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My experience with Delco reman steering gears (pre-rack-and-pinion steering). They're crap

I thought of something that might be worth putting out there because there’s no way I’m the only person who has faced this. I’ve got a '96 Suburban. It uses a steering gear, not a rack-and-pinion.

I’ve owned the Burb two years now. When I bought it, it wandered around on the road pretty badly. Having owned several 70’s eras Chevys, I suspected the steering gear and that turned out to be the cause of the wandering. A local Chevy dealer took it for a spin and didn’t even get out of the parking lot before they heartily agreed. They had a steering gear in stock so I had them swap it at that time. They put in a Delco reman steering gear.

And here’s where the runaround begins.

Delco steering gear goes in and the steering is tight. For a little over a month.

I take it back to the same Chevy dealer. No problem. They warranty it. This one lasts about a month.

I take it back again. Aaah, but the Chevy dealer says there’s no way it could be the steering gear again. They insist it must be something else. I know the rest of the Burb is tight, but to humor them, I tell them they are free to find the cause, but I’m not paying for their dilly-dallying because I’ve had the thing up on a rack and looked at by a top-notch suspension and front-end guy to make sure I wasn’t mis-diagnosing the problem. The front-end guy said, “That steering gear is shot, but everything else is tight.”

The Chevy dealer puts it up on their rack and can’t find anything wrong with the Burb. So they blame it on my tires, which are brand new back then. They tell me that my tires are over-inflated at 40 psi. They’re load-range E tires and 40 psi is the mfr recommendation. Again, I humor them, let some air out of the tires in the parking lot, then tell them I’m not leaving until one of their mechanics drives the thing with me in the Burb. The mechanic gets in and heads for a residential area. I asked him to stop messing around and jump onto the interstate and start passing some tractor-trailers, which he does, gripping the steering wheel like his life depended on it, which it did. It took all his concentration to keep it in the lane at 70 mph.

We return to the dealership and he tells me that instead of 35 psi in the tires, I need to run them somewhere between 35 and 40 psi. “It’s amazing what a difference even a couple PSI can make in handling.” I’m not making this up. At this point, my patience is wearing thin. I ask them to replace the steering gear again. They hem and haw, but do wind up replacing it. Because they know it’s bad.

This one, shockingly, lasts about a month. We have the same runaround regarding tire pressure. I tell them to get off of the tire thing, but they’re glued to it. My tires are Michelin LTX MS2. Probably the smoothest and most stable tire that I could run on my Burb. These things are NOT the cause of my problem.

This happens one more time.

I go back to the dealership and ask them if they’ve ever had one Delco “remanufactured” steering gear that worked for longer than a month. “Oh, we’ve had very few issues with these,” they assure me. But the steering gears are crap. They’re not actual rebuilds. They’re washed and re-boxed. I know this by this point, but since they kept wanting to sell me crap and give me the runaround, I was perfectly content to keep tying up one of their bays so they could install their crap parts.

They put in another steering gear. My local Chevy dealer wound up doing four warranty replacements of that steering gear in five months. Five months, five steering gears. They put the fifth one in and I take off on a 5,000-mile trip across the country. By the time I’m 1,100 miles into my journey, I can barely keep the Burb in one lane at any speed over about 55 mph. So I drive the next 400+ miles at about 55 mph instead of the posted 75 mph, unable to take my eyes off of my lane or even look to the side mirrors without swerving enough that people were hesitant to pass me. I’m barely able to remain above the slowest legal speed on the interstate. But I’m in the middle of Kansas. Not a lot going on there and I don’t feel like stopping and finding out I need to wait for four days for a steering gear to get shipped in. I got to my first destination and drove straight to the Chevy dealership there.

I walked into the service dept, handed one of the guys my keys and asked him to take the Burb for a spin and see if he could tell me what might be wrong with it, which he did. He made it about two blocks before he turned around. When he got out he said, “Man, that steering gear is gone.” So I told him it was a Delco reman that had just been replaced.

He went on to tell me that these Delco remans are horrible. He said they usually have to warranty them five, six, even seven times before they get one that is decent. He had pity on me after hearing my story and told me to come in first thing the next morning. He replaced the steering gear with yet another Delco reman (#6 in just over five months).

Before I made it back home, of course the steering gear was shot again. I drove straight to an O’Reilly’s, grabbed a Cardone reman steering gear, then drove straight to a Chevy dealership in a different town than where I live and asked them to at least donate the labor if they weren’t going to be willing to pay for an actual rebuilt gear. They ate the labor and I got a Cardone rebuilt steering gear.

That was about 1-1/2 years ago now and the steering gear behaves just as nicely as it did when it was put in.

Moral of the story: Delco should send all of their “remanufactured” steering gears to Cardone so they’ll actually get rebuilt and then customers will get what they paid for, the first time.

I think the dealer is pretty misguided if they continued to replace the same part time after time after time.
One bad one, fine, but not by the case load.

