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Mushy Steering on a 1992 Dodge

I own a 1992 Roadtrek Class B RV which sits on a Dodge RAM 250, 5.9 L/360 CID EFI gas V8. At any speed, the steering is extremely loose. There is a ridiculous amount of play in the steering wheel. We’ve had a new steering box installed and while there was a little improvement between that and the new tires - it’s still not that much better. My mechanic says that this is not uncommon in older vehicles like this. I have gotten used to it, but now that I’m trying to sell the RV, most potential buyers are really put off by it. I reached out to Roadtrek and they said that “Back in the day some customers added a steering stabilizer to the front end to tighten it up.” Does this sound right as a solution to the issue? What should something like that cost (order of magnitude)?

The loose steering might be caused from a worn steering shaft pot coupling.


How long have you owned this vehicle?
Was it always loose?

If you’ve owned it for years and it used to be okay, it’s wear. Determining exactly what’s needed requires hands-on look-see. In addition to the ball joints and tie rod ends, you’ll also want to consider the shocks. As shocks weaken, they allow the vehicle to tilt more in response to the initial steering input rather than turn. That creates a very loose feel.

If it were mine, I’d check the joints for wear and if they were okay I’d change the shocks and do a good alignment. I don’t think most people appreciate the importance of good shocks to good steering response, but it’s very significant… especially if the vehicle’s center of gravity is raised like it is with an RV on the vehicle.

My money is on the shocks and alignment. Let us know how you make out.

Steering stabilizers are just shock absorbers that dampen the steering motion. They are a bit of a band-aid. If you have one on the van, and RockAuto shows one available, replace it, it is only $50. If you don’t have one, it may be missing, check for mounting brackets.

Not sure why the steering box was replaced. Did you tell the mechanic to replace it or did he suggest that was the problem? Best to cehck all the other items like tie rod ends, ball joints, center link, idler arm or other steering parts. Everything has to be in good shape, then the alignment.

Will have my mechanic look at that. I’ve owned it since January of this year and it has always been like that. I had the steering box replaced but as I said, that didn’t have much of an impact. Will let you know if we have any progress. Thanks!

I think I told him to replace the steering box. Can’t remember if he did anything with the tie rod ends but he did look at the ball joints. Will talk to him about the rest of the stuff. Thanks!

Suggest to ask the mechanic to diagnose and repair the loose steering problem, rather than telling them which component to replace. This is a common symptom on well-used campers and RV’s, and could be anything from the steering wheel to the tires, and likely is a combination of problems along that path caused by worn out parts.

Does this RV have independent front suspension or i-beam . . . ?

Given the age, I’m guessing far more just the steering gearbox was worn

pitman arm, idler arm, inner and outer tie rods, etc.

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This is a very common yet incorrect approach by car owners. They surmise what might be bad and tell the mechanic what to change rather than tell the mechanic the symptoms and letting him diagnose the cause. In the end it usually costs more by the time the problem is finally solved.

Given that excessive wear in any of those parts is a potential safety issue, I urge the OP to have a competent mechanic do a very thorough check of every steering component.

try an RV service center. ala camper world or such. my dad had an 30’ class A type winnebago. the steering knuckles had a dual spring assist/stiffener on each side. i never really got into the theory of what it did. i think it was there too keep the wheels centered if you hit a big hole?

We have lots of walk-in vans in our fleet. Most are on a gm P-series chassis, which is also the basis for many RVs

it’s really just an old school setup. I-beam suspension, king-pins, pitman, idler, tie rods, steering damper, etc.

RV repair shops would definitely be familiar with this, but any shop that services large vehicles should be able to figure this out in a short amount of time