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Steering preload adjustment?

This is a discussion on Steering preload adjustment? within the Technical / Maintenance forums, part of the General Discussion category; I have a 96 GMC K1500 Z71... there is a ton of slack in my steering wheel. It seems like ...

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    Member RTCamaroSS's Avatar
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    Steering preload adjustment?


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    I have a 96 GMC K1500 Z71... there is a ton of slack in my steering wheel. It seems like everything is tight and doesnt have play, except for the steering box. Is there an adjustment on the steering box that i can adjust to help take up some of the slack? If so, anyone have pictures of said adjustment? Thanks!
    Current vehicles:
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    Member RTCamaroSS's Avatar
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    Re: Steering preload adjustment?

    really? no one?
    Current vehicles:
    08 Lexus IS250 - FSport.
    10 Toyota Sienna Limited - Wife's.
    96 GMC Sierra Z71 - Lift, Nav, Etc.
    93 Mazda RX7 - LS1/T56 Project
    Sold Vehicles:
    93 GMC Sierra Z71 - Lift, Etc.
    87 Chevy V10 - Lift, Stereo, Etc.
    99 Camaro SS - 600+rwhp, low 10's.
    98 Lexus GS400 - Lots of mods.

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    G-FORCE FinalBreath's Avatar
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    Re: Steering preload adjustment?

    Check your rag joint. It's a common thing on the obs to have them get play.
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    Registered User masintenn's Avatar
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    Re: Steering preload adjustment?

    On my 96 Tahoe, the idler arm and bracket had tons of play and I really couldn't tell until I started disassembling the steering. That along with pitman and all tie rods fixed most of the slop. Then I did the rag joint and it was the magic bullet. I recently adjust the preload screw 1/4 turn and couldn't tell a difference.

    On top of the stearing geat, there is an allen bolt. Loosen the lock nut and turn the allen bolt 1/4 turn at a time. You want to make small incremental adjustments because apparently you can cause increased wear by tightening it too much. On mine, the lock nut was super tight. It was easier to get to by removing the fan cowel.


    '96 Tahoe...5.7 Vortec...4wd...~205,000...Stock

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    Re: Steering preload adjustment?

    could you get a picture where? Im having the same problem on my 1990 1500


    2001 GMC Sirrea 1500 Z71 4x2, 17in lift, 5.3 Vortex, Chrome 4-link, 513 gears, Rebuilt transmisson, BS 7100 shocks, Custom Driveshaft, King Coilovers, 46" Goodyears, 20in Rockstars, Throttle body spacer, 3 tvs and Kicker system.

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    Re: Steering preload adjustment?

    it actually is common for a worn out box to have play..

    and southchevy ya needa fix your sig- only one pic allowed 200x500 max. Just thought id let you know before a mod finds it


    2006 Tahoe Z71

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    Registered User masintenn's Avatar
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    Re: Steering preload adjustment?

    It's the only allen bolt on top of the box. In front of the lines.


    '96 Tahoe...5.7 Vortec...4wd...~205,000...Stock

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    Re: Steering preload adjustment?

    I see 4 screws and one in the middle is that it... what size is the allen? Its doesnt look like a allen...


    2001 GMC Sirrea 1500 Z71 4x2, 17in lift, 5.3 Vortex, Chrome 4-link, 513 gears, Rebuilt transmisson, BS 7100 shocks, Custom Driveshaft, King Coilovers, 46" Goodyears, 20in Rockstars, Throttle body spacer, 3 tvs and Kicker system.

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    Member RTCamaroSS's Avatar
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    Re: Steering preload adjustment?

    Im going to try to adjust the steering box this weekend.. if/when i do it, ill try to take pictures.
    Current vehicles:
    08 Lexus IS250 - FSport.
    10 Toyota Sienna Limited - Wife's.
    96 GMC Sierra Z71 - Lift, Nav, Etc.
    93 Mazda RX7 - LS1/T56 Project
    Sold Vehicles:
    93 GMC Sierra Z71 - Lift, Etc.
    87 Chevy V10 - Lift, Stereo, Etc.
    99 Camaro SS - 600+rwhp, low 10's.
    98 Lexus GS400 - Lots of mods.

