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Cause for sloppy steering

This is a discussion on Cause for sloppy steering within the Technical / Maintenance forums, part of the General Discussion category; So I have this monster 4x4 truck (suspension and body lift and 38.5" Super Swampers), '84 C10. The steering wheel ...

  1. #1
    Advanced User Silver Surfer's Avatar
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    Cause for sloppy steering


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    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)
    2001 Silverado (4.3L V6)

  2. #2
    Registered User spent21's Avatar
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    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 at 11:32 AM.

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    Resident Dick Quyonmob's Avatar
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    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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    Registered User spent21's Avatar
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    Re: Cause for sloppy steering

    Quote 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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    Resident Dick Quyonmob's Avatar
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    Re: Cause for sloppy steering

    Quote 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 at 07:31 AM.

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    Registered User bowtie44s's Avatar
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    Re: Cause for sloppy steering

    Quote 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 454
    NV 4500

    '84 chevy short bed dana 60 14bolt ff 383 stroker
    44" boggers (rear) 44" tsl (front) hydraulic assist
    welded front and rear 5.13 gears
    th400 np205 twin stick -SOLD-

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    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.

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    Advanced User Silver Surfer's Avatar
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    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)
    2001 Silverado (4.3L V6)

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    Habitual Troublemaker cancritter's Avatar
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    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 at 10:36 AM.
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    Registered User bowtie44s's Avatar
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    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 454
    NV 4500

    '84 chevy short bed dana 60 14bolt ff 383 stroker
    44" boggers (rear) 44" tsl (front) hydraulic assist
    welded front and rear 5.13 gears
    th400 np205 twin stick -SOLD-

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    Registered User bowtie44s's Avatar
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    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 454
    NV 4500

    '84 chevy short bed dana 60 14bolt ff 383 stroker
    44" boggers (rear) 44" tsl (front) hydraulic assist
    welded front and rear 5.13 gears
    th400 np205 twin stick -SOLD-

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    Supporting Gold Member GreaseDog's Avatar
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    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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    Advanced User Silver Surfer's Avatar
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    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)
    2001 Silverado (4.3L V6)

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    Registered User 99FLtahoe's Avatar
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    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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    Advanced User Silver Surfer's Avatar
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    Re: Cause for sloppy steering

    Quote 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)
    2001 Silverado (4.3L V6)

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    Registered User bowtie44s's Avatar
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    Re: Cause for sloppy steering

    Someone posted earlier saying to adjust your worm gear. That nut has nothing to do with the worm gear. It is adjusting the back lash of the pitman shaft and piston. To set it properly turn the screw down until it lightly seats and back it off 1/4 - 1/2 turn then tighten jam nut. You have stock steering except it looks like a raised steering arm on the knuckle. Cross over runs your drag link to the passenger side and steers off of that knuckle. You have a corporation 10 bolt front end out of a 3/4 ton which is the exact same as a 1/2 ton except 8 lug.
    Jeff

    '88 chevy k3500 aluminum head 454
    NV 4500

    '84 chevy short bed dana 60 14bolt ff 383 stroker
    44" boggers (rear) 44" tsl (front) hydraulic assist
    welded front and rear 5.13 gears
    th400 np205 twin stick -SOLD-

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    Advanced User Silver Surfer's Avatar
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    Re: Cause for sloppy steering

    Quote Originally Posted by bowtie44s View Post
    Someone posted earlier saying to adjust your worm gear. That nut has nothing to do with the worm gear. It is adjusting the back lash of the pitman shaft and piston. To set it properly turn the screw down until it lightly seats and back it off 1/4 - 1/2 turn then tighten jam nut. You have stock steering except it looks like a raised steering arm on the knuckle. Cross over runs your drag link to the passenger side and steers off of that knuckle. You have a corporation 10 bolt front end out of a 3/4 ton which is the exact same as a 1/2 ton except 8 lug.
    Thank you! So if this is an OEM steering setup and an OEM axle, then I shouldn't be worried that whoever put this together Mickey Mouse'd it? Are there any wear points that I need to check besides the obvious (ball joints, pitman shaft backlash, steering gear wear, frame cracking)?
    1981 Scottsdale (hot rod 350, 450HP)
    2001 Silverado (4.3L V6)

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    Re: Cause for sloppy steering

    Sure looks like a dana 44 diff cover to me!!!

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    Registered User spent21's Avatar
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    Re: Cause for sloppy steering

    That's a 44...

    More identification here:
    http://www.overrockoffroad.com/forum...php?f=75&t=713

    get a steering stabilizer put back on there... won't help any slop, but will help with bump steer.
    Last edited by spent21; 06-12-2012 at 10:32 AM.

  20. #20
    Registered User bowtie44s's Avatar
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    Re: Cause for sloppy steering

    Quote Originally Posted by Afireinside View Post
    Sure looks like a dana 44 diff cover to me!!!
    It may be, i have a hard time telling looking at the cover. The way i can tell is looking under the drive shaft and if it's round its a 10 bolt if it's square it's a 44. Either way, they are almost the same, both 8.5" ring gear.

    Stock steering is designed for 31" tires. Once you get bigger than 35s it doesn't work too well. If you MUST keep steering on the driver side, keep the drag link as straight as possible. If you're just going to drive it on the road it should be ok, much off road use you should really go cross over. If your frame hasn't cracked around the steering gear, it will so keep an eye on that.
    Jeff

    '88 chevy k3500 aluminum head 454
    NV 4500

    '84 chevy short bed dana 60 14bolt ff 383 stroker
    44" boggers (rear) 44" tsl (front) hydraulic assist
    welded front and rear 5.13 gears
    th400 np205 twin stick -SOLD-

 

 

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