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Old 04-06-2016, 01:32 PM   #26
GMC-YA68
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Re: 4x4 steering issue - won't return to center

Well I did the tighten method a few times, and even replaced all the new ball joints, with more new ball joints. No difference.

Some have said the scrub radius because of my wheels/tires?
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Old 05-04-2016, 11:40 AM   #27
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Re: 4x4 steering issue - won't return to center

Alright....I bypassed the factory torque specs and torqued to feel. My knuckles turn very freely now. I put everything back together and she is a different truck! Also took out all the shims. She is back to factory setting now. Thanks for all the help to track down this monster.
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Old 05-04-2016, 03:18 PM   #28
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Re: 4x4 steering issue - won't return to center

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Alright....I bypassed the factory torque specs and torqued to feel. My knuckles turn very freely now. I put everything back together and she is a different truck! Also took out all the shims. She is back to factory setting now. Thanks for all the help to track down this monster.
I was under the impression the knuckles turned freely before. But glad you finally got it figured out and can enjoy driving it now.
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Old 05-05-2016, 10:09 PM   #29
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Re: 4x4 steering issue - won't return to center

Are you sure your box is not setup wrong? I don't know what redhead is but a quality box like Lares is rebuilt in USA to factory spec. I have one of their boxes in my truck. I've had your problem before and it was the box being setup wrong (Not necessarily setup too tight).
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Old 03-09-2017, 01:01 PM   #30
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Re: 4x4 steering issue - won't return to center

I have maybe driven this 50 miles since my last post and it seems to be doing the same thing again. Loosening the ball joints even more DID help, but it still won't return to center and is driving like $hit. Weird thing is I swapped out my power steering pump for a new one because it was making some noise, now this new one is starting to whine already! (fluid is fine).

I have not swapped out the u-joints in the front axle shafts, and have not put new bearings in.

RedHead boxes are built back to factory spec. I have actually tried 2 of them (different ratios) to see if there was any difference.

Any "new" ideas?

I had the axle out of the truck when I took it to get gears installed. Center pins are all fine. I have even tried multiple shims to correct the caster....frustrating!
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Old 03-09-2017, 01:05 PM   #31
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Re: 4x4 steering issue - won't return to center

I will also add that the spindles turn freely when there is no weight on them. I have no idea what they are doing once I set the truck down.
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Old 03-10-2017, 07:38 PM   #32
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Re: 4x4 steering issue - won't return to center

OK, I'm going to ask a couple questions that I am not positive of the answer here, but it's worth asking.

When the front springs were installed, were they installed the correct direction? Some springs have the center bolt offset to one end of the spring. I don't know what these are from the factory. I also don;t know if the bushings are the same on both ends that would even allow such a thing.

If the differential is now on a different center of the spring, your caster would be affected. Maybe the ideal location for YOUR truck with those wheels, tires, lift is closer to a +1 caster instead of +4 to +6

It may be worth checking.

Also, did you install a new steering damper with it? If so, is the cylinder bad?

What does the book say for the correct caster spec for this truck?
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Old 03-13-2017, 01:57 PM   #33
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Re: 4x4 steering issue - won't return to center

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OK, I'm going to ask a couple questions that I am not positive of the answer here, but it's worth asking.

When the front springs were installed, were they installed the correct direction? Some springs have the center bolt offset to one end of the spring. I don't know what these are from the factory. I also don;t know if the bushings are the same on both ends that would even allow such a thing.

If the differential is now on a different center of the spring, your caster would be affected. Maybe the ideal location for YOUR truck with those wheels, tires, lift is closer to a +1 caster instead of +4 to +6

It may be worth checking.

Also, did you install a new steering damper with it? If so, is the cylinder bad?

What does the book say for the correct caster spec for this truck?
The springs are ok to install either way per Skyjacker. Mine came with the larger bushing sleeve for the front and smaller for the rear for the shackle and that is how they are installed right now.

Factory is 4-6 caster angle. I have tried both 2.5 degree and 4 degree with no change.

I put a damper on it for about 3 days, it has been off ever since. It didn't change anything either.
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Old 03-13-2017, 07:38 PM   #34
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Re: 4x4 steering issue - won't return to center

How fast of a return are you getting? any at all? The tire is just about 13'' wide, and how centered is the tire over the center of the wheel bearings?
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Old 03-13-2017, 08:50 PM   #35
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Re: 4x4 steering issue - won't return to center

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How fast of a return are you getting? any at all? The tire is just about 13'' wide, and how centered is the tire over the center of the wheel bearings?
Hardly any return. You turn, it stays. I am constantly "wheeling" this thing while driving. My driver side tire maybe sticks out 1.5" and passenger is 1.25" just by taking a rough measurement. I forget how far the wheel bearings are stuck in there but seems like the bearing is right in the center of the tire. Thoughts?
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Old 05-03-2018, 04:01 PM   #36
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Re: 4x4 steering issue - won't return to center

Sorry to drag up over year old thread but did purchase 1970 4x4 Jimmy last summer and mine appears to have same issue with axel sticking out driver side/in on passenger side, approximately same distance. To boot I also have about 4-5 degree positive camber on both fronts(rudimentary measurement). Figuring on needing to find an alignment shop that can actual work on these in order to make strait again, most shops in my area wont touch anything from before 1990. Did you ever figure this out, was it just ball joints? Thank you!


