E36 - "Excessive" play in steering

Hello All, I spent the better part of yesterday looking over a 93 325IS that a friend is considering purchasing. The only real issue I found with it was "excessive" steering wheel play.
We could move the wheel almost a full inch with no change in the orientation of the tires. The car has just over 110k miles on the clock. The owner showed us receipts to back up his claim of around $800.00 in front end work about 4 months ago. (New control arms with new ball joints, tie rods, control arm bushings, alignment, etc) I have not faced this issue so severely on any of my E36s. Any input on what could be the cause (and possible fixes) would be very much appreciated.
Thanks! Wayne K.
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play.
orientation
That still leaves the rack and all the linkages in the steering column. Any of which could be worn enough to give play at the s/wheel. Is it all play? Does the s/wheel stay where you leave it, anywhere in the area of play, or does it return to a central position? You'll allways feel a certain amount of movement, before the wheels move when a car is stationary. If you don't notice it on the road, it might not be an issue. Mike.
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Not with R&P. There should be no noticeable play at all. Of course there must be *some*, but you'd need instruments to measure it. Any that can be felt is a fault.
--
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Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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wrote:

With every car I've had with R&P, a small amount of movement could be made on the s/wheel without visibly moving the wheels. All the rack parts have clearance, and there's a certain amount of spring in the column. It all adds up. Mike.
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You may well be able to move the wheel slightly with no apparent movement of the wheels, but free play means free movement followed by a definite and 'hard' change in resistance. If it's 'springy' movement then that's ok, as this may be a function of the power steering sensing. But without that, on say a non power rack, there should be no play to be felt whatsoever.
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Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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London SW

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Not that you can feel. It would of course be measurable.
--
*Eschew obfuscation *

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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wrote:

Which is why I asked the questions in my original reply. You and I know what play means, but Waynes post didn't explain whether the play was springy, or perfectly free play with no resistance. He simply said the wheels didn't move. Mike.
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Yes. It's a fine point. But if the play is in a UJ in the steering column, it's likely to be very easy movement between the points where firm resistance is felt. The other common point is wear in an inner ball joint, but since this involves moving the rack to feel may not be so obvious. However, raising a wheel off the ground is the best way to check for this. Play between the rack and pinion, or pinion end float are much less common.
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*Why is it that doctors call what they do "practice"?

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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Hello All, So I checked the steering column. There is a connection in approximately that looks something like a small U joint. It's below the Master Brake unit etc. This thing seems to be the culprit. It seems very work out. Is this an easy fix? Or does it require changing out the whole steering coloum.
Thanks, Wayne
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approximately
unit
an
As I said in an earlier post, I'm not familiar with the 3 series, but the small u/j's on steering columns are usually replaceable on their own. I suggest you get yourself a Haynes or similar, or search the BMW websites. Chances are it will mean removal of the column, or at least moving it enough to slide the coupling off the shaft. Before you do so, make sure it's the joint itself that has the play, and is not due to slackness of the coupling on the shaft itself. If it is, simply tightening the bolts might be enough to remove the play. Mike.
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Wayne K. wrote:

This is a recall item on some E36s so check with your dealer. You might get it replaced for free.
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Mike, Thanks for responding. There was similar play while driving. I checked the rack for leaks etc, it looked good. (But we all know looks can be deceiving.)
Where is the linkage in the steering column?
-Wayne
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4
arm
or
not
I'm not familiar with the 325 in particular but I've no doubt there are u/j's or equivalents on the column, with couplings, to the shaft, and then there's the coupling to the rack itself. It's not common, but not unknown for such couplings to become loose. Mike.
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