,000 model year 2003 Cadillac CTS cars to inspect the steering shaft for a loose bolt.
The world's No. 1 automaker said it was aware of two incidents where drivers lost steering control due to a loose bolt, but there were no reported injuries from either incident.
The problem can be fixed by merely tightening the bolt, GM said.
GM said it began mailing notices about the recall to owners on Thursday. If owners are concerned about driving to a Cadillac dealer, they can call the dealers to request assistance.
Dealers will inspect the vehicles to see whether the steering shaft bolt is under-tightened. If necessary, the dealer will tighten the bolt at no cost.
Of the total, about 48,000 of the vehicles are in the United States and about 3,000 are in Canada. The vehicles were built between October 2001 and Feb. 2.
On the Net: General Motors Corp. (javascript:companybox('GM')), http://www.gm.com (http://www.gm.com/)

BlazerLT
03-06-2005, 08:22 PM
How much is this steering shaft?

blazee
03-06-2005, 08:28 PM
$110 including shipping at GMPARTSDIRECT.COM

$160 - $185 at summit for the solid shaft.

BlazerLT
03-06-2005, 08:39 PM
oh boy.

blazee
03-06-2005, 08:51 PM
oh boy.

yeah....and I need one. :(

Used $22 on ebay might try one of them, but....then again I would like to have the solid shaft.

:) That sounded :gay:

BlazerLT
03-06-2005, 09:04 PM
yeah....and I need one. :(

Used $22 on ebay might try one of them, but....then again I would like to have the solid shaft.

:) That sounded :gay:

:lol:

thtop it, it wasth totally thuper mmmmkay.

blazee
03-06-2005, 09:27 PM
:lol:

I think this is the right one....not sure though.

BRG-935 (http://store.summitracing.com/partdetail.asp?part=BRG%2D935&N=4294925130+4294839070+4294849065+4294908216&autoview=sku)

Is this it rlith?

BlazerLT
03-06-2005, 09:29 PM
can other years be swapped in.

1997 low mileage swapped into a 1995 for example?

blazee
03-06-2005, 09:45 PM
GMPARTSDIRECT.com shows 95-97 being the same and 98 + being the same. The 95-97 are alot more expensive:


95-97 GM part# 26038756 $168.21 + $33.64 shipping = $201.85...you save 126.89

98+ GM part# 26056116 $92.34 + 18.47 shipping = $110.81 .......you save $69.65


Boy my signature is getting annoying :) time for it to go.

rlith
03-07-2005, 06:18 AM
can other years be swapped in.

1997 low mileage swapped into a 1995 for example?

Yes, but you're better off grabbing one from a late model trailblazer or envoy.... Think of all the years of water, salt, etc that would be on the 97....

BlazerLT
03-07-2005, 02:45 PM
TRue, but you said I cannot swap a 1998+ onto a 1995 right?

rlith
03-07-2005, 02:53 PM
You can just fine, you can't swap a 95+ into a 94 or below.... But that said, a 98 would be worn and exposed for 7 years of water, salt, etc... get the absolute latest s10/blazer/trailblzer/escalade intermediate shaft you can to reduce the chance...

BlazerLT
03-07-2005, 03:06 PM
I understand that, but you said that the 98+ were a different part number than the 1997 and older?

rlith
03-07-2005, 03:13 PM
I never said that (looked at all my posts) Where the shaft meets the column on the later models simply has a metal sleeve instead of the orange boot, that's the only difference, the base (ragjoint) is the same and splines are the same... I'm using one from a 2004 trailblazer with only 8k miles on it...

BlazerLT
03-07-2005, 03:15 PM
I never said that (looked at all my posts) Where the shaft meets the column on the later models simply has a metal sleeve instead of the orange boot, that's the only difference, the base (ragjoint) is the same and splines are the same... I'm using one from a 2004 trailblazer with only 8k miles on it...


:dance:

Nice!

Boneyard time!

rlith
03-07-2005, 03:16 PM
Once the v8 goes in -in april or may, I'm swapping in a solid shaft...

