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How to Repair Loose Steering Wheels

by Robert Raphael

A steering or driving wheel is a steering control element in vehicles and one of its most important parts. A wheel and its column are a part of a complex steering system that receives input directly from the driver. By manipulating the steering wheel column, the driver controls the entire steering system, usually through mechanical contact. That is why it is important for the steering wheel to respond to the driver and assure a safe, smooth and stable ride. The method below is specific to tilt steering columns.

Step 1

Park your car safely and remove the key from the ignition. Open the hood and use a wrench to disconnect the terminals from the car battery. Make sure to engage the parking brake as well and to gather all the necessary tools.

Step 2

Pry off the decorative centerpiece that covers the center of the steering wheel, using a screwdriver or a pry tool. Be very gently not to damage or break the centerpiece. After you reveal the bolt in the center of the steering wheel, loosen it with an adjustable wrench and finally remove it completely.

Step 3

Attach a steering wheel puller to the wheel itself. Follow the instructions for your specific vehicle and the puller tool model. Finally, remove the steering wheel completely and the lock plate as well.

Step 4

Locate the retaining ring once the wheel has been removed. Then use a pair of lock pliers to remove the retaining ring too.

Step 5

Remove the screws that hold the turn signal assembly on the wheel. Depending on the vehicle, there are 3 to 6 screws that hold the assembly to the wheel. Save the screws for later and make sure not to lose them.

Step 6

Locate the column bracket that connects the column to the dashboard of the vehicle. Use a screwdriver to remove two bolts at the bottom of the bracket, enough to remove the wires. Then put the key in the ignition and place it in the on position.

Step 7

Release the lock cylinder by removing two screws and then remove the whole cylinder from the vehicle. Then remove the three big torque bolts from the steering wheel column.

Step 8

Pull off the housing, parts of the bearing and depress a retainer for the spring with a screwdriver. You should turn the retainer for about ¼ of a circle, clockwise.

Step 9

Remove the spring assembly from the bottom of the steering shaft. Use a pair of pliers to remove the two pivot pins. The pivots are located inside the tilt column.

Step 10

Pull the arm of the tilt column to adjust the column and move it upward.

Step 11

Tilt the column up again and then to the right side. Pull off the housing again, bearing a metal spring clip and turning it clockwise, as far as you can.

Tilt the column up again and then to the right side. Pull off the housing again, bearing a metal spring clip and turning it clockwise, as far as you can.


  • Check the level of your power steering fluid and add more if needed.
  • Check the tire condition as well: sometimes the steering problems are actually caused by deflated or out of balance tires.


  • Be sure to follow all safety precautions regarding repairing a vehicle such as assuring that the vehicle is securely parked.

Items you will need

  • Wrench
  • Screwdriver
  • Pry tool
  • Lock pliers
  • Steering wheel puller

About the Author

Based in New Jersey, Robert Raphael has been writing health and technology articles since 1993. His work has appeared in “Natural Living” magazine and “Extreme PC” magazine. Raphael received the Jonathan Melman Literary Award in 1994. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Brandeis University.

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Photo Credits

  • steering wheel and dash of british sports car image by Bo Widerberg from