Steering wheel "clunk"

2003 GMC Z71 extended cab 5.3 litre engine
At around 16,000 miles I started to feel a clunk in the steering wheel when in a gradual turn either left or right and when hitting any small bump in
the road. I called the local dealer's service department and was told I probably just needed the steering shaft repacked. When I took the truck in for service I quizzed the service writer. He told me all the GM trucks did this and that I should have the shaft repacked every 20K. When I told him I had just traded in another GMC that I ran for 75,000 miles and it never required this service he replied it was just the new trucks that required the service. I've never owned a four wheel drive vehicle before so I don't know if this is something common to 4WD's. 16,000 miles seems awfully soon for things like this to start cropping up. A co-worker who has a 2002 Sierra said he had experienced the same problem.
Has anyone else had this problem? Does anyone know the 'real' cause this?
thanks,
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brouge wrote:

Something odd........
My '04 Silverado SS started doing this at 15.5K miles. I had the knock for a good two to three days. It was very loud and very noticeable.
On the first day I noticed it, I sprayed some lithium grease up under the rubber boot on the engine side of the firewall, in a futile attempt to quiet it. On the fourth day of the noise, it simply vanished.
I did a lot of research, and I hear it's a very common thing due to the lower quality/quantity of the lube in the steering shaft from the factory. There is a TSB and a different lube the dealer will use (the kit number is on gm-trucks.com - it's about $8 if you want to do it yourself.)
Supposedly if the noise keeps coming back on you, tech's are told to replace the steering shaft with a different model. I may have heard that the different model is designed to hold grease in better...
-marc
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"brouge" wrote

The "real" cause is GM's shitty quality on this intermediate steering shaft. But they aren't going to fix it anytime soon, so you will either live with the noise, or repack the shaft assembly every now and then.
Ian
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