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Old 09-19-2019, 01:38 AM #1
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Steering Shaft Play - Beyond the Tack Weld

*****Edit: I have since removed both of these parts from my truck and put the original parts back in. These are good in the sense that you can't buy them from Toyota, but the quality is not as good as the OEM.****



I've put a bit of time into tightening up my steering shaft. It was never much movement, but I couldn't leave it alone. Most annoying was the way it would knock when driving over uneven cobble that caused the wheels to wobble left to right quickly. I thought I would share what I have learned. Maybe it can help others.

So if you have a 96 to 97.5 4runner, you likely have discovered that you do not have a slip joint to tack weld. Yay! But why do you still have play in the steering? There are a couple of wearable parts that can cause play too. I expect this info would apply to the 97.5 and up 3rd gens as well, I just have never dug into one to see. Forgive me if any errors in dates here, it was not critical for me to determine exact info.


As there is tons of info on ripping out the steering shaft for welding, I will not touch on that aspect. See Tims excellent video if you haven't already. Straight to the good part.

Part 1- Others have touched on the tilt ball mechanism being loose (Tim). A plastic shim can be used to tighten up the tilt balls. Alternatively, you can just buy a new Tilt Ball. They are exactly like your old ones, but the spring that comes with the new set is a little longer and stiffer. It's amazing how much this tightens up the tilt ball.

Part 2- This is the intermediate shaft out of my 96 4runner. I have been running a 97 shaft for a couple of years as it was tighter than mine. I believe this part number was used up to 97.5. Not sure how the newer ones differ. This is the part that was causing most of my steering slop. It is essentially a double cardan joint. 2 U-Joints back to back with a centering disk. This mechanism is IN your firewall and I bet lots don't even know it exists. The 2 U-joints seem to be unavailable but mine were tight still. The plastic disk is the replaceable part and the cause of the slop, well, the spring in it was. My 96 had no spring at all from factory , just a dried out rubber spacer. The 97 had a spring in it. The new disk comes with a slightly longer and stiffer spring. This really took care of the knock and play for me. It's not clear from the photos at all, I am not talking about the wavy round spring. The spring in question is IN the black steel rimmed hole in the disk. Should have popped that out for the photo.

Part 3- Also a little loose was this bushing. It sits in the end of the steering tube and holds that nice shiny greased bearing with the red arrow pointing to it in the last photo. Mine was just suffering from dried out grease and age. I ordered a new one from Toyota and greased her up. Look how that new tilt ball will hold the shaft on it's own! The old one would not do that.

The AST-LC90 and AST-LC100 are both available on ebay from a Florida seller. Both parts list as being for land cruisers but some digging for cross references and hoping for the best paid off. They fit the 4runner too.

This bit of work has tightened things up to like new for me. Noises are all gone and it drives like new. Slop reduced to zero or close enough. Hope this helps someone and sorry the pics are all stuck at the bottom.
Attached Images
Steering Shaft Play - Beyond the Tack Weld-jpg  Steering Shaft Play - Beyond the Tack Weld-b-jpg  Steering Shaft Play - Beyond the Tack Weld-c-jpg  Steering Shaft Play - Beyond the Tack Weld-d-jpg  Steering Shaft Play - Beyond the Tack Weld-g-jpg  Steering Shaft Play - Beyond the Tack Weld-e-jpg  Steering Shaft Play - Beyond the Tack Weld-f-jpg 
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Last edited by Kanoe; 07-23-2020 at 03:33 PM. Reason: UPDATE ON PART RELIABILITY
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Old 09-19-2019, 08:43 AM #2
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Very interesting!


I don't have slop that I am aware of, but does this help the"feedback" feeling when off-roading?
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Old 09-19-2019, 01:02 PM #3
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Thanks for the info. I've been meaning to do mine for quite some time but just haven't gotten aroud to it yet... Guess I have no excuses now.
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Old 09-21-2019, 01:41 AM #4
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Very interesting!


I don't have slop that I am aware of, but does this help the"feedback" feeling when off-roading?
I'm not really sure what you mean by that. I don't do any technical offroading. I would say 99% of steering looseness or noise will be fixed elsewhere and these bits will be the final 1% for the really persistent owner.
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Old 09-21-2019, 07:32 AM #5
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Old 01-30-2020, 04:28 PM #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kanoe View Post
I've put a bit of time into tightening up my steering shaft. It was never much movement, but I couldn't leave it alone. Most annoying was the way it would knock when driving over uneven cobble that caused the wheels to wobble left to right quickly. I thought I would share what I have learned. Maybe it can help others.

