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  • something broke in my steering column... help

    I was getting into my jeep tonight (in my driveway to put it back in the garage) and I always basically use the steering wheel to sorta pull myself up into the jeep. Well this time as I was jumping up into the jeep I heard a "crack" sound and the steering wheel moved sideways toward the outside of the jeep. The crack definitely sounded like plastic cracking or breaking. I was able to drive the jeep into the garage with no problem. And under the lights of the garage I could see sorta what was going on....

    Basically I can move the entire steering wheel and column about and inch or two to the left and to the right of center. Up and down it does move more than normal but not as much as left to right. It seems to be moving at the "joint" on the steering column of where the tilt is (tilt steering column). All of the column below the tilting part seems to not be moving at all.

    So... what have I broken? Is it terminal for this column or is it something I can fix with a part that can be found and purchased? Or am I searching the junkyard for a replacement column or am I shelling out $500 plus dollars for a new Flaming River column (I saw it in the 4WD catalog) and all the crap necessary to adapt it to my jeep?

    Please help!!!

    Guess I gotta stop using the steering wheel as a grab handle for getting into the jeep now too.

  • #2
    Click Here

    Just had to do this to my Chevy truck. Not too difficult to do. You will need a wheel puller and a Lock Plate Tool. Make sure you lock tight the four bolts before you tighten them down.

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    • #3
      Just remembered that you need to pull them two pins also. On the link he made his own. I have heard people using a slide hammer and a 8-32 bolt also. I borrowed the correct tool from a friend which worked great.

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      • #4
        Main thing with that is to take your time on pulling it apart...it is real easy to miss how the things fit together. Good luck

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        • #5
          Thanks for the info guys....

          So I got it apart and now I see that something is broken. The guy who wrote the instructions calls my broken part a "lower tilt housing" ...
          http://www.epiccomputer.com/dale/jee...t/dscf2206.jpg


          It's the big silver piece in the middle of the screen.... there is a flange that got peeled backwards on the bottom (can't see the part in the picture above).

          I think it is item number 5 on this picture and part number J448 7845 on this diagram... but it is kinda hard to see...

          Anybody know if this is something I can replace or buy from somewhere? I am going to try to call a buddy that does some tig welding to see if he can get it back together. It seems to be made of some sort of heavy aluminum or something???? (my guess based on the color and that a magnet will not stick to it???)

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          • #6
            Yes, that looks like the same part to me also. If you can't get it repaired I would take it to a GM dealer and have them order a new one. They should still be available and I wouldn't think they would cost to much.

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            • #7
              I agree with Motorhead, GM should be able to get it.

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              • #8
                stop

                the casting you are looking at is a support casting this one looks ok. the casting may be cracked around the outter skirt and not cause problems. dont call the dealership..its about 75.oo new!!!get one from a column rebuilder there about 10.00 used and take your part with you cause there are a few different styles. this part doesent normally break and cause the problems your describing. the upper casting is where a break would be. I doubt that this is even true. were the 4 bolts that hold the support casting in place even engaged in the thread?? this is where most problems start. Yes use locktite on them. If it helps the columns are all the same from 1977 to 1986 on the cj. good luck

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by scott
                  the casting you are looking at is a support casting this one looks ok. the casting may be cracked around the outter skirt and not cause problems. dont call the dealership..its about 75.oo new!!!get one from a column rebuilder there about 10.00 used and take your part with you cause there are a few different styles. this part doesent normally break and cause the problems your describing. the upper casting is where a break would be. I doubt that this is even true. were the 4 bolts that hold the support casting in place even engaged in the thread?? this is where most problems start. Yes use locktite on them. If it helps the columns are all the same from 1977 to 1986 on the cj. good luck
                  Thanks... but it is in fact broken and is a problem (in addition to those bolts being loose). As I got into the column as I was taking it apart I could see the movement around the broken piece. It was cracked and bent back from where it was suppose to be. I bent it back and guess that I could probably use it as is as long as those 4 bolts stayed tight. My fear is that this same thing could happen again somehow and that piece could somehow break off and get lodged in a bad place in the steering column and cause me to loose steering ability (not a chance I really want to take!!!).

                  From further research it looks as though these things are made from "pot metal" (sometimes called "mokey metal")... which means it was cheap to make and when broken was easy to replace. Now car makers are going away from this material for making car parts. It seems that this metal has a relatively low melting point which makes welding difficult without a very low melting "stick" (which I have found some online... and the stick is an alloy and you actually melt it using a propane torch... the stick melts around 350 degrees... about half the melting point of the pot metal... problem is they ain't cheap for somebody like me who would probably only use it this one time).

                  Anyway... the good news is that a friend of mine works at a hot rod shop (they custom build and repair '41 Willys mostly) and he says they have several good older GM columns laying around and he will see if he can find me a good one. I may just switch the entire column out since I have my old one completely out now anyway (first time I have ever taken a column out of a car... it was actually kind of fun and not too hard... only took me about an hour.)

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                  • #10
                    SUCCESS!!!

                    I was able to get the broken part out of the GM column my friend had. While I had the column out I took the opportunity to replace the steering column bearing. I also cleaned out all of the old grease from the moving parts and relubed it all. Also painted all of the pieces and after only 4 times of taking it apart and putting it back together got it all working right (I would get it together and have one thing wrong and then have to take it apart and fix the messed up then and then would mess something else up putting it back together and then repeat the process until I finally got it all right). Cool thing is I got faster and faster at it and now actually know how it all goes back together. I even took this opportunity to replace the steering wheel. Got this one...
                    http://www.4wd.com/catalog/products/large/7391.jpg


                    and got the "Jeep" horn button for it too.
                    http://www.4wd.com/catalog/products/large/5675.jpg

                    Looks much better than stock now!

                    Very happy with the final results. Although I gotta pull the wheel one more time to get it aligned a little better... right now about 12:30ish to 1 o'clock equal going straight... I figure about one spline or so to the left will fix that. Simple and quick fix... just have to do it.

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                    • #11
                      Great! Now you can start your own GM Steering Column Repair Center.

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