Loose tilt wheel -- I think

M Body General Discussion

  1. shadango

    shadango Well-Known Member

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    So at some point in bringing the new Diplomat home, I noticed that I could move the steering wheel up and down a bit . This was after using the tilt, and I was checking to be sure it locked in place...which it did....but there is some looseness at the tilt section it looks like.

    Searched this forum and saw some references to it, and commented there but then I felt like I was trying to steal the thread.

    So I am starting my own thread.....

    Is this a "5th level of hell" sort of repair?

    Is it unsafe to have some looseness? I drove the car some 200 miles and never noticed it...til I played with the tilt.

    Looking on line, its a common issue with mopars and GMs, that apparantly share column designs for this range of years....

    Found this thread

    Illustrated tilt steering column disassembly

    Wondering how close it is as far as accuracy....

    I have had the steering column in my 72 barracuda apart and rebuild that......but it doesnt have tilt.....

    Would rather put this off if I can, but its going in for a state safety inspection next week and not sure if this will be an issue or not.......

    (Have only had the car home for less than 48 hours and I am already obsessing....LOL)
     
  2. Oldiron440

    Oldiron440 Well-Known Member

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    If I remember you can tighten two of the three bolts needed without going crazy on disassembly.
     
  3. Opticon77

    Opticon77 Well-Known Member

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    Spun my first 5A around 180 degrees in a fast left because my loose tilt wheel dropped in my lap. Careful out there.

    As far as the repair, I don't remember specifics but I managed to fix it myself back at 17y/o with basic tools and no instructions... so it can't be difficult.
     
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  4. volare 77

    volare 77 Well-Known Member

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    I never had the pleasure of working on the tilt steering columns. I have heard they can be a bear to work on without the proper tools but that is me saying that without ever having to work on one. I guess I`m trying to say I dunno. LOL
     
  5. shadango

    shadango Well-Known Member

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    I picked up the two special tools that seem to be mentioned a lot....the lock plate removal tool and the pivot pin tool....

    I worry about tearing into the column just because its all 40 year old plastic and wires......and tthen there are the "ball bearings" mentioned in that link.....that can get lost........
     
  6. Duke5A

    Duke5A Well-Known Member

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    I had to fix this issue on my car four years ago. Was way easier to pull the entire column and take it into the house. Think I clamped it to a cart to keep it upright while I worked on it. The problem is caused by four inverted torx bolts that loosen up over time. To get to them involves stripping the entire top of the column down to the tilt joint. I'm not going to lie, it's an extreme pain in the ass. If you've never done it before, don't think you'll have it done in day. My first time through the column I jacked up some pieces of the linkage and had to order parts off eBay - lots of parts in this sucker. The one piece of good news is you can get everything brand new for this job since it's a GM column. Kind of a blessing and curse in one - it breaks because it's GM, but parts are available because it's GM.

    You'll need one more tool: an inverted torx socket of the correct size. They look like this:

    31flSuoZw6L.jpg

    If you're going to attempt this yourself, I can guide you through as much as I remember on this.
     
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  7. shadango

    shadango Well-Known Member

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    Anyone know how long these bolts are?

    Trying to gauge how sever an issue this is for immediate use.

    Like I said, I never noticed it till I started playing with the tilt.....

    Seems like a STUPID design.
     
  8. Duke5A

    Duke5A Well-Known Member

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    The car will become dangerous long before the bolts back all the way out. The slop will get worse and worse until the steering wheel flops around. If this is your daily driver, it won't be long. Sorry about that bad news...
     
  9. Oldiron440

    Oldiron440 Well-Known Member

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    Like I've said before you can get at all but one of the bolts without a complete teardown, when doing my van I used red Locktite on the three bolts I could get to and called it good. Drove it for two more years before pulling the motor trans and being done with it....
     
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  10. shadango

    shadango Well-Known Member

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    That's gonna be my plan.....but the lock plate and signal switch assembly has to come out right?

    Thats the fear factor for me...40 year old plastic that works now.....may not later...LOL
     
  11. Duke5A

    Duke5A Well-Known Member

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    That shouldn't be an issue. Those parts aren't under any kind of tension in the assembly. I didn't have any issues when I did mine.

