You can be driving straight down the road on a flat surface and the steering wheel can be moved a lot with out actually changing the direction of the vehicle. This is a 1999 Blazer with about 130,000 miles.
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Re: Considerable play in the steering wheel
You may find this Interesting and there may be a Service Bulletin or Recall also. Check Edmonds.com for the Complaints and ETC... for this Blazer! Luckily I found a Buyer for Our 2000 Blazer Before it got Worse! Not that it was Good !!!! Please Rate My Response! Thanks!
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the return to the center on it's own is a result of the wheel alignment castor setting
if it set at zero or minus setting ( -1 degree) it has no action requiring it to return to center
To explain how it works --- the angle at which the king pin is set back ( positive degree) lowers the car
when turning a circle , the car is lifted up and loads up the king pin
when you let the wheel go that weight tries to fall down and that is the return to center position action
so to fix that problem , have a wheel alignment done and set at positive degrees ( normally around 1 1/2 degrees)
next problem is when you set with the wheels straight ahead there is no allowance for the camber of the road ( used to allow water run off in the rain) that means that if you position the wheel straight ahead when on flat ground then when driving down the road you will have the wheel slightly off center to allow for the car trying to run off the road from the road camber
it could also mean that if you have had suspension or steering work done that the steering was not centralized when the tie rod ends were adjusted for toe in adjustment and so the box /rack is now set slightly one way
it could also mean that the rear end is out of alignment and the vehicle is running sideways down the road ( crabbing)
the fix is to find yourself an accredited wheel alignment shop and have an alignment done properly starting by aligning the rear wheels first and then the front many will say not necessary but I can assure you that it is vital for tire wear and vehicle handling and if they don't want to do the job properly go somewhere else
Engine running ask someone to turn steering wheel for you . Look for power steering hose move like there is pressure. and noise from power steering pump . if not change power steering pump
You don't really need power assistance when moving on the road ... where you need it more specially in parking or not really moving
hope it helps
a bad idler arm/pitman arm,
You will have a hard time trying to keep the car going straight, it will wander all
over the road.
Road walking. When the vehicle wanders back and forth in the direction of travel and it is difficult to keep it straight.
When sitting still, there is considerable play in the steering wheel. It can be moved considerably with no resistance.
When sitting still, and with the front wheels off the ground, it is possible to move the wheels side to side without the steering wheel moving. If there is to much play in the steering wheel or side to side movement of the wheel when the vehicle is stopped could indicate there is a problem with the idler arm.
Hi, to me the problem sounds like the track rod ends need replacing these are what connects the steering to the hub now when you turn the wheel the track rod ends push the hubs in the way you want to turn but what happens ball joint on the track rod end get play in it is it allows the wheels to turn slightly on their own left and right now once these have been replaced you will have no problems. if the ball joints where to break you would lose control of the car as the steering wheel would not turn the wheels as instructed and they would be free to turn any way they liked, this would cause damage to the front wings and the hub costing a fortune to put right, but as it stands the track rod ends cost very little to buy and dont cost much to get replaced.
how ever this isnt the kind of job you can do yourself as you would need to get the tracking set up to ensure the wheels are driving in a strait line as their is adjusters that need to be set up after the track rod ends are fitted.
once you have the track rod ends ( tie rods also known as) fitted you will have no further problems and you will then be in full control of your vehicle it will feel a lot more responsive to your control so this needs doing sooner rather than later.
Parts do wear out. Try this: Have a friend help you and have the vehicle on a solid surface (garage floor or better yet ramps) have your friend move the steering wheel back and forth just enough to take up the play (clunk to clunk) then go around to the moving parts and you can feel where the play is. Don't overlook the coupler at the base of the steering column. You don't necessarly need the engine running (Less blood that way) This usually works very good finding where the play is. You may even be able to follow the clunk noise. Let me know how this works for you?
Off center steering wheel is very common, a good front end man will drive the car/truck and verify that the wheel is centered, it is not a mechanical problem just an adjustment issue, go to an outside shop or another dealer and tell them u just want the wheel straight, remember the road has a slight angle to drain water off, it's called road crown, tell them you want the wheel centered and to take road crown into account when they do it, make sure the front end man double checks the center by means of a good road test on varied road surface, tell them where it is that the off center is most noticeable, all this is from personnel experience, I am a fanatic about the wheel being centered. If u have more questions fell free to ask, sorry for your justified frustration on this issue.