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 FAQ: Steering Column Slop, Problems & Replacement

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ewolfe0050
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PostSubject: Re: FAQ: Steering Column Slop, Problems & Replacement   Mon Mar 17, 2008 7:37 pm

$122 for the entire intermediate shaft from Buick (in stock too!!). Because of what I have already done to my car, they said to change it myself would be the quickest and cheapest way. They would charge me $260 for part and install so it couldn't be that hard. I'll look at it tomorrow and make up my mind. Depends on the weather too... don't have a place to work on it inside.
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ewolfe0050
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PostSubject: Re: FAQ: Steering Column Slop, Problems & Replacement   Mon Mar 17, 2008 7:51 pm

BTY... dealer says that is one of the most common problems they see. He said the new Lucerns are the worst and they usually replace two a day.
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PostSubject: Re: FAQ: Steering Column Slop, Problems & Replacement   Tue Mar 18, 2008 7:43 pm

Got it fixed! Took about an hour and I didn't need to take off the wheel. All I needed was a 11mm socket and some bandaids. It's a straight forward job but prying the boots back enough to get to the two bolts was extremely difficult and wedging yourself to get under the dash was painfull.

It did solve any vibration of the steering wheel at all speeds, the clunking during a very slow speed turn, and any wheezing noise coming from the steering wheel.

Glad I finally have it fixed. This may be a problem on a lot of our cars and it's a cheap ($122) easy fix for a lot of unknown suspension problems.
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Steve98
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PostSubject: Re: FAQ: Steering Column Slop, Problems & Replacement   Tue Jun 24, 2008 11:52 am

I also have this problem, but it is only slightly loose, so maybe I can salvage the situation. I'm going to try.
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PostSubject: Re: FAQ: Steering Column Slop, Problems & Replacement   Thu Jul 24, 2008 3:05 pm

I also have this problem. I have been pushing the pin back in, and this fixes the problem 98%, but there is still a small amount of play. Are the pins threaded? Do they need to be screwed in? I started to do this the other day, but I realized I didn't have enough time so I put it back together. As far as I can tell, it is only one pin that is popping out, the one on the right side of the column.

What exactly needs to come out? It looks like the dash panel near your knees needs to come out to gain access to the upper and lower column covers. Does the center console need to come out to remove that panel? How about the steering wheel and airbag?
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skuchin
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PostSubject: Re: FAQ: Steering Column Slop, Problems & Replacement   Wed Aug 27, 2008 8:58 pm

I was looking for info on taking SW off to fix my loose column, but after reading about it........... Anyone want to buy a Riv... cheap.
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PostSubject: Re: FAQ: Steering Column Slop, Problems & Replacement   Fri Aug 29, 2008 11:41 pm

mine used to move took it to my shop to find out the colum was shattered so had to get another 200 not bad
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PostSubject: Re: FAQ: Steering Column Slop, Problems & Replacement   Sun Nov 30, 2008 12:40 pm

Well that sucks.I just bought my 97 riviera from a dealer a few weeks ago. It cost me $1700. He was being nice telling me everything that was wrong with the car (needed rear brakes, rear brake lines, and at least one front bearing, and the sunroof skipped a little when closing). He also told me that the steering wheel was loose (like I couldn't tell in the test drive lol), and that a bracket just needed to be tightened. Well, out the door I spent $2000 for the car, and now about $800 later I finally have my rear brakes all replaced and my front bearings replaced, lol. The steering wheel keeps bothering me more and more and I definitely don't wanna put another $200-300 into the car right now.
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BMD
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PostSubject: Re: FAQ: Steering Column Slop, Problems & Replacement   Mon May 04, 2009 10:37 am

I went to an independent shop and when they had it all apart they brought me in and showed me the problem I was having. Basically the infamous pin is made of a hard steel, but the bracket is made of a relatively softer material and wears out with use, which allows for the play. The shop "mushroomed" the bracket around the pin to make it tighter as the bracket and labour to put it in was too expensive. But now, a couple of years later, the wobble is back. So I believe all that you need to replace is that bracket. Unfortunately the replacement from GM would be of the same "soft " material. A solution would be if they made an aftermarket bracket of equal strength to the pin. A write up with pics on how to swap out the bracket would be fantastic!
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99Rivman
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PostSubject: Re: FAQ: Steering Column Slop, Problems & Replacement   Sun Jul 19, 2009 12:06 pm

BMD wrote:
A write up with pics on how to swap out the bracket would be fantastic!
I was going to put together a write-up for changing the bracket but I'm not sure it would be worth it! With the time and tools it would take to change it, as said here before, I'm not sure it isn't just as good of an idea to change the column.

