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Idler arm wiggles back and forth causing play in steering


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New to the board, and new to 2002 ownership.  Just bought a '71.  Car is awesome, I love it.  I'm starting to run through things, and the steering is first on the list.  After inspecting things quickly, I found some play in (what I thought was) the track rod at the idler arm.  


I replaced the tie rods and track rod this weekend, hoping this would correct to issue.  No joy.  The majority of the movement was/still is at the steering box itself.  With the front end of the ground I can move the wheels back and forth a bit.  The idler arm will move back and forth enough that I can hear it knocking when I drive the car slowly down a bumpy road.  I did some adjusting to the steering box hoping to correct the play, but didn't have much luck.  Adjusting the box yields a tighter feel turning the steering wheel, but doesn't remove the play.  I backed the adjustment of the box back so that the rotation of the steering wheel isn't stiff, but I still have the rattle/play.  I can also feel a "bump" in the box when I turn the steering wheel from lock to lock (wheels on the ground, car at a stop).  The "bump" occurs at roughly the center position of the wheel.  Does this sound like the the box is shot?  



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Adjusting the box yields a tighter feel turning the steering wheel, but doesn't remove the play.

This makes me think it's not the box- with the worn- out boxes I've had, when you get it this tight,

it does remove the play, it just makes it hard to feel the steering.  And it eventually lunches itself.


However, there aren't many places to go wrong in the front of a 2002.  The track rod is the first one,

but you've replaced it.  Is it tight?  It really helps to have someone else wiggling the steering

wheel back and forth while you wrap your hand around every joint.  You can feel the clunk AND the relative

movement that is hard to see.


Only one other thought- are you sure the steering box is dead on center?  It needs to be-

it is designed to have play in it everywhere else.  So spin lock- to- lock, and make sure the BOX

is going from stop to stop, too- it's possible to have other parts in the system limit travel, sometimes



But yeah, if all else checks out, I guess that leaves the box, huh?


just thinking with the keyboard,



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3 hours ago, Tdh said:

The "bump" occurs at roughly the center position of the wheel.  Does this sound like the the box is shot?  




Perhaps this issue is separate from your others.  First double check that this isn't the pitman arm nut on the steering box knocking against the track rod.  


If you isolate the bump to the box, then yes, it is indicative of corrosion on the worm gear and/or roller inside the box.

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Since you tend to drive far more miles with the steering pointing dead ahead, the majority of the wear on the worm and roller takes place at the point where the steering is on dead center, straight ahead, so if the rest of the steering linkage mentioned above is tight, there's wear in the steering box at the straight ahead position.  


That being said, so long as the steering box is filled with the proper oil and adjusted, you should get 200k+ miles out of one (mine are original at 224k and 260k).  Adjusting the box is a bit of an art--getting the adjustment tight enough to eliminate play without too much drag that will cause excessive wear.  Of course you do this adjustment with the front wheels clear of the ground, and adjust just a little at a time. 


Let us know whatcha find.



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