My Tilt Steering's Falling Apart

Discussion in 'Lifted & Offroad Suspension' started by Crawdaddy, May 27, 2008.

  1. Crawdaddy

    Crawdaddy All hail the Mad King!! Staff Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts Platinum Contributor

    It seems like my tilt steering is falling apart. You can shake the wheel side to side a bit, and the whole column's pivoting/shaking from the tilt steer area. Any clue what's gone bad in it? I'm guessing it might be that the main pin may have broken or worked its way out of the joint and causing the looseness. Any very good and detailed walkthrough on dissasembling the tilt steering column available? The haynes instructions on dissasembling the column is absolutley miserable. Thanks all!
  2. GaryL

    GaryL Epic Member 5+ Years ROTM Winner 1000 Posts Platinum Contributor

    It's a pain to do, but there are three bolts that hold the two sections together. After time, they loosen up and you get what you described. I have done about 4 or 5 of them. I'll see if I can find some instrucitons. If you look at an exploded view, you can kind of tell what all is involved. Bring it up to Dallas and I'll get it fixed up for you.:lol:
  3. dwill3015

    dwill3015 Epic Member 5+ Years ROTM Winner 1000 Posts

    Same thing happened in my 87 Blazer. A friend that is a GM Tech halped me pull the steering wheel and there are a few screws (I think Torx head) down inside the column that just needed to be tightened like Gary said. End result was the column was nice and tight with no play in it anymore.
  4. Crawdaddy

    Crawdaddy All hail the Mad King!! Staff Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts Platinum Contributor

    What's the driveability concern with it like this? I definitley want to repair this, but I need to drive it before I can get time to repair it. I'm sure I didn't help the situation due to my driving style. I do a lot of close-quarters maneuvering with it, and when I'm doing the maneuvering, I push on the steering wheel pretty hard. On my Saturn, I've already wore a part on the steering wheel smooth. It must have happened very gradually, I just hopped in the truck one day and realized I should shake the whole column left and right a little bit.. Thanks guys! I'd really appreciate a walkthrough Gary!
    1 person likes this.
  5. dwill3015

    dwill3015 Epic Member 5+ Years ROTM Winner 1000 Posts

    Mine worsened due to the lift on my Blazer and me grabbing the wheel to pull myself into the truck. The condition gradually worsened over time and I'm only assuming but at one point the screws will completely back out rendering your steering wheel useless (like a cartoon or Laurel and Hardy when the wheel comes off in your hands while driving down the road). I'm sure that's not the case but it felt reassuring when the slop was gone and everything was tight and secure again.
  6. GaryL

    GaryL Epic Member 5+ Years ROTM Winner 1000 Posts Platinum Contributor

    They are torx heads, but in reverse. I didn't have the proper size, but I ended up using an 8 or 10 mm or a 1/4" (don't remebert exactly) 6 point socket and it worked fine.

    Here's a write up I found from the Buick Grand National site.

    IntroductionAn apparently common problem with GM Tilt Steering columns is that they become loose from four bolts backing out deep in the tilt assembly. A good shop will be experienced in taking care of for about $100. With the correct tools and a bit of patience you can fix it yourself.

    You Will NeedSpecial Tools Required
    Steering Wheel Puller $10.00, but a harmonic balancer puller will also work
    Don't attempt to pound the wheel off, you could damage the steering column.

    Locking Plate Remover $15.00, available from autoparts store.

    Pivot Pin Removal Tool GM part J21854-01 (not sure about availability from autoparts store)
    1.Remove steering wheel, this would be a good time to disconnect the battery as well.

    2.Pry off plastic cover

    3.Remove lock plate. With the tool this is easy. The tool compresses the lock plate against it's spring so that you can get the retaining ring off. It is possible to take this off with C-Clamps, Large Channel locks, etc. Can be very difficult to put back together with these tools. (I did it both without and with the tool, trust me it is $15 well spent)

    4.Remove philips screw that holds small piece of metal that connects to turn signal stalk.

    5.Remove 3 screws that hold turn signal switch assembly in place.

    6.Unhook wiring harness to turn signals. This is located under the dash attached to the base of the steering column.

    7.Next you will need to loosen the mounting bracket that holds the steering column to the dash and then remove at least two of the bolts that hold the bracket to the column so that you can thread the wiring harness up to allow the housing to be removed latter.

    8.You will see a switch with two long copper pieces coming over the top of the ignition lock. Put the key in and turn to the on position. Pull the switch out with a pair of pliers. A small clip should also come out. Note the way all of this is oriented so that you can put it back later.

    9.Remove small torx screw to release lock cylinder, pull the lock out.

