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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Steering Noise Fixed

While blessed with "reasonable" temperatures in the 50's, light winds and sunny skies I decided to attempt to fix the steering column noise today. Armed with the tools as specified in my Steering Wheel Conversion DIY I got to work.

Although I had purchased both the bearing and the slip ring, I decided to take a conservative approach to the repair and replace the bearing first. That way, I reasoned, should that fix the problem I would be able to return the slip ring and save $150. That turned out to be the right move, as I managed to replace the bearing in about 30 minutes, take a short test drive and confirm that the steering column was now completely silent.

I found this strange for two reasons:

  1. The bearing was last replaced in 2007 after 150K miles in service. That bearing started making noise about a month ago after a mere 65K miles in service. I'm not sure why the new bearing failed so quickly. Both were labeled "made in Germany", so that leaves a change in supplier quality or installation error as possibilities.
  2. The old bearing didn't feel that bad too me. I'm pretty good at identifying bad metal bearings, but aside from some additional play as compared to the new unit, I didn't really see anything wrong with it. The only thing I can think of is that it must tend to bind internally when installed due to the fact that it is a tight, press-fit.

When it came time to install the new bearing, I leveraged a tool I bought for last year's rear suspension overhaul -- a 30mm socket -- to serve as a drift. A slightly larger socket probably would have been ideal, but this one worked; a couple taps with the hammer seated the bearing simply and evenly.

I made surprisingly quick work of dealing with the snap ring this time time around, thus proving that experience counts. Using two large flat-blade screwdrivers perched at the 3 and 9 o'clock positions (with the open end of the snap ring facing down) seemed to make the installation easier. I noticed prior to installation that the old snap ring was slightly stretched open as compared to the new part, so the new ring was a bit more difficult to press into place over the steering shaft. But once pushed home it seated snugly in the groove and that allowed the inner collar to fit perfectly. I did not wind up installing the new collars I purchased because while there was some scoring on the outer collar (which is made of aluminum), I didn't think it needed to be replaced. I'll simply reserve those parts for later use.

While my dealer doesn't officially allow returns of electrical parts, I hope they'll make an exception in this case simply because I never installed the part. If they do allow the return, I'll apply a "credit" to my parts tally. If not, I'll just sell it to someone looking to do the three spoke conversion. I did not get a labor quote at the dealer for this job, but I have a very hard time believing I could get out of there for less than an hour + parts, so I'm calling this $128 labor saved.

11/22 Update: The parts department accepted the return of the slip ring and thus credited me $170. This reduces the parts cost for this repair to $14. The prior blog entry has been edited to reflect this change.

Mileage: 214261, Labor Saved: $128