CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

1990 Chevy G20 veers right; steering wheel ticks like clock second hand as I coast/accelerate

This has been frustrating since I have a reliable mechanic back home but I’m 1,000 miles away from there on a temp job and keep getting charlatan mechanics.

The driver side tire is different from the rest of them; probably smaller because its a spare (but not a donut). I’ve had the bearings replaced three times in five years. Last random mechanic said the right spindle is bad and needs replaced, but the part is no longer made (5.7L V8). He again replaced the bearings, pads, rotors. I’m prepared to buy an all-new set of tires, but it feels like something more is wrong; the steering wheel literally ticks like a clock to the right…one inch, two inch, three inches as the seconds pass. I cannot let go of the wheel at all while driving. I went to a empty parking lot and it just keeps going until it can’t turn any further.

Any suggestions?

Other than finding a good mechanic?? That’s a tall order over the internet!

Would be nice to know WHY the mechanics think the right spindle is damaged. If it has been bent, that would tend to destroy bearings. A google search for used parts sites may uncover a used right spindle that would work. They are pretty robust on these vans.

Given the spindle may be bent, assume that other things are bent as well. Also, seems like the suspension bushings are possibly shot on this 29 year old van. An alignment check and visual check would determine that. If nothing is amiss (I’d be surprised!), I’d suggest the steering box may be failing but the spindle and alignment are first up.

A couple of new tires to replace the spare and the worst of the other 3 would get you back to correct for tire size and be a first step. The second is an alignment check to see what’s wrong. The third is to find a right spindle for it.

2 Likes

Re: the spindle – he actually showed me what he was talking about, but I didn’t quite get it. He said the bearings do not “sit flush” on the spindle, thus would need to be re-packed every time I get an oil change or replaced as often as I have been doing. It’s a really wobbly ride right now. The van rocks left to right from 0 to about 20 mph. I’ve been searching for the spindle but can’t ever seem to find the right fit or one with less than 100,000 miles on it (my van has 230k so I at least want something with half as much wear and tear as the current part).

It is a spindle, it doesn’t wear, it is a structural part. The bearings wear. I am not surprised you can’t find one with less than 100K, the van is 29 years old!

If you can find one with ANY miles, buy it and replace the one you have or stop driving the van. I sounds less and less safe each time you post.

If you must drive with different size tires right vs left, best if only on non-drive wheels. Otherwise differential wear may result. What you need is

  • a complete set of tires that match
  • a 4 wheel alignment

Until you got that done, hard to guess further.

Unless the bearing seizes up and spins on the spindle.