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:
- 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.
- 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