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.