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Old 03-15-2020, 05:47 PM   #1
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A lot of play in steering wheel

Hi my first MH it's a 2003 Winnebago Journey36 DL. The sterring wheel can move like from 3 o'clock to 6 o'clock before it's moving the direction of the tires. Is it a simple fix? Something I can do my self ?
Or is this normal
Thanks Kenn n
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Old 03-15-2020, 06:05 PM   #2
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Sounds like severely worn steering parts, things like ball joints come to mind. They can be replaced but it does take some tools that many do not have and it is a somewhat hard deal to do if not using a lift, etc.
One way to get a better idea of the problem is to slide under and have somebody turn the wheel while you watch for looseness in the steering linkage to the front wheels.
So the fact that you ask, kind of indicates it would not be a good project as it isn't what I would call a starter project.
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Old 03-19-2020, 09:47 AM   #3
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Pittman arm comes off steering box. Across the front there is an idler arm to balance the movement of the center connecting arm between pittman arm and idler arm. Both ends of the center connecting arm are connected to tie rods and these rods turn the tires based upon steering wheel input. They all have bushings (ends) that wear and cause loose motion. Changing these rod ends can be done in a driveway but your alignment will be affected and needs to be set once all this work is finished. You need a rod end joint tool, it's a fancy wedge and some basic tools. But it's not a good first mechanical repair as stated before. My guess is Pittman arm bushing but if it were me I would have all the steering parts checked for lost motion and replaced at a shop.
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Old 03-19-2020, 09:50 AM   #4
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I think you are right. I need to bring it to a professional.
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Old 03-19-2020, 09:52 AM   #5
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I don't see how this could possibly be diagnosed over the Internet. Given the ages of the vehicle and that you presumably don't know its maintenance history I would have the entire suspension checked out, particularly the front suspension, but the rear also just because you're going to be at the shop.
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Old 03-19-2020, 09:59 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Kbwitt View Post
I think you are right. I need to bring it to a professional.
Yes you do.
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Old 03-19-2020, 11:04 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kbwitt View Post
Hi my first MH it's a 2003 Winnebago Journey36 DL. The sterring wheel can move like from 3 o'clock to 6 o'clock before it's moving the direction of the tires. Is it a simple fix? Something I can do my self ?
Or is this normal
Thanks Kenn n
Just out of curiosity, how many miles are on your motorhome?
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Old 03-20-2020, 10:10 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by eldermike View Post
Pittman arm comes off steering box. Across the front there is an idler arm to balance the movement of the center connecting arm between pittman arm and idler arm. Both ends of the center connecting arm are connected to tie rods and these rods turn the tires based upon steering wheel input. They all have bushings (ends) that wear and cause loose motion. Changing these rod ends can be done in a driveway but your alignment will be affected and needs to be set once all this work is finished. You need a rod end joint tool, it's a fancy wedge and some basic tools. But it's not a good first mechanical repair as stated before. My guess is Pittman arm bushing but if it were me I would have all the steering parts checked for lost motion and replaced at a shop.
Hi, I am following this thread as I have similar issue on 95 Winnie adventurer 34' with approx 36k miles.

My question is what is ballpark cost to replace the parts you listed above in a shop ???

Just need to have an idea cause I live out in middle of nowhere and have to drive to a shop multiple hours away.

Thanks for yourhelp
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Old 03-20-2020, 10:43 AM   #9
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Hi, I am following this thread as I have similar issue on 95 Winnie adventurer 34' with approx 36k miles.

My question is what is ballpark cost to replace the parts you listed above in a shop ???

Just need to have an idea cause I live out in middle of nowhere and have to drive to a shop multiple hours away.

Thanks for yourhelp
I have no idea because being 71 I quit doing this type work for myself years ago. Back in the day this was a job that I would never consider anyone other than myself doing. With shop labor as high as it is today I believe labor would be the biggest component of total cost. I suggest you call a shop and ask them if they would tackle to job. My list is a complete list of how a Pittman arm steering system works. You may only need some of it. IMHO worn steering and suspension parts is an issue that should be taken care of even at the expense of other issues that might exist.
Good luck
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Old 03-22-2020, 05:12 PM   #10
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I have a 2004 Itasca Meridian, Basically identical unit. My steering has quite a bit of play in it. Sort of got used to it. I have been bringing it for service to the Freightliner Factory Service in Gaffney, SC. The first time I asked about so much play. They pretty much said that is what it is.



If you get yours tightened up, I would be interested. I have put 60,000 on it like this, and I guess I just got used to it.


Alex
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Old 03-22-2020, 05:14 PM   #11
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Old 03-22-2020, 06:37 PM   #12
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I had my 03 Journey in for service at Gaffney Freightliner Center a couple years ago. We discussed the play in steering wheel and they tightened up the adjuster on the steering box. Made a huge difference! i would check this first, IMHO not likely you have worn bushings or parts at that mileage.
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Old 03-22-2020, 06:46 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexP View Post
I have a 2004 Itasca Meridian, Basically identical unit. My steering has quite a bit of play in it. Sort of got used to it. I have been bringing it for service to the Freightliner Factory Service in Gaffney, SC. The first time I asked about so much play. They pretty much said that is what it is.



