98 Chevy K3500, loose steering.

wtd

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Hi, is anyone familiar with the steering setup on this truck? The truck wanders all over the place and it's like there is a disconnect between the front wheels and the steering wheel. I bought this truck in 2007 with 94,000 miles and it now has 120,000 miles.

Over the years I have had the idler arm and one ball joint replaced as well as both hub/bearing assemblies, alignment, Evo sensor, brakes, etc. Front tires wear is normal.

Does this sound like a worn out steering gear box or do they have any type of adjustment in the box? Steering column shafts? Thanks for any ideas.
 
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Jack it up and shake the front end down. All the steering components are common to wear out on that chassis including the steering box

Pitman arms, idler arms and inner tie rods seem to be the most frequent. Outer tie rods seen to hold up longer.
 

wtd

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Jack it up and shake the front end down. All the steering components are common to wear out on that chassis including the steering box

Pitman arms, idler arms and inner tie rods seem to be the most frequent. Outer tie rods seen to hold up longer.
Ok, thanks. I will do that.
 
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I would jack it up under the lower control arms & have someone shake the steering wheel back & forth (put stands under the LCAs & frame for extra safety), the looseness should be apparent. There's an Allen screw w/a locknut on the steering box that can take some sloppiness out of the steering box if it's not worn too bad.
 

wtd

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I jacked the truck up and wiggled each tire side to side and I do have some play on both sides with a little bit more on the driver's side. I didn't really see any movement at the tie rod joints but did see the pitman arm slightly moving back and forth. I was by myself so when I moved the steering wheel back and forth with the truck jacked up, I couldn't really tell anything. With the truck on the ground and steering wheel unlocked, there is quite a bit of steering wheel movement before the wheels start to move. When driving and you move the steering wheel side to side, there is quite a bit of movement of the steering wheel before you feel any real change in the direction of travel.
 
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Might need an assistant to shake the wheel so you can watch each joint while he shakes it. It could be just the steering box is very sloppy but you won’t know for sure until you get a look look at the steering joints. Make sure you load the suspension to check the ball joints
 
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Not sure if yours would have a rag joint but when they replaced mine in my 89 it helped a bunch but they must of used a cheap one because I'm getting more play again in the steering wheel.
 
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wtd

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I'm not sure if this truck has one or not. It has a plastic cover on the end of the lower steering shaft at the gear box.
 
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The "rag joint" or rubber disc was the issue on my '93 C3500, had to do some drilling to replace it, but that & a tweak of the gearbox Allen screw tightened it right up.
 
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You really need an assistant for this. Then it is straightforward.

Have them turn the steering wheel back and forth repeatedly, but staying within the "dead" area where the front wheels don't move. Look at each part to see where motion is being lost. Example you see the input shaft of the steering box move, but the output and Pitman arm doesn't move, the box is loose.
 

wtd

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You really need an assistant for this. Then it is straightforward.

Have them turn the steering wheel back and forth repeatedly, but staying within the "dead" area where the front wheels don't move. Look at each part to see where motion is being lost. Example you see the input shaft of the steering box move, but the output and Pitman arm doesn't move, the box is loose.
Ok, thanks. I will have to wait until Wednesday when my fiancé doesn't have to work.
 
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My 1985 Olds 88 had a worn out rag joint. I bought a universal replacement from NAPA. I had to make two of my own custom bolts for it to work with my vehicle because the ones with the kit did not fit. Fortunately I have a combination lathe and milling machine to use to make the parts.

So if the rag-joint is bad, first check with a dealer to see if the parts are still available. If they are not, you may want to check a NAPA store. The one I bought was on a display in the lobby of the store. If your NAPA does not have it in stock, they may be able to get it from another NAPA store from there lobby display.
 
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Nick1994

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How old is the current steering setup? If 22 years, that's enough for a Chevy truck. I had a 96' and it had some play. I replaced the idler arm and pitman arm, no change. Typically it's the rag joint and/or the steering box.

But at this age, if you're keeping it then probably time for just an entire overhaul. Go on Rock Auto and browse through the steering parts. Looks like it's got an upper and lower steering shaft, a U Joint, and a coupler.
 

wtd

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How old is the current steering setup? If 22 years, that's enough for a Chevy truck. I had a 96' and it had some play. I replaced the idler arm and pitman arm, no change. Typically it's the rag joint and/or the steering box.

But at this age, if you're keeping it then probably time for just an entire overhaul. Go on Rock Auto and browse through the steering parts. Looks like it's got an upper and lower steering shaft, a U Joint, and a coupler.
I'm going to assume it's the original setup other than the idler arm and lower right ball joint that has been replaced since I've owned it. I was checking out Rock Auto earlier. What I think was the rag joint was out of stock.
 
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One thing I paid attention to when I chose the steel to make the custom bolts was the hardness of the steel. Too hard and it could be brittle, to soft and it could be too weak. I tested the hardness with a simply trying to file a piece with the edge of a triangle file. The original parts from the original rag-joint were very hard. The bolts that came in the NAPA kit were soft, and the steel I used to make the new bolts were a hardness that was in-between the two.
 
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