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Old 03-18-2021, 12:59 PM   #1
Electricduane
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1989 burb: the dreaded WOBBLY STEERING COLUMN

Sigh . . 1989 burb. Wobbly column. Column shift, tilt, intermittent wipers. I took it to a shop. They took a long time, finally called and said I need a new column.
Rebuilt or new, they cost around $1,000.
SO: Looks like I am on my own to try to fix the f#%$ thing.

Here is a youtube go-by: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkrfwarlpD0

Questions:
1. WOBBLE. What actually causes the wobble? I understand the 4 bolts buried deep in the column cause it. Do the bearings (when worn) also contribute to causing the wobble?

2. BEARINGS. The video above does not (best I can tell) address replacing the bearings. When the column is torn down, is replacing the bearings easy, like self-explanatory?

3. BEARINGS: is this the correct kit to replace the bearings? https://www.amazon.com/.../ref=ppx_y...asin_title_o00...
4. If the "4 bolts" are loc-tited and tightened, and the bearings are replaced, is that pretty much it? Anything else to do while it is all apart?

5. TOOLS. I need:
A. steering wheel puller (can be rented from AUTOZONE/ORELLY).
B. lock plate remover: https://www.amazon.com/.../ref=ppx_y...asin_title_o01...
C. Pivot pin remover: https://www.amazon.com/.../ref=ppx_y...asin_title_o01...
Anything else I need?

6. Any advice re: replacing the wiper switch? Mine have never worked right, I bought the switch. . have no idea what I am doing, hope I can figure out how to remove the old one/replace with new one.

7. Any other words of advice or wisdom?

THANKS to all for the help! Pretty sure I will get it all apart and won't have any clue how to get it back together!

Last edited by Electricduane; 03-18-2021 at 05:47 PM.
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Old 03-18-2021, 08:23 PM   #2
LT7A
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Re: 1989 burb: the dreaded WOBBLY STEERING COLUMN

I would spend some quality time searching the site. I think it will pay off well. There is a thread here by somebody who has done it so many times they have memorized the nut and bolt sizes, etc. I don't have it saved or I would link it for you. From what you have already found, it sounds like you are well on your way. Good luck. I have one that I will need to rebuild too, so I'm kicking myself for not bookmarking that thread.
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Old 03-18-2021, 08:53 PM   #3
kwmech
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Re: 1989 burb: the dreaded WOBBLY STEERING COLUMN

The columns have an issue because most people get into the drivers side of the car by yanking themselves in by grabbing the steering wheel. This gets even worse when they add lift kits and bigger tires. No exaggeration..I've probably fixed at least a hundred or more of these over the years.
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Old 03-19-2021, 11:58 AM   #4
Electricduane
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Re: 1989 burb: the dreaded WOBBLY STEERING COLUMN

Thanks for the replies.

In broad terms, I understand that the "wobble" is caused by the 4 bolts buried deep in the column 99% of the time, and the other 1$ of the time is the bearings on the column.

Do I have that right? thanks!
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Old 03-19-2021, 12:51 PM   #5
kwmech
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Re: 1989 burb: the dreaded WOBBLY STEERING COLUMN

I think the bolts initially get stretched from the previously mentioned post. After that they are loose and keep working themselves even more. Then the bearings go from everything jumping around because people wait too long to fix it until everything stops working and the column is completely busted out
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Old 03-19-2021, 04:01 PM   #6
LT7A
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Re: 1989 burb: the dreaded WOBBLY STEERING COLUMN

Quote:
Originally Posted by kwmech View Post
The columns have an issue because most people get into the drivers side of the car by yanking themselves in by grabbing the steering wheel. This gets even worse when they add lift kits and bigger tires. No exaggeration..I've probably fixed at least a hundred or more of these over the years.
That's exactly the situation on my lifted k20. I could just about drive it from the middle of the bench it will sway so far to the side.

The good news is that once I fix it, it will probably feel like it's on rails despite the lift kit and 35s. But don't worry, I'm not barreling around out there unsafely. It's a hobby truck for me, and is not running currently anyway. Just one of the many fixes in the queue.

The swing away option was already in place when I bought the truck. what I don't understand is why the PO didn't figure out a better plan of getting in once it started to move and loosen up. I'm going to install a grab handle on the inside of the A pillar.

Last edited by LT7A; 03-19-2021 at 04:10 PM.
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Old 03-23-2021, 01:42 PM   #7
Irish1941
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Re: 1989 burb: the dreaded WOBBLY STEERING COLUMN

This is the best GM tilt breakdown/rebuild out there.
Its a Fiero column but pretty much same.
http://fieros.de/en/articles/steering.html
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Old 03-25-2021, 12:58 PM   #8
buffydores
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Re: 1989 burb: the dreaded WOBBLY STEERING COLUMN

I literally have me steering column apart right now working down to the bolts. The youtube videos for squarebody specific trucks are great. The Fiero article above isn't quite the same. Getting the steering wheel pullers and the pivot pin puller (both cheap) makes it less stressful.
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Old 03-27-2021, 05:17 AM   #9
LT7A
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Re: 1989 burb: the dreaded WOBBLY STEERING COLUMN

Good info, thanks. I have a steering wheel puller but not the other. Care to throw up a picture of what you used? I wonder if my local O Reilly's loans it.

Update: Looks like they sell one - Performance Tool Pivot Pin Remover
Part # W80652

Last edited by LT7A; 03-27-2021 at 05:34 AM.
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Old 03-27-2021, 08:59 AM   #10
buffydores
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Re: 1989 burb: the dreaded WOBBLY STEERING COLUMN

I also got the non-threaded bolt version of a puller for removing the plate. https://www.amazon.com/Lisle-57340-S...6848732&sr=8-3

A couple of tips while working through the column:

1. You'll probably want to unclip the wiring harness for the steering column below the dash on the steering column to give it enough wiggle room to pull the top sections over the shaft.

2. Use a little brush to gob plenty of wheel bearing grease into the upper wheel bearings before pulling that final section off exposing the four bolts. It'll help keep them in. Once you remove the shaft spring, you'll see a preload cup that the spring sits on that wedges into the upper bearing race to keep the bearings in. The grease goes a long way in helping hold it all together. It wouldn't hurt to have a spare set of bearings handy in case things go way south.

3. When you reassemble, double check that the race is sitting correctly on the bearings or your steering wheel will wobble and you won't really be able to reset the c clip using the above puller because there won't be enough room.

4. Also keep track of the wiring harness snaking through there when you're reinstalling each section. Don't let it get bunched up.

5. Make sure the bottle opener shaped piece that connects through gearing to the ignition cylinder is connected properly to the rod that follows the steering column to the ignition switch.

6. Watch several different YouTube videos on how to do it. It helps to see different approaches.
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Old 03-28-2021, 04:37 AM   #11
LT7A
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Re: 1989 burb: the dreaded WOBBLY STEERING COLUMN

Thanks, good info! I know that I can borrow the plate tool from O Reilly's.
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Old 07-03-2021, 06:45 PM   #12
90K5
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Re: 1989 burb: the dreaded WOBBLY STEERING COLUMN

Having been a ASE Master Tech for 35 years, a few tricks are learned. All the above suggestions are GREAT!!! Wish I had the luxury of YouTube when I was learning these. As far as tools, Just figured out what was needed and put it all in a small tackle box. Just grab the box and take it to the car and have at it. Got good enough at this job that I could do it in 45 minutes start to finish. Unless the owner had broken something. Tried to keep a few new parts in the box that were the most common to break.

Rambling aside, Just bought a 90 V series Blazer and it is getting loose. Time to break out the tackle box!!!
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