For what it’s worth reman parts can be hit and miss at times no matter who is doing the rebuilding. I installed a reman Chevy 350 in a pickup once that went through motor oil at the rate of 1 quart per 10 miles. The reman facility sent a guy out who looked the truck over and told me that I left a bolt out of the fuel pump (80s era motor) and my response was that they were full of it because the truck was bone dry underneath but smoked constantly.
After some pushing and shoving the engine was removed, disassembled, and it was discovered that the rebuilder had left the oil wiper rings off not just one, but ALL 8 pistons.

Obviously that was not likely an honest mistake and was probably due to a disgruntled employee who decided to throw a monkey wrench into the works on the way out of the door.

That reman facility was a huge one and not many months afterwards I saw an ad in the paper under help wanted for “Engine builders, no experience necessary. 7.50 an hour to start”.

A VW engine reman facility in Tulsa, OK sent out 75 long blocks and 71 of them failed within 500 miles; including the one I installed in someone’s car.
Of course, one learns these things after the fact. ;-(

One thing we all have to remember, and I have to remind my parts guy over and over is that A/C Delco parts are NOT OEM parts for GM products. Haven’t been for some years now. A/C Delco makes parts for lots of cars besides GM.

Back in the day and for many decades A/C Delco also manufactured many electrical parts for Harley Davidson motorcycles; generators, relays, etc.

Long story, but you finished with a resolution. Have to agree with your conclusion the Delco remans are crap. Thanks for the tip.

Could be worse. It could have been a new Bosch battery.

These comments crack me up. Maybe because it helps to know I’m not the only person in the world who gets dragged through the bushes more often than I’d like, even with my guard up. I’m so gun-shy of auto parts anymore. I’ve stuck with BWD because they’re the only brand I’ve not had to make a warranty exchange on yet. But, that could change.

Seems that sticking a “lifetime warranty” on crap parts has become the new way for a lot of parts mfrs. I love those lifetime warranties while I’m prying a “new” alternator out of the engine compartment that spent a whopping six weeks under the hood before completely disintegrating. Maybe the alternator was made by the same people who made that Bosch battery you mentioned. This is the first time in my life I’ve ever considered carrying a spare alternator. That’s pretty sad.

Anyway, I love the comments. Thanks.

Intended to reply to the mention that the shop was misguided to keep replacing the same part. I agree. And what cracks me up (now) is that this Chevy dealership is in an extremely affluent area and their shop rate is $120/hr. Top dollar. And, in my opinion, they are one of the worst shops I’ve ever been around. Everything they did to my Burb had to be warrantied at an old GMC dealership that looks very un-fancy, located in a different town, but their mechanics have proven to be top-notch and their repair charges have been surprisingly low. Everything, I mean everything, the first shop “fixed” has had to be re-done by the un-fancy GM shop in the different town.

Anyway, I’m beat. I need to hit the sack.

Hello I had the same issue with my 02 suburban. Went though THREE ac delco reman steering boxes. All had way too much play in them. Complete junk. I finally bought a redhead steering gear for the truck. It cost $300 and was well worth the money. Wish I had bought one from the beginning. Ac delco has some good stuff but their steering gears are junk.

While this is an very old thread that has washed up again it occurs to me that AC Delco doesn’t make GM steering gears Saginaw makes them. And the same people who rebuild for Duralast may rebuild for AC Delco.

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I wonder if anyone ever considered adjusting the pinion screw. Too loose can cause wandering.
Maybe they’re intentionally left on the loose side with the assumption that whoever installs the unit will adjust it properly. Too tight will cause binding and the steering wheel to not return to center.

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Did I get this right though, bought a 16 year old truck in 2012 and went to the Chevy dealer six times for the same issue, then finally just got an after-market? How about going to an independent repair shop and having them advise to put in an after-market once and be done with it? Usually mechanics are in a pretty good position to suggest what is junk and what isn’t. Just an idea but that was 6 years ago anyway.

Very suspect as being SPAM. Just joined with a generated name and first and only post is promoting a product.

Not spam at all. Got pics of it installed in my suburban. Just giving a heads up about my experience.

For what it’s worth…
Rock Auto lists 4 steering gears for that vehicle, including a Delco reman and the most popular seller there is a Lares unit. Cost is 30 bucks and change less than the Delco and 46 dollars more than the cheapest, a Cardone. They sell a BBB Vision OE reman for almost 60 bucks more than the Lares.

I often use Rock Auto “popular sellers” to help make decisions as to which parts to order. Professionals and individuals buy lots of stuff from them.

@common_sense_answer, good to know.

My 07 Silverado is getting a little loose. I remember that many years ago, I would adjust the pinion screw to take out the slack, but I don’t remember the procedure and since I don’t have any of my old Motor"s manuals anymore, I can’t find the procedure.

I see some YouTube videos on this but all they do is tighten the screw a quarter or half turn and keep driving. I remember that a 1" slack was the max and that is what the Silverado is at now but I don’t remember the min and I don’t want to go too tight.

BTW all these large GM vehicles, whether rack and pinion or worm and roller have a history with inner tie rod ends going bad. Not the case in my truck but just throwing that out there.