Excessive Steering Play

Item #: steering_play
My steering wheel has excessive play. What can I do about it?


A common problem with steering systems is excessive play. Typically, you should not be able to turn the steering wheel more than 1 1/ 2" without causing the front wheels to move. If the steering wheel rotates excessively, a serious steering problem exists. There are many possible causes of this problem.

First do a physical inspection of your steering system. With the vehicle sitting on the ground and the weight of the vehicle on the wheels, have someone move the steering wheel from side to side while you inspect the steering system for loose connections. Start your examination at the steering column shaft and work your way to the tie-rod ends. Watch each component's movement in relation to the next component to ensure that both have an equal amount of movement. If you see anything loose, tighten it up.
  • Watch for ball joints that wiggle in their sockets.
  • Watch for tie rods or drag links that are worn or loose.
  • Make sure the steering box is fastened tight to the frame. If it's not, it can move on the frame and cause the steering to feel loose. The frame takes a great deal of pressure where the steering box mounts to it, and can become weak or even begin to crack.
  • If no other problem is found, have an alignment shop check the caster. You may need new C-bushings.

Never adjust the so-called "Play Adjusting Screw" on the top of the steering box more than one turn in. All this does is jam the sector shaft into the piston and that will cause damage to the box.

California Residents: Proposition 65 Warning