'86 Chevy Suburban, K15 4wd diesel. So I’ve had this dead spot in the steering for as long as I’ve had it (4 years), basically a little slop when turning the wheel back the other way. Not anything to affect the driveability, but I had an '88 ‘burban before with tight steering and the difference was noticeable, more of an annoyance than anything. Several mechanics, even my most reliable, either couldn’t feel the problem or said it was wear and tear, nothing to be done about it aside from replacing the whole system. So I ignored the problem for years. Well the other day, I was turning right, and the steering made a couple thumps and lurched a bit to one side and since then the slop has been HUGE. After checking the rag joint, ball pivots and everything, I realized the whole recirculating ball steering case was actually moving when I turned the wheel back and forth! My best guess is the bolts holding the case to the frame were loose, causing the small slop, and each turn of the wheel put stress on them, and they finally just sheared off-- thus the huge “slop” as the case wiggles in place when turning the wheel. It’s kind of hard to get in there and see how many bolts are sheared, loose, or still in place-- but if none then the case is being held up only by the steering column and the ball joint on the pitman arm. I’d do the work myself, but it’s the holidays-- meaning I’m short on time, and it’s freakin’ freezing outside with no sign of letting up, plus I don’t have an enclosed shop to work in, and it looks like those bolts are going to take some serious doing to get to. The reason not to go to a mechanic is the same-- it’s the Holidays (though on that count it’s more about not having the money). I could just JB Weld the dang thing to the frame, but then when it does come time to replace the steering case for real I’d be screwed! Would Zip-ties hold up? Duct tape even? My actual question is this: is it safe to drive short distances (with or without zipties until I can save up to get the bolts replaced? could it wreck the steering just driving straight to the shop? (I made it home, but I’m not sure if every turn is tearing up the joint or something-- looks ok, but…) What would be a fair cost for this work? (if you can’t give me dollars, at least give me hours-- labor usually runs $85 around here I think --and presumably the bolts themselves aren’t more than a few bucks…)
You’re joking, right?
The steering box broke it’s mounting bolts, so you’d like to GLUE it back on? Really? Or use zip ties? Have you looked at the broken bolts? They’re pretty stout. How do you plan to reproduce that kind of strength with glue and duct tape?
To answer your question: no, it is not safe to drive any distance whatever with the broken bolts. Not even down your driveway. If you can’t afford the repair, you can’t afford to drive this thing.
As for removing the broken bolts, it really shouldn’t take anyone competent more than an hour or two at most to get them out, even if they’re rusted in.
If you do drive this wreck with the steering zip tied together, when you plow into the school bus and the investigating cop sees your little repair work you’re going to go to jail.
" My actual question is this: is it safe to drive short distances (with or without zipties until I can save up to get the bolts replaced? could it wreck the steering just driving straight to the shop?"
I knew there must be a question in there someplace…Your vehicle in not safe to drive AT ALL…Have it towed to a repair shop, or, perhaps, a scrap-yard…
Zip ties and duct tape do have their limits… Leave it where it sits until 4 grade 8 (equivalent metric) bolts are installed.
This is extremely unsafe to drive. And no, JB weld and/or zipties will not make it safe. Think of it this way: if there was enough strain to shear the mounting bolts, is it realistic to expect zip ties to hold it?
If you suddenly lose you steering, or your ability to respond to someone’s child darting out in front of you chasing a ball, and someone innocent dies, then all of your excuses about the holidays, the cold, no time, and no shelter will be meaningless. Rent a vehicle for the holidays if you must have something, but don’t try to drive this one until you repair it properly.
Grab a tow truck. In the overall picture it’s going to be a small part of the bill. (if the garage has their own wrecker they may give you a break too) Consider the cost of being in an accident because you didn’t hire one.
Zip ties are not up to the job. Neither are big hose clamps, so naturally I will recommend them as well as coat hangers. It won’t be safe but maybe lucky? Too bad you can’t weld velcro.