Ok, I hope my '93 Suburban works out well for me. I'm going to do a bit
of work on the front end before I take it in to get it aligned. The
steering seems to have a bit of play in it. Simple question, I hope,
it's just something I've never addressed before.
I am assuming ball joints are worn... Upper? Lower? How do you
recommend I check them, and is there something else I should be checking
while I have the thing off the ground?
Assuming is not going to help much. Get under it and have someone twist the
steering wheel back and forth and see what's wrong. Then jack it up, put it
on a good set of stands and use a bar to see what suspension parts are
True, check for play in steering box first by seeing if pitman arm
output closely tracks steering input and starts to respond when
steering wheel is moved back a forth a few inches. Next pitman arm
joint and idler on passanger side and joints between and then check
rods ends. Also I do not recall which year but GM upgraded the idler
arm. The upgraded version has 3 mounting bolts verse two of weaker
design. Your model should have the 3 bolt model I think.
Forgot to add that the Pitman arm should be replaced as well if you've got
it apart. It also generates a wander and play in the steering when worn. The
upper ball joints basically last forever even if thev've had only sporadic
lubing. The lowers take all the punishment, and even with religious greasing
by 200,000kms they're ready for replacement even if they have some life in
them. If the shocks are original, they should be replaced too, leaks or no
leaks. When I sold my '94 the steering had some wander and play as well. I
was going to do a complete front end rebuild if I'd kept it.
Not sure if anyone is still checking this thread...
While not assuming anything, with the truck on the ground and in the
air, I pushed and pulled the tire. First top to bottom, no play. So,
not the ball joints. Then front to back, a very little motion that went
all the way back up to the steering wheel.
There was just a very little twist to the tie rods, would this cause a
little wander around center? There doesn't seem to be much slop
anywhere. It pulls a bit to the right, would a mis-alignment cause this
You need a ball joint gauge to check upper ball joints, and the lower
control arms have to be supported. In the drive way use jack stands as
close to the ball joints as you can so there is no weight or stress against
the lower ball joint. The lower ball joints have a wear indicator where the
greese zerk threads in, if it is proturding the joint is bad. The upper ones
place the ball joint gauge so it contacts the spindle where the joint
connects, grab tire and try ti tip the top in and out, more than 0.125" of
play means its bad.
All tie rod ends have twist, its normal, you check them by squeezing the
joint by hand, not with arc joint pliers. Should be little or no
With the vehicle supported on the control arms to unload the suspension,
grab both front tires and alternatly push them apart and pull them together,
watching the idler arm for excessive movement up and down.. GM allows a ton
of movement in the idler arms, and it is the weak point in the system,
anymore than 3/4 inch replace and use moog.
The center link depends on design, some are nothing more than a bar with
four holes, one for each inner tie rod end, one for the idler, one for the
pitman arm, this style never goes bad unless you hit a stump and bend it.
Some have ball and socket joints for the idler and pitman, which you check
the same way you check a tie rod end.
Moving up the system, there is plastic cover over the steering shaft at the
gear box, it is held in place by an open "loop" that goes around one of the
power steering hoses, move this back and inspect the "rag" joint in laymans
terms, steering coupler in tech terms. Its called a rag joint because its
made up of plyes of "rubber" and braided nylon cloth much like a bias ply
tire, it allows for flex between the body and frame. Wheels on the ground
have someone rock the steering wheel, wear will be obvious. Given age of
vehicle and miles, rag joint and idler arm would be what I look hard at.
Also the upper control arm bushings. Your looking for rubber peeling out of
them. usuually you will get pull on take off and then opposite pull on
braking when they go, let go far enough, banging noise.
Upper ball joints, lower ball joints if the vehicle has been poorly
maintained are possibles. Keep in mind the vehicle is 13 years old, things
do wear out.
MOOG MOOG MOOG cant say that enough for replacement parts. TRW if you cant
get them. Stay away from the junk autozone and the discounts sell.
absolute last choice is McQuary-Norris. GM is great except for the idler
arm, the design is flawed as far as movement is concerned, I've never seen
one come apart, but they just have too much play.
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