    My turn signal switch broke this fall after my son got in the car and play driver.

    :(
     
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  12. TylerW

    TylerW Member

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    I did this repair on my '87 Gran Fury about a year ago. It's not a really hard job, but you need a few special tools. This problem happens because that's a Saginaw column, same as many GM's use and they all do it as well. I thought I did a video on it but looks like I didn't.

    The tools you need are a steering wheel puller, a lock plate depressor and a pivot pin remover, along with the aforementioned inverted Torx set. Those are all easily obtainable at a corner parts store. I strongly suggest NOT taking the lazy way out and simply retightening the bolts, because if so, you will do this job again, and again. They should be individually removed, cleaned and re-installed with Loctite. I also suggest having a copy of the FSM on hand or an online tutorial. Good luck.
     
  13. Jonnyuma

    Jonnyuma Well-Known Member

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    All Saginaw steering parts... I've had this issue on everything from an S10 Blazer to a Cordoba.

    The lock plate compressor I concur with, but I'm not sure what the pivot pin tool is. A tip on the lock plate compressor follows...

    Yes.

    Buy the steering wheel puller, you'll find other uses for it... money well spent.
    Tip: Grabbing a spare lockplate from a junkyard to use as a spacer can give some extra room to access the snapring. It's not always needed, and will require a little cutting or grinding... you'll know if you need it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2019
  14. BudW

    BudW Moderator Staff Member

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    Once you do it a few times – its not a hard job.
    The first time (or two) can be intimidating – but it can be done by a novice who has access to a few special tools.

    My recommendation is once you get access to the “loose” screws, is to snug them all up (not full tight). Then take each screw out, one at a time, and put a small bit of Loctite blue on threads and reinsert/tighten to specs.
    That way it can be dissembled again (if ever needed) – but otherwise makes it a one-time job.
    Note: don’t use the Loctite red on steering column screws or it will never come apart . . . again.


    I’ve seen the tooling and process that Saginaw (GM) uses to assemble the columns at their factory. The assembler will insert screws onto magnetic bits that screws all in, at same time, to a certain torque. The problem is the person pushing the button will release it before screws are at torque (close but not quite) or altogether loose. In a few cases, once the vehicle has been driven a few miles with loose screws – it is hard to keep those screws tight, which is where the Loctite comes into place.


    On GM steering columns – IF at first glance it looks like the one in your car - then most internal parts will work for you. Some external parts like wiper switch/cruise switch, steering wheel and turn signal wiring pigtails are different – but might be made to work with a little work.

    The Chrysler-used Saginaw columns – was used in all car lines (except for possibly L-body’s (Omni/Horizon) ... I think) from ’80 to ‘90ish, including pickup and vans. Each body used a different steering column length, the bracket that attaches to firewall and bracket that attaches to dash) – as well as different wiring pigtails over the years. The same applies for them (like GM) as well – the upper portion is the same on all Chrysler (using the Saginaw column) and GM cars – but most all else is different. SO, if looking for parts (like the a spare lockplate) shouldn't be to hard.
    BudW
     
  15. Rustyroger

    Rustyroger Well-Known Member

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    I don't know if it's the same column as used on GM H Bodies, 1986 on Buick/Olds/Pontiac full size fwd, but I had a similar problem on a 1987 Olds Delta 88. I made a tool for depressing the lockplate from an old box wrench, and it took less than an hour to get to, and retighten the screws.

    Roger.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2019
  16. shadango

    shadango Well-Known Member

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    Anyone recall what size inverted star socket they used??

    Harbor Freight has a set with E6, E7, E8, E10, E12, E14, and E16 --- seems like one of those should work?

    inverted star sockets.JPG
     
  17. BudW

    BudW Moderator Staff Member

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    Off top of my head, no – not right off. In a pinch, a person can use a small (metric?) socket – but the star sockets work many times better.

