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Old 01-19-2024, 03:22 AM #1
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removing steering wheel play by replacing the steering rack shaft

recently picked up a 98 4runner which is in mechanically good condition, but came with some sloppy steering.

so far, i have done
- steering rack bushings
- lower ball joints
- lower control arm bushings
- upper control arm bushings
- outer tie rods
- alignment

steering feels much tighter now, but i still have an issue with the truck veering slightly or becoming a tad unstable when going over speedbumps. another symptom is when the truck is not in motion, or driving straight, i can move the steering wheel about an inch left or right without affecting the direction its traveling. its still very much driveable, but its getting tiresome having to readjust the wheel slightly during driving.

i read a couple threads and saw some videos on people tac welding the steering rack shaft to remove the play in it. i haven't actually confirmed this is the problem yet (will check tomorrow), am curious if people have had success simply replacing the main shaft to fix this issue instead of tac welding it. would the fix last a while, or would i simply run into the same issue in a couple years? i have never liked the idea of messing with safety features, and the peace of mind would make me feel better simply replacing the part rather than doing a DIY fix.

i believe the part number is 45210-35200, outlined here 45210-35200 - Main-Shaft - 1996-2004 Toyota | Nucar Toyota of North Attleboro

does anyone have any ideas on what else could be causing this play? can someone please confirm that this part# is what i would be looking to replace if i wanted to simply replace the part?
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Old 01-19-2024, 05:10 AM #2
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Didn't see the rag joint mentioned...

45230-35090
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Old 01-19-2024, 09:42 AM #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trashboy View Post
...... when the truck is not in motion, or driving straight, i can move the steering wheel about an inch left or right without affecting the direction its traveling....
Just so you know, out of the box Toyota owner's manual says 1" of steering play is 'normal', so it won't get at tight at a Porsche yet yours seems a little extra sloppy at present.
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Old 01-19-2024, 10:49 AM #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heat View Post
Didn't see the rag joint mentioned...

45230-35090
At 150k I replaced everything OEM the OP did. In addition to a rebuilt rack from Camelback, inner tie roads, replaced lower control arms with new OEM for new bushings, etc. EVERYTHING! Steering was greatly improved yet still not back to new. (I bought mine new).

Next I replaced the rag joint. For me it didn’t make a difference. Not to say it won’t for you.

Then I read the post about tac welding it.

Had that done and the steering tightness was much better. Back to new.

In my opinion, tack welding it is much cheaper, you end up with the same result. With the weld it will not degrade over time.
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Old 01-19-2024, 12:30 PM #5
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Like others, I had to tack weld my steering column as well to remove play.
I figure with seatbelt and air bag, I should be ok.
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Old 01-19-2024, 02:05 PM #6
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It sounds like you need this video.

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Old 01-19-2024, 02:33 PM #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtbtim View Post
It sounds like you need this video.

yep, saw this video but wanna explore options that does not involve tack welding. maybe im just paranoid but i figure better to be safe than sorry.

does anyone have any input on whether that part # seems correct if i want to just replace the shaft entirely?
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Old 01-19-2024, 04:42 PM #8
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Quote:
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yep, saw this video but wanna explore options that does not involve tack welding. maybe im just paranoid but i figure better to be safe than sorry.

does anyone have any input on whether that part # seems correct if i want to just replace the shaft entirely?
Just know this, and this is coming from a firefighter (Me) who has seen MANY automobile accidents over the last 17 years. MOST people escape pretty gnarly accidents with minimal injury because of seatbelts and air bags. If there was a massive enough head on collision with major intrusion into the passenger compartment that would cause the steering shaft to collapse, usually these people don't survive regardless of the safety mechanisms in place.

What I'm trying to say is your concern shouldn't be a concern with tac welding the steering shaft. Don't overthink it. Do the tac weld and save some money.
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Old 01-19-2024, 08:44 PM #9
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It is really bad to the steering shaft (splines and U joints) if wheel is turned while engine off. Once I had to remove the upper and lower covers of the steering column and had something removed in the engine so I couldn't start the engine, so I basically lifted both wheels off the ground to turn the steering. Mine is at 220K miles and absolutely zero play in the steering!
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Old 01-19-2024, 09:22 PM #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nissanh View Post
It is really bad to the steering shaft (splines and U joints) if wheel is turned while engine off. Once I had to remove the upper and lower covers of the steering column and had something removed in the engine so I couldn't start the engine, so I basically lifted both wheels off the ground to turn the steering. Mine is at 220K miles and absolutely zero play in the steering!
I've turned the steering wheel lock to lock with the motor off hundreds of times with the wheels on the ground on a variety of vehicles with no ill effects.
Many others have as well.
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Old 01-21-2024, 02:00 AM #11
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Had same… eventually replaced everything up front… some play remained. Tack welded the slip thingy and play gone, never looked back


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Old 01-21-2024, 06:15 PM #12
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Needs to be worse than this to effect steering column.

Got tacked when needed, same will happen to 01.
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