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More advice on my 1968 Olds 442

It has been a while since I posted about my car. I have done a lot to it, including a full engine and transmission rebuild, some suspension work, new fuel lines, and lots of other small repairs.

One thing I’d like to ask about is in regards to the steering. As many of you surely know, it has the old GM power steering, which is very loose (little resistance, which is nice in a certain sense). However, it seems a bit too loose for comfort sometimes. When moving the components with the engine off, it does not seem to have any play in the linkage, including the universal knuckle in the steering shaft. I suspect that the issue is in the steering box, and it may just be the way the system was designed. There are no fluid leaks. I can move the steering wheel about 3-4 degrees (estimate) in each direction without any response from the steering, which makes me feel like I have less control than I would like.

I’m wondering if people think that just replacing the steering box will solve this issue, and also if there are any specific technical specs that I should consider when replacing the unit.

Thanks for your advice and stay safe and healthy.

Cryoman (Steve)

I had a lot of play in my 84 impala around 1990? It should not have worn so soon. I tossed in a used box for $25 and it was much better. I would image a 1968 era car may or may not have similar wear. I would try it.i think they run $300?

Read this article… it explains your issue, I think, as a high ratio steering box. Swapping out a low ratio box (14.4:1) will make your '68 feel more responsive… Good Luck.

https://www.hemmings.com/stories/article/quick-ratio-steering-boxes

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Try adjusting the steering gear to see if that takes the play out of the steering.

Tester

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Yes, definitely adjust it per Tester’s advice above. I adjusted many steering boxes of that vintage years ago. It should definitely help with the play.

Before you adjust the steering box, lay down on the ground in front of the vehicle and have someone move the steering wheel back and forth quickly. They should not move it enough to actually turn the wheels, just sort of back and forth till they feel high resistance. The engine should be off.

Look at each of the ball joints, the tie rod ends, the idler arm and the pitman arm for any play in their joints. Replace any with visible play. On the idler arm, also check for play in the rubber bushings, on a vehicle this old, it will probably have plenty of play there.

On the steering box, I used to just tighten down the adjustment screw until it hit bottom. DO NOT put much torque on this, be gentile or you can damage the gears. Then back off about 1/8 turn. The steering wheel should now turn through a one inch arc before feeling resistance (one inch free play). Again, engine off.

All great advice but my memories of a similar Olds was that it moved “like all get out” but turning was similar to turning a boat but with less effort and less feel so don’t build your hopes up.

But on the other hand, that Jetfire V8’s acceleration made it all worthwhile. Was a great car.

We had a '69 Cutlass growing up, handled no worse than other cars of that time. Always room for improvement.

OP is talking about excessive play in the steering. Like more slop then a typical 68 gm sedan.

The recirculating ball steering wears out the ball bearings until they look like discs. You have to replace them.