Question about 1998 Chevrolet Tahoe

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1998 Tahoe with loose steering

I installed two new front tires last year and had the front end aligned by a reputable shop. They told me that the alignment was out quite a bit at the time. Between August of 2007 and November 2008, the passenger side front tire showed signs of critical wearing on the outside edge. The tires have been rotated a few times during this period.
I just replaced the front tires and had a new alignment performed. Now the steering seems loose. When the truck was new, only a small amount of steering correction was needed to keep the vehicle in a straight line during normal speeds. Now, after the alignment, new tires, and a replacement of the idler arm, it is necessary to over correct in order to keep the truck in a straight line.
Also imagine holding the wheel steady while making a right or left turn in a sharp radius, such as on an exit ramp of a highway. While holding the wheel steady, it seems to let go all of a sudden, just as though the wheels hit a patch of ice while negotiating the turn. It happens in both directions. This same symptom also takes place on level ground while driving in a straight line periodically. I was told by the mechanic that it was my imagination, and that I would have to get used to the new feel as provided by the alignment and the new bushings in the idler arm. I don't buy it! This has been happening over the last year, and is getting worse. Have you seen this problem, and if so, can you provide a solution? Please feel free to contact me by email, with any suggestions. Thanks for your time.

Ed Pierce

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  • ironman43 Dec 28, 2008

    I had a similar experience with my 00 Tahoe. An ex girlfriend took it to a mechanic to get the oil changed for me at the same time took her Durango for brakes. The mechanic got mixed up on what he was to perform and started looking into the front of my Tahoe. He explained that I needed a new pitman arm and we had him replace it. At first all was fine, sort of. It was never really right after that but it wasn't exactly good before. The steering started getting really pretty loose and a couple of times I would get a severe shimmy in the front end. I looked at it numbers of times until the problem manifested itself completely. On bolt fell out and two broke holding the steering gearbox in place.!! It seems the mechanic didn't do a proper job of tightening the gearbox. I still get the shimmy once in a while and have thoroughly inspected the steering system myself since then. The mechanic should have replaced both the pitman arm and the idler arm assemblies as well as the ball ends at the same time. It's all worn and because he didn't tighten the gearbox correctly, I need a new gearbox. The Tahoes have a speed controlled variable steering valve in them which is probably what is causing the steering in your Tahoe to go limp. Also there is a recall on the steering gearbox in the 98 Tahoe I believe. I hope this is helpful.

  • sweetpeecamp Mar 06, 2009

    I have the same problem on my 1998 K1500 Silverado. Feels like you hit an ice suddenly. Did you find the fix?



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Have someone turn the steering wheel sharply back and forth while you inspect steering column and steering box for play. If your tie rods are good; you can see movement in them when checking steering box.

Posted on Nov 28, 2008

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This could only happen if the wrong part was installed or something was not tightened properly. You should get it checked by a different shop. Most will do the inspection for free. If the inspection shows whats at fault, you can take it back to the original shop and have them fix it at their expense.

Posted on Nov 28, 2008

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Sounds like the cv joint or the rack and pinion

Posted on Dec 11, 2008

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Steering wandering had ball joints track rod ends done for mot last couple of years tracking been done cars wanders when driving quite scary

There are many reasons for wandering, I should highly recommend you do some serious looking before you drive any trips, or any higher speeds until you have the front end checked by a reputable mechanic (one highly recommended.)
Here are some reasons for wandering.
1) A bad tire (the tire can look fine, but be bad.)
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This is repairable, but good shops will not fix it until and unless the whole "front end of the car" is in good order.
3) A worn component in the "front end".
God bless your efforts.

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OK, first of all if the alignment shop told you that a tie rod end was loose, then they should replace it before aligning the car.
Otherwise, the symptoms you describe may occur.

In Pennsylvania, where I live, the State Inspection regulations say that if there is any movement in a tie rod end, that it would fail the Safety Inspection when a State inspector examines a car for the annual Safety sticker.

So, I would maybe ask for a second opinion, say at Sears. Sears is pretty good at doing 4 wheel computerized alignments and finding any front end or rear end parts that are worn out.

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Vibration at 40 mph hard to diagonisis without looking at front end. Could be wheels need balancing, new wheels and rims. Loose or worn suspension items.
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Alignment has alot to do with the tires not shimmying.. Like zero toe setting. Loose componants like tie rod ends and the idler ar worn. You can ck for excess front end play by holding the front and back of the wheel and pushing and pulling on it, like rocking it. OR have someone rock the steering while you watch where the play is from underneath. By rocking I mean turn the steering wheel back and forth. Look at all th joints and pivot points for excess play, which is, movement not immediate to the rest of the steering system. Tire balance is very important. Wheel hop is a sign of a bad tire and it overtaxes the shock absorber. Shocks don't cause shimmy because they are a vertical movement controlA shimmy is lateral or side to side.Wheel balance weights must be spit. If a 2 oz. weight is needed to balance the tire, Oe once should be on the inside of the wheel and one ounce on the outside directly across from each outher.. Loose wheel brgs will cause shimmy, but they would not last long. Caster setting on the wheel alignment will also cause shimmy. Like on a shopping car. too much caster causes the wheel to start fluttering and is very hard on other componants. This may be why you have worn tie rod ends and a bad pitman arm. Worn control arm bushings and ball joints directly affect titre wear and can only be feltwhen the front end hits a dip and detected by side wear on the tire edges. Summary: replace the tie rod end and have the car aligned. Good Luck, -Ned_ sorry about the book

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