I can however show what NOT to do to repair it! I had a local guy call me, he got my name and number off the internet, about a steering wheel problem he was having with his Riv. I told him I would take a look and see what I could find out. His steering wheel moved more than any I have seen before, I have had a couple where the pin was out and thought it was more than just that, but this wheel would almost come off in your hands! He also had no brake lights or flashers. This is what I found for an existing repair:







Some idiot had used a piece of tin screwed to the side of the bracket to hold the pin in! When that piece of tin broke loose it started chaffing wires, it was smoking from the column area and blew the brake light fuse! He got a column from a ’97 and his is a ’95 so I had to fix the wires to reuse the multi-function switch, the wiring of the ’97 switch is different.

Anyway, just thought I’d show what NOT to do!

It seems like there are three stages of slop?!?
SOME = normal wear.
MORE = pin fell out.
EXTREME = bracket broken!!!


If there is interest I can put together a write-up for changing the bracket but I can tell you it would be a LARGE PITA!
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PostSubject: Re: FAQ: Steering Column Slop, Problems & Replacement   Sun Jul 19, 2009 6:44 pm

That soft pot metal may have been chosen for a very important reason---like allowing the steering wheel to break away so a driver is not impaled by it in a crash.

I was stopped at a light in an '83 Honda when a teenager rear ended me going 45+mph. I saw him coming but had nowhere to go and grabbed the steering wheel very tight. When he hit me my car was jammed into the car in front of me. I tore the wheel off the column. The car was folded like an accordian but the passenger compartment was basically intact. He was rear ended in turn and hit me again and I hit the car in front of me again. I broke the seat back this time while I was holding the loose steering wheel. The car was totaled. The paramedics and wrecker guy told me about the pot metal safety feature.
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PostSubject: Re: FAQ: Steering Column Slop, Problems & Replacement   Sun Jul 19, 2009 10:25 pm

Randall: looks like that riv was "wrecked and pulled." and the repair technician decided to cheap out instead of replacing the pot metal collar.

I suspect that for a high mile/high use vehicle the pot metal bracket might be treated as a "Wearout Part."

One more thing to watch out for, kids.

I wonder if that part of the column is available as a part? Isn't it part of the "intermediate shaft" - they are like $79 from monsterpartsonline. I could not see enough of the picture to figure it out. I get the feeling I'm wrong about this one.

Albertj
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99Rivman
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PostSubject: Re: FAQ: Steering Column Slop, Problems & Replacement   Mon Jul 20, 2009 1:20 am

albertj wrote:
Randall: looks like that riv was "wrecked and pulled." and the repair technician decided to cheap out instead of replacing the pot metal collar.
I didn't notice any real damage to the car itself, just the column, but who knows?

albertj wrote:
I suspect that for a high mile/high use vehicle the pot metal bracket might be treated as a "Wearout Part."

One more thing to watch out for, kids.
This '95 only had 125,000 miles on it?!?

albertj wrote:
I wonder if that part of the column is available as a part? Isn't it part of the "intermediate shaft" - they are like $79 from monsterpartsonline. I could not see enough of the picture to figure it out. I get the feeling I'm wrong about this one.

Albertj
It is number 8. in this illistration:

Please select a corresponding number from the illustration below to view the details of that part.
1) Lower shaft ... 2) Lower shaft Cover ... 3) Lower bearing
4) Lower bearing Seat ... 5) Lower bearing Spring ... 6) Lower bearing Retainer
7) Jacket ... 8) Lower support ... 9) Spring Kit
10) Intermed shaft ... 11) Sphere ... 12) Upper shaft



Item Number MSRP Core Price Price
26039534 .....$124.27 $0.00 $71.54
Steering column - Shaft and internal components - Lower support
Lower support 1995 - 1999
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albertj
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PostSubject: Re: FAQ: Steering Column Slop, Problems & Replacement   Mon Jul 20, 2009 10:58 am

Thanks for the clarification.

Definitely a part for the pro or semipro restorer. By the time you got into the steering column deep enough to replace that thing, if you did not take a break to shave but you were clean like gomer pyle at the start you'd probably look like zz top at the end.

