"Wobbly Steering Column" - Chevelle Tech
Troubleshooting Diagnosing problems done here.

 
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old Sep 16th, 02, 11:58 AM Thread Starter
 
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I have an 81 El Camino with a strange problem. The steering wheel doesn't "lock" firmly into place. The tilt seems to work fine and it doesn't move up and down or anything, but if you push on the upper right of the steering column, it will give with you about 2-3 inches, not straight down but it moves up and to the right. When you do this the gear shift (on the column) moves in towards you a corresponding amount.

Any ideas what causes this?

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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old Sep 16th, 02, 9:22 PM
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Boy that seems like the rubber connector at the steering box is shot. Look under the hood where the shaft meets the steering box.

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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old Sep 17th, 02, 9:35 AM Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, I'll check that out. This is a new vehicle to me and I'm still learning my way around it.

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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old Sep 17th, 02, 10:36 AM
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You're going to have to pull the top end of the steering column apart. The piece the tilt pivots on is held to the column jacket with 4 screws. Those four screws are loose.
You're going to need two pullers. One for the steering wheel and another for the tilt pivot pins.
You need to pull the steering wheel, the lock plate, the turn signal lever, the turn signal switch, the tilt lever and the ignition cylinder. You'll then see some phillips head screws that you need to remove to get the upper column cover off. After that cover is removed, you'll see a 'cap' with a square hole in it. Push it down using a screw driver and turn it counter clockwise. (Put the column in full upright position first.) This gets the tilt mechanism spring out. You can then pull the pivot pins and remove tilt part of the column. You can then see the four screws that are loose. Remove them one at a time and reinstall them using some lock-tite to prevent them from loosening again.
It sounds rather tough, but after 50 or 60 of them you'll be able to do it blind folded.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old Sep 17th, 02, 10:46 AM Thread Starter
 
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Sounds like a lot of work, but I guess I'll give it a try. Thanks for your help. Any "gotchas" I need to look out for?

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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old Sep 19th, 02, 1:33 PM
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One "gotcha" is the lock ring on the locking plate. They make a tool that pushes the lock plate down and holds it down while you remove the lock plate. I used a slide hammer that (like the ones used to pull dents) you can put a screw in that fits the tilt pins and pulled them out this way. this can be a little tricky but just pay attention how the column comes apart and put the items in the order that you removed them and it should not be that bad.
Good Luck,

Also, the main reason that tilt columns get loose is that people pull/push themselves out or in the vehicle using the steering wheel as a hand hold.
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[This message has been edited by Nate (edited 09-19-2002).]
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old Sep 28th, 02, 11:38 AM Thread Starter
 
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Old Longboarder,

How do I pull the pivot pins? Is there a special tool for this? The pins appear to be threaded. Is that what I'm looking for?
I can see two of the screws that are loose, and indeed they are loose. In addition, it appears a bearing at the top of the steering column has come apart also as little balls came out, any idea what the part number is on that bearing or where I can get it?

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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old Sep 28th, 02, 9:51 PM
 
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May be that the bolts that hold the column to the dash supports or the bolts that hold the column flange to the flywheel are missing/loose.

Had a colum that did that in my '79 - bolts that hold the column to dash support were loose.

If you're desperate, and don't want to take thec olumn apart- i've got a mint low mileage tilt column that i'll ship your way if you want it.

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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old Sep 29th, 02, 7:46 AM Thread Starter
 
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No, I can tell that the problem is the 4 screws that Old Longboarder refers to in his post. I can tighten two of them and it has helped already. To get to the other two I have to finish disassembling the column and I don't know how to get the pivot pins out. Ideas welcome.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old Sep 30th, 02, 11:48 AM
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If they aren't too tight, you can put a small screw in the pivot pins, then pry them out with a screwdriver far enough to grab hold of them with a pair of pliers or vice grips, or if you have a body work slide hammer, put the correct size screw in it and yank them out.
You could also take a 3/8 drive 7/16" socket and a screw 1/8" inch longer than the height of the socket. Put the socket on the column pins, put a washer on the screw. Screw the screw into the pin, hold the socket with a pair of pliers and turn the screw to pull the pin out.


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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old Sep 30th, 02, 3:01 PM Thread Starter
 
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Ok, got the pivot pins out. I used a #8 machine screw about 1 1/4 long and then I was able to pry them out with a pair of channel locks. It really wasn't that hard once I had the right size screw.

Now there appears to be another pin of some type at the top of column that is still holding the cap on. It looks like it can just be driven out with nail set or a punch as it doesn't have any threads, etc. Am I on track here?
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old Oct 1st, 02, 7:01 PM Thread Starter
 
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Success!! Thanks to a lot of help from Old Longboarder, I'm back in business with no wobble. OL really knows his stuff. If he tells you a chicken dips you can look under his wing for the can.

Thanks to all who contributed.
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