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2500HD/3500 HD Trucks & Drivetrain Discussion Forum for the 2001 & newer 2500HD/3500 Trucks, Transmissions & Drivetrain

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  #1  
Old 05-25-2017, 05:05 PM
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gary_lucas gary_lucas is offline
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Default sloppy steering

So, all the front end is done. Had it aligned.

New ball joints, tie rods inner and outer, new idler arm + bracket.

I assumed the looseness in the steering would either be allot better or completely back to normal.

Sadly, that is not the case.

Was on the highway today and it's still floaty. When I had it aligned they said there was probably looseness in the gearbox and that the rest of the front end was completely tight (possibly tighter than normal).

Is the steering gear serviceable? I've heard bad things about rebuilds, any thoughts? I may do this sooner than I thought as I don't like the handling on the highway. Are there investigation steps I can do to rule out anything else? Presumably watch the input shaft and the output pitman arm. I'll take a peek this weekend. Right now it looks like I can rotate the wheel almost an inch left and right before seeing movement in the tires.
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Old 05-25-2017, 06:22 PM
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DmaxMaverick DmaxMaverick is offline
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The gear box is not (reasonably) serviceable. The pitman arm is just as suspect as all the other parts you replaced.

(engine off, in P, key out, E-brake, chocks, etc....)
Have someone "rock" the steering wheel while you inspect from the firewall to the new parts.

If there's no evidence of play in the steering, tires and/or wheels are suspect (front and/or rear).
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Old 05-25-2017, 09:22 PM
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gary_lucas gary_lucas is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DmaxMaverick View Post
The gear box is not (reasonably) serviceable. The pitman arm is just as suspect as all the other parts you replaced.

(engine off, in P, key out, E-brake, chocks, etc....)
Have someone "rock" the steering wheel while you inspect from the firewall to the new parts.

If there's no evidence of play in the steering, tires and/or wheels are suspect (front and/or rear).
Thanks for the response! Much appreciated!

We did check out all of the components (and will again). The tires are new-ish... Look good and just got a full alignment... We do see a bit of play in the pitman arm, but it's barely noticeable. IE you have to stare at it for a few minutes while someone cranks the wheel to see it and then only barely.

Going to take a closer look this weekend and see if the steering wheel shows expected movement at the column where it mates with the steering gear. If so we know where the problem is... If not then we've isolated it further up the chain. Also, now that I've had it running for a decent while I'll recheck all the steering and suspension work we just did.

Was chatting with my neighbor about this, he's a retired mechanic (40+years of servicing logging camp machinery... IE pickups and bigger). He said there is an adjustment on the worm gear that can be made and offered to do it for me.

He said it can't hurt to try, worst case the steering gear is shot and i'm in for another one. (He's also got a nice discount at the local part store which I plan on leveraging if we have to replace the steering gear )



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Old 05-26-2017, 02:02 AM
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Have you checked the intermediate steering shaft and bearing? I just had mine replaced for the 4th time since I bought the truck new. This was the 4th shaft and the first bearing change.
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Old 05-26-2017, 08:35 AM
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After I got my 94 it was in an accident and had it repaired at a dealer. They said it was all fine to go. Steering was still sloppy but they insisted it was within specs. It still tended to wonder going down the highway.

Took it to a Big O shop and they checked it. They gave me a print of what it was and what they set it to. Before it was barley within margins. They dialed it down to middle +/- a smidge. Handled great after that.
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  #6  
Old 05-26-2017, 07:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EdHale View Post
Have you checked the intermediate steering shaft and bearing? I just had mine replaced for the 4th time since I bought the truck new. This was the 4th shaft and the first bearing change.
That's something else to check, thanks for chiming in.




Quote:
Originally Posted by a5150nut View Post
After I got my 94 it was in an accident and had it repaired at a dealer. They said it was all fine to go. Steering was still sloppy but they insisted it was within specs. It still tended to wonder going down the highway.

Took it to a Big O shop and they checked it. They gave me a print of what it was and what they set it to. Before it was barley within margins. They dialed it down to middle +/- a smidge. Handled great after that.
It did this kind of wandering before I did all the work and I've since replaced everything and brought it in for an alignment. It's possible they screwed up but seems unlikely given how the handling of the truck hasn't much changed from how it was originally.

Funny story: My wife complained about the flaky steering awhile back but I blew it off as I was driving it regularly... Then we went without driving it at all for awhile. When I got back to it I was like 'woah, what's going on here' told my wife and she responded: "Uh, yah, that's what I told you months ago"
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Old 05-28-2017, 08:32 PM
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We tightened the adjustment on the steering gear a tiny bit, it's definitely improved. Still wanders a tiny bit, when I bring it back to the alignment shop for followup I'll get them to give it a quick test again.

In any case the wander is mostly gone, back to 'good enough', neighbor suggested a tiny adjustment and drive it for a month, apparently it's really easy to destroy the gears with too much adjustment.

The play was definitely primarily in the steering box, there's no question about that at this stage. There might be a miniscule amount of play in the pitman arm... But small enough you'd have to look for 5 minutes to see it.

With any luck I can hold off doing any further steering work for the next year or so. If the steering gear goes south again or it gets sloppy it'll just be a replacement.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EdHale View Post
Have you checked the intermediate steering shaft and bearing? I just had mine replaced for the 4th time since I bought the truck new. This was the 4th shaft and the first bearing change.
This was an interesting point, I don't think it's causing sloppy steering but there is a clunk coming from the console when I hit a bump etc. It's been there since I got the truck so I never thought much about it. I figured out that it's the intermediate steering shaft and bearing. So thanks for that!
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Old 05-30-2017, 10:29 AM
Kennedy Kennedy is offline
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The pitman and idler arms take the same loads and are tied to the same rigid drag link. How one could think that one is bad but not the other is beyond me.

If you want the front end to be tight I'd add these: http://www.kennedydiesel.com/detail.cfm?ID=340

But before I'd do it I would do the pitman so it is fresh. Often you might find the steering to be initially a bit stiff even.
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  #9  
Old 05-30-2017, 03:34 PM
rapidoxidationman rapidoxidationman is offline
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The pitman and idler are tied to the same rod, but the pitman certainly endures a way higher load than the idler arm. All the idler has to do is keep things in line. The pitman arm has to push the steering around, in addition to transmitting feedback to the steering wheel. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the pitman arm gets hit with everything coming and going. The idler arm just idles.

In any case, if you're able to see play in the pitman arm then it's time to change it out.
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  #10  
Old 05-30-2017, 04:39 PM
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Yah, I'm not sure what to say.

There's literally no obvious play in the pitman arm, there was with the Idler.

I'm still going to swap it out, just in the fall. At this stage i've spent about as much as I can swing on it and I definitely need to address the leaking power steering fluid (as far as I can tell that's coming from the power steering pump). When I say leak I mean the return line is slightly dirty and damp, it's not pissing out or anything. I haven't seen low power steering fluid.

I'll pull it apart in the fall and address it all and throw on the cognito braces.

I appreciate everyones input and will re-check the pitman again this weekend!



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Last edited by gary_lucas; 05-30-2017 at 08:49 PM.
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