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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After lurking through various old threads on the forum, most steering problems have been resolved by changing inner tie-rod bushings, tension strut bushings, lower control arms, and the steering rack itself. But has there ever been an instance where the coupler/intermediate shaft was the culprit and required replacing?

Let's discuss.
 

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How's your research so far? See if the instruction on this thread could help:
My buddy's uncle got a 1997 Intrepid, I'll come over soon to help him install the bumper on his Jeep along with some parts from 4Wheelonline. I'll ask if he already replaced the intermediate shaft.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I stumbled upon this old thread from 2009: Strange Steering Wheel Sound. User Peva mentions having to replace the steering column due to a knocking u-joint in Post #4.

Another thread from the 300M Club forums (dated 2006) attributed a steering wheel clunk from a worn input shaft in the steering column: Steering wheel clunk (attention EZ) - Chrysler 300M Enthusiasts Club

In my case, I have some considerable play in my steering wheel even though the underbody suspension components and bushings are tight and in good condition. Rack is fairly new, too (albeit aftermarket). There is a noticeable knocking sound if I rock the steering wheel back and forth both when the engine is on and off. Sometimes the steering magically firms up and I have also considered the pump and speed proportional solenoid.
 

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Have you been able to look at, feel, and listen to the different motion coupling points of the steering components while you duplicate the knocking noise by rocking the steering wheel back and forth? You can observe some of the points, such as the steering column, under the dash while moving the steering wheel yourself, while for other points (tie rod ends, etc.), you'll need a helper to be moving the steering while while you look at, feel, and listen.

One of the points that can develop play and knocking is the rack mount bushings, which allows the rack itself to knock back and forth side-to-side as the steering wheel motion is reversed. The bushings on one end of the rack are on a slotted bracket and don't provide stiffness against side-to-side movement of the rack, but the bushings on the other end do locate the rack and could be the culprits if worn/deteriorated. Some side-to-side movement of the rack is normal due to the rubber in the bushings, but worn out bushings will have a not-normal air gap that allows the sudden shift and hitting at motion reversal and produce a knocking noise - true of any of the coupling points, including the intermediate shaft joint.

As mentioned in the 300M Club post, it helped me to isolate the suspected point of lost motion of a joint by locking the downstream part of the shaft against motion using vice grips.

Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I can't see much of the coupler as the knee bolster covers a good chunk of the shaft mechanism. In terms of noises, I can hear a loud rattling noise from the column when the weather is cold. Also, when I park the car in tight spaces, or reverse, I can sometimes hear a "whomp whomp" noise at the bottom of the dashboard (left side).

Regarding the rack, the rubber bushings that attach the rack to the upper crossmember near the firewall are solid and exhibit no movement. Inner tie-rods are fine as well, although I will note that I did switch to the revised 15mm head bolts supplied by Chrysler.

I think at some point I will just swap out the entire column for a new"er" unit if I can find one in good condition. I wonder if the LH column is compatible with other GM vehicles.
 

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You'd remove the knee bolster to check under the dash. I think there's a metal plate under the column that also needs to be removed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I finally had some time to remove the lower dash and take a look at the internals. I did notice there was some rust forming on the intermediate shaft, but not much to cause significant alarm. However, the column assembly does have a good deal of flex, even though all of the mounting bolts are snugly secured and nothing appears to have cracked or shifted. Can a column suffer from metal fatigue? Or perhaps the blue ball bearing under the column shroud has worn-out?

I sprayed the u-joint with some grease, and it did help to improve steering feedback slightly when parking and turning. Less binding than before. Steering still has some movement when driving on rougher roads and yes I did double-check the rack mount bushings and bolts and there is no movement at all. Wheels have no play, either.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Reviving this thread as I took the plunge and replaced the entire steering column assembly in my 94 Concorde. Although I, nor my indy mechanic could not find anything visibly wrong with the original factory column in my 94, something was clearly off when driving the car (some days the steering was loose, others it was tight - there was also an intermittent rattle coming from the column when the weather was cool), and I suspect that perhaps the tilt mechanism or the plastic ball bearing inside the column was simply worn out after nearly 30 years of use.

