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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
It's not terrible, but it's got a little slop on center. Maybe an inch side to side.

Going by feel, a lot of it feels like there is no resistance. Based on the way I think Magnasteer works, slop that has no resistance is outside of the rack, due to the way it modifies steering effort at the input to the rack. I was thinking that if it was all rack play, the wheel would feel artificially tight on center from an effort perspective, but also loose in terms of slop, if that makes any sense.

But most of my slop seems like, intuitively, it may be in one or more of the steering shaft joints. I am a little confused about just what is in there. I have replacement procedures I got from older Darkman posts for lower, center and upper shaft replacement.

According to these PDFs, the lower and center shaft are replaceable with surprising ease. The upper shaft requires pulling the column and taking it apart a bit.

This seems similar to the PDF: http://www.compnine.com/index.php?u...1147577586&capuid=1&majorgroup=06&grouptype=B

But the D69 matches what I see on my car: http://www.compnine.com/index.php?u...1147577586&capuid=1&majorgroup=06&grouptype=B

It looks like there are really 2 places for steering shaft play: at the bottom where it bolts to the rack (seems to be a joint inside that boot) and at the top. The bottom shaft, according to Compnine, lists for only $92 (D69), which is incredibly cheap. But GMpartsdirect confused me. And I wouldn't order from either of them, obviously.

It also looks like you can get a kit for rebuilding the upper joint, so-called a sphere kit: http://www.compnine.com/index.php?u...1147577586&capuid=1&majorgroup=06&grouptype=B

The sphere kit is missing from the D69 column blow up: http://www.compnine.com/index.php?u...1147577586&capuid=1&majorgroup=06&grouptype=B

Aside from the D29 vs D69 confusion, what typically causes a problem on these cars? Assume for the moment that I don't have a chance to lay under my car at night or call Luke during the day...

It just seems like the easiest thing would be to pick up a new lower shaft since it seems cheap and easy to replace and if I am lucky, may be my problem. Not as thrilled about pulling the column but even that seems easier (and cheaper) than replacing the rack. Thoughts?
 

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I feel you. I have the same play. If it were the rack you'd know it.

I actually (had) both. Got the rack replaced and it was much better, but the 2 different plays are apples and oranges. I can set the wheel to the left or right and then steer, but it is not intuitive AT ALL. I used to feel comfortable driving but it is very stressful most of the time now. I feel more comfortable with my hands OFF the wheel.

The rack play is like a full time complete loss of control and it feels like you can go from 10 to 2 with no effect on the wheels at all, and turns are frustratingly dangerous. I actually curbed my car twice in a turn when the rack was bad.

Not saying you DONT have any rack play at all, but as I said they are very different.

If my dealer doesn't replace the shaft segments I'm going to do it myself, starting from the lower section on up.

Mine also has play right where the lower shaft meets the rack under that boot/metal ring piece. Helen Keller could see that, but my dealer just plays stupid. The diagnosis for steering play is very specific and designed to find the issue.

They seem to forget that I drove with a bad rack for 3 months. That more than likely put significant stress on these joints in the column as bumpsteer would almost wreck the car. I almost lost my life twice on the freeway.

I hate this crap........but I still love this car. At least the market came back, so I can walk away any time for a profit which I thought would never possible 3 years ago.



I know none of that helps you but if im successful in getting any of the segments replaced under warranty I'll report the results..
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Did your rack play manifest in the way I described? Did the Magnasteer cause the sloppy area to feel like you were turning against something (effort wise) but without a corresponding effect on actual steering angle? I may be wrong about my Magnasteer assumption so I'm curious what your experience was.

I guess I can't say for sure if rack play would manifest this way, but I can say that steering shaft play would have no effort, for sure, as there is nothing to stop it. The question is, does rack play also have no effort (despite my understanding of Magnasteer)?

So with a new rack, are you saying your steering is still terrible, with play from 10 to 2??
 

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10 and 2 is gone. More like 11:55 to 12:05 now. Yes im assuming steering shaft play would be no effort. Rack play could be no effort if the issue is slack in the gear like I had. If an issue with the power control module then there could be other problems like intermittent lack of boost at low speeds and twitchy overboost at high speeds (from what I researched anyway)...

I lost track of what was right and wrong and I never really knew what was an issue and what wasn't. For a while I thought I might have had a power steering pump problem but that usually means you lose assist at low speeds, which I never had happen other than one instance in a parking lot where I almost lit the V on fire out of frustration when I lost all power steering. That never happened again so I wrote it off.