BlazerLT
03-07-2005, 03:19 PM
Man, that will be sahweet!

thehawksters4
03-12-2005, 07:53 AM
Thanks, I just spent $800 in three trips replacing ball joints and a pitman arm and the asswipe mechanic that claims to have worked at a GM shop for 25 years was telling me that this is as good as it gets. I stood there and turned the steerig wheel back and forth and showed him the slop and then walked over to my aerostar with 200 k on it and showed him how tight it was. He goes that only because that is rack an pinion. Meanwhile you don't dare take your eyes off the road in this blazer for a second or your will be driving off the side of the road. thank you very much for a common sence answer. You have made my day. I can't wait to print this and take it to the garage manager and tell him to give it to his know it all mechanic.

blazee
03-12-2005, 08:07 AM
Thanks, I just spent $800 in three trips replacing ball joints and a pitman arm and the asswipe mechanic that claims to have worked at a GM shop for 25 years was telling me that this is as good as it gets. I stood there and turned the steerig wheel back and forth and showed him the slop and then walked over to my aerostar with 200 k on it and showed him how tight it was. He goes that only because that is rack an pinion. Meanwhile you don't dare take your eyes off the road in this blazer for a second or your will be driving off the side of the road. thank you very much for a common sence answer. You have made my day. I can't wait to print this and take it to the garage manager and tell him to give it to his know it all mechanic.

Maybe he was a plumber in that area for 25 years, and plunged the GM shop's toilets when they backed up.

rlith
03-12-2005, 08:29 AM
Thanks, I just spent $800 in three trips replacing ball joints and a pitman arm and the asswipe mechanic that claims to have worked at a GM shop for 25 years was telling me that this is as good as it gets. I stood there and turned the steerig wheel back and forth and showed him the slop and then walked over to my aerostar with 200 k on it and showed him how tight it was. He goes that only because that is rack an pinion. Meanwhile you don't dare take your eyes off the road in this blazer for a second or your will be driving off the side of the road. thank you very much for a common sence answer. You have made my day. I can't wait to print this and take it to the garage manager and tell him to give it to his know it all mechanic.


Ouch! You could have done it your self with a few hand tools and 130 bux in parts...:( (not trying to make you feel bad)...

tannerdude
03-23-2005, 02:48 PM
TRue, but you said I cannot swap a 1998+ onto a 1995 right?
Yes you can. I just put one in. I ordered one from a company that had one for $22.00 plus $8.00 shipping (buy it now on EBAY). They must specialize in S-10 Blazers. Anyway, it was off of a 1988 or newer. The shaft is about 1/2" longer than the 1995 and has a different red cover. It also has a black plastic cover that will not fit unless you chop off 1/2". Mine no longer has the slop and drives like new. This was very easy to do. Thanks to rlith.

rlith
03-23-2005, 03:21 PM
I ended up with one out of a 2004 trailblazer... Worked well..

BlazerLT
03-23-2005, 04:46 PM
I ended up with one out of a 2004 trailblazer... Worked well..

The s-10 trailblazer right?

rlith
03-23-2005, 05:35 PM
The s-10 trailblazer right?

No, the 3rd gen trailblazer...(see envoy) It only had 8k on the truck

BlazayBlazerious
04-15-2005, 01:23 PM
Yes this post is back! rlith, thanks for an awsome post its given me new hope on what I though was just maybe the way Blazers are, since my current '98 Blazer, my former '98 and my '88 S-10 pickup all suffer(ed) from considerable slop.

I'm pretty square on the rag joint replacement, but how extensive is replacing the box? I'm extremely intrigued by getting one with a tighter ratio.

Allbert
04-15-2005, 03:26 PM
Just to throw in my 2 cents... I decided to have a look at my intermediate shaft while I was under the hood to replace a water pump anyway, and it turns out the rag joint on my shaft was pretty tight and most of the slop in my steering was in the gear box. I ended up tightening down the sector gear preload screw. I screwed it down a little too much on the first try, but adjusted it better after a short test drive. It's been maybe 800 miles since I did that, and the steering still feels way better so far... like there is an immediate input to the wheels as opposed to 10 or 15 degrees of slop in each direction like before. Does anyone know if these gearboxes had a problem when new with poor preload adjustment at the factory or something, or is this really the result of wear from use? It seems odd that a truck like mine (98 2wd with 155000 miles = mostly highway) would have much wear in the steering since I would imagine most of the miles were in a straight or almost straight line on some highway or interstate.

