1. Welcome to PlowSite. Notice a fresh look and new features? It’s now easier to share photos and videos, find popular topics fast, and enjoy expanded user profiles. If you have any questions, click HELP at the top or bottom of any page, or send an email to help@plowsite.com. We welcome your feedback.

    Dismiss Notice

help! steering wheel locks up

Discussion in 'Chevy Trucks' 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 wheel gets really stiff, & moves a hair back & forth, but after about a 30 sec to 1 minute, or by going forward & backward it'll loosen up & go back to normal...
    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. 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.
    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.....:cry:
    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
  2. Cooter24

    Cooter24 Senior Member
    from NE Iowa
    Messages: 268

    Bad bearings in the column. Is it tilt? more common in tilt, but happens in non tilt also.
  3. 2COR517

    2COR517 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,115

    If your fluid is milky, you have a problem somewhere in the fluid circuit. Given that it started after you put the used pump in, sounds like that is the problem. Also sounds like you need a different mechanic.
  4. wirenut

    wirenut Senior Member
    from nh
    Messages: 507

    is it a solid front axle.?? check the u joints prob dried out...:drinkup:
  5. haejinjoe

    haejinjoe Junior Member
    Messages: 28

    When the mechanic separated the steering from the front end linkage, was the truck running when he did the test and it still locked up? Or can the problem be recreated with the truck not running?
    Knowing that could help to isolate further the problem to a column issue like Cooter 24 suggested or hydraulic.
    Also, with the truck off, if you lift the steering wheel (without using the tilt lever if it has one) does it have any play in it?

    As Cooter24 said, it was common to have a column become loose just beyond the tilt area even to the point of binding and that should be fixed first before going any further with other diagnosis.