Dale's Jeep Junk
Is your Tilt Steering Column sloppy and floppy?
Don't know how you might feel about a sloppy/floppy steering column but I just don't like it.
So here's what makes it that way, how to get it apart and back together.
Would suggest a few inexpensive tools to make this job easier, all of these can be found at your local Auto Parts Store.
1. Steering Wheel Puller
2. Steering Lock Plate Tool
3. Full set of Torx bits
4. E8 1/4" drive External Torx socket, not 3/8" drive because it won't fit
There are other tools that will make this repair easier but where's the challenge?
Click on any picture for a larger image.
You will find Exploded Parts Diagrams at the bottom of this page.
The following pictures are from two different Jeep steering columns. One in the Jeep with manual transmission and the other on the bench with column shift automatic. Will try to point out the differences as we go along.
1. Remove the Steering Wheel Center cover, just pull it off with your fingers, no tools required. Should look like this.
2. Remove the Horn actuator (three screws in the plastic ring), and the wheel lock nut.
3. Remove the steering wheel using a puller. Now it should look like this.
4. Pop off the plastic cover using a screwdriver inserted into the three slots on the outside edge.
5. Time to remove the lock plate, can be a pain, much easier with a "Lock Plate Tool" as shown here.
Here's a picture with that nasty little clip up and out of it's groove. When you have it here you have won that small battle.
Some crude but effective tools, small pre-bent screwdriver and a very strong curved pick.
6. Remove the turn signal cancel cam (the plastic dohicky) it also conducts the horn contact down into the steering column. Go ahead and remove the spring that pushes up from the center of the column.
Here's where I find that there are at least two different turn signal cancel cams. As you can see from the picture above the white cam is broken. Found a new one at NAPA.
Visual check, here's what it should look like now (OK I didn't take off the spring in the center before this picture, it will just slide off.)
7. You are now looking at the turn signal switch. Flip the switch so that you see all three screw that secure it in the column. Remove the arm and then take out the three screws. Ooops if you haven't disconnected the battery yet... Do that first, please.
Be sure that you disconnected the battery ! (Take off the + cable to your battery) Please ! You can reset the clock to your Cell Phone later. Ever notice that Cell Phones always have the correct time?
OK, The battery is disconnected... safe to unplug the turn signal switch. Hard to get a really good picture.
The connector sits in a small bracket on the column up under the dash, if it is unplugged and loose... it will look like this. You will need the slack in the wire harness if it's in the Jeep.
If you need to replace the turn signal switch or just want to get it completely out of the way you will need to remove the column mounting bracket.
Under the bracket there is a plastic cover to protect the wiring.
Pop the wiring protector off of the bracket mounting studs. Would suggest wrapping the connector and wires with electrical tape so that they are parallel to prevent the connector from snagging as you slide up and out of the column. Also if you attach a length of string you will have something to pull back down with when it does snag.
Now back to removing the turn signal switch.
Remove the emergency flasher button, it simply unscrews. Remove the turn signal lever. Then take out the three screws that secure the turn signal switch to the column (note the arrows), move the switch to the right signal position to expose the top screw.
8. Remove the lock cylinder. Insert the key and turn to the on position. There are two types of lock cylinder, this one is secured by a torx screw.
Rather fuzzy picture, but you can see the screw that holds the key lock cylinder in place.
Here's the lock cylinder with the screw just below it.
Should look like this now. The arrow shows were the lock cylinder screw came out.
The other type of lock cylinder has a spring loaded tab (see the arrow).
The tab on the cylinder fits into this slot (shown by the arrow). Push a small screwdriver in and wiggle the cylinder out. Note that the housing in this picture does not have the screw hole for the other type of lock cylinder.
This is the Key Buzzer switch, it connects through the Turn Signal switch.
The spring clip likes to get stuck, after you dig out the clip put the two back together before you reinstall it.
9. Remove the cover.
If you have a column shift automatic the gear indicator bezel must be removed first. The bezel is held in place by clips (see arrows), push to the left and pull up. Gently it doesn't take much break 20 year old plastic. Now remove the clip plate (two small screws).
