2nd Gen Ram Tech1994-2001 Rams: This section is for TECHNICAL discussions only, that involve the 1994 through 2001 Rams. For any non-tech discussions, please direct your attention to the "General discussion/NON-tech" sub sections.
I have a 1996 Ram 2500 4X4 long bed with the extended cab and the 5.9L Cummins diesel. I am experiencing a problem with the steering. The problem is that the steering is very loose, that is to say that I can turn the wheel back and forth about 1/4 turn (1/8th each way) without anything happening at the wheels. This problem has existed for quite sometime (years) but since I drive the thing every day I do not notice it much. however when someone else drives it their first remark is always "how the hell do you keep that thing on the road". I think (based on the comments of others) that it is getting worse and would like to fix it.
Is this a common issue with these trucks? Is there a relatively simple fix?
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In my case it was simple. There is an adjustment on the steering box to snug up the slack. On the other hand with 1/4 turn of slack, i'd say you have one or more bad parts in the steering system. To check them out have someone turn the wheel and see what turns/moves. everything should moves at the same time. What takes a bit to move is usually the bad piece. You could be looking at tie rods, ball joints, steering box, and i think trac bar also. I bought an old beat up chevy a few years back and the steering was the same.One tie rod was so bad that it fell apart when being removed. Let us know what you find.
For years, non-rack and pinion dodge trucks have had a steering box that has an adjustment to tighten the end play on the worm gear shaft. Usually it'll have a threaded post with allen/hex socket and a lock nut around it. Loosen the lock nut, tighten the adjuster until it is seated (make sure you back off the lock nut so that it won't start to re-tighten before the post seats), then back off on the post an eigth turn or so, then while holding the post so it won't turn, re-tighten the lock nut. Most vehicles with 100K or more miles will need this adjustment to restore some of the tightness in the steering. It can make a tremendous difference. The amount of "back off from seated end play" on the threaded post determines how much slop in the steering. If you set it too tight, the steering will have an uncertain feel, which is a result of the moving parts in the steering box binding. Once you use this procedure as a starting point you can re-adjust for more or less end play until the steering is at it's best without getting that weird, binding feel in the steering out on the road. Just remember this: too much end play on the shaft will allow more slack in the steering response; too little end play will result in that uncertain "bindy" feel. This procedure is not the way the factory recommends that these systems are adjusted, but is much simpler and very easy to do.
This may not be your problem, but I've owned a lot of Dodge trucks over the years, and this is one of the first things I do when I acquire one that has a lot of mileage on it, and it has produced tighter steering every time.
Try this before you start throwing parts at it.
Silver Truck Club member #26
98 1500 4x4 SLT Laramie Quad 5.9L Auto 3.55 LSD 285/75R16 BFG AT T/A KO DT PROFAB Adjustable Trac Bar MP PCM Crossdrilled/slotted rotors GM 1-ton brake mod
I have tried that adjustment in increments over several weeks til I got that "bindy" feel and had to back off. There is still slop in the steering box gear because I canturn the input to the box back and forth and the pitman arm doesn't move. So, did I miss something or is the steering gear worn beyond adjustment?
I had a similar problem but mostly felt loose steering when turning, I inspected every component and narrowed it to a half shaft that connects to the box. There is an upgraded one that contains a dampner and that fixed my problem.
Thanks for the input on steering box. The dealer says a new steering box would not fix it. The tires are 285 75r-16, so the dealer is going to try stock tires to test. I'm a master mechanic and I know there is a steering box problem.Dealer aligned 4 wheel and said tow-in was off, but no change in driving. I looked at the sleeve and bolts and there has never been a wrench on it. I'm going to take it to lesswab for a check,dealers lie. I'll update this after test. Thanks again
DID YOU GET YOUR STEERING TIGHTEND UP? JUST ASKING CAUSE I HAVE THE SAME PROBLEM.
96 dodge ram 1500 4x4 5.9
---new parts i put on---
steering damper shock
u-joints & seals
AND STILL IS ALL OVER THE ROAD.
alignment shop says all front end parts are in good shape.
the track bar fixed my tire ware but nothing else.