I suspect the Riv you're looking at was wrecked and pulled then refinished. Collision centers are *really* good at his now but shady ones will do a real nice job on the body and will skip/half-fix components that function. You get your hands on one of these cars, they you have stuff like wheel bearings failing very early (shock from collision misaligns them but they still work, fail in 6-12 months later), partly crushed or busted columns such as you show in the pictures--the repairer knew what he/she was doing, it's just that for safety reasons they should never have done it. It is real hard to spot one of these cars especially if the title passed through various states or if when totaled the insurance adjuster compelled the claimant to hand over the title without marking the mileage or certain other data.

Sometimes they can be spotted - look for a combination of the following:

- sound deadening material missing or of a different kind/quality than elsewhere on the car
- seam sealer applied differently on different parts of the car
- if you know the cars well, different trim pieces from different years on the same car, like a '07 steering wheel in a '04 model or vice versa
- black seat belts on high-line cars (they are usually color-keyed)
- in certain light (sun/incandescent/fluorescent/mercury vapor/sodium vapor) depending on the color of the car you may be able to see that the different trim panels are slightly different colors or same color, different reflectance - this comes from differences in repair paint composition versus factory paint compositions
- again if you know the cars well, trim badges in even a slightly wrong location
- the acrid post-airbag-detonation smell in the interior (smell it once you never forget and it is really tough to get rid of)
- small amounts of paint where the paint should not be, like on plastic/rubber trim or such (masking tape overspray)

None of these are a guarantee or telltale that the car was majorly wrecked, but I would find, for instance, the combination of airbag smell and seam sealer mismatch along with subtle paint mismatch to be a pretty strong indication of pretty major collision work.

Albertj
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99Rivman
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PostSubject: Re: FAQ: Steering Column Slop, Problems & Replacement   Mon Jul 20, 2009 12:36 pm

sburch23 wrote:
That soft pot metal may have been chosen for a very important reason---like allowing the steering wheel to break away so a driver is not impaled by it in a crash.

I was stopped at a light in an '83 Honda when a teenager rear ended me going 45+mph. I saw him coming but had nowhere to go and grabbed the steering wheel very tight. When he hit me my car was jammed into the car in front of me. I tore the wheel off the column. The car was folded like an accordian but the passenger compartment was basically intact. He was rear ended in turn and hit me again and I hit the car in front of me again. I broke the seat back this time while I was holding the loose steering wheel. The car was totaled. The paramedics and wrecker guy told me about the pot metal safety feature.
agree
That could very well be a safety feature engineered into the column but I thought that was the purpose of the air bag?
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PostSubject: Re: FAQ: Steering Column Slop, Problems & Replacement   Mon Jul 20, 2009 12:41 pm

99Rivman wrote:
That could very well be a safety feature engineered into the column but I thought that was the purpose of the air bag?

Yes, but the steering column being able to collapse/breakaway is also part of the deal. The airbag is not the end-all of the impact engineering, but only a smaller (but more visible) part of the big picture.
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PostSubject: Re: FAQ: Steering Column Slop, Problems & Replacement   Mon Jul 20, 2009 12:42 pm

albertj wrote:
Thanks for the clarification.
The illustration above is from MonsterParts, it is a very simplified version, the figure in the Service Manual has over 60 parts/pieces listed in its breakdown of the steering column.

albertj wrote:
Definitely a part for the pro or semipro restorer. By the time you got into the steering column deep enough to replace that thing, if you did not take a break to shave but you were clean like gomer pyle at the start you'd probably look like zz top at the end.
I’m not sure about that, the more I look at it; it doesn’t look like it would be that difficult. When I mentioned “time and tools” above I was mistaken. The only special tools the Service Manual lists in that section is a puller for the shaft lock, to compress the spring under it, and a puller for the pins, which we all know fall out on their own anyway. It looks like once the shaft lock and pins are out the lower steering shaft assembly slides right out. I might go ahead and take this one apart just to see what is involved. If I do I’ll provide pictures.

albertj wrote:
I suspect the Riv you're looking at was wrecked and pulled then refinished.
You mention “wrecked and pulled” in both of your posts? I’m pretty sure I know what wrecked means but I’m not sure what you mean by “pulled”?

Another thing I noticed, the rubber stop for the “up” position of the tilt wheel was crushed. I’m not sure that would/should break the bracket but if released with all of the spring pressure every time the steering wheel was put in the full up position might have been a factor?

