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  • Cause for sloppy steering

    So I have this monster 4x4 truck (suspension and body lift and 38.5" Super Swampers), '84 C10. The steering wheel will turn about half a turn before the wheels turn. Pretty scary when trying to dodge other vehicles on the road! So what is a common source of the slop? Can I just replace the pitman arm and idler arm? Or do I need to start looking into the center link, tie rods and steering knuckles? Do the ball joints play any role here (or do they account for the bump steer)? BTW the front axle is a Dana 44. The rag joint looks OK.

    Sorry for the basic questions but 4x4's and steering components are all new to me. So feel free to take me to school!

    Thanks!!!
    1981 Scottsdale (hot rod 350, 450HP)
    2002 GMC Sierra 1500 ECSB 4x4 (5.3L)
    2014 Chevrolet SS 12.4 @ 117

  • #2
    Re: Cause for sloppy steering

    have someone sit in the truck and rock the steering back and forth with the truck sitting on the ground. Meanwhile, look under the truck at ALL of the steering/linkage. Start at the ends and work your way back to the box. Look in particularly at tie rod ends/pitman/idler. If no slop or play observed, look specifically at the input shaft vs the output movement of the steering box.

    Oh, something else that I've seen on the older body styles (especially with taller tires) is that the frame will sometimes crack at the steering box mounts.

    Good luck
    Last edited by spent21; 05-30-2012, 12:32 PM.

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    • #3
      Re: Cause for sloppy steering

      I'm betting the drag link is on a gross angle, how big a drop pitman arm is being run?

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      • #4
        Re: Cause for sloppy steering

        Originally posted by Quyonmob View Post
        I'm betting the drag link is on a gross angle, how big a drop pitman arm is being run?
        That very well may be, but wouldn't explain a half round on the wheel. It will definitely contribute to the bump steer. I have an '88 k5 with a 4" lift that is getting crossover steering.

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        • #5
          Re: Cause for sloppy steering

          Originally posted by spent21 View Post
          That very well may be, but wouldn't explain a half round on the wheel. It will definitely contribute to the bump steer. I have an '88 k5 with a 4" lift that is getting crossover steering.

          If OP is calling it a "monster truck", I'm betting it is 8-10" lifted, with the pitman arm still connected to the driver's knuckle via a drag link that is getting close to vertical. I've seen some steering "corrections" that will easily lead to a 1/2 wheels turn of slop due to every 1/32" of play beign magnified 10x over.

          Crossover is definitely the best idea, even on a 4" like yours, but pretty much becomes mandatory to get anything over 6" of suspension lift to steer properly.
          Last edited by Quyonmob; 05-31-2012, 08:31 AM.

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          • #6
            Re: Cause for sloppy steering

            Originally posted by spent21 View Post
            have someone sit in the truck and rock the steering back and forth with the truck sitting on the ground. Meanwhile, look under the truck at ALL of the steering/linkage. Start at the ends and work your way back to the box. Look in particularly at tie rod ends/pitman/idler. If no slop or play observed, look specifically at the input shaft vs the output movement of the steering box.

            Oh, something else that I've seen on the older body styles (especially with taller tires) is that the frame will sometimes crack at the steering box mounts.

            Good luck
            X2

            Crossover is what i did on mine with 12" lift. Do you have that S shape drag link? I had one and when you'd turn the wheel that whole thing would rock sideways before it would start to move the wheels. You could be going straight and hit a bump and it would rock sideways and your wheels would turn but the steering wheel would never move. Find out where the slop is and post back.
            Jeff

            '88 Chevy K3500, aluminum head roller cam 511in³ stroker 10.5:1 compression, 96 NV 4500, 94-98 grille, 305/70-16 (33x12) BF Goodrich KM2s, 91 cluster swap

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            • #7
              Re: Cause for sloppy steering

              There are no wearing pitman,idler or centerlink on solid axle trucks. I betting drag link angle as well. Crossover is the only correct way to fix it.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Cause for sloppy steering

                Yikes! The steering gear was so lose it was about to fall off! I tightened the bolts and things are much better now. Not perfect, but way better. I did not see any evidence of frame cracking around the steering gear, but I didn't get too up close and personal. My Chilton manual says the manual steering gear should be torqued to 70 ft/lbs, but doesn't give a specific value for power steering gear. Does anyone know? Is it the same torque spec?

                I am not sure of total lift (it has suspension and body lift) and 38.5" Super Swampers. The door handle is 62" from the ground. I am not sure how the pitman arm angle can be changed? It is attached the steering gear and no flex or angle is possible? Am I missing something? This my first 4x4/straight axle vehicle.

