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Old 09-25-2017, 06:37 PM   #1
LukeC10
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How to adjust steering wheel position?

My 1981 non-tilt steering wheel is about 1/4 turn of the shaft off. I have pulled the steering wheel itself off thinking I could change position of it, but you can't because the turn signal cam has a plastic piece for the horn that goes through the steering wheel - and the steering wheel has to be aligned to that; if you try to change the position of the turn signal cam itself then it won't be lined up right to turn your turn signals off - and right now the cam itself is off - so it appears my actual steering shaft is whats off if that makes sense. Next I pulled the steering shaft off of the gear at the steering box, thinking I could change the spline position - however the gear on the steering box has a flat spot and the shaft must line up with that... behind this there is a disc with two bolts which I think you could unbolt and swap positions, but that would turn shaft 1/2 turn - I need 1/4... next I pulled the bolt at the top area of the shaft under the brake master cylinder and the c-clip there and pryed on it but nothing wanted to move much and due to the rectangular shape of how that plugs in to its female end it looks to me like it would be another situation where you can only turn it even 1/2 turn increments - when I need 1/4, so I gave up there...

I'm completely at a loss here for how the hell you are supposed to adjust the shaft at all? If there is no adjustment then I wonder if my steering box is off/defective? (the previous owner replaced the steering box...)

Any help would be great, I've given up.
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Old 09-26-2017, 06:19 AM   #2
D13
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Re: How to adjust steering wheel position?

Set steering wheel to the level position.
Adjust tie rods to get correct wheel alignment.

That's the way the factory does it.

If it's way off there is a good chance the frame is bent slightly. Have that problem on mine after the wreck. What happens is that the pitman arm is no longer centered in the linkage, and one tie rod ends up long and one short. It messes the steering ratios up a bit but for a driver not a racer it's not a big deal. But check and make sure that you have at least the minimum thread engagement on the tie rod adjusters.
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Old 09-26-2017, 09:08 AM   #3
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Re: How to adjust steering wheel position?

If it is a 4 wheel drive you can adjust it your self at the sleeve between the box and the steering arm. If it is a 2 wheel drive you will need to have the toe adjusted to correct the steering wheel position.
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Old 09-26-2017, 09:21 AM   #4
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Re: How to adjust steering wheel position?

If you take it and get the front end aligned, that should fix it.
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Old 09-26-2017, 09:22 AM   #5
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Re: How to adjust steering wheel position?

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Originally Posted by CSHADES View Post
If it is a 4 wheel drive you can adjust it your self at the sleeve between the box and the steering arm.
The fore/aft drag link - it's super easy.

LukeC10: Let us know if your truck is 4wd and we'll walk you through it.

K
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Old 09-27-2017, 10:45 PM   #6
LukeC10
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Re: How to adjust steering wheel position?

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Originally Posted by D13 View Post
Set steering wheel to the level position.
Adjust tie rods to get correct wheel alignment.

That's the way the factory does it.

If it's way off there is a good chance the frame is bent slightly. Have that problem on mine after the wreck. What happens is that the pitman arm is no longer centered in the linkage, and one tie rod ends up long and one short. It messes the steering ratios up a bit but for a driver not a racer it's not a big deal. But check and make sure that you have at least the minimum thread engagement on the tie rod adjusters.
Thanks, but the alignment and steering on this truck are perfect - cruises at 80 on freeway without even touching the steering wheel, so it would seem a real shame to start messing with tie rods. But sounds like thats the only way then? Do you think alignment could be off enough to throw the wheel 1/4 turn off even though it drives straight?

Last edited by LukeC10; 09-27-2017 at 11:04 PM.
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Old 09-27-2017, 10:48 PM   #7
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Re: How to adjust steering wheel position?

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Originally Posted by Keith Seymore View Post
The fore/aft drag link - it's super easy.

LukeC10: Let us know if your truck is 4wd and we'll walk you through it.

K
Keith, no, thanks but unfortunately this is a 2wd... that sure would be nice though!

Again, the steering box was replaced by previous owner so I still feel like thats likely the issue, almost tempted to pull the gear off that again and just hammer the sucker on with a sledge in the right position - flat spot on spline or not... another option is just to pull the steering wheel and cut the plastic horn piece (which is part of my new $20 turn signal cam) that goes through the steering wheel off - then put the wheel on straight - the turn signal cam will still be off and not turn off blinkers as it should, but its off now anyway, at least wheel would be straight. These are all dirty solutions, but man I have spent days messing with this thing, no more patience left!