Yes, there did seem to be intermittent issues when the steering was working against me at various speeds---but I think that was more due to the rack not knowing the true steering position in comparison to how I was turning the wheel rather than a malfunction in the rack's power control module itself. The play I had was purely slack in the gear. When they tested the ohms of this module all measurements checked out fine.

Magnasteer should provide boost at low speeds until 45 mph when it is neutral, then it should progressively push back on you the faster you get.

I always thought I only had a bad rack until I got it replaced and realized I truly had more than one issue. With the new unit I got the solid linear steering feel back, nice feel from lock to lock, but as I described above I still have play in the wheel.

To answer your question once more- the 10 to 2 "this could kill me" play is gone. The play now is just a significant dead center play that I feel is in the shaft. For example, at rest, with the car off I can move the wheel back and forth about 1 inch or so, maybe a bit more. When the car is running, this play is still there and I get no power steering resistance. I can easily feel where the play ends and I can then feel the pump working to actually put pressure on the wheels and therefore turn them. At low to mid speed, again the play is still there and the I can feel the wheels accommodating the ruts in the road without the wheel moving at all. At mid to higher speeds, I can move the wheel back and forth without affecting the forward tracking of the car at all. NO other car I've ever owned had this problem. The other V I drove didn't have this problem. My wife's maxima steers like a dream

Most take it for granted that they can simply drive without worrying i.e. when you 'hold' the wheel, the car stays where it is. You don't have to correct every other moment because the car is in a "drift". This is NOT alignment related. The car will track straight as long as I don't touch the wheel.

If I were you I'd visually and physically check those shaft segments for play and go from there. I felt mine under the console, no play in that joint. I felt it at the firewall inside that boot and couldn't detect any play either. The only play I've been able to find is the visual play where the lower shaft meets the rack.



I have to go back to the dealer anyway they routed the PS hose between the rack and a hardline that starts and stops on the rack, therefore the travel is limited so they couldn't bolt the hose back down to the top of rack. The tech decided to just leave it because it was too hard to re-do the whole thing. Now it just clanks around under there. I mentioned it on my last visit...They give it back to me, say it's my exhaust hitting the sway bar. what? Idiots. They've screwed up on almost every install/repair they've ever done.

nice install rain man:

 

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fwiw, my 09 CTS had free play when centered. one dealer said "that's normal" :bigroll:

so I took it to my usual dealer, and they replaced the propeller shaft promptly. problem solved.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
10 and 2 is gone. More like 11:55 to 12:05 now. Yes im assuming steering shaft play would be no effort. Rack play could be no effort if the issue is slack in the gear like I had. If an issue with the power control module then there could be other problems like intermittent lack of boost at low speeds and twitchy overboost at high speeds (from what I researched anyway)...
11:55 to 12:05 sounds more like my problem now.

Also...I looked into it and I think no 1st gen CTS's have Magnasteer...I was trying to rule out the rack and I guess I can't. But I'll still likely start with the steering shaft.

To answer your question once more- the 10 to 2 "this could kill me" play is gone. The play now is just a significant dead center play that I feel is in the shaft. For example, at rest, with the car off I can move the wheel back and forth about 1 inch or so, maybe a bit more. When the car is running, this play is still there and I get no power steering resistance. I can easily feel where the play ends and I can then feel the pump working to actually put pressure on the wheels and therefore turn them. At low to mid speed, again the play is still there and the I can feel the wheels accommodating the ruts in the road without the wheel moving at all. At mid to higher speeds, I can move the wheel back and forth without affecting the forward tracking of the car at all. NO other car I've ever owned had this problem. The other V I drove didn't have this problem. My wife's maxima steers like a dream
Yeah that sounds basically like what mine is doing at 104k. The front end is tight, otherwise, according to my inspection. I think there might be a LITTLE play in the rack, though it's hard to tell. Either way, I've convinced myself if I can get rid of the main middle inch of no-man's-land feel in the steering, I will be very happy with it.

My wife's 2000 Malibu with 118k has almost the exact same type of play. Stupid GM crap...ah well at least we can still get parts....oh wait.

The only play I've been able to find is the visual play where the lower shaft meets the rack.
There's play between the shaft and the rack input itself?? That doesn't seem right...or do you mean it's the joint inside that black boot? If so, that's what I was hoping my problem was, because that shaft is supposedly quite affordable, coming in under $100 at list.