                Sorry about the gut hanging out. That's just my style...for reference I am 6'1".
                1981 Scottsdale (hot rod 350, 450HP)
                2002 GMC Sierra 1500 ECSB 4x4 (5.3L)
                2014 Chevrolet SS 12.4 @ 117

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Cause for sloppy steering

                  lifts are hard on steering parts if mickey moused....would also snug up the worm gear in your steering box...thinking with the larger tires may be some stress and wear on that gear..wouldnt even be surprised to see one toasted under extreme conditions

                  anyway go to top of steering box...losen hex nut on top..then just snug up the worm gear with a screw driver or allen wrench...you dont want it tight...just snug it up then retighten holding nut....this should get rid of some more play
                  Last edited by cancritter; 06-10-2012, 11:36 AM.
                  [Stole/FOUND 13/03/08 :O)
                  91GM 4x4 excb 5.7 @ 40 over, Westers,Eld 3704.Lunati Trickflow 195 @1.6 RR,Walpro 190/overbuilt 700r4 /TCS TC,4.10/tru trac,14 blt,Hooker LT,areofilter,Extreme TBI.MSD.AGR still adding
                  07/ 6.7 Cummins..truck included
                  70 fury 3
                  71 sport fury GT

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                  • #10
                    Re: Cause for sloppy steering

                    You back it off a 1/4 - 1/2 turn after you snug it. I prefer 1/2 myself but others like the tighter feel of 1/4.
                    Jeff

                    '88 Chevy K3500, aluminum head roller cam 511in³ stroker 10.5:1 compression, 96 NV 4500, 94-98 grille, 305/70-16 (33x12) BF Goodrich KM2s, 91 cluster swap

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Cause for sloppy steering

                      You need cross over steering. You didn't mention dana 44, 10 bolt or dana 60. I assume you would have mentioned dana 60 if you had one so here's what you need. http://offroaddesign.com/catalog/Dana44crossover.htm I have cross over and hydraulic assist. The cross over gets your steering angles fixed and the hydraulic assist makes it steer like the front end weighs 100 lbs. Don't buy there assist kit, you can do it a lot cheaper.
                      Jeff

                      '88 Chevy K3500, aluminum head roller cam 511in³ stroker 10.5:1 compression, 96 NV 4500, 94-98 grille, 305/70-16 (33x12) BF Goodrich KM2s, 91 cluster swap

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Cause for sloppy steering

                        Judging by the op's questioning if he should replace the pitman and idler arms, it is safe to say that he is asking about a steering system he hasnot crawled under the truck to inspect for himself. Start by crawling under the truck and inspect for worn parts and cracks in the frame.
                        77 Chevy K20 - 80 GMC K2500 (in pieces)
                        90 Chevy K3500 - 93 Chevy C2500 (in pieces) - 94 Chevy K1500

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                        • #13
                          Re: Cause for sloppy steering

                          Here are a few pics of the setup I have. Looks like cross over steering, but I am no expert.





                          The front axle appears to be a 10 bolt Dana 44. No?


                          If I tighten that adjustment screw on the steering gear, will that have any ill effects? Like causing it to wear out faster? Is it just a temp fix?

                          Thanks for the replies!!!
                          1981 Scottsdale (hot rod 350, 450HP)
                          2002 GMC Sierra 1500 ECSB 4x4 (5.3L)
                          2014 Chevrolet SS 12.4 @ 117

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Cause for sloppy steering

                            dumb ?. does the steering sway or get horribly upset on bad road bumps? i have been having <--- problems and just found out my pitman arm is TRASHED. i jacked up front end were both wheels are off the ground and moved each tire and looked at each steering connection joint. i saw movement more on DR side so i got looking close and found pitman arm moving about 1/4" or so.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Cause for sloppy steering

                              Originally posted by 99FLtahoe
                              dumb ?. does the steering sway or get horribly upset on bad road bumps? i have been having <--- problems and just found out my pitman arm is TRASHED. i jacked up front end were both wheels are off the ground and moved each tire and looked at each steering connection joint. i saw movement more on DR side so i got looking close and found pitman arm moving about 1/4" or so.
                              My pitman seems OK. When I grab the steering input shaft and turn it and watch the output/pitman arm, everything seems to move in harmony without excessive slop. This pitman arm uses a "pinch bolt" to hold it onto the steering gear. My 2wd C10 uses a pitman arm with an interference fit and a nut that threads directly onto the output shaft of the steering gear.
                              1981 Scottsdale (hot rod 350, 450HP)
                              2002 GMC Sierra 1500 ECSB 4x4 (5.3L)
                              2014 Chevrolet SS 12.4 @ 117

                              Comment

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