    Some years used #3 Phillips screws – which were “no fun” if someone else buggered up the screw head by using a #2 bit (which is why I think they started using star screws).
    BudW
     
  18. Ele115

    Ele115 Well-Known Member

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    Cadillacs were notorious for this from short little 500 pound customers using the steering wheel as an anchor point to haul themselves in and out of the car. Like stated before, it's GM. After your first one they aren't too bad. Suggest taking the column inside and doing the work in a clean environment where you can get comfortable and if you drop anything it's easy to get to.
     
  19. shadango

    shadango Well-Known Member

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    Wanted to update this thread to say "thanks" for the feedback originally and to hopefully help someone that comes across this later.

    Well, we let this go since we first got the car.

    The intention was to address this before now, but life got in the way --- other vehicle issues, health problems etc.

    Getting ready for a long drive to a car event and of course we are going over all the stuff on the cars we are taking.....and this issue came to the surface again.

    Was going to go with "it has been ok til now, probably will be fine. Time is short and frankly too many things to do and/or worry about.....didnt need this.

    But my mind wouldn’t let this go yesterday……gnawed on me all evening…went to bed thinking about it and woke up thinking about it....and all the bad things that could happen should it let loose during the drive, my youngest son driving.

    When I checked it yesterday, it felt looser to me….or maybe not. Had my oldest son, a very mechanically inclined 20 year old, check it at 8 this morning and he felt like we should address it.

    Of course that means “what will we run into and what will mess us up two days before we leave”.

    I made the executive decision….put him to work with his brother and I and I assisting (I am still recovering from health issues) ……Only had both boys til 3 today (both have to work) so it was time critical.

    Using info from the web -- this thread and several others on chevy sites -- we took a deep breath and tore into it.

    Steering wheel off…lock plate off…signal assembly out…multi function lever out….ugh…lots of small delicate parts. 40 year old wiring .

    We didn’t tear it all the way down to dissembling the pivot pins….that risked major issue…..but we were able to access 3 of the 4 mounting bolts. All 3 were loose.

    This link is the one we used for illustration…… Illustrated tilt steering column disassembly


    Getting to the 4th bolt means removing the tilt assembly pivot pins and there are those ball bearings that “can” pop out and drop into the column which means pulling the whole column…plenty of folks online seem to have been ok just doing 3 of the 4 so….we opted that way to avoid a trip into further hell.

    One of the three was tricky too—had to modify the inverse torx socket to make it work…had to grind down the sides of the socket so it would fit.... Seems like tiny-ass bolts for the part involved.

    We were eventually able to pull and Loctite the 3 bolts….reassembly began .

    Mostly without issue til we got to the damn multifunction lever for the high beams…..its a remote switch at the base of the column activated by a rod that leads up to the top of the column…STUPID design if you ask me. Buried in underdash wiring. hard to get at.

    Turns out the 40 year old plastic switch broke/blew apart at some point during our fenagling. No one locally has the part…and on top of that , they make a “with tilt” switch and a “without tilt” switch……the one on this car is “WITHOUT”….go figure. Not sure why.

    So we decided to reassemble with the switch in low beam mode and come back later and redo it even though it means pulling it all apart again….LOL

    So for now there is no high beams….but everything else works great and the column is form. Hopefully will stay that way.

    With as many things that CAN go wrong driving three 40+ year old cars 3+ hours each way away from home, this at least takes that worry off my mind.

    My oldest son stepped up man….SOOOO proud of him. He did the whole job with me supervising/getting tools and handling parts and his brother holding the flashlight…LOL…There is no way I could have efficiently done this by myself….especially the under dash part…..getting old sucks but having a young man who is mechanically inclined in my house is one good effect of aging….LOL

    If anyone has any feedback on WHY our car would have the "wrong" dimmer switch, Id appreciate the info.....pretty sure the wire plug itself is only 3 blade.....which is SUPPOSED to be the "without tilt" version....

    Also, ours doesnt seem to have the u shaped rod.......???? Below is a picture of one shown at a local parts house.

    So many issues can pop up with old cars...at least the "flop like a fish" steering wheel shouldnt be one of them for a while. Fingers crossed.

    3 blade dimmer switch.JPG
     
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  20. Oldiron440

    Oldiron440 Well-Known Member

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    A nice report back...