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    Re: Steering preload adjustment?

    There is a very specific way to adjust the steering box, don't just go and tighten it up without doing it right... I knew the procedure a few years ago, here is what I remember:

    1. Jack the truck up so the wheels are off the ground
    2. Locate the center of the steering box. You do this by counting how many turns the wheel takes from lock to lock and dividing by two. This is EXTREMELY important. If you adjust the box when it isn't on center, it will wear out MUCH faster.
    3. You loosen the outer lock nut with a wrench and then tighten the allen steering box fastener very slightly. You then turn the wheels from lock to lock. What you are looking for is a slight bit of tension (GM shop would measure with torque measuring tool) at the top of the travel only. Once this is within spec, the outer nut is retorqued down.

    Don't just do this to do it, you can make things worse and just bandaid what is really wrong in your steering setup. If the box is bad, it is bad, your adjustment won't help, but it should be the LAST thing you adjust, not the first. Go through tie rod ends, idler/pitman arms, rag joint, steering stabilizer, etc., before trying to adjust the steering box.
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    Re: Steering preload adjustment?

    Quote Originally Posted by Redz Z View Post
    Don't just do this to do it, you can make things worse and just bandaid what is really wrong in your steering setup. If the box is bad, it is bad, your adjustment won't help, but it should be the LAST thing you adjust, not the first. Go through tie rod ends, idler/pitman arms, rag joint, steering stabilizer, etc., before trying to adjust the steering box.


    Alot of the times you don't need to adjust your worm gear preload, but some of the times people think they have to replace the steering box when a simple adjustment could fix it.

    If you decide to replace your steering box because you've gone through the rest of the options, then an incremental adjustment (no more than 1/4 turn at a time, then check steering wheel play) certainly won't be a problem if you were gonna replace it anyway.


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    Member RTCamaroSS's Avatar
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    Re: Steering preload adjustment?

    Well, i found and adjusted the preload on the steering box. Wasnt hard at all. I loosened the lock nut, and tightened the allen head screw about a 1/2 turn to start (it moved super easily with no resistance)... Drove the truck, much better but not perfect. So i adjusted it again, and now its damn near perfect. I need to back it off about 1/4 turn because its a bit tight.. if you turn left, and let go of the wheel, it doesnt return all the way because its too tight. So im going to loosen it a tad again, and flush the fluid out of the pump and hope for the best! Ill take some pics when i adjust it again, probably tomorrow.

    Next.. need to align it so it doesnt pull to the right anymore.. get a steering stablizer (i have no idea what to buy for my Rancho lift)... and rebalance the tires again. Should be good to go!
    Current vehicles:
    08 Lexus IS250 - FSport.
    10 Toyota Sienna Limited - Wife's.
    96 GMC Sierra Z71 - Lift, Nav, Etc.
    93 Mazda RX7 - LS1/T56 Project
    Sold Vehicles:
    93 GMC Sierra Z71 - Lift, Etc.
    87 Chevy V10 - Lift, Stereo, Etc.
    99 Camaro SS - 600+rwhp, low 10's.
    98 Lexus GS400 - Lots of mods.

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    Member RTCamaroSS's Avatar
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    Re: Steering preload adjustment?

    Ok, here are the pictures. Mine is now fully adjusted, feels great! For me, this was the best fix, because the rest of my steering seemed fine.



    Current vehicles:
    08 Lexus IS250 - FSport.
    10 Toyota Sienna Limited - Wife's.
    96 GMC Sierra Z71 - Lift, Nav, Etc.
    93 Mazda RX7 - LS1/T56 Project
    Sold Vehicles:
    93 GMC Sierra Z71 - Lift, Etc.
    87 Chevy V10 - Lift, Stereo, Etc.
    99 Camaro SS - 600+rwhp, low 10's.
    98 Lexus GS400 - Lots of mods.

 

 

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