If you get yours tightened up, I would be interested. I have put 60,000 on it like this, and I guess I just got used to it.


Alex
I crawled under it and found driver steering tire badly worn on inside yet all others in great shape.
The spare was brand new.
After replacing and checking wheel bearing for play, I drove it minus all weight. It tracked great very little play.
Nearest place to do an alignment in 4 hours away.
So hopefully it was just tire issue that prior owner never replaced tire.
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Old 03-22-2020, 07:04 PM   #14
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Steering and wear is one of those sneaky things that we do kind of get used to but it's not something to ignore for too long. Mileage is one way to wear things out but it can also be due to the way RV are used and maintained. If they set and folks don't do the grease jobs, rust can set up and wear can go pretty fast, even to the point that it gets too loose and one of the ball joints slips out. That can leave you going down the road at 60 MPH when one wheel decides to turn ninety degrees. NOT something to let happen!
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Old 03-22-2020, 08:24 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Kbwitt View Post
98,743

At almost 100,000 miles it could be a number of different things depending on how it was maintained along with whether the 2003 Journey's Freight-liner Chassis had independent front suspension or not.


Could be something simple like the steering box being out of adjustment however with that much play one would need to ensure that critical parts inside the steering box have not been damaged from being that far out of adjustment. If it has independent front suspension then you have more too than just a drag link to worry about but ball joints, upper and lower control arm bushings, center steering link, inner an outer tie rod ends, and idler arm. If you are not familiar with maintaining heavy duty independent suspension systems or solid front truck axles then yes do not wait to have it checked out by a professional with good verifiable credentials.


The costs to repair would also have little comparison to say someone with a gasoline powered Ford F53 based Class A chassis with its much simpler solid I-Beam front axle.
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Old 03-23-2020, 08:48 AM   #16
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At almost 100,000 miles it could be a number of different things depending on how it was maintained along with whether the 2003 Journey's Freight-liner Chassis had independent front suspension or not..
I would agree, but also note that we've become rather spoiled with the tight steering rack and pinion systems on most cars the last many decades. I remember when slop in the steering was quite normal from the factory.
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Old 03-23-2020, 09:48 AM   #17
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Well gang,
99.9999999999999999999999% of those era 36' Freightliner Winne/Itasca coaches are straight axle suspended coaches. The IFS units were in the larger, around 39' and larger units and, it was an option. So, for the OP and a zillion other 36' Freightliner coaches, there's a few places of wear in that front end.

1. Steering box (which, in some cases, can be adjusted to compensate for wear)
2. King pins
3. Idler arms
4. Tie rod ends (although, if one would have enough play in tie rod ends to cause 3:00 to 6:00 movement in the steering wheel, I wouldn't drive it ONE INCH without replacing them)
5. Drag link ends (same scenario, if worn that bad, pretty darn dangerous!)

Of course, wheel bearings play a part here too.

So, there's definitely a few places to check.
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Old 03-23-2020, 10:10 AM   #18
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I would agree, but also note that we've become rather spoiled with the tight steering rack and pinion systems on most cars the last many decades. I remember when slop in the steering was quite normal from the factory.
To add to this thought, we've also been spoiled by suspension systems on vehicles that need a lot less maintenance. We have a 2005 Rav4 that nothing has been done suspension wise other than brakes in 195,000 miles. The tires still wear fine and there's no play in the wheel. Original struts and/or struts. No suspension lube, no repacking of bearings. Nothing!
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Old 03-23-2020, 06:02 PM   #19
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I would agree, but also note that we've become rather spoiled with the tight steering rack and pinion systems on most cars the last many decades. I remember when slop in the steering was quite normal from the factory.

Yes we have become spoiled with the simpler McPherson Strut front suspensions with rack and pinion however those do wear out too. The steering rack takes the place of the center link, pitman arm and idler arm however they still have outer tie rod ends and and inner tie rod ends (called an inner sockets) that wear out too. The inner sockets requires a special tool, that use to be quite expensive, to remove and replace them.

My old Fiat 124 Spider has old school double A arm suspension with a recirculating ball steering box, etc, etc and its part of the annual maintenance schedule on that type of system to check the torque on all the steering components along with checking for excessive play in any of the components. Its part of your annual safety inspection and not to be taken lightly.

The steering box adjustment is another one people don't really understand either as there are actually 2 areas of concern there with most only considering the cross shaft with the wedge shaped sector gear and few giving the main shaft any consideration. The main shaft can also develop play end to end in it and if you just crank down on the sector gear adjustment you will mask the play in the main shaft however the end of the main shaft will start wearing down from the excess sideways pressure until it eventually fails completely leaving you without the ability to steer. I have rebuilt a good many of them over the years and replacing the main shaft can be so costly that it may be cheaper to just buy a new steering box.
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Old 03-24-2020, 02:01 PM   #20
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The recirculating ball steering gear box can be adjusted. I remember from my early days that when we adjusted the box we would turn it all the way stop to stop to verify that the adjustment didn't lock up the gear when it rotated the worm gear onto an non-worn portion of the gear.

I have no idea if the newer steering gear boxes have the adjustment. But if they do, and you do an adjustment, check it lock to lock on the steering because the wear might only be in the center.
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