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Is this type of loose steering wheel play normal for a 2004 Tahoe?

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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've had this annoying loose play at my steering wheel for as long as I can remember on my 2004 Tahoe. I recorded a video of me in the driver's seat with the truck off and in park. I'm able to easily nudge the steering wheel with just a finger. Is this normal?? For instance, was this characteristic of all new GMT800 trucks or something that happens as they age? (I'm been the 2nd owner since 2009, which is why I ask).

Note: I also took footage under the hood to show the intermediate shaft moving with the input shaft of the brand-new steering gear box I recently installed -- so, it's not an issue of the intermediate shaft, as some might suspect (my apologies if this isn't clear in the video, it's difficult to capture, but take my word for it). Even though the input shaft moves, there's no output shaft movement at the pitman arm or at the wheel, for that matter.


In case you're wondering, I've adjusted the tensioning screw (on the previous gear box, not the new one since it will void the warranty and didn't seem necessary), but that never seemed to address this loose play issue.

To give you some background, I've replaced the followed related parts over the course of several years, but nothing has seemed to fix it. :
  • steering gear box, new (2021)
  • steering gear box, remanufactured (2016)
  • intermediate steering shaft, upper and lower (2016)
  • steering shaft bearing (2016)
  • pitman arm (2015)
The latest part I decided to throw at this is a brand-new Lares 11422 steering gear box (top of the bulleted list). Evidently, remanufactured gear boxes only have seals replaced, but none of the wormgear or mechanicals are actually replaced or checked for wear, so it seemed like it would likely fix the issue. To my frustration, after installing, it also had the same sort of loose play I showed in the video. It's maddening!!! I talked to the Lares support staff and they agreed to honor the warranty and sent me a replacement, but that ALSO has the same loose play.

When driving, the new Lares gear box did seem a bit firmer, so it wasn't a total waste, but that little bit of extra play subsists no matter what I do.

If this is par for the course for GMT800 vehicle, then I'll live with it, but I've had no problem fixing any other issue I've had (the latest major repair being cylinder head replacement in December) with the Tahoe, except this. Really appreciate your input!
 

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I'm no mechanic or expert but I've driven a few of these GMT800 trucks over the years and I've never been in one that didn't have some sort of play in the steering similar to what you're experiencing.
My brother got a very clean second owner 2003 Silverado with 168k miles in 2019 and it had play like that when he bought it. Personally, i wouldn't spend any more money trying to track down a fix all part for the play. Just embrace it as a quirk of driving a 16 year old truck. These old things may not ride like a 2020 but they are still fantastic vehicles
 

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That amount of play on your steering is not normal.
I have a 2001 burb and the steering has no play at all.
I had the intermediate shaft rattle at about 60k miles and that was fixed by installing a grease zerk fitting on the ims.
I like the 2001 steering components as they all have grease points.
I can shoot a video if needed.
Let me know.
 
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‘01 Silverado 2500HD 8.1/Allison 5sp xcab long bed
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Ditto the not normal sentiment. Can’t say why it’s moving so much, but for certain it’s abnormal. My ‘01 has 214K on the click and it’s solid.

168913

168914


Here are a couple of pages describing how to adjust the steering box if you feel up to the task.
 

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I have an 03 Tahoe that I have owned since new. It has had loose steering since I took delivery in late December 2002. The vehicle has 126K miles and the steering is still loose. Very similar to older vehicles that I used to own dating back to the 1960s. Seems loose compared to modern rack and steering vehicles but par for the course for 1960s,

Bill
 
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