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Old 01-31-2024, 04:05 PM #1
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Steering shaft replacement - OEM or aftermarket

I think I need to change out some part of my steering shaft. I recently replaced my entire steering rack (OEM) along with itr and otrs.

However, when wheeling I feel a little "play" in the steering. When going slow over rocky terrain and the tires push back and I feel feedback on the steering wheel I think I feel a slight play. Almost like the wheels turning and I feel it hit the steering wheel instead of immediate turning pressure on the steering wheel. Not sure if that makes sense.

I had my local shop check my front wheel bearings and they seem fine.

Anyways, I'm a big proponent of OEM parts but you think it's important to go OEM on the intermediate steering shaft?
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Old 01-31-2024, 04:16 PM #2
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This is easy enough to check. Take off the splash guard on the drivers side, grab the steering shaft, and give it a good twist. Any play should have corresponding play in the steering wheel. If there is any play on the lower end of the shaft where it meets the steering rack, it needs to be replaced.

In my case, I managed to bend my steering shaft... wheeling is hard on stuff lol.

As to OEM vs aftermarket, I got mine from 1AAuto and its been more than sufficient. There is a U joint in the lower portion of the shaft, which would be the main argument for going OEM. However, I have had pretty good luck with stuff from 1AAuto.
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Old 01-31-2024, 05:00 PM #3
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As Gimli mentions, you can watch the steering shaft to make sure it's the issue or not. I could see there was slop in my u-joint from above. Look at it with key on but engine off, have someone move the steering wheel side to side but not so far that the tire wheels turn. I replaced it with an aftermarket one that has been on the truck for a few years now with no issues. Pretty basic part but I did have a slight fitment issue, it seems like it was slightly shorter than the old one.
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Old 01-31-2024, 11:27 PM #4
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We might be having a similar issue- I'd replaced all things steering/suspension/bushing but still had a weird wander/play even though steering input is very tight and responsive. I temporarily improved things by moving the steering shaft collar slightly up toward the firewall as people have done on this forum, and I've had no play on the shaft/u-joints as they're all healthy.
What I've noticed is that I can lightly thump on the shaft near the collar with my hand and there is a clank of sorts coming from lower down, like along the steering rack rather than on the column. This is something I recently found and am trying to pinpoint, but I feel they might be related. Have you noticed any noises from yours or just the looser steering?
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Old 02-01-2024, 01:10 AM #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maxdef View Post
We might be having a similar issue- I'd replaced all things steering/suspension/bushing but still had a weird wander/play even though steering input is very tight and responsive. I temporarily improved things by moving the steering shaft collar slightly up toward the firewall as people have done on this forum, and I've had no play on the shaft/u-joints as they're all healthy.
What I've noticed is that I can lightly thump on the shaft near the collar with my hand and there is a clank of sorts coming from lower down, like along the steering rack rather than on the column. This is something I recently found and am trying to pinpoint, but I feel they might be related. Have you noticed any noises from yours or just the looser steering?
Interesting. The steering does feel tight. I turn the steering side to side and I feel like the wheels respond as expected....? I only feel the "play" when I hit bumps (speed bumps or rocks).

My steering rack is brand new OEM. Replaced it a few months ago. I'll have to inspect the whole shaft tomorrow more closely.


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Originally Posted by MikeinNH67 View Post
As Gimli mentions, you can watch the steering shaft to make sure it's the issue or not. I could see there was slop in my u-joint from above. Look at it with key on but engine off, have someone move the steering wheel side to side but not so far that the tire wheels turn. I replaced it with an aftermarket one that has been on the truck for a few years now with no issues. Pretty basic part but I did have a slight fitment issue, it seems like it was slightly shorter than the old one.
Yeh I will check the shaft tomorrow. Hopefully it's just the intermediate shaft needing replacing. If so, I'll go OEM. I found one for about $140 shipped. New from dealer is over $250. 1AAuto is $75.
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Old 02-08-2024, 10:24 PM #6
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I haven't replace any steering part yet but I had time to try to tshoot and isolate the issue further today.

So when I wiggle the steering wheel back and forth ever so slightly and put my hand under the dash and hold the steering shaft, I can definitely feel something clunking very slightly. I went under the car to feel the joint near the steering rack while my son wiggled the steering wheel. I can feel it there but I don't know the clunk is radiating from somewhere up the shaft. Watching the joint it doesn't seem like there isn't any play.

I took off the cover under the dash that covers the join there. I feel like the sound might be coming from there and while holding the joint under the dash while wiggling the wheel, I can feel the clunk too. I feel like it is coming from somewhere there. I saw the post about the rubber isolator and someone replacing it with a steel spacer. Not sure why a rubber isolator would cause the clunk. There doesnt seem to be any visable play at that joint either.

Is it possible it could be something more towards the steering wheel inside the steering cover?

I'm going to try shaft slide yoke trick to see if that fixes it in the mean time.
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Old 02-09-2024, 04:57 PM #7
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A slight noise and movement is pretty common in most cars due to gear play in the rack, generally not noticed with the car running. About how much does the steering wheel move side to side just before the tire wheels show slight movement? I wouldn't want you to chase something that's normal. Back to the rack, was it new, rebuilt, OEM etc? I've seen issues with replacement racks not being great.
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Old 02-09-2024, 06:27 PM #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeinNH67 View Post
A slight noise and movement is pretty common in most cars due to gear play in the rack, generally not noticed with the car running. About how much does the steering wheel move side to side just before the tire wheels show slight movement? I wouldn't want you to chase something that's normal. Back to the rack, was it new, rebuilt, OEM etc? I've seen issues with replacement racks not being great.
The movement is very very small. I can feel a noticable slight clunk. And when I'm wheeling and going over rocks I can feel a noticable clunk when I get feedback in the steering wheel from the rocks.

As for the rack, I put a new OEM one in a few months ago so I know that is solid.
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Old 03-09-2024, 01:15 PM #9
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I've still been chasing this and noticed that a lot of 5th gens have this problem after a lift, and it's suggested a common issue is the cam bolts are not tight enough. In the 2006 diagram, the spec is 100 ft/lbs, whereas it appears the more recent ones are ~125 ft/lbs. While a different part number, they are obviously quite similar, so it might be worth adding a little extra love to those bolts.

Another thing I've been examining/testing is if the cam tabs, specifically the fronts, are worn and have been too damaged which pushes them outward. This issue is answered through Marlin Crawler/Dirt King/etc cam tab gusset kits, something I am strongly considering at this point (as much as I'd love to NOT spend that money). I noticed on my driver side that I had recent wear from the cam plate shifting in place, though it would return at rest. so it still lined up to my match marks- essentially a momentary loss of proper alignment+clank depending on terrain.

Please keep us updated, it seems we are working towards less charted territory!
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Old 03-09-2024, 07:33 PM #10
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Mine had a clunky clunk over Cincinnati streets. It was the u joint for sure and despite looking replaceable, it's the whole shaft. The 2 bolts are a pain, so you are best off soaking the whole thing for 2 days before trying to hammer at it for 2 hours like I did.

I went OEM as if it's a failure point that my life depends on, I prefer the metal to be of not questionable quality.
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