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Thread: HELP...Steering Problem

  1. #1
    Van Addict SteelyVan's Avatar
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    HELP...Steering Problem

    I'll try to be as short and concise as possible. This problem started a couple of years ago when/if I would turn steering completely hard left (or right) while moving slowly. I would hear a bang noise and simultaneously feel the steering wheel skip (give freely 15 degrees) in the direction I was turning. The steering and suspension would always behave normally afterwards, with no pulling and tracking straight......except that my steering wheel would be clocked wrong (15 degrees off from where it was) when driving straight.

    It has recently gotten worse, in that, I no longer need to turn the steering completely in either direction.....just sitting still and turning the steering wheel is enough to hear and feel the "skip". I thought for sure it was wheel bearings, but I just had them replaced/repacked and adjusted (pre-load) properly. Both wheels/tires move (quick shimmy) during the skip and I don't feel any corresponding snap in steering box output arm or drag link (during the skip). I asked to check king pins at same time as wheel bearings, and was told they are fine, and they have always felt tight. I will next try to put one hand simultaneously on drag link and pitman to feel for play. I have not replaced tie rod ends.

    Scratchin my head
    SV

  2. #2
    VCVC Member rarechev's Avatar
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    It sounds like the steering box is worn.
    1970 108 panel, 350, 700R4, power tilt steering, power disc brakes, power windows
    1969 90 panel, 454 LS5, T400, 12 bolt posi.
    1969 90 panel parts van
    1966 90 panel California van
    1966 90 panel Canadian van
    1966 90 panel parts van

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    Either your steering box is completely worn out, the pitman arm spline is shot, or the steering wheel is slipping on the steering shaft spline.
    Whatever it is, park that thing until you get it fixed.

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    VCVC Member rarechev's Avatar
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    the pitman arm can't slip only a little, it will only fit on in specific places.
    1970 108 panel, 350, 700R4, power tilt steering, power disc brakes, power windows
    1969 90 panel, 454 LS5, T400, 12 bolt posi.
    1969 90 panel parts van
    1966 90 panel California van
    1966 90 panel Canadian van
    1966 90 panel parts van

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    VCVC Member ShawnM's Avatar
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    Had my steering let go once

    Back in the 80's with my 68 Handivan at the time I had just got back from going back and forth across the country with a buddy for the summer and the night I got home my steering column snapped so the wheel just spun in place. Fortunately I was going around a corner in a residential area so was not going fast. Kicked the tires as needed to steer it off the side of the road. Scarey!! Could have happened anywhere on the open road that whole time!

    Be careful! Be Early!
    1966 G10 No Door with 250, 3 on the tree
    1964 Impala SS with 327 and Powerslide
    1949 Dodge Deluxe Fluid Drive
    1984 LeBaron Convertable

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    I like the idea of putting your hand on the different steering components to find the source of the “skip”. I think it’s an even better idea not to drive it until you find out what’s going on. Our steering boxes can take a lot of abuse but they have their limits. If they get too bad, they will not be rebuildable. Over a third of the gearboxes I’ve seen are beyond repair. Unfortunately there is no interchange for our gearboxes that I know of.
    108VanGuy...
    1969 Chevy Panel, 250 CID, 3 ring 4 Spd. with OD, 2.73 "WedgieVan" Daily Driver
    1967 Chevy Panel, 230 CID, 3 Spd. 3.36 "UtiliVan Owned since 76
    1964 GMC Panel, 194 CID, 3 Spd. "CrunchoVan"
    1965 Chevy Panel 350 CID, 3 Spd. "RustoRoof" Runs but wiring bad
    1969 Chevy 108 Display 307 CID THM 350 Power Brakes 3.73 Posi
    1965 Chevy Panel, V8, 3 Spd. "Gold Hills Van"
    1965 CamperVan, V8, 3 Spd.
    1969 G20 Shell

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    Quote Originally Posted by rarechev View Post
    the pitman arm can't slip only a little, it will only fit on in specific places.
    … and I can't figure out how a recirculating ball steering box can "slip", either. Wear out and get sloppy beyond repair? You bet. Slip? I dunno.
    The steering shaft itself is one piece from the box to the steering wheel - no slip spline, no rag joint, no u- joint. My money's on the steering wheel spline. Although being a tapered spline, I recall, I would think any looseness would be plenty obvious. Whatever. The symptom is bad and getting worse. Complete steering failure seems imminent.

