Steeroids – Play in the Wheel

Steering Wheel
After you have installed the Steeroids rack and pinion kit, there should not be any ‘Play’ in the steering wheel. This is also referred to as a ‘Dead Zone’ and it takes place when you turn your steering wheel back and forth a slight amount and there is no resistance – the wheels and tires are not responding. This can cause the car to be unresponsive and is a dangerous condition. Usually people automatically think there is something wrong with the rack unit itself, but the rack is actually VERY seldom the problem. If you are encountering ‘Play’ in the steering wheel with our kit, follow the steps below.

It might be easiest to have another person help you at first. While the engine is off, have one person turn the wheel back and forth a little bit – but only turn it within the ‘Dead Zone’, not all the way back and forth through the whole travel of the rack. Have another person carefully look through the entire system while this is happening. Usually you will see a place where motion is happening on one end of a component but not on the other. This is a good place to start. Even if you find a problem, it is a good idea to check all of the suggestions below:

1) Check the condition of the forward most steering column bearing. If this bearing is worn out it can cause excessive play in the steering wheel.

2) Download our current Corvette installation instructions by clicking here
and then proceed to step 3 below. If you are not working on a Corvette, go to the applicable tech section for your vehicle and download those instructions.

3) Re-tighten all of the set screws on the u-joint assembly as outlined in step 12 of the installation instructions. If they were not tightened in the correct order or if a bur of metal got under a set screw the u-joint can then get loose on the splined shaft (both at the column and at the pinion shaft on the rack and pinion unit).

4) Double check that the bolts traveling through the center tie rod bracket into the rack are torqued to the correct amount as outlined in the installation instructions.

5) Double check that both your inner and outer tie rod ends do not have any play in them.

6) (Corvette Kits Only) Look at the support bearing where the intermediate shaft between the u-joints passes through the bearing. If there is excessive play in the support bearing, this will translate into play in the steering wheel. (We have different sizes of bearing available and may be able to provide you one with slightly tighter tolerances.) A small amount of play is acceptable, but it should be minimal.

If you have checked all of these items and everything is still tight, then you need to see where exactly the play is coming from. Here are some areas to look for warn parts:

1) The u-joints can get pre-maturely warn out if they are binding when installed. Remove the entire u-joint assembly and try “twisting” each u-joint to see if there is actually play in the u-joint itself. If there is then the u-joint needs to be replaced – and you need to make sure the new one is installed with out ANY binding. Refer to the installation instructions to learn about installing the u-joints without any binding.

2) While the u-joint assembly is removed, place a wrench on the pinion shaft of the rack and turn the rack slightly back and forth to see if there is play in the rack itself (this is actually VERY rare for there to be play in the rack. Usually the play is found from other loose or worn parts.) When turning the pinion shaft, look for the movement where the two center bolts pass through the center tie rod bracket into the rack.

After going through these steps if it is determined that there are some replacement parts required, we can get you whatever you need. We have been using Borgeson U-joints for several years now and the only time we have seen them wear out is if they were installed incorrectly and were binding. All of the rack units have been bench tested before they were shipped out, so if there appears to be an issue with the rack we can discuss warranty replacements with you.

You may see the rack move inside the rubber mounting bushings where the rack mounts to the frame brackets. The rubber bushings that mount the rack are the hardest ones we can find (they are stiffer than the OEM bushings). We are researching having some poly mounts made but do not have them available yet. This amount of movement should be minimal.

You will notice that the center tie rod bracket moves on the rack unit. As outlined in the installation instructions, this is normal.

On Corvette Steeroids kits it is acceptable to have a slight amount of play where the intermediate shaft passes through the support bearing. It should not be flopping around in there though.