Through the help of car-part.com, I located a complete steering column, which also included the steering wheel and clock spring from a 93 Intrepid in a yard not too far from my house. This column had been apparently sitting in storage for years but appeared to be in good shape despite being used and a year older than my factory column. The yard had it posted for $150 on car-part.com - I got it for $100 and a 60-day warranty.

How things stand post-installation:
(1) The steering is tighter and more responsive regardless of speed - I can actually feel the steering wheel being connected to the car
(2) No more rattles, and I hope it will stay that way as the temperature begins to cool down

Problems that remain post-installation:
(1) The car definitely required an alignment after the factory column was removed. I used all the hardware from the 93 Intrepid column minus the ignition switch and multi-function switch. The 93 wheel was significantly off-center to the right post-installation. I don't have pre-alignment readouts as my mechanic's alignment machine does not have a printer installed, but from what I was told the rear toe on the passenger side was out by about 2 degrees. I do have a picture of the current specs post-alignment, and that is posted here:
Computer Product Personal computer Font Technology

(2) Post-alignment, the wheel is sometimes centered, but likes to veer somewhat off to the left. Getting my car to remain perfectly centered has been near impossible since replacing the factory suspension in 2015. Using a Hunter Road Force machine from a Chrysler dealer has not yielded better results. My thought to this anomaly may be because the driver side CV axle is aftermarket while the passenger side is still the factory unit (I replaced the factory CV on the driver's side as the boot was torn). Subframe bushings are also all original but are still in decent shape and there appears to be no play coming from the subframe

I can give a detailed rundown of what suspension components I've replaced on my 94 and what I'm currently using in another post if more information is required.
 

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Sounds like the "new" column was an improvement.

Two conditions that have different causes. Which is the case with you car?:

If you're travelling down the road (straight and level, fairly flat, with or without normal crowning) at highway speed, which is the case when you take your hands off the steering wheel (zero pressure on the steering wheel from you):

(1) The car goes perfectly straight, but the steering wheel is not centered.

(2) The car drifts (pulls) to one side or the other unless you apply a force to the steering wheel in the other direction to force the car to go straight.


If (1), front cross toe (i.e., the difference between left and right toe) is off.

(FWIW, in the printout, they've mislabelled "total toe" as "cross toe" - front and rear. "Cross" is the difference, "total" is the sum". Your front cross toe is zero, which is perfect. If front cross toe is off, your steering wheel is simply off center. If total toe is off, you get tire side-wise scrubbing (increased wear, and heavier wear on inside or outside of tread depending on if the number is pos. or neg.) and decreased fuel mileage and wheel bearing life.)

If (2), some aspect of your alignment is off - front or rear cross-camber, cross-caster, or rear cross-toe, AND/OR you have tire tread wear anomalies.

If you have both (1) and (2), ignore (1) until you sort out (2).

Unfortunately, your shop did not record caster and cross-caster. Cross-caster biases the straight-ahead forces to one side or the other. You may be told that cross-caster can't be easily fixed, but it can be affected by the cradle being rotated around the vertical axis as allowed by clearances between the cradle bushing bolts and their holes in the cradle. It can be corrected if not too great by loosening the cradle bushing bolts, then retightening them while forcing a rotating force on the cradle (with come alongs or whatever) in the needed direction around the vertical axis.

I don't have time at the moment to look up the alignment spec. limits, but look them up and compare to your measurements to see if any are outside the limits.

In my personal experience on my two Concordes, camber has little affect on side pull. Cross caster, rear cross-toe, and irregular tire wear are the main factors in side pull.