BlazerLT
04-15-2005, 03:27 PM
Can anyone take a picture of this adjusting screw?

I want to tighten my steering a bit.

rlith
04-15-2005, 04:22 PM
Yes this post is back! rlith, thanks for an awsome post its given me new hope on what I though was just maybe the way Blazers are, since my current '98 Blazer, my former '98 and my '88 S-10 pickup all suffer(ed) from considerable slop.

I'm pretty square on the rag joint replacement, but how extensive is replacing the box? I'm extremely intrigued by getting one with a tighter ratio.

Direct swap...

blazee
05-05-2005, 01:18 PM
Back when I was researching before I bought my blazer, I read about some issues where the bolt in the intermediate shaft wasn't tightened and it could loosen up, causing steering slop. It also said that it could fall out and you would loose control. I haven't found any recall info on it. I will search and see if I can find it again and give more details.

I forgot all about this until I just stumbled across it again.

1995 Chevrolet S10 Blazer NHTSA Recall ID Number: 96V195000
Recall Date: OCT 08, 1996
Component: STEERING:GEAR BOX:SHAFT SECTOR
Potential Units Affected: 144598
Summary: THE INTERMEDIATE STEERING SHAFT LOOSENS AT THE STEERING SHAFT TO STEERING GEAR COUPLING. WITH THIS LOOSENESS, THE YOKE PINCH BOLT CAN WEAR ON THE SPLINES OF THE SHAFT UNTIL THERE IS NO LONGER AN INTERFERENCE BETWEEN THE SPLINES AND THE BOLT.
Consequence: THIS CONDITION CAN CAUSE BODY TO CHASSIS MOVEMENT ALLOWING THE STEERING SHAFT TO SEPARATE FROM THE STEERING GEAR WHICH CAN RESULT IN A LOSS OF STEERING CONTROL.
Remedy: DEALERS WILL RETORQUE THE UPPER AND LOWER BOLTS TO CORRECT SPECIFICATIONS.
Notes: GENERAL MOTORS CORP.,

Allbert
05-06-2005, 01:19 PM
Can anyone take a picture of this adjusting screw?

I want to tighten my steering a bit.

I tried to take a picture with my cheapo digital, but no good. The screw in question is an allen head that is locked down with a hex jam nut (maybe 3/4 or 13/16). It is on the top of the steering gear near the front on what appears to be a square-ish cover plate that is held down by four bolts. I adjusted mine while I had my radiator cover off anyway to change my water pump... it might not be necessary to get this out of the way to do an adjustment on the gear, but I think it made the job easier. It's probably been about 1500 miles since I tightened mine down, and I haven't noticed any return of the steering slop. Of course, I'm not beating the hell out of my steering and suspension with any off-roading in my 2wd.

s10blazerman4x4
05-09-2005, 05:07 PM
steering box/rack is that what im looking for

its from a camaro and the wrecking yard says it fits is that the same as rag joint

rlith
05-09-2005, 08:48 PM
steering box is seperate... The rag joint is integral to the intermediate shaft

s10blazerman4x4
05-09-2005, 10:59 PM
but if i take that box then the rag joint intermediate shaft it should tighten it up

rlith
05-10-2005, 06:05 AM
A camaro intermediate shaft won't mate to the steering column... Your best bet is to hit a bone yard and grab one from a 3rd gen trailblazer/envoy Lower miledge...

s10blazerman4x4
05-10-2005, 06:53 AM
alrite will try again

rlith
05-10-2005, 07:06 AM
besides, you should go with a newer zq8 box..(same as the camaro z28 box) because it will also have lower miledge... Was the camaro box you were getting from an Iroc? If not it will be a standard 14.7:1 box and not the 12.1:1 box you're looking for..

blazee
05-10-2005, 12:36 PM
I'm considering renting a trailblazer from one of those $20-$40 a day rental places and swapping out a few parts.:naughty:

s10blazerman4x4
05-10-2005, 02:34 PM
yeh it was but i will look into this zq8

muzzy1maniac
05-10-2005, 03:42 PM
I'm considering renting a trailblazer from one of those $20-$40 a day rental places and swapping out a few parts.:naughty:


Nice - I like your way of thinking!

