Can't figure out loose steering.

5spdCab

Royal Smart Person
Supporting Member
Dec 29, 2019
1,188
113
Tukwila, Wa.
64nailhead gave a good suggestion. Check your tie rod ends, idler, and center link for wear. Sometimes, if they are not too worn out, you can pump the grease zirks full and that will tighten it a bit, but I wouldn't depend on that being a permanent solution, because if they are worn out, they will loose the new grease anyway.
I also agree about the series 800 pitman arm, the output shaft diameter is different between the 605 and the 800 type steering box.
 

Mac442

Master Mechanic
Apr 25, 2020
255
63
Ocean County, NJ
Not to be sarcastic, is the steering in good enough condition to pass inspection? Asking because loose steering is an immediate fail most everywhere. If the wheel is turned, there has to be an immediate movement of the out tie-rod end. If there isn't, then you have a vehicle that won't pass inspection. If there is immediate movement, then I'd be looking for issues in the ball joints or a-ram bushing. And there is the possibility that the rear arm bushings are total crap making you steer the front end to keep it in front of the back end.
Wow I didn’t know that they do that in most states. Here in NJ I believe they only check emissions and nothing else now, I think it was to save the state money.
 

64nailhead

Goat Herder
Supporting Member
Dec 1, 2014
4,829
113
Upstate NY
Wow I didn’t know that they do that in most states. Here in NJ I believe they only check emissions and nothing else now, I think it was to save the state money.
The hell with safety, it’s nice to know NJ is concerned with the tailpipe only
Lol.

Have you seen your neighboring state fails a car for a hole that a quarter can fit through? In NEPA it’s easy to find cars covered with beer cans pop riveted to quarter fenders.
 
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Steve Bakken

Apprentice
Thread starter
Feb 20, 2015
77
8
Dang, we don't have ANY inspections here in Minnesota. Show up with the money to pay for your tabs and you're good to go. Anyway, yes I replaced EVERY movable steering part last summer. Shaft is good all the way to the gear unit. There's about 10-20 degrees of steering wheel play before the wheels start to move. I'm thinking that these guys are right about it being a junk remanned unit. Might have to just bite the bullet and chuck it for a replacement. Kind of gun-shy on another "new" part. The old El Camino and the kid's Cutlass with 65k both steer like a dream so unless there's a REALLY good aftermarket one out there, I'm leaning toward O.E. Heard somewhere that S-10's used the same unit.
 

565bbchevy

Geezer
Aug 8, 2011
9,125
113
Michigan
I didn't feel like dealing with the hit or miss remanufactured units so when I wanted to upgrade my Regal I bought a new Borgeson quick ratio box and I also use their telescoping steering shafts with U-joints on both my Gbody's.
Borgeson also has their own casting.
IMG_20200719_182909591 (1).jpg
IMG_20200720_132819802 (1).jpg
 
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g3chevy

Greasemonkey
Jan 30, 2019
116
63
Spring, Texas
I believe your steering shaft is the culprit. I bought a brand new one off Ebay and installed it with no improvement from the old one. It ended up being the rag joint. The rubber is so soft, it compresses whenever you turn the shaft. This is what caused my steering slop. Went to the junkyard and grabbed a Jeep Cherokee steering shaft, modified it, installed it and never looked back.


Replacement Unit - Sent Back For Refund
Steering Shaft.jpg


Junkyard Unit - Top / Original Unit - Bottom
20180415_154903_resized.jpg
 
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oldsofb

Royal Smart Person
Supporting Member
Dec 7, 2007
1,217
113
Maryland
It's all mechanical connections. It seems to me it would be easy to trace down the offending piece.

Have a buddy turn the steering wheel in equal movements right and left.

Under the hood, put your hand on the knuckle at the end of the column at the firewall. No slop - Column eliminated
Move down to the next knuckle at the Steering Gear Box. No slop - Intermediate Shaft eliminated
Move to the Pitman Arm. Observe the movement of the input shaft of the box vs the Pitman Arm. No slop - Gear Box eliminated

Keep doing that all the way out to the spindle. They're all mechanical connections. Something will present itself to you.

A mechanic friend of mine told me years ago that "Speculation without proper diagnosis is expensive"

Hutch
 
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78chevolds

Greasemonkey
Jun 25, 2013
126
28
I have a 78 Cutlass with the 260. It had the Saginaw 600 which I replaced with a Saginaw 800 that was for the Hurst Olds of that year, quick ratio. I ordered the pitman arm and steering box from Rock Auto. Made a big difference. I replace all the steering linkage (lasted for 40 years) with new. The car is tight. Steering is much quicker. Now on my 78 Camaro I replaced the 3 to 4 Saginaw with a Borgenson and that setup is better, but my Olds is a daily and all I wanted to do it make it turn sharper. If you have the 600 I would get rid of it.
 

Steve Bakken

Apprentice
Thread starter
Feb 20, 2015
77
8
I have a 78 Cutlass with the 260. It had the Saginaw 600 which I replaced with a Saginaw 800 that was for the Hurst Olds of that year, quick ratio. I ordered the pitman arm and steering box from Rock Auto. Made a big difference. I replace all the steering linkage (lasted for 40 years) with new. The car is tight. Steering is much quicker. Now on my 78 Camaro I replaced the 3 to 4 Saginaw with a Borgenson and that setup is better, but my Olds is a daily and all I wanted to do it make it turn sharper. If you have the 600 I would get rid of it.
I always thought Rockauto was the Wish.com of the automotive parts world. Pretty decent unit, huh?
 

78chevolds

Greasemonkey
Jun 25, 2013
126
28
I always thought Rockauto was the Wish.com of the automotive parts world. Pretty decent unit, huh?
Yes, you had to do a bit of figuring out, but it was worth it to replace that 600. 78 was the year that they started cutting corners on some areas, such as the steering, and the 200 transmission to improve economy and cost
 

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