Don't ignore irregular tire wear as a factor - for example, tread cupping or much more wear on inside than outside of tread or vice-versa. If possibly a factor, address that before attacking the suspension unless there's something obvious going on with that. If one or more tires are suspect, short of new tires, you can experiment with moving the suspect tire(s) to the opposite side and see if the symptoms change (reverse side of drift or whatever).
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
If you're travelling down the road (straight and level, fairly flat, with or without normal crowning) at highway speed:
At the moment I've been doing mostly city driving, but I have taken the car on back roads where the speed limit is 80km/h. These back roads are mostly flat, but I've had to hold the wheel to the left at times. In those instances when I'm holding the wheel to the left, the car will drift right if I let go of the wheel. The car also still seems to be suffering from a case of torque steer when accelerating from a dead stop, but I suspect that's due to having two different types of CV axles.
AND/OR you have tire tread wear anomalies.
Both my summer and winter tires are in good shape and show no signs of abnormal wear. The factory rims for both sets of tires are also in good shape for their age - nothing is bent or damaged. PSI for both sets of tires is set to 35. I'll also mention that all four brake calipers were replaced with Centric Posi-Quiet units around 2016 as the factory ones were starting to stick. The factory wheel bearings were also changed when they started to make howling noises with SKF branded units. That was around the same time I changed the calipers.
Unfortunately, your shop did not record caster and cross-caster.
The software for my mechanic's alignment machine is outdated and quite limited compared to a more modern Hunter Road Force unit, so it is what it is. I use to have all my servicing done at the Chrysler dealers in my area - but one by one all of the old techs familiar with the early LHs retired or died off and now it's a new generation of idiots running the show. Quite depressing actually.
It can be corrected if not too great by loosening the cradle bushing bolts, then retightening them while forcing a rotating force on the cradle (with come alongs or whatever) in the needed direction around the vertical axis.
I'll suggest it to my mechanic when it comes time to change over to my winter tires. Although there doesn't appear to be any significant play coming from the subframe, I have thought about upgrading the factory subframe bushings with the poly set sold by Johnny. I did purchase a transmission mount from him some years back and it seems to be holding up together quite nicely.
If possibly a factor, address that before attacking the suspension unless there's something obvious going on with that.
Funny thing is the suspension is tight. No play from the tires or the rack bushings or the tie-rods. Of course my aftermarket steering rack could be going south but I won't contemplate changing that out unless something seriously goes wrong with it.
If one or more tires are suspect, short of new tires, you can experiment with moving the suspect tire(s) to the opposite side and see if the symptoms change (reverse side of drift or whatever).
Rotating tires has never shifted the position of the steering wheel. Redoing the four-wheel alignment has in the past.
 

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...I'll suggest it to my mechanic when it comes time to change over to my winter tires. Although there doesn't appear to be any significant play coming from the subframe...
Yep - it would be nice to have the caster numbers to know whether to pursue that.

CLARIFICATION: When I mentioned play between the cradle bushing bolts and the bolt holes in the cradle, that's not play that you would be able to detect with the bolts tight. It's play that allows variation in the exact rotational position of the cradle relative to the body that gets locked in when you tighten the bolts, so no play detectable once they're tightened - but when the bolts are loosened, you can use that play to adjust that rotational position and lock that new position in when you re-tighten the bolts.

...Of course my aftermarket steering rack could be going south but I won't contemplate changing that out unless something seriously goes wrong with it...
I believe there have been instances of some valve bias/centering issue in the racks causing a pull, might have even been the subject of a TSB. As you said, yours is an aftermarket rack, but apparently that is a rare but possible defect or failure. Of course, not saying that's your problem, but put it on the list of possibilities.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
When I mentioned play between the cradle bushing bolts and the bolt holes in the cradle, that's not play that you would be able to detect with the bolts tight.
I get it. But you can also develop play with deteriorating rubber bushings with bolts torqued to spec, but that doesn't seem to be the case with my 94 amazingly enough.

