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I have the loose steering problem that many GM's seem to have after many miles. I had both front hub bearing replaced, 340.00 parts and labor,new gearbox install 385.00 parts and labor,neither of these really helped the loose steering.Now my mechanic says we should replace the inner and outer tie rods,adjusting sleeves,idler and pitmen arms,and the center arm,120.00 labor plus parts about 15.00.He says the steering will be tight then. Does this sound correct?
 

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I would step back from a mechanic who just swaps parts til he gets it right. Speed sensitive steering was introduced in 1997. There is a sensor on the steering column that controls an orifice that regulates the power steering pump pressure to change steering feel at different speeds. You need a mechanic who has experience with this. Here is a thread at edmunds.com that will give you some background info.

A mechanic should troubleshoot your 'symptoms' and offer a solution that fixes the problem he has identified by examination, testing, and previous experience. If he recommends a steering box, get it in writing that it will eliminate your 'symptom' and fix your problem. If he won't do that then he is just guessing. If all he is doing is swapping parts till the problem goes away.....your wallet is in danger!
 

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I'm carefully solving this problem now.
My 99 wanders around slightly, not too bad, but enough that it'll take a lot out of you on a long ride.
Truck has 133K on the clock.

I just jacked up the front end and wiggled my tires - side to side. There's a little bit of play in them. The play will move everything and pivot the pitman arm until the internal stop (or lock) on the gearbox halts the movement. This movement is slight, but present.

I can also rock the top/bottom of the tire and get a "clunk" (upper ball joint?). Again, not too much play, but the play is there.

My question is - how SOLID should this be. Is some movement acceptable or to be expected?
Is everything moving because the pitman arm is allowed to move a fraction of a degree within the steering gear?

What is normal?

**
Other stuff - my steering position sensor is starting to groan and I've replaced the power steering pump & pressure line cause it blew off a while back and wasted the pump. The sensor I can live with at the moment, and the pump issue is fixed. I say this as an "oh by the way".

I'd assume my gear is OK.
 

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Id take the tire off and take a much closer look at those ball joints.. Those are supposed to be tight with out any play. If the boots are torn etc, then you will most likely want to replace them. This is with out me being there to see exactly what you mean.
Also you may have a bad pitman arm. This is fairly common on these trucks.
But if you are concerned get a second opinion from a different reputable mechanic.
 
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