How to Adjust the Play in Power Steering

by Dan Harkins
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steering wheel image by BaSSaBaS from

A loose steering column can make your driving experience feel flimsy and unsafe. If that feeling is being caused by too much play in your power steering box--a common problem--some simple adjustments can be made to its "worm gear" to straighten out your ride. Just make sure your belts aren't loose first. If not, the power steering box is the likely culprit.

Step 1

Put the transmission in neutral, engage the emergency brake and jack up the front wheels, placing a jack stand under each side of the front frame. Place chocks behind the back wheels.

Step 2

Turn the steering wheel all the way to the left. Use a ruler to measure how far you now must turn it to the right to begin turning the wheel in the opposite direction. More than 1 inch is too much.

Step 3

Open the engine compartment and locate the steering housing, usually on the driver's side near the firewall. Use your manual diagram to locate this gear box. Find the worm gear on top of the box, which usually contains a flathead screw and lock nut.

Step 4

Use a wrench to loosen but not remove the lock nut. Use a screwdriver to tighten the worm gear screw 1/4 turn clockwise. Tighten the lock nut again.

Step 5

Return to the driver's seat and examine the play on the steering wheel again. If you've improved but want better results, continue Step 4 until you've achieved the right tension.

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