  8. #8
    VCVC Member rarechev's Avatar
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    ya I agree. it's something you can't diagnose over the net it has to be hands on eyes on. but you are correct about don't be driving it.
    1970 108 panel, 350, 700R4, power tilt steering, power disc brakes, power windows
    1969 90 panel, 454 LS5, T400, 12 bolt posi.
    1969 90 panel parts van
    1966 90 panel California van
    1966 90 panel Canadian van
    1966 90 panel parts van

  9. #9
    VCVC Member jrinaman's Avatar
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    steering box could be jumping a tooth on the gears. it would need to be extremely loose or have a bad tooth but that would explain the 15 degree change. by design, the box is tightest at center/straight and loosest at either extreme. if it is actually that far out of adjustment, you would surely have sloppy steering at all times. either way, think i would want to visually inspect the gears.
    '64 chevy, 292 40 over, 206/526 cam, 2004r trans. 9.75:1, dual webbers, Langdon cast headers, 1.94 valves

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    Quote Originally Posted by jrinaman View Post
    steering box could be jumping a tooth on the gears.
    Jumping a tooth between the worm traveler and the sector? That would be one seriously worn out steering box.
    And you're right, the steering would be sloppy at any angle.

    And a correction to my previous post: the upper steering shaft spline (which fits into the steering wheel) is straight, not tapered.
    Crushing69 has posted some excellent photos on his EPS Adventure thread in the General Discussion forum that show the spline quite clearly.
    tb

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    VCVC Member panelmanrd's Avatar
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    try this remove your horn button, take a majic marker draw a line
    from the center of the steering shaft across the nut and onto the wheel, now
    turn your wheel in both directions in order to make the skipping or popping sound
    straighten your wheel and check the marks, if they still line up your issue is below the
    steering wheel assy. If your left front spring bushing or anchor point in the frame is
    loose or worn or wallowed out you can get the symptom you have, not sure where else to
    check.
    54 chevy panel truck 355 tpi 700r4 325/9in
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    VCVC Member panelmanrd's Avatar
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    a couple of other things to look at, check for broken front springs
    and the axle mounts at the springs, check to see that they are tight
    and not shifting.
    54 chevy panel truck 355 tpi 700r4 325/9in
    64 chevy 90 5.7 tpi 700r4 336 8.2
    69 chevy panel van 5.7 tbi 700r4 336 8.2

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    I spoke with SteelyVan the other day and he walked me through this issue a little more. Seems likely the source of the movement is at the leaf spring to axle U bolts. Donnie sent me some pics and it looks like those spring U bolts are in need of replacement. I'll let him post up the pics. Good thing it's not the gearbox. U bolts are so much easier to replace..
    108VanGuy...
    1969 Chevy Panel, 250 CID, 3 ring 4 Spd. with OD, 2.73 "WedgieVan" Daily Driver
    1967 Chevy Panel, 230 CID, 3 Spd. 3.36 "UtiliVan Owned since 76
    1964 GMC Panel, 194 CID, 3 Spd. "CrunchoVan"
    1965 Chevy Panel 350 CID, 3 Spd. "RustoRoof" Runs but wiring bad
    1969 Chevy 108 Display 307 CID THM 350 Power Brakes 3.73 Posi
    1965 Chevy Panel, V8, 3 Spd. "Gold Hills Van"
    1965 CamperVan, V8, 3 Spd.
    1969 G20 Shell

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    I'll agree that u-bolt replacement is preferable to steering box replacement. I tried removing the pitman arm once - no dice.
    But, if the axle is moving on the spring enough to indicate 15º at the steering wheel, the locating bolt/nub on the bottom the spring would have to be sheared off or completely rusted away, and the van would be "dog-tracking" noticeably. Noticeable to anybody following the van, and noticeable to the driver because the rear view mirrors would suddenly be aimed wrong. Depending on which way the axle has shifted on the spring, jamming on the brakes at low speed on a paved parking lot (both forward and reverse) might yield some useful information. Caution is advised.