rlith
05-10-2005, 03:47 PM
Yeah.... theft is cool... :rolleyes:

s10blazerman4x4
05-10-2005, 05:36 PM
2003
Steering Rack/Box
Chevy Blazer S10/S15=75bucks low mileage 22000

Still looking for a shaft for the trailblazer

s10blazerman4x4
05-10-2005, 05:41 PM
ok a 2002 trailblazer steering rack for 100bucks 25000 miles

rlith
05-10-2005, 05:55 PM
Is it a ZQ8 box? If not it';s still stock ratio... You can also use an envoy intermediate shaft or the latest s10/sonama/blazer/jimmy shaft... the less miledge the better

blazer94
05-10-2005, 06:26 PM
I'm considering renting a trailblazer from one of those $20-$40 a day rental places and swapping out a few parts.:naughty:

Although I know your kidding, that WAS funny...
:lol2:

s10blazerman4x4
05-10-2005, 06:35 PM
yeh it was the zq8box. He also said he had the boxes with the racks but had to email me back with prices. The trailblazer rack will mate to a zq8 box

rlith
05-10-2005, 09:48 PM
yeh it was the zq8box. He also said he had the boxes with the racks but had to email me back with prices. The trailblazer rack will mate to a zq8 box

You don't need a rack, you just need the box and the intermediate shaft...

blazee
05-11-2005, 11:15 AM
Although I know your kidding, that WAS funny...
:lol2:
Yeah I was just kidding.:wink: I would never take anything off somebody's vehicle.:icesangel
:thinkerg: Hey rlith, can I borrow your blazer this weekend? :lol:

BlazerBoyLT98
05-11-2005, 12:10 PM
Alright guys I know this answer is somewhere in this post but I thought I would throw the question out anyway. I can't tell if I am having steering slop or other issues??? Here are my problems:

I have had issues every since I bought the truck with the steering. I have had very easily 5 allignments and it never resolved anything. Ball joints replaced, pitman arm, pretty much everything. I drive down the highway and it drifts in either direction depending on the slope in the road. There are sometimes I have almost a quarter tuen in the steering wheel to keep it straight and then al of a sudden it is like the steering catches and turns the direction I am turniong the wheel. I could never take my hands off of the wheel cause it will never go in a straight line. When the truck is lifted from the front both wheels have a good amount of left to right movemeant without the steering wheel responding. The only unusual tire wear I have noticed is that I seem to wear the inside and outside more. I have always kept the pressure about what is recomended thinking I would wear the middle a little more to try and even the wear out but that didn't work. Any ideas for me guys and gals? Thanks for any input and let me say once again that this is a great site with a bunch of great people! I have done and learned so much from all of you.

rlith
05-11-2005, 05:35 PM
Replace the steering box w/ a zq8 box and new intermediate shaft.

s10blazerman4x4
05-11-2005, 06:46 PM
im getting mine in 2 weeks for about 60bucks called today the shaft and box from a 2001 with 27thousand miles then i have to figure out if i want to put in myself or not

blazee
05-11-2005, 06:54 PM
rlith,

didn't you say the new ones wouldn't work on 94 and older?

s10blazerman4x4
05-11-2005, 07:17 PM
idk bout that i know the box will work i checked out his site and since his was the same body style ill go with it the 92

blazee
05-11-2005, 07:33 PM
I was talking about the intermediate shaft:

....you can't swap a 95+ into a 94 or below....

s10blazerman4x4
05-11-2005, 08:24 PM
well then i will still go with the box and rig something to it lol it was the oil on hot metal fumes getting to me

muzzy1maniac
05-11-2005, 09:39 PM
I drive down the highway and it drifts in either direction depending on the slope in the road. There are sometimes I have almost a quarter tuen in the steering wheel to keep it straight and then al of a sudden it is like the steering catches and turns the direction I am turniong the wheel. I could never take my hands off of the wheel cause it will never go in a straight line.


Wow, It sounds like I was writing this!! Thes best part is when the steering catches you feel like you've gone to far and you turn the wheel the other way and on and on and on. I kind of feel like I'm driving drunk!!!

s10blazerman4x4
05-11-2005, 10:15 PM
yeh thats how to describe it ill be going straight like tonite down to shoemakersville to get gas im goin 65 and it was goin straight then bam it kicked in the slop and all and i was like woah thre

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