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Old 02-24-2005, 05:46 PM   #1
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Facts about steering slop....

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...



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.
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Old 02-24-2005, 11:00 PM   #2
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Re: Facts about steering slop....

thats an awesome post!!! just had to say something, thanks for a very imformative and useful how-to, especially for us blazer owners
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Old 02-25-2005, 08:31 AM   #3
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Re: Facts about steering slop....

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.
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Old 02-25-2005, 08:50 AM   #4
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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)
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Old 02-25-2005, 09:02 AM   #5
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Re: Facts about steering slop....

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


DETROIT -- General Motors Corp. 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., http://www.gm.com
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Old 03-06-2005, 07:22 PM   #6
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Re: Facts about steering slop....

How much is this steering shaft?
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Old 03-06-2005, 07:28 PM   #7
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Re: Facts about steering slop....

$110 including shipping at GMPARTSDIRECT.COM

$160 - $185 at summit for the solid shaft.
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Old 03-06-2005, 07:39 PM   #8
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Re: Facts about steering slop....

oh boy.
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Old 03-06-2005, 07:51 PM   #9
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Re: Re: Facts about steering slop....

Quote:
Originally Posted by BlazerLT
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
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Old 03-06-2005, 08:04 PM   #10
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Re: Re: Re: Facts about steering slop....

Quote:
Originally Posted by blazee
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


thtop it, it wasth totally thuper mmmmkay.
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Old 03-06-2005, 08:27 PM   #11
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I think this is the right one....not sure though.

BRG-935

Is this it rlith?
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Old 03-06-2005, 08:29 PM   #12
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Re: Facts about steering slop....

can other years be swapped in.

1997 low mileage swapped into a 1995 for example?
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Old 03-06-2005, 08:45 PM   #13
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Re: Facts about steering slop....

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.
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Old 03-07-2005, 05:18 AM   #14
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Re: Re: Facts about steering slop....

Quote:
Originally Posted by BlazerLT
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....
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Old 03-07-2005, 01:45 PM   #15
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Re: Facts about steering slop....

TRue, but you said I cannot swap a 1998+ onto a 1995 right?
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