I remember I complained about a little steering play to the first dealer I went to under CPO when I first bought the car (last August). He laughed and said mine felt better than average to him, and I'd need a V2 to address my little concerns. I wasn't super impressed with his reaction, as I was expecting more than a 4 door Camaro (steering-wise). Ok that was harsh. I like the steering, off center...well it might be a TAD slow in the ratio...
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Also part number 41 on this diagram...is another joint (and more $$$). This one appears to be at the bottom of the steering column. It is what comes through the firewall and mates to the part of the shaft you can touch under the hood. Not sure how this differs from the sphere thing (part 30) in terms of likelihood to wear out.

EDIT: Wait, is part 28 where the steering wheel bolts to? So that is a joint that allows the wheel to tilt. Can that wear? Assuming it doesn't, then I think that leaves the lower column shaft, or lower steering shaft as the real joints in the system.
 

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There's play between the shaft and the rack input itself?? That doesn't seem right...or do you mean it's the joint inside that black boot? If so, that's what I was hoping my problem was, because that shaft is supposedly quite affordable, coming in under $100 at list.

I remember I complained about a little steering play to the first dealer I went to under CPO when I first bought the car (last August). He laughed and said mine felt better than average to him, and I'd need a V2 to address my little concerns. I wasn't super impressed with his reaction, as I was expecting more than a 4 door Camaro (steering-wise). Ok that was harsh. I like the steering, off center...well it might be a TAD slow in the ratio...
Not sure, I could just see the whole assembly turning back and forth where the metal dust boot looking part actually meets the rack. I have a video of it on here somewhere. If I was at a pc id post it again but I can't at the moment..

I found another thread on here in the V section from 2004 with alot of good info in magnasteer. Just google cts magnasteer. It mentions a possible correlation with the swps and the steering resistance and feel. I know I have a stored code for swps but the *******s said it was due to my suspension kit. Ha ha what a stupid answer. But, par for the course for these guys. Anything to deny a repair.


So many GM dealerships are run by clueless idiots that know less about the cars they sell than the customers that buy them....

Back that up with the incompetent techs and you end up with one and done owners instead of repeat customers. This is why manufacturers whose models have the same or worse repair history sell so many more cars... It's called customer service, and GM gets a fat F in this category.

They are still under the impression that the old school 'buy usa' customers exist. They do, but they're dying fast.

GM will fold eventually, just wait and see. Good riddance. Sell the profitable segments to better companies and get out of the way.



Can you tell I'm bitter over the situation? Lol
 

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Agreed..., but the next closest to me is a 4 hour drive in any direction. Quite a gamble if they aren't any better.. I asked once before if anyone knew of a "Lindsay" caliber dealer in the tri state area (tn/ar/ms) and never got a good response from anyone. I would make the trip to LC specifically, but it wouldn't surprise me if they were booked solid before and after V day which is when I'd want to get in there.

I know it isn't as easy as it seems to solve everyones problems, so my comments should be viewed in that context... but a good dealer should be able to explain, or more importantly prove WHY the perceived problem isn't a problem, or throw parts at it until it is fixed.

The excuse that they simply don't think there is a problem is weak. Unfortunately this is what happens when a car is obselete and there are no other examples on the lot, and no one in mgmt or sales owns one.. I imagine if there were they could provide a valuable perspective in these situations.
 

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I guess I am glad I don't live somewhere remote. I have 3-4 dealers of every conceivable make within an hour of me.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Well in any event, if you try the lower shaft before me, please come back and report the results. I probably won't have a chance until after June...
 

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I will. Sunday I'll be reinstalling all my stock parts before the final warranty push begins..

I'll be printing off the steering play diagnostic steps from the actual service manual so we can all go over them together one by one until this is solved.
 

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I found the problem.

The play is in the joint where the lower shaft meets the rack, under that black boot.

With the wife steering back and forth slightly, I could hear and feel the slack. Its not a lot of movement at the joint, but it translates to alot at the wheel, as evidenced by me barely bracing the shaft at various points and her confirming it was much stiffer and would not move easy.

The point of discovery was when I held the piece that protrudes from the rack, and she said it still felt loose. I then held only the "C" frame of this piece and the shaft was still moving. I was happy to feel that because it suggests the rack is ok. I also felt no slack when moving the rack via tie rods and holding this same protruding piece..

I've had this problem since day 1....... ...Yes jim, you fartknocker, my V was crabbin. Still is. Damn... And now im going to get it repaired. It's been a while. I knew it was fked up. I could feel it. It's my V. You all know what I mean.