The cover is held in place by three screws (see arrows). The one above has torx screws but some are Phillips.
Remove the tilt lock lever and the cover will slide off.
If you are working in the vehicle, the cover will slide down the harness and hang from the turn signal switch.
10. Remove the upper tilt housing. Make sure that the tilt is in the up position, reinstall the tilt lock lever because you will need it shortly. Now remove the tilt spring.
The hole in the cap is square, I happened to have a square bit that fits but a medium sized screw would likely work as well. Slight downward pressure and 1/4 turn counter clockwise.
Now lets look at the things that will likely fall out.
The pin on the left might have come out with the tilt spring or it might be waiting to fall out. More importantly now is the time to remove the upper bearing so that you don't have to chase 14 (3/16") ball bearings around. Will cover the key shaped object on the right a bit later.
The cap will come off easily. The race might take some effort but shouldn't require a tool. Strong magnet suggested to catch the 14 balls.
Now it's time to pull the tilt pivot pins, there is one on each side, arrow shows the left side. There is a special tool for this but I have never seen one.
The pins are drilled and tapped 8-32 so an 8-32 by 1 3/4" screw, a couple nuts, some washers through a 3/8" drive 9/16" socket will do the trick.
Tighten the nut against the socket and the pin pulls out.
Release the tilt lock, move the upper tilt housing down and then it will pull off.
If you are working in the vehicle, remove the tilt lock lever, nest the tilt housing into the cover and the whole mess can dangle from the turn signal harness (careful not to damage the wires).
Now we have come to the object of our long journey!
11. There are four external torx head fasteners that secure the lower tilt housing to the column and now you can finally get at them.
Take them out using a 1/4" drive E8 torx socket, clean them up, apply Locktite and tighten them down. It's a small fastener so don't over tighten.
Here's a look at the lower tilt housing on the bench.
OK! That's what was loose in the first place, how to get to it and now your tilt steering column won't be loose anymore.
If you have the column out of the vehicle you should check the bearing at the bottom. I have not been able to find this bearing from a local parts store, but found them at 4WD.com, the bearing is PN# 4486713, the bearing retainer (white plastic part) is PN# 4487696.
A small three jaw puller will remove the bearing easily.
Tilt steering shaft coupling.
Tilt steering shaft coupling taken apart for cleaning and fresh grease.
OK, now to put it all back together. Yes for the most part just reverse the process above. Here are a few things to make sure it all works when you are finished.
Remember this part? Was mentioned earlier as something that will fall out, let's call it the rack. Notice the small lip inside the hole in the rack, toward the top of the picture. That lip must catch the pin of the ignition switch actuator rod (see arrow).
Side view of the ignition switch and actuator rod.
Here's what it should look like. Note that the tilt pivot pin will go through the slot of the rack as you reassemble.
The rack is driven by the steering lock pin cam/gear. Just line up the large lobe of the cam/gear to the large notch in the rack, you have to fidget with the steering lock pin to get it all in place.
After you figure out the rack and get it into the correct place move the lock lever while sliding the upper tilt housing back into place on the lower tilt housing. The pivot pins will slide in far enough to hold everything together with just your fingers, might take a light tap or two with a plastic hammer to seat them completely.
Reinstall the tilt spring. There is that pin that might have fallen out, it goes into the spring and sits on a pivot point protruding from the lower tilt housing.
Reinstall the cover and lock cylinder. Now is a good time to check that everything works as you turn the key to each position. Check that the ignition switch actuator moves when the key it turned to the start position, the steering lock pin pops up when turned to lock and that the key will turn to ACC. Don't panic too much if the key won't turn to ACC, remember you have to push in on the key and if it's the type lock cylinder secured by a screw the screw must be in first.
Use grease to hold the 14 ball bearings in the plastic cage. The remainder really is to simply reverse the disassembly process.
Exploded part diagrams, Page 1 of 4.
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While I hope that this page will provide help to all that read it, I cannot be responsible for your results. I make no claims as to the accuracy of any information contained here.
If you have better information or find something incorrect feel free to drop me an E-Mail.