Last edited by LukeC10; 09-27-2017 at 11:00 PM.
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Old 09-27-2017, 10:51 PM   #8
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Re: How to adjust steering wheel position?

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If you take it and get the front end aligned, that should fix it.
This truck drives and cruises straight as an arrow - though I guess your alignment could still be technically off? The steering wheel is a full 1/4 of a turn off - so its not like a minor thing, it would have to be major alignment issue I would think. Also, since the steering box is brand new I really think that is the cause of all this, but previous owner did it so dont have the story on that unfortunately.
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Old 09-28-2017, 12:44 PM   #9
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Re: How to adjust steering wheel position?

Adjusting the tie rods shouldn't change the alignment. All they will do is adjust the tie rods to straighten the steering wheel.
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Old 09-28-2017, 01:22 PM   #10
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Re: How to adjust steering wheel position?

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Originally Posted by CSHADES View Post
Adjusting the tie rods shouldn't change the alignment. All they will do is adjust the tie rods to straighten the steering wheel.
Agree - in other words what they shorten on one side they will increase in length on the other -

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Old 09-28-2017, 08:14 PM   #11
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Re: How to adjust steering wheel position?

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Originally Posted by LukeC10 View Post
This truck drives and cruises straight as an arrow - though I guess your alignment could still be technically off? The steering wheel is a full 1/4 of a turn off - so its not like a minor thing, it would have to be major alignment issue I would think. Also, since the steering box is brand new I really think that is the cause of all this, but previous owner did it so dont have the story on that unfortunately.
Mine is the same way, the steering wheel is just a hair off center. It drives pretty straight. I just figured an alignment would help. I have taken it yet to see.
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Old 09-29-2017, 07:01 AM   #12
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Re: How to adjust steering wheel position?

I just got my car aligned. The steering wheel was off an inch to the right. I took it back to fix it and now it is off an inch to the left. I don't want to bug the guy too much and be too fussy so I'll just live with it. It is probably a little slop in the rag joint. Technically if you move the tie rods the same number of turns the toe should not change. I may try it next spring. 1/4 turn at the wheel is quite a bit. I would want an alignment for peace of mind so I know my tires won't wear out prematurely.
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Old 09-29-2017, 01:16 PM   #13
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Re: How to adjust steering wheel position?

I haven't done this on a squarebody, but I know on my Jeeps the drag link that goes from steering wheel to right spindle is what you adjust. Doesn't mess with the alignment at all. The wheels are aligned by the tie rod that goes from right wheel to left wheel.

Are these trucks set up the same way?
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Old 09-30-2017, 06:51 PM   #14
LukeC10
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Re: How to adjust steering wheel position?

Finally got a chance to look at the tie rods a little today and realized on the bottom side of the box the pitman arm hooks onto a gear there in the box, the gear has a few unique areas but no definite flat spot or anything I can see that would stop you from pulling it off the gear and placing it in another spot; really thinking this may be how they screwed things up with the steering box change.

Can any of you guys confirm is it possible to place the pitman arm on different spots of the steering box gear - or is there a key/flat type spot that forces it into only one groove/spot?
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Old 09-30-2017, 06:55 PM   #15
LukeC10
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Re: How to adjust steering wheel position?

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Originally Posted by Jeepwm69 View Post
I haven't done this on a squarebody, but I know on my Jeeps the drag link that goes from steering wheel to right spindle is what you adjust. Doesn't mess with the alignment at all. The wheels are aligned by the tie rod that goes from right wheel to left wheel.

Are these trucks set up the same way?
There is no at least traditional drag link - a pitman arm goes to a center bar - tie rods off each end of center bar
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Old 09-30-2017, 07:00 PM   #16
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Re: How to adjust steering wheel position?

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Originally Posted by Keith Seymore View Post
Agree - in other words what they shorten on one side they will increase in length on the other -

K
Crap, okay couldn't grasp this concept, kept thinking you would be toeing a wheel in our out and throwing things off - but I get it now, shorten one and increase another so the effect is neutral... makes sense!
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Old 09-30-2017, 07:47 PM   #17
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Re: How to adjust steering wheel position?