So if you have a 96 to 97.5 4runner, you likely have discovered that you do not have a slip joint to tack weld. Yay! But why do you still have play in the steering? There are a couple of wearable parts that can cause play too. I expect this info would apply to the 97.5 and up 3rd gens as well, I just have never dug into one to see. Forgive me if any errors in dates here, it was not critical for me to determine exact info.
The left & right steering wheel wobble/play you had, were you able to recreate it if you put your hands in the 9 & 3 o'clock position on the steering wheel & push away from you with one hand while pulling towards you with the other (not a rotational play but more like a back/forth side/side wobble)? If that was the case, did replacing the parts you listed resolve that type of steering wheel wobble?

I haven't formally tested my steering column's slip joint yet because from what I've read it seemed like the slip joint play would create a right to left rotational play in the steering wheel instead of a side to side teetering type of wobble. Will still check that joint anyway.
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Old 01-30-2020, 06:30 PM #7
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As an fyi, after 4 months, the LC100 is finally back in stock with the Florida eBay seller:

Universal-Joint-Febest-AST-LC100

I had ordered an LC90 back in September; but the LC100's were sold out. There were only some available from international sellers for stupid money.

Just two days ago I received notification on the eBay watch I'd set back then and I ordered one. For a mere $11, consider getting one while they last.
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Old 01-31-2020, 02:23 PM #8
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Update:

I didn't have good luck with the AST-LC90. 10,000km and out it came.

I started noticing hard steering, poor return to centre. I checked the LBJs 2 times (they are newer OEM) and saw no issue with them. Eventually I pulled the LC90 out of the intermediate shaft and that is where the binding was occurring. The steel liner in the hole seems to be soft and the spring and hardened shaft nubs were wearing into it. Luckily I had my original in the tool box and put it back in (8,000km from home). Steering back to normal, whew.

I left the ball in, it seems OK. Not sure about the LC90, can't recommend it now.


fourfive: I don't think I have any of what you are describing. I think the wheel is pretty darn stable. I don't really think any of this would address what you describe.
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Old 07-23-2020, 12:07 PM #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kanoe View Post
Update:

I didn't have good luck with the AST-LC90. 10,000km and out it came.

I started noticing hard steering, poor return to centre. I checked the LBJs 2 times (they are newer OEM) and saw no issue with them. Eventually I pulled the LC90 out of the intermediate shaft and that is where the binding was occurring. The steel liner in the hole seems to be soft and the spring and hardened shaft nubs were wearing into it. Luckily I had my original in the tool box and put it back in (8,000km from home). Steering back to normal, whew.

I left the ball in, it seems OK. Not sure about the LC90, can't recommend it now.
what about the LC100 unit, is it confirmed to be a reliable option?
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Old 07-23-2020, 03:29 PM #10
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Quote:
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what about the LC100 unit, is it confirmed to be a reliable option?
To be honest, I took it out too. It had a stiff spot that never felt as smooth as the original. A few weeks ago I had the wheel/shaft out again and I went back to my original. This new one was in for 20,000 km or more and really can't say it was bad but the original is better.

In short, I wouldn't recommend either of these unless you are in a pinch. The OEM stuff is just plain better, but we've heard that before haven't we?
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Old 06-02-2021, 10:09 AM #11
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How difficult was it to remove the intermediate shaft? I took out the steering shaft yesterday and followed Timmy the tool mans video on shimming the tilt ball and the tack weld mod but I still have a weird steering wheel rattle (right when the wheel is at center and I hit a certain groove in the road, itíll make a loud side to side rattle for a *****). I think Iíll try and replace the intermediate shaft next hopefully that helps. I did also replace the steering rack and pinion bushing already as well
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Old 09-04-2021, 09:25 PM #12
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Would it be ok to hammer the shaft with a sledgehammer with good force to remove the play?? I really don't like the idea of tack welding the shaft (or using a pin) and sacrifice a good safety feature.
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Old 09-05-2021, 11:58 AM #13
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Quote:
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Would it be ok to hammer the shaft with a sledgehammer with good force to remove the play?? I really don't like the idea of tack welding the shaft (or using a pin) and sacrifice a good safety feature.
I've always wondered how safe it really is and how much you're sacrificing. In theory you're allowing yourself to be impaled in a crash, but at the same time your airbag should stop you well before it happens.
But at the same time, what if it pops the airbag...
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Old 09-05-2021, 12:15 PM #14
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Quote:
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Would it be ok to hammer the shaft with a sledgehammer with good force to remove the play?? I really don't like the idea of tack welding the shaft (or using a pin) and sacrifice a good safety feature.
Seatbelt and airbag should stop you from hitting steering wheel.
Actually, seatbelt alone should.
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