Steering Columns




Description: This procedure covers correcting a "loose" steering wheel.  Loose means that the entire upper portion of the tilt column can be moved from side to side, while the column itself is still firmly bolted to the chassis and dash.  This motion is caused by four bolts in the column that have worked loose due to vibration.  The four bolt are about 2 inches in length, but only engage the threads on the lower 1/8th inch, and in this case, no thread locking compound was used to secure the bolts. 


While I removed the steering column to correct this problem, it can be performed on the car. 


Special Tools Needed:


Steering Wheel Puller - (Available from most auto parts stores)


Steering Lock Plate Removing Tool - (Also available from most parts stores)


T-20 and T-30 Torx Bits


Pivot Pin Puller - (More on this later)




1) Disconnect the Battery


2) Use a Screwdriver and remove the Horn Button


3) Remove the Horn Switch (spring loaded plunger, give it a 1/4 turn)


4) Remove the Clip from the end of the steering shaft.


5) Remove the Steering Nut (22mm) from the end of the shaft.


6) Install the Steering wheel puller and remove the wheel. DO NOT attempt to pry, hammer, or pull the wheel off without this tool.  If you can't find a puller, you can fabricate one from steel barstock and three bolts.


7) With the wheel removed, pry off the plastic trim covering the lock plate. There are four tabs, insert a flat screwdriver into the tab and pry them out.


8) Install the Lock Plate remover. There is no substitute for this. It threads over the steering shaft, pushes the lock plate in, and allows the retainer (a c-clip) to be removed.


9) Remove the Lock Plate, spring, bearing cup, and spacer from the steering shaft.  This will expose the turn signal switches. 


10) Remove the three Phillips head screws retaining the Turn Signal Switch. You must actuate the switch in each direction to expose the screws. Then remove the Phillips head screw that attaches to turn signal lever to the switch. Also remove the Emergency Flasher switch from the outside of the column (single Phillips screw in the center of the knob.)


11) Disconnect the wiring on the steering column, under the dash, to allow enough slack to pull the turn signal switch away from the housing.


12) Remove the Turn Signal Lever (just pull it straight out.) If equipped with cruise control, just leave the lever hanging on the single wire. 


13) Remove the Keylock Buzzer switch (look for the two long contacts). A paper clip slid down the right side of the switch will release it so it can be slid straight out.


14) Remove the Ignition Lock retaining pin (T-20 Torx) and slide the ignition switch lock out of the steering column.


15) Remove the three T-30 Torx screws that hold the upper housing trim in place.  Remove the housing trim and let it hang from the turn signal wiring.


16) Use the Tilt Wheel lever and move the column to it's uppermost position. Then use a padded pair of pliers to unscrew the lever.  This will allow the removal of the housing, Headlight Hi/Low beam linkage, and Steel rod.


17) Before removing the pivot pins, you need to remove the tilt-wheel spring.  The spring is held in place by a sheetmetal cap with a square hole in it.  Insert a large screwdriver into the square hole, push the cap in, and give it a 1/4 turn.  That will release the cap and allow removal of the spring.


18) Remove the tilt wheel pivot pins (one on each side.)  There is a GM tool for doing this.  I used a 4mm-0.8mm pitch screw and a slide hammer to pull the pins out. This will allow the casting that makes up the front of the steering column to be removed.  The casting must be pulled to the right to release the ignition switch linkage on the left side of the column. 


Note - this linkage is a pair of soft metal castings that allow the ignition switch on the bottom of the column to be operated by the keylock on the top of the column. If you ever wondered why a car thief will break the plastic housing on the bottom of the column, this is it.  With the lower shroud broken out, this linkage is exposed. It can be operated with a flat screwdriver.


19) You can now access the 4 bolts in the lower casting that are causing the problem.  The bolts have reverse-torx heads, but a 1/4" 12pt. socket can be used to tighten the bolts.  I applied red Locktite to the last 5 threads on each bolt and tightened them to 18ft/lbs.  The bolts can also be drilled and safety wired in pairs.


Reverse the steps to reassemble the column.  The pivot pins can be inserted using a hammer and punch.  I applied Locktite to all of the screws as the column was re-assembled.


Curt Martin

Ormond Beach, Florida,