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Check that the hammer is striking the letters squarely, that the daisy wheel is firmly located in its holder , Check too that the patten has not moved up in its location. Check that the ribbon can still transfer a deposit across its entire width. (Look back at a used part of the ribbon to see the strike pattern).
Without knowing the make it's hard, but it could be that some of the roller bearings used to make the carriage run smoothly have come out of the retainers and dropped from the machine. If as you say there is a lot of slop in the inner carriage it's a fair bet that's your problem