2wd adjustment =

adjust caster / camber as needed .

then center wheel .

adjust right side to straight .

then adjust left side to center .

also depending on specs this is toe in or out not true center as the vehicle would be kind of darty on the road .

then recheck wheel and re adjust as needed . then road test for true check of alignment .

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

4wd our style with solid axle set toe . and then adjust drag link from axle arm to steering box arm to center wheel . road test and fine tune adjust wheel as needed with drag link .

the 2wd box has 3 or 4 master key spots depending on box style over the years for most all brands . so moving 1 spline is not a option .

4wd our style is a 1/4 shaft splined and other pass threw bolt for the pinch bolt of the arm to the shaft . no adjustment there also .

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

also if anyone has had the steering wheel off there is a master mark on the wheel and shaft to line up .
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Old 09-30-2017, 09:03 PM   #18
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Re: How to adjust steering wheel position?

With today's roads being as they are, it is difficult to align a vehicle to have the steering wheel dead on. Depending on the crown of the road and outer edge, I have noticed my wheel is not always in the same place. A trick we used to use back in the day was to have the customer chalk or crayon mark across the wheel and the stationary column where he or she felt the vehicle was tracking straight. After marking the wheel, drive around on various roads and notice any differences. Once you are confident that the wheel is consistently off, take it back to the alignment shop and have them reset the toe which will straighten your wheel based on YOUR mark. You could actually do this adjustment yourself if you are confident that the vehicle does not need alignment checked.
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Old 10-01-2017, 05:41 PM   #19
LukeC10
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Re: How to adjust steering wheel position?

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the 2wd box has 3 or 4 master key spots depending on box style over the years for most all brands . so moving 1 spline is not a option .
Thanks for this, tried pulling the pitman arm off the bottom of the steering box gear today, real pain had to put a heavy duty puller on it. There are 4 flat key type spots spaced out evenly every 1/4 of the gear - however, when I turned my steering wheel 1/4 of a turn the gear only moved a few millimeters... I didn't take into account that the steering box must have a gear reduction and will not output an even 1/4 turn of the shaft onto the lower gear, so that was a complete bust. Thought for sure that had to be it as previous owner replaced the steering box; still think the new or remanufactured box may have its two gear outputs aligned slightly different than the stock box causing this issue. So wanted to post this so anyone reading is aware that there is a gear reduction in that box, to reach the next key on the lower pitman arm gear would likely require 1-full turn of your steering wheel or something in that area.

So at this point it looks like the ONLY way to adjust your steering wheel position would be with tie rod adjustments, not sure I want to go down that road so guess may just pay a shop to mess with alignment and do the tie rods! Thanks for the help guys.
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Old 10-09-2017, 01:46 PM   #20
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Re: How to adjust steering wheel position?

Stop trying to do it the hard way. Adjust the tie rods. Count the turns you do on one side, and do the same number of turns on the other. Just make sure you are "pulling" one tire in, and "pushing" the other tire out.

The only reason wheels are off center after an alignment is becuase the alignment tech is too rushed/lazy to bother to check that the steering gear is properly centered before nailing down final specs.
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Old 10-11-2017, 07:34 AM   #21
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Re: How to adjust steering wheel position?

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stop trying to do it the hard way. Adjust the tie rods. Count the turns you do on one side, and do the same number of turns on the other. Just make sure you are "pulling" one tire in, and "pushing" the other tire out.

The only reason wheels are off center after an alignment is becuase the alignment tech is too rushed/lazy to bother to check that the steering gear is properly centered before nailing down final specs.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^this^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
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Old 10-11-2017, 09:24 AM   #22
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Re: How to adjust steering wheel position?

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Originally Posted by Axle View Post
Stop trying to do it the hard way. Adjust the tie rods. Count the turns you do on one side, and do the same number of turns on the other. Just make sure you are "pulling" one tire in, and "pushing" the other tire out.

The only reason wheels are off center after an alignment is becuase the alignment tech is too rushed/lazy to bother to check that the steering gear is properly centered before nailing down final specs.

This is all you need to do. You can use a tape measure to make sure your toe in is still in the ballpark. You wont need to adjust it very much. I'd start with half a turn and go from there.

Also in my case (1979, not sure if they are all like this) the steering wheel doesn't have a master spline, and mine was one spline off. Doesn't seem like much but it felt like I was out of the 'high spot' in the steering box. I never thought to check that since all the GM cars I've had the wheel off have had a master spline
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