Tightening Your Tilt Steering Column
By Bruce Chang, aka Bruce89TA ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
Addendum for Air Bag equipped third gens By Danny Taylor ( email@example.com )
This will also work with most steering columns from 85-92. I think Blazers and S10’s, other models, I’m not too certain. This is for non-air bag, I’m not too sure how the airbag steering wheels work but once you get the steering wheel off, you can pick up at step 3.
- If your third gen is NOT air bag equipped, just follow the blue NUMBERED steps only!
- Remove steering wheel horn button and assocated wiring.
- Remove steering wheel nut clip and nut then using a steering wheel puller, pull off the steering wheel.
- Disconnect battery
- Remove both lower under dash panels.
- Remove SIR (airbag) fuse from fuse panel. (this is overkill since you disconnected the battery but gm recommends it)
- Disconect the big yellow wire with the yellow SIR tag going to the steering column. (there will be a saftey clip you have to remove before unplugging the connector)
- Disconnect the smaller 2 connector wire that is right beside the yellow SIR connector. (this usually has a orange cover around the wires on the steering column side)
- Remove the airbag from the column by unscrewing the 4 torx screws on the back side of the steering wheel. (these screws will not come out of the wheel since they have retaining devices on them. Also back these screws off a little at a time simultaneously or you will put the airbag in a bind.)
- Disconnect SIR connector on the airbag at the steering column (make sure to remove the blue saftey clip first)
- Set airbag aside. (carry it with the finished side facing away from you and place on a smooth surface face up.)
- Remove steering wheel with common steering wheel puller.
- Once steering wheel is removed you will see the SIR sensor underneath. Remove this by using lock ring pliers to remove the retainer)
- Slide the SIR sensor out (the wire will pull out enough to clear the column and set aside but still be connected to the column)
From this point you will remove the lockplate at step 3 below (in blue letters). Things should be pretty much exactly the same.
- Remove the lock plate cover
- Remove lock plate with lock plate depressing tool (remove C-clip when lock plate is depressed
- Remove the loose parts (i’m not sure what they’re called but they just slip off)
- Remove the hazard light button.
- Remove 3 phillips screws that hold the turn signal mechanical switches (you may have to flip the turn signal to the left to get to the bottom screw.)
- Remove the vanity plate under neath the dash to get to the wiring at the base of the steering column (this is above the driver’s feet)
- Pull on the turn signal wires to get some slack and pull it over the middle spindle thing.
- Remove the ignition cylinder hold down pin (it’s smaller than a t-10 torx, not sure what number) and pull the ignition cylinder out.
- Remove 3 torx bolts (I think #15 or 20) Be careful not to drop any of these bolts or screws into the steering column.. they’re hard to get back out..
- Unscrew the tilt steering lever
- Remove the steering column collar. This is kinda tricky and you gotta pull this over that center spindle. Takes some stretching of the wires to get it to pull over it but it’s do-able.
- Now there’s a circular thing under the spindle, using a big philips screw driver, push it down and turn it. Careful cause there’s a spring under it. release the spring and remove it.
- Now you need a tilt steering pin remover. These things are hard to find.. I know the MAC man and the Snap-on man have them and those are the only two I know of that have them. (I borrowed a snap-on one from a mechanic at a shop I used to work at. You can use a screw and thread it and then pull on it with pliers but that’s a pain in the butt.. I’ve heard one guy use a dent puller and it worked fine.
- When you pull the pins out the tilt head will move and you should be able to pull it out towards you some. (you might have to put the tilt steering lever back in to release the cogs inside the column)
- There are four inverse torx (size E8) bolts in there. Just tighten the heck out of them.. they’ll stay.. Don’t take them out cause there’s a plate on the other end. If you pull out the bolt to loctite it, the plate will fall off and you’ll have to pull the whole column to get the plate back in. If you’ve got the steering column out of the car, then I guess this isn’t an issue but there isn’t a need. My column has stayed tight for a year now.
If you have a 90-92 F-Body equipped with an air bag, skip steps 1 and 2 and go to step A in red letters just below step 2!
Once they’re tightened up, installation is in reverse order. Getting the tilt part of the column back on is kind of tricky too but with that spring out (step 14), it’s not too bad.. I did it with the spring still installed.. Be careful when you put the collar back on, you don’t want to bend the piece that sits on the left side of the column that’s attached to the ignition cylinder. if you bend it, you may not be able to turn the key or the car may not statr when the column is put together. If it does get bent or look bent, you can bend it back by hand.
When you’re putting the high beam linkage back on, make sure that the end metal rod fits into the switch under the steering column and then put grease on the steering column piece to hold it in place as you put the collar back on. then it’s just bolts and screws and you’re set.
It took me 2 tries to get it right.. First time, I didn’t tighten the 4 bolts down tight enough and it got lose again quick. You might also want to loctite the screw that holds the turn signal lever in place. That likes to get loose and then you have to take off the steering wheel and lock plate to tighten it.
If you have any questions, let me know..