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HELP! steering wheel locks up

Discussion in 'Truck & Equipment Repair' started by yardsmith, Dec 10, 2009.

  1. yardsmith

    yardsmith Senior Member
    Messages: 248

    hey guys-
    have a continual problem with my 87 GMC dump truck 1 ton 4x4; when driving around, the steering wheel locks up on me occaisionally when making a turn. I've almost hit a telephone pole twice. The mechanic replaced the PS pump (on top of the motor, big style), then it started doing it. So we replaced the steering gearbox with another 'good one' from the junkyard. Shortly afterwards it does it again. Replaced it again (junkyard), & its still doing it. Th wheel locks up & gets very stiff, but will move a hair back & forth, like its binding up on something. Going backward & forward sometimes helps loosen it back up after about a minute or so.
    Mechanic had the steering linkage removed from the gearbox to isolate the problem, & it still locked up with just the wheel, steering shaft & gearbox attached to each other. So that would eliminate the front suspension being the problem I'm guessing.
    Now I can't imagine I have 3 bad gearboxes in a row; thinking maybe its the PS pump.
    When the truck warms up, the PS fluid gets milky white & very thin/watery (air getting in the lines somewhere, right?) The truck has only been driven maybe 8 times since all this crap started,mostly to take it home, then back to the shop-grrrr.:yow!:
    Been sitting at the mechanic for about 2 months now-I think hes tired of working on it, & I need my truck fixed. I hate to take it somewhere else & pay, since it wasn't done right last time.:gunsfiring:
    Anyone ever had this happen? Money is limited, so I'm hoping I don't have to go spend tons on a brand new gearbox.....
    Also, the 4WD light stays on, even when the transfer case is in 2wd. Any thoughts? maybe the truck is just gettin old & quirky??
    please help-thanks
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2009

    REAPER 2000 Club Member
    from 60050
    Messages: 2,228

    Had this problem last year after my PS pump was replaced. Took it back and they swore it was not the pump and wanted to charge me more money to tear apart the steering box. I replaced the pump myself since they would not under warranty and I have not had the problem since.

    Although I have a Dodge I believe it uses the same GM style pump. Replace that again even if your mechanic wont and see if it fixes it.

    Same exact thing as you describe tho and I would bet money on a faulty "new" PS pump.
  3. B&B

    B&B PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 12,777

    When you disconnected the drag link to isolate the steering column/box were you testing it with the engine running?

    The 4WD light is an easy fix. The indicator switch is stuck. There's a spring loaded ball in the bottom of the switch and that ball is stuck. Just need to replace the switch, ten minute job.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2009
  4. yardsmith

    yardsmith Senior Member
    Messages: 248

    yes I believe they had it running at the time
  5. B&B

    B&B PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 12,777

    Would have been a good time to try it without it running too. Doing so would have positively ruled out the box.

    But basing your posted info in addition to my experience I'd concur that the pump itself is defective.