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PostSubject: Re: FAQ: Steering Column Slop, Problems & Replacement   Mon Jul 20, 2009 12:49 pm

I think he is referring to "Pulling" the frame or more correctly the uni-body structure by pulling it on a frame straightening jig.
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PostSubject: Re: FAQ: Steering Column Slop, Problems & Replacement   Mon Jul 20, 2009 12:55 pm

99Rivman wrote:

Another thing I noticed, the rubber stop for the “up” position of the tilt wheel was crushed. I’m not sure that would/should break the bracket but if released with all of the spring pressure every time the steering wheel was put in the full up position might have been a factor?

Might be why some experience this problem and others don't - I rarely use the tilt feature. It is set where I want it and it stays in that position.
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PostSubject: Re: FAQ: Steering Column Slop, Problems & Replacement   Mon Jul 20, 2009 1:27 pm

Hy Randall (and the rest of you) you asked about "wrecked and pulled."

Wrecked = the obvious

Pulled = part of repairing a wrecked/totaled car can be to put it on a hydraulic frame straightener, such as a Chief Kahuna (see http://www.chiefautomotive.com/; see http://www.chiefautomotive.com/repairsystems/kahuna.asp), and 'pull' it back into shape. In that pulling, other things can be realigned and unbent. This is because most wrecks (if you are counting numbers of accidents) are light hits. For a heavy hit you need a Fuzion (see http://www.chiefautomotive.com/repairsystems/fuzion.asp). So it you get a lightly hit car that has some market appeal chances are you can pull it back to near repaired shape, then replace or repair fender/bumper skin/hood and be done---as long as the hidden damage (like our little friend the steering column) is not an apparent factor.

Hence the slang, "wrecked and pulled."

Happy reading...

Albertj


Last edited by albertj on Mon Jul 20, 2009 3:04 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: FAQ: Steering Column Slop, Problems & Replacement   Mon Jul 20, 2009 2:24 pm

sburch23 wrote:
That soft pot metal may have been chosen for a very important reason---like allowing the steering wheel to break away so a driver is not impaled by it in a crash.

This maybe so, but I am sure every car out there has this safety feature and yet has no steering wheel slop. It would be interesting to know if steering column parts from another car could be swapped out with ours to correct this problem!
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PostSubject: Re: FAQ: Steering Column Slop, Problems & Replacement   Mon Jul 20, 2009 2:27 pm

These don't wear out often enough to justify finding a different design. If yours is worn, I would just replace with the correct OEM parts and get the normal life out of new replacement parts.
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PostSubject: Re: FAQ: Steering Column Slop, Problems & Replacement   Mon Jul 20, 2009 2:31 pm

Rickw wrote:
These don't wear out often enough to justify finding a different design. If yours is worn, I would just replace with the correct OEM parts and get the normal life out of new replacement parts.

I bought my Riv with just over 60K on it and it had this slop, and almost every Riv owner here seems to have this problem. My dad has a 99 Park Avenue and has no indication of a slop. Perhaps you could swap out a Park Avenue bracket with ours?
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PostSubject: Re: FAQ: Steering Column Slop, Problems & Replacement   Mon Jul 20, 2009 2:38 pm

I had not heard of this issue until you posted about it, that's why I made the statement that I did above.
If this is a widespread problem then I agree with finding alternate parts that will last longer.
I personally have not had a problem, but that doesn't mean one doesn't exist.
Please post what you may find for alternative parts.
Thanks

Edit: Sorry, I just noticed this thread is 5 pages long with a lot of complaints such as yours. I will read from the beginning.


Last edited by Rickw on Mon Jul 20, 2009 3:26 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: FAQ: Steering Column Slop, Problems & Replacement   Mon Jul 20, 2009 3:10 pm

Rickw wrote:
I had not heard of this issue until you posted about it, that's why I made the statement that I did above.
If this is a widespread problem then I agree with finding alternate parts that will last longer.
I personally have not had a problem, but that doesn't mean one doesn't exist.
Please post what you may find for alternative parts.
Thanks

Edit: I just noticed this thread is 5 pages long with a lot of complaints such as yours. I will read from the beginning.

If I was the only one with this problem then obviously there wouldn't be a need for a solution or a thread and if I find any alternative parts then I will definately post them. My comment is directed more to the mechanically inclined here at Rivperformance, who have the skliis and know how to perhaps try finding a permanent solution to the steering wheel slop! wink
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