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Steering wheel alignment and tie rods

Discussion in 'Chevy Trucks' started by 75gmck25, Oct 28, 2003.

  1. 75gmck25

    75gmck25 Senior Member
    Messages: 119

    My son hit a curb with my '75 K25 (at about 20-25 mph) and it appears to have knocked the steering wheel alignment off by about 20 degrees. Considering the height of the truck, he probably only hit the curb with one of the tires. Most of the other components are high enough to clear a typical curb.

    When I replaced the drag link last year I adjusted it so the steering wheel was centered. I had a little trouble getting the wheel centered, and the exact center point seemed to change slightly when you slowed down quickly. I assumed it might be torque steer from the full-time 4WD or some play in the steering gear box. I also replaced the center/stabilizer shock at the same time.

    According to my repair manual, you don't adjust the tie rods to center the steering wheel, so I'm trying to figure out what might have happened when he hit a curb. I took a quick look at the tie rods this morning and it looks like the long half "might" have a slight bow to it. Other than that I didn't see anything that looked bent or broken. The truck tracks normally on the highway, but the steering wheel is significantly cocked to one side when the truck is tracking straight ahead.

    I'm wondering if his hitting the curb might have amplified an existing problem with the tie rod ends or some other component. If the tie rod ends are shot or the tie rod is bent, could it lead to rotated steering wheel? I've checked the rod ends by rotating the tie rod itself, but that doesn't measure play from left to right. If the rod end has too much play from left to right it seems like it could lead to the problems I'm seeing.

    In case you are wondering why I don't just replace the tie rods, they are relatively expensive for this truck. One side is a long bar with a rod end and the typical cost is about $90-110. The other end is about $30.


  2. wyldman

    wyldman Member
    Messages: 3,265

    If the tie rods have no side to side,or up and down movement,then they should be fine.

    The long drag link across the front can be adjusted at the pass side tie rod,but is used to set toe only.The adjustment to center the wheel is between the two tie rods on the drivers side,between the pitman arm and the steering arm on the knuckle.It may be bent there too.You could adjust it to center the wheel,but the toe could be way out.

    I'd take it to an alignment shop,and have them check it.You should be OK to just have it realigned if there are no severe bends in anything.
  3. Rick Loncosky

    Rick Loncosky Senior Member
    from 17557
    Messages: 102

    75GMCK25, question for you? While you're looking at the tie rods between the pitman arm steering link, which end has the longer tie rod. I think my 77 K10 has them installed back-wards. I have the shorter one connected to the pitman arm. I was wondering how yours is on. I looked at a friends 84 K20 and his has the long end on the pitman arm. Does anyone know if the taper is the same and they are inter-changeable? Thanks for any info you can give! Rick
  4. 75gmck25

    75gmck25 Senior Member
    Messages: 119

    On my '75 K25 the shorter tie rod (6-8") is connected to the passenger side steering knuckle. The longer tie rod (4'?) is connected to the steering knuckle on the driver's side. There is a hole about midway on the longer tie rod, where the steering stabilizer connects to the tie rod.
    The tie rod designs changed from year to year, and the LMCtruck catalog has some good pictures. I don't have a catalog handy to take a look at the configuration for a '77 K10.

    I don't think my son could have bent my drag link (referred to as an inner tie rod in many parts books) by hitting a curb. Its over an inch in diameter and only about 10 inches long. It would take a very significant force to bend it. However, in my repair manual you adjust this drag link to center the steering wheel, so it might be related to my steering wheel problems. I'll have to crawl under there and take a closer look at what might have gotten bent.