Steering Wheel Play...Right only - Team Camaro Tech
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old Jul 23rd, 09, 11:56 AM Thread Starter
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Steering Wheel Play...Right only

I've got a '68 with power steering and I've got some steering wheel play when turning to the right only. I'd guess perhaps an 1" - 1.5" or so. Any movement of the wheel to the left and the car responds immediately. Any ideas?
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old Jul 23rd, 09, 02:27 PM
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Re: Steering Wheel Play...Right only

My first thought is loose steering parts, possibly the idler arm.

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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old Jul 23rd, 09, 04:39 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Steering Wheel Play...Right only

That was one of the first things I thought of...or the pitman arm. I drove it tonight and it does not seem to be right only. When the "GT" is centered, it's right only but I think that the steering wheel was not centered thereby given the illusion it only happens to the right. There is a "sweet spot" were I've got about 1/2" - 3/4" play right and left where the wheels do not seem to respond. Anyway, assuming it's not raining tomorrow I'm going to take it to an alignment shop and see what's what.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old Jul 23rd, 09, 07:58 PM
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Re: Steering Wheel Play...Right only

It sounds to me as if your steering gear is not on center. There is a "sweet spot" right on center. The gear set inside the gear box was designed and manufactured with a slight interference exactly on center. Also the gearset was designed with clearance on both sides after you rotate the gearset off center.

A competent alignment shop should make sure that your gear is on center when they do an alignment.

The following are links to a paper on checking the centering of your steering system.
This is in Microsoft word.doc format

Same paper but pdf format

good luck,
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old Jul 24th, 09, 04:30 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Steering Wheel Play...Right only

Thank you.


Took the Camaro in a Firestone shop that I have used in the past. Neither of the younger guys there felt comfortable working on the alignment and suggested that I go to Smith's Tire. So, off I went. The alignment guy at Smith's was a bit older and had loads of experience with older cars. He actually talked with me about the car's handling, and what I was experiencing. First thing, he said the the suspension in the car was tight and there was no play due to worn parts that he could tell. Second, he said the older cars tended to have a little play in the steering when turning right or left from dead center...which is what was also stated in the links Jim provided. He actually took the time to look over the materials I brought with me (thanks Jim...and others) and worked with those figures. Third, the alignment was WAY outta whack on the car. For $54.95, I'm satisfied with the shop and have no problems about going back for additional work I do not feel comfortable handling.

Last edited by PsyDoc; Jul 24th, 09 at 12:32 PM.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old Jul 24th, 09, 01:37 PM
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Re: Steering Wheel Play...Right only

A competent honest mechanic is worth his weight in gold.

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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old Aug 8th, 09, 03:45 PM
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Re: Steering Wheel Play...Right only

So, did the alignment fix the play? I am guessing you still have some.

My guess is that you originally noticed it more to the right because road surfaces are crowned, thus you would be normally keeping the steering wheel to the left (and taking up all the slack), to compensate for the road crown (which will make you drift right).

Of course, alignment specs typically take the crown effect into account, thus you will see some different specs from left wheel to right wheel.

The Chevy steering box has a slotted screw sticking out the top, with a lock nut. I would loosen the lock nut and turn the screw slot a tad clockwise. Then re-tighten lock nut, while holding the slot in position. That will tighten up the steering box worm gear. Don't go too tight!


Dave F. in Rhode Island
'68 Camaro SS Accel DFI 454 (SOLD - I'm a boring Corvette owner now)
Bought my first big-block Chevy in 1970
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old Aug 9th, 09, 09:10 AM
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Re: Steering Wheel Play...Right only

First of all take a close look at the adjuster screw sticking out of the cover on top of the gear. There should be several threads showing above the lock nut. If there are not threads showing, your pitman shaft gear and the rack inside the gear are worn out and time for a new gear.

If there are several threads showing there is one very important thing to do when making an adjustment. You MUST have the gear exactly on center when you adjust it. The pitman shaft gear was designed with a slight interference right on center. That is where you make the adjustment. Off center there was actually designed a small amount of clearance. You MUST not try and eliminate the off center clearance -- you will ruin the gears when you come back to center.

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