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Old 05-03-2018, 05:07 PM   #37
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Re: 4x4 steering issue - won't return to center

I have lived with it. Changed out joints etc. The sticking out on the front axle is common on these, (just the way they are). I have contemplated taking my hydroboost off and seeing if that is the issue or not. Just haven't had the time. Nobody up here will touch them at an alignment shop except to adjust the "toe"
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Old 05-03-2018, 05:46 PM   #38
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Re: 4x4 steering issue - won't return to center

Well thanks for the fast response! I've been reluctant to replace ball joints as I still have the manual drums up front and don't want to put the work in on something I might replace. My steering is a little wonky as well but chalking that up to the ball joints for now. I will say however that this thing will turn on a dime, wonder if the camber out was an old school way of making them turn better. If I find something of value Ill hit you back up. Thank you again, and you really have a nice truck BTW!

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Old 06-08-2018, 08:06 PM   #39
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Re: 4x4 steering issue - won't return to center

Been digging into the front a little and found a couple problems that you probably looked at already, but here they are:
-Missing left front leaf spring pin, let the front shift to the left a little
-Bent front spindles, both making positive camber
-pass side frame shackle mount...hard to explain but hole through mount not centered and forcing the shackle to push rear of spring towards driver side-need new
-rear pass side hanger wasted.
I loosened all the bolts and replaced the spring pin and that helped move the axel back where it should be. Not all the way there but closer. Did you change out your inframe shackle bushings?
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Old 07-21-2018, 09:38 AM   #40
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Re: 4x4 steering issue - won't return to center

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I have lived with it. Changed out joints etc. The sticking out on the front axle is common on these, (just the way they are). I have contemplated taking my hydroboost off and seeing if that is the issue or not. Just haven't had the time. Nobody up here will touch them at an alignment shop except to adjust the "toe"
Ever resolve this problem? I have a similar problem with my '72 K2500. I have owned it since '04 and when I test drove it I commented on how it wanted to wander. The guy said I'd get used to it . Bought the truck and did tie rod ends, drag link ends, and ball joints, still wandered. I have serviced the bearings regularly and they are in good condition with proper adjustment. It had hand me down tires the whole time I've owned it till last summer when I put new 8" Wheel Vintiques and Goodyear Duratracs. Way back when I was checking play with someone working the wheel and noticed slop at the sector shaft/pitman arm. I replace the pitman arm with a good one and installed a rebuilt power steering box a friend gave me, with little use, when he went to crossover. I did notice the shocks it came with were way shot so attributed all this to the road steering my truck due to the shocks and uneven tires. But with all that new it is no better, if not worse. It's a real workout keeping it straight. I never had this in the many K/20s I've owned, but my next consideration is going to crossover steering to see if this is all bump steer. It does do better on the flat hiway, but I am still constantly correcting.

Neither of us have touched our axle u-joints. I never figured them in since this is all in 2wd. But they do steer with the truck 100% of the time and I guess they could be binding. Easy enough to change, so I'll try that and try putting another steering box on. That has been on a long time and maybe it was worn or not rebuilt well
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Old 07-21-2018, 12:53 PM   #41
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Re: 4x4 steering issue - won't return to center

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Ever resolve this problem? I have a similar problem with my '72 K2500. I have owned it since '04 and when I test drove it I commented on how it wanted to wander. The guy said I'd get used to it . Bought the truck and did tie rod ends, drag link ends, and ball joints, still wandered. I have serviced the bearings regularly and they are in good condition with proper adjustment. It had hand me down tires the whole time I've owned it till last summer when I put new 8" Wheel Vintiques and Goodyear Duratracs. Way back when I was checking play with someone working the wheel and noticed slop at the sector shaft/pitman arm. I replace the pitman arm with a good one and installed a rebuilt power steering box a friend gave me, with little use, when he went to crossover. I did notice the shocks it came with were way shot so attributed all this to the road steering my truck due to the shocks and uneven tires. But with all that new it is no better, if not worse. It's a real workout keeping it straight. I never had this in the many K/20s I've owned, but my next consideration is going to crossover steering to see if this is all bump steer. It does do better on the flat hiway, but I am still constantly correcting.

Neither of us have touched our axle u-joints. I never figured them in since this is all in 2wd. But they do steer with the truck 100% of the time and I guess they could be binding. Easy enough to change, so I'll try that and try putting another steering box on. That has been on a long time and maybe it was worn or not rebuilt well
This really hits home with me. My K20 is behaving in a similar manner and I'm not sure what to do next. I've owned it a long time and I know it used to track better than it does now. Lately it wanders a bit and needs constant small corrections to keep it between the lines.