    10.Remove three large torx bolts (#30 I believe)

    11.At this point you are ready to pull the housing off. As you pull it out a small plastic piece will fall out on the left (driver's) side. This is for the dimmer switch.

    12.Also some of the parts for the upper bearing will come out. Note the orientation for later assembly.

    13.Below the shaft you will see a retainer for a large spring that is inside the tilt assembly. (About 1/2" in diameter with a large square hole) Use a large screwdriver to depress this enough to turn 1/4 turn counter clockwise. Remove spring assembly.

    14.Now you are ready to pull the pivot pins out. There are two of them going in the sides at about the 3:00 and 9:00 positions. They are about 3/8" in diameter and have a small hole threaded in the middle (#10-32 I believe) I managed to break off a bolt in one of these which required that I pull the entire steering column out to get the bolt drilled out so be careful. The GM tool looks like this:

    | | | |<-----------threaded rod
    |====|" <------- nut
    | | | |<------ semi circle housing
    | || | | || | || ||<--------threads into pivot pin

    To use this you thread it into the pivot pin. Make sure that the housing is solidly against the column, not interfering with the pivot pin. Tighten the nut down while holding the threaded rod still to pull the pivot pin out.
    The tool that I first tried to make was similar to the above using a bolt and a socket. I do not know what went wrong exactly but I broke the bolt off inside the pivot pin.
    The guy that drilled out the bolt said that you can pull the pins by threading a bolt in and prying up with a pair of pliers.
    For what it is worth the guy I borrowed the GM tool from said that sometimes that tool breaks as well.

    15.Pull the tilt adjust arm back and tilt the column up as far as it will go.

    16.Examine the mechanism that is used to activate the ignition switch. Study all of the parts carefully because if the next step doesn't go just right you will need to reassemble this.

    17.Tilt column housing up and then to the right. What you are trying to do by rotating to the right is to get the rod that come up from the ignition switch (located on the side of the column) to the actuator rack that move back and forth when the key is turned.

    18.Pull the housing off. If you were successful in getting the switch to release from the rod above great! If not you will need to reassemble the switch mechanism - No big deal There is a metal spring clip about 3/4" long that applies pressure to the piece that slides back and forth. It goes in with the flatter part at the top. Turn the gear as far clockwise as possible. Thread the actuator rack in from the bottom until it engages the gear.

    19.Now you can see the four bolts that you are after! They look like torx bits. I was able to get on them using a 6 point 1/4" socket. Someone else had said that they used a 5/16" 12 point although I believe that they must have meant 3/16".

    20.Reassembly is pretty much the reverse of the disassembly process. A few tips: To get tilt hosing back on pull back on tilt lever to release the locking shoes. Place over the shaft and tilt to the left to try to engage the rod to the ignition switch. Then pivot downward until holes line up for the pivot pins. Verify that the switch is working. Don't forget that the transmission has to be in park to have the full range of motion.
    Drive the pivot pins in with a hammer.
    The plastic piece for the headlight dimmer pushes down on a rod. Only one way it will fit.
    Last edited: May 27, 2008
  7. dwill3015

    dwill3015 Epic Member 5+ Years ROTM Winner 1000 Posts

    Nice find Gary!
  8. Crawdaddy

    Crawdaddy All hail the Mad King!! Staff Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts Platinum Contributor

    Last edited: Jul 18, 2008
  9. Crawdaddy

    Crawdaddy All hail the Mad King!! Staff Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts Platinum Contributor

    Last night I started to pull my spare steering column apart as a test to see if I could get it done easily and to find potential points of issue. So far, I've had pretty good success with it, I'm down to the point where I need to pull the pivot pin to get to the bolts. I was looking at the column, and I can get to at least 2 of the bolts already, maybe 3 with some creative work. The hardpest part so far (and mind you, I haven't put it back together yet...) was getting the blasted snap ring off that holds the lock plate in place. Does anyone have some tips on pulling that snap ring off? It seems like it's just a simple steel ring that's smooth. It doesn't have anything that you can grab ahold of. It took something like 2 hours of prying to get that ring off. Any more tips for pulling the pivot pin and getting this floppy column fixed? Thanks as always...
  10. GaryL

    GaryL Epic Member 5+ Years ROTM Winner 1000 Posts Platinum Contributor

    As far as the snap ring goes, I used a couple of real small screwdirvers to pry it out and then up. Not too bad to do as long as you have the tool that pushes the lock plate down.

    On the pins, I found a machine screw that fits the threads inside the pin and put the screw part way into the pin. Then I used a claw hammer with a piece of wood between the hammer and the column (to give a little straighter pull on the pin) and pryed out the pin. Screws that small will bend and break, so have several on hand.

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