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    VCVC Member jrinaman's Avatar
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    i have seen the pics, u-bolts need replaced but doubt that is the issue with steering. the incorrect width and spacers to use longer ones isnt the issue, nuts not staying tight is! my 'guess' is that you ran out of thread and nut tightened against stud, not the axle. either way, replace and torque, then retorque after a 100 miles. no way that axle could move enough to put steering off 15 degrees! i still think it is jumping a tooth. in the box, at the steering wheel or the pitman arm. if you can force it to jump, rd's suggestion to mark the steering wheel and shaft can verify steering wheel/spline and can also work on pitman arm. unless you find a smoking gun, i would want to know that the steering box didnt have internal damage. after checking the pitman arm and steering wheel, mark angle of pitman arm at both extremes, force it to click and verify if pitman arm angle changed when steering jumps 15 degrees. if all else fails, tow it down here but definately do not drive it!
    '64 chevy, 292 40 over, 206/526 cam, 2004r trans. 9.75:1, dual webbers, Langdon cast headers, 1.94 valves

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    Van Addict SteelyVan's Avatar
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    First, I wanna thank everybody for contributing their opinions to my dilemma. this is truly a community of folks that know their sh#t about our vans! I inherited some bad decisions that were made by the previous owner but shame on me for not rectifying things sooner. I'm running original (what's left) leaf spring bushings on all four corners, some (by appearance) incorrect width u-bolts with the incorrect thread grip range and spacers. After starting this thread, I found one drivers side front u-bolt was wiggle loose. I had checked and tightened them this last fall, the same u-bolt was shy of proper torque . I somehow dismissed them from consideration to my worsening steering situation. After a re-tightening and a slow crawl around the circle of my development, the (steering wheel) "skip" has disappeared. The van is driven as a cream-puff and (except for these recent events) drives, rides, steers, and stops extremely well with no extraneous noises. I did just find some "witness" marks from components touching/rubbing where they
    shouldn't....from being far outside of tolerance. Maybe my Grandpa-like driving style (no offense to anyone) has masked the horror that is my front end. Upon closer inspection, the leaf pack straps are nonexistent and the camber wedges appear to be too far aft. I wouldn't be surprised if my passenger leafs have a broken pack center bolt.

    I'm waiting to hear from a shop that specialize in heavy-duty straight front axle trucks. They make leaf spring packs and u-bolts on site. I will do all new eye and shackle bushings and tie rods....lube and alignment. The van will travel to them on a roll-back carrier.

    Many thanks to jrinaman and Mark 108VanGuy for listening and helping me. I don't have anybody around me that "speaks van" and my nearest go-to is jrinaman who is 3 hours away (that's probably 4 to 4-1/2 in van Grandpa hours)

    Best,
    Donnie (SV)
    Last edited by SteelyVan; 01-20-2021 at 11:55 PM.

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    Van Addict SteelyVan's Avatar
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    After 4 months......the van is back on the road. Thanks to everyone who contributed to the discussion. The place I took it for repairs works on Fire trucks, 18 wheel wreckers, Tri-axle dump trucks, etc. The van was a novelty (for them) to work on.... kinda like a pedal car.

    All 4 corners:
    Bushings
    Leafs re-arched w/helpers
    Leafs insulators & re-banded
    Centerbolts
    Ubolts

    All of these items were a contributing factor to one-another. If anyone experiences any of the symptoms I described prior in this thread...... PARK IT and seek immediate advise. If it weren't for the "over engineered" philosophy that GM used when our vans were built, ........ummm...I don't wanna think about what could've happened.

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    Awesome

    Great that you're back on the road.
    108VanGuy...
    1969 Chevy Panel, 250 CID, 3 ring 4 Spd. with OD, 2.73 "WedgieVan" Daily Driver
    1967 Chevy Panel, 230 CID, 3 Spd. 3.36 "UtiliVan Owned since 76
    1964 GMC Panel, 194 CID, 3 Spd. "CrunchoVan"
    1965 Chevy Panel 350 CID, 3 Spd. "RustoRoof" Runs but wiring bad
    1969 Chevy 108 Display 307 CID THM 350 Power Brakes 3.73 Posi
    1965 Chevy Panel, V8, 3 Spd. "Gold Hills Van"
    1965 CamperVan, V8, 3 Spd.
    1969 G20 Shell

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    VCVC Member FLATSHEILD's Avatar
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    Fantastic Knowlege in this thread!

    Thanks for all of the great detail in this thread.
    I found this very compelling to read, and I like that a large truck repair center was part of the solution.
    All the helpful contributors are appreciated for their knowledge, I agree!
    1966 / 230 / 3 tree / 3.73 / P275 60 R15 107S
    That makes people smile!
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    Being improved!
    &
    1966 / 230 / 3 tree / 3.63 / P205/60 R15 No longer 100% ORIGINAL.

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