I'm disappointed that I've brought up this issue several times to "master mechanics" and even pointed to the shaft as a possible culprit. Even dropped the words "directional stability". When my rack was bad, this joint took a beating and the play got much worse...not to worry... I'll make sure and print out the EXACT pictures from the gm service manual so they can locate this part if I'm not there to help.

Have to keep it now, it will be like a brand new car.
 

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this is where the center intermediate shaft meets the lower intermediate shaft. There's a joint inside the boot of the lower shaft that has the play.



here's where the lower intermediate shaft meets the rack. Kev, note that piece that sticks out of the rack where the lower shaft connects- when my rack was bad, I had back and forth play there noting slack in the gear itself. I don't have that now (new rack).



inside view of that joint



the service manual also says to look for shear in the injection molded plastic in this piece of shaft, I assume somewhere between the firewall and wheel.

 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
That's so strange...so it's not the joint itself, but where the rack mates with the lower part of the shaft. Either way, that should be an easy fix. I will have to get under mine and see. Was there associated clunking inside the car? On mine there's nothing at all.

So you put your hand on the lower boot and could feel play there relative to the rack?

There's a joint inside the boot of the lower shaft that has the play.
Or perhaps I am just dense. So the joint inside that boot has the play. That's exactly where I would expect it, and why I mentioned the lower shaft as a possible contributor to MY play. I haven't heard of other examples of people having play attributed to this shaft, though.
 

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That's so strange...so it's not the joint itself, but where the rack mates with the lower part of the shaft. Either way, that should be an easy fix. I will have to get under mine and see. Was there associated clunking inside the car? On mine there's nothing at all.

So you put your hand on the lower boot and could feel play there relative to the rack?



Or perhaps I am just dense. So the joint inside that boot has the play. That's exactly where I would expect it, and why I mentioned the lower shaft as a possible contributor to MY play. I haven't heard of other examples of people having play attributed to this shaft, though.
oddly low number of people affected by this...but Im sure many don't know they have a small play issue. Then again, most people did not drive with a fubared rack for 3 months either like I did! Is there a steering rack replacement in your car's history?

no discernable clunk from inside the car. Only about a foot away (head in wheelwell) can you hear it. Its not a clunk, just a metal on metal click, enough to indicate free play. Now, when my rack was bad, there was a bad clunking noise you could hear from inside the car...


yes, the play is in the joint that is covered by the boot. I held the portion of the shaft that connects to the rack and there was still play in the wheel. Holding the shaft at any higher point resulted in a stiff wheel. You'll need someone to steer the wheel back and forth, you can't do it with one hand and feel with the other..well, I guess someone could but their magnus ver magnusson arms wouldn't fit in there.

my rack doesnt seem to have any play, and it shouldnt. Its new. When i tugged on the tie rod (the wheels were off and car was in the air) the part of the lower shaft I was holding down turned with no play. When my wife steered back and forth the rack didn't budge but I could still feel the shaft moving with my other hand. You have to hold the lower portion firmly to fully expose the play.

I can't say that there's not incremental play at another joint somewhere from an undertorqued bolt, but replacing this piece should help significantly. I still thinking this fix can't clear up the entire problem I have, it seems too bad at the wheel...but I'll find out in a week or so.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Is there a steering rack replacement in your car's history?
Nope, original at 104k.

no discernable clunk from inside the car. Only about a foot away (head in wheelwell) can you hear it. Its not a clunk, just a metal on metal click, enough to indicate free play.
Ok this sounds like what I found in the 10 minutes I took with my head under the hood last week.

You'll need someone to steer the wheel back and forth, you can't do it with one hand and feel with the other..
Funny. I actually did try by myself. I didn't feel like enlisting my wife. I also was annoyed that things are so tight in there, especially compared to my Caprice.

my rack doesnt seem to have any play, and it shouldnt. Its new. When i tugged on the tie rod (the wheels were off and car was in the air) the part of the lower shaft I was holding down turned with no play. When my wife steered back and forth the rack didn't budge but I could still feel the shaft moving with my other hand. You have to hold the lower portion firmly to fully expose the play.
I will have to try this and see how my rack is. I know with steering boxes this trick isn't representative because with some load on the output, there will be input to output play, even though, in a vice, it looks perfectly tight. But those are entirely different animals.

I can't say that there's not incremental play at another joint somewhere from an undertorqued bolt, but replacing this piece should help significantly. I still thinking this fix can't clear up the entire problem I have, it seems too bad at the wheel...but I'll find out in a week or so.
I wonder if yours is as minor as mine is. And if other people just don't notice or care. It can't be more than an inch or so at the steering wheel (rim).
 
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