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Discussion Starter #1
My step dad just bought a used 97 dodge 2500 turbo diesel. There is play in the steering wheel and wants me to try and fix it :bash: He said something about the steering column, but I have no idea where to even start. any ideas on where to start or how to fix it?
 

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I Have A FLATULENT Butthole.
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Hard to find what it is on your own. First things I would check:

Tie rods, pitman arm, and idler arm.

How to check tie rods:

1) Take a jack and put it under the control arm and get it as close to the tire as you can. Jack it up about 3 inches off the ground.
2) Put one hand on each side of the side, and wiggle it back and fourth (very litely). You should feel no play. If you feel something "jumping" back and fourth, have someone come wiggle it for you and look at the outer and inner tie rods while holding you hand over them. If you feel either of them "jumping", it needs replaced.
3) This is also a good time to check ball joints. Take a pry bar and put it under the tire, pry up on the tire and watch the lower ball joint for any movement. Again it should be solid. To check the upper ball joint Push in at the top of the tire (use a little force here). Once again, if there is any movement or play in the ball joint it needs replaced (you can also take your pry bar, wedge it against something and pry down on the upper control arm, that can also reveal any play in the ball joint.

To check the Idler and Pitman arm:
1) Get a flashlight and a partner. Have you parter grab a hold of the tire and push it back and fourth, about a 1/4 of a turn right, 1/4 of a turn left. Look for any what is called "walking" or movement in either of them. If there is any, it will cause play in the steering. It needs replaced.
2)Another way to check this is while it's on the ground, grab the center link and shake it. If you feel any play in either the pitman arm or idler arm, replace it.

This stuff isn't easy to understand in writing. Let me see if I can find a youtube video for you.
 

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Bo Baustin
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I had that issue with my 7.3. Ball joints were a major part of the issue. Tie rods were good.

You can tighten up the steering boxes too (1/8 turn at a time), too much and the truck will have a tendency to "dart"
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks guys! I'll post some pics and vids tomorrow if I can't figure it out :yes reps when I get near a comp, I've never seen a let me google that for you thing. That's sweet lol


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Have someone wiggle the wheel left and right while you look at the steering linkage underneath. You'll be able to see where the play is pretty easy.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I knew this was the place to get answers, it's not only a mustang site, these guys know everything about every car :lol


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Discussion Starter #8
I took the truck for a drive today, just to see how bad the play was and noticed the cruise control doesn't work. Imma check the fuses, but if that's not it, where should I look to fix that?


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Discussion Starter #9
And the drivers side door lock doesn't go up and down with the switch. Just manually.


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Discussion Starter #10
I got the wheel a few inches off the ground, and made. Video of what I think the problem is



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I Have A FLATULENT Butthole.
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Really cant tell whats going on in the video. Is that the steering column moving without anything else moving?
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Yeah, my brother is turning the play in the wheel while I video it. The only thing moving is the steering shaft I guess that is? Idk the technical terms lol


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Discussion Starter #15
I took these two pics. I read online that you should tighten the nut on top 1/8 to 1/4 turn. Are one of these those nuts? There are like 5 nuts to choose from lol






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Discussion Starter #16
And I found these wires just floating in the engine bay. Not connected to anything. Any ideas where it goes? Lol




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My 96 had this problem. It was the steering gearbox. Replaced it and all fixed. Also if youre running big tires it can do similiar things. Good idea to rebuild the front end when the gear is done unless the other compenents show minimal wear/play.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
thanks man! but my step dad took it to a buddies house after they found out it could be the 'notorious death wobble' common with those years. i have no idea what it means, but they are getting it fixed. they said it had to do with the frame twisting slightly or something :dunno
 

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I replaced the steering box on my dads '99. It didnt help. Ended up getting the mounts and everything for a 3rd gen dodge trackbar from cumminsperformanceparts.com, it solved the problem. The truck does not have "death wobble", unless the steering wheel shakes vigorously while driving, the play is common on those model trucks. They didnt solve it until 2003..
 
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