97 GMC Suburban K1500 4x4 5.7l steering wheel play

My 97 GMC Suburban has some play in the steering wheel and sometimes steering feels a little “twitchy”, it feels like it gets a bit stuck and then releases. Any ideas? Thanks everyone!

Bad idler arm, or worn out steering box are 2 that come to mind


Thank you, that is what I am thinking as well. I have had quite a bit of front end work done in the past year but none fixed the issue. I need to have that checked out again. Do you think this could be related to my other post: 97 GMC Suburban K1500 4x4 5.7l high speed vibration/shaking/wobbling

Check if the lower steering shaft U-joint is worn.


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Prior experience with those trucks, the idler arm goes first, steering box later. Check the idler arm for play. Lay under it while someone steers left to right, engine running in park. If the idler arm is worn, you will see it. Everything else will move at the same rate while the idler components lag behind. I have made several have much less play by replacing just the idler arm.

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When I worked at a Dodge dealer customers complained about the play in the Saginaw steering gear (GM) when the trucks were new. The play in the steering gears can be adjusted to a degree, but at this age it may not be satisfactory.

The on/off assist (at low speeds?) may be due to a slipping belt.

Many of the older steering boxes provided an adjustment to reduce the play between the steering gears. There are lots of youtube videos describing how to do the adjustment.

Here’s one for a GMC truck of your vintage:

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