Curious though if the subframe would even budge with loose bolts and excessive force given its been sitting in the same place for nearly 30 years. I still have quite a bit of original factory parts on the car and I know those parts won't move even if they are unsecured.
I believe there have been instances of some valve bias/centering issue in the racks causing a pull, might have even been the subject of a TSB.
I remember reading something about the proportioning valve on the rack causing alignment problems. Could be in the 94 FSM or in one of the forum posts. My rack unfortunately has the stupid speed-sensitive option, first model year for that junk I believe. There's no real way to test the solenoid without replacing it. I wonder if I can switch to a normal rack without disabling something else like the ABS should that be the root of the issue.
 

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I get it. But you can also develop play with deteriorating rubber bushings with bolts torqued to spec, but that doesn't seem to be the case with my 94 amazingly enough.
We're in violent agreement. 😁 In reply to my suggesting the rotating the cradle by taking advantage of the clearance between the bolts and the cradle holes, you said "there doesn't appear to be any significant play coming from the subframe", implying the bushings were intact (no play). I just wanted to ensure that you weren't taking my comment about the play that I was talking about as including play due to deteriorated bushing rubber.

Curious though if the subframe would even budge with loose bolts and excessive force given its been sitting in the same place for nearly 30 years. I still have quite a bit of original factory parts on the car and I know those parts won't move even if they are unsecured.
Fair enough. There certainly could be some rust that would reduce or eliminate available play between loosened bolts and cradle holes. Again, with no numbers on the caster, we don't know if we even need to be talking about this particular tweak, but if was a definite factor as indicated by the caster numbers, it would be a good idea to remove the bolts to remove any trash between the bolts and holes to regain that play to allow the most benefit from the cross-caster tweak (i.e., rotating the cradle before tightening the bolts).

I remember reading something about the proportioning valve on the rack causing alignment problems. Could be in the 94 FSM or in one of the forum posts. My rack unfortunately has the stupid speed-sensitive option, first model year for that junk I believe. There's no real way to test the solenoid without replacing it. I wonder if I can switch to a normal rack without disabling something else like the ABS should that be the root of the issue.
 

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I'll talk to my mechanic about that. It's likely the software which limits the readings.

On a separate note, did you have a comment about the speed-proportional rack? I see that you quoted my comment, but there's nothing underneath.
I just quoted your whole post but didn't have any comment on the rack, and didn't bother to delete that part. Not having had it, I just don't know enough about the speed proportioning to say. Questions I have would be: If you install a normal rack, with the speed-proportioning connector not hooked up, will you always get an annoying code, or, as you suggest, will it disable a somewhat unrelated but desirable feature? Could you do something klugy like remove the valve from your old rack and just have it dangling/zip tied but plugged into the connector to keep the BCM happy? I think maybe over the years, this question must have come up in a thread or two and possibly a simple and definitive answer given - I could be wrong.
 

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Posts in the following threads indicate that there should be no problem simply installing regular rack and leaving the speed prop. valve connector disconnected. The 2nd thread says you can make a 2nd gen rack work with a minor tweak.

Post no. 32:

Post no. 15:
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I was looking through the LH Parts Catalogue for 1993-96 and I noticed that the parts numbers were different for the 93/94 model year steering columns w. floor shift (the 93 is #4740200; the 94 is #4773135).

Oddly, the upper coupling assembly is the same part number from 93 through 96 (except for LHS) while the lower coupling assembly has two parts numbers (#4600002 for 93 only; #4600229 for 94-96).

I probably should have consulted the parts catalogue before removing my factory steering column. I thought all of the floor columns were the same from 93 to 97. Did something change from 93-94? Everything lined up perfectly with the 93 column and is secured properly to the body and steering rack. I'd hate to have done all this just to find out there is a difference between the 93-94 columns.

Pics from the parts catalogue:
Rectangle Font Parallel Number Pattern

Rectangle Font Parallel Number Pattern
 

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I have no experience with 1st gens, so don't know anything on them other than what I read.
 
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