Several years ago I had my steering box replaced (old one was worn out and loose). That fixed it, and the truck hasn't been driven enough since then to wear out the new box. I'm going to check the adjuster though anyway, just in case. I recently repacked the wheel bearings, put on new tie rod ends and a new drag link, and had the toe set at an alignment shop. They said the ball joints are good, no slop. Still wandering.

I'm running new 255/85-16s on 16x7 Ford steelies, so offset or tire width won't be causing any bump steer. I'll probably get a new steering stabilizer even though that won't fix anything.

I'll be watching this thread. Meantime, if snugging up the steering box adjuster helps me, I'll post it here.


UPDATE: I'll be darned, it worked! I tightened the allen screw just a bit, less than 1/8 turn, and went for a test drive. Steering works easily and returns to center on its own, so I didn't get it too tight. And the loose, wandering feel is either gone or very close to it. Much much better!

Unfortunately this was a good news / bad news test drive. The ammeter pegged hard right, recovered at idle speed, then pegged again as soon as RPMs came up. Something smelled hot and when I stopped the truck, the engine died. Alternator wiring was smoked. Hello, tow truck..... back to the shop..... again.

Would have posted this update sooner but had to go meet the tow truck driver in the middle of typing....
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Old 07-21-2018, 03:19 PM   #42
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Re: 4x4 steering issue - won't return to center

I haven't had my toe-in checked since I did the tie rod ends. I don't know how it can change. But toed-out is one thing that runs through my head as I drive. It seems worse at times, but that may depend on the road. It's like trying to drive on top of a big log or concrete pipe. Once it steers it oversteers.

That blue & white K/20 I had was lifted 6" with 315/75-16s on 10" wheels and it went down the road straight as an arrow. When I bought it the ball joints were so bad the wheels would hop at 40 mph. I did all new suspension, steering, bearings, drums, rotors, brakes, and tires. This truck now I have done all that but not all at once. I think about buying a new steering box, but also considering crossover steering. I have a brand new GM 2wd steering box already. I think next thing I do will be replace the axle u-joints, or at least pull the spindles and check how freely they move. Might as well replace them (and spindle bearings) while I'm there.
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Old 07-22-2018, 01:48 PM   #43
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Re: 4x4 steering issue - won't return to center

Did you ever have the steering wheel off?
I got the nut to tight and totally changed the feel of the steering
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Old 07-22-2018, 02:16 PM   #44
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Re: 4x4 steering issue - won't return to center

Yes, I have. One of the first things I did was put a repro steering wheel on. Then I changed color and installed another one on another cloumn. Good thought and I'll check it. But it's been this way since I test drove it. Could be I went too tight twice and whoever put on the later wheel it came with did, too. I have replaced a lot of steering wheels w/o such problems, but never gave thought to what being too tight could do.
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Old 07-23-2018, 10:19 AM   #45
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Re: 4x4 steering issue - won't return to center

might be a dumb question. but if the nut on the steering wheel was too tight what would it do?
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Old 07-23-2018, 04:07 PM   #46
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Re: 4x4 steering issue - won't return to center

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might be a dumb question. but if the nut on the steering wheel was too tight what would it do?
Not a dumb question at all, as far as I'm concerned. I wondered too but didn't ask. Maybe we can both learn something!
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Old 07-23-2018, 05:30 PM   #47
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Re: 4x4 steering issue - won't return to center

On the 69+ columns, there is a bearing at the bottom of the column just above the enclosed flex joint and there is a bearing in the column at the top.

If the nut is too tight, it binds the two bearings together and causes resistance in the column. If one or more of the bearings is old, worn, and full of dirt (the lower one usually), it may actually bind up if the nut is too tight. What this does is created enough resistance in the column that the energy being pushed back through the steering gear is harder to overcome, as if you have you hand on the steering wheel to keep it from turning.

I recently did the upper bearing replacement on our 70 GMC K2500 and after I got it all back together, I could feel a "grinding" noise. That's when I realized I should have taken apart the ENTIRE column and replaced the lower bearing as well.

Since my time only allowed to do that much, I'll get to do it again later, but this time with a new lower bearing.

BTW the top bearing was missing a couple roller balls, so I know it was not up to par, but it is just like everything else on this truck from the PO.
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Old 07-24-2018, 05:18 PM   #48
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Re: 4x4 steering issue - won't return to center

good to know. I have an old non-tilt column that I may attempt to dissect first.

Another question. What do the front u-joints have to do with steering? When I have had mine out (multiple times) they are free as can be. (not like they are rusted in one particular position) I am ASSUMING that is normal??
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Old 07-25-2018, 09:05 AM   #49
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Re: 4x4 steering issue - won't return to center

The only affect the axle u-joints could have on steering when free wheeling would be binding between yokes/at u-joint. I've destroyed u-joints before and even the yokes on the axle shafts. I guess like that they could bind. Funny thing is, on my '72 K/20 Highlander that tracked straight as an arrow I had a broken axle u-joint for a while and it didn't affect steering.
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Old 07-26-2018, 10:23 AM   #50
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Re: 4x4 steering issue - won't return to center

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