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Steering gear play #1042666 02/24/12 01:53 PM
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 125
lochabay Offline OP
1997 Sportage 4x4 Automatic trans. I had too much play in the steering. As the steering wheel was rocked back and forth through a couple of inches of play, I could see the input shaft of the steering gear box turning back and forth with no engagement of the pitman gear. I bought a used gear box and there was no slack or play of the input shaft by hand testing. I did not try to turn it with pliers or a wrench or any kind of leverage. I concluded it was tight. That may have been a mistake. Other than the play in the steering wheel, the steering was normal. No noise present and even resistance throughout its turning radius. I had the new box installed and now do not have even resistance throughout its range of motion. It acts like the pump is weak, but there was no indication of this before. Mechanic told me there was a kink in the high pressure hose. If that was there before it wasn't causing any problems. Nonetheless, I would think that a kink or any fluid flow restriction in that hose or system would produce the same symptoms as a weak pump. Could there be some internal problem with the different gear box? And, to top it off, I still have too much play in the steering wheel. Your thoughts are always appreciated.

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Re: Steering gear play [Re: lochabay] #1042667 02/24/12 07:36 PM
Joined: Apr 2011
Posts: 326
Peabody Offline
I have a noticeable amount of play in my steering too. I had a mechanic look things over and he said it was all at the gear box. However, my Sporty has been lifted (both body and suspension: about 2-5/8" on the body and 3.5" on the suspension). And the mechanic said that the change in geometry commonly produces play in the gear box. My steering fluid reservoir is also out of position due to the lift and my have a restricted hose (though I don't think that's causing any problems for my rig). So if you have lifted your Sporty, then you might be getting play in the gear box because of it. If not, then it sounds like you have other issues somewhere in the gear box & steering. Hope that helps... some, at least.

<img src="/forums/images/graemlins/patriot.gif" alt="" />

1997 Sportage 4x4, auto-trans, Warn manual hubs, 4" UPYOURKIA front lift, TJ 106AA rear springs, 2-5/8" body lift, 31x10.50 treads, SmittyBilt SRC front and XRC rear bumper, swing-out tire mount, OBX LSD front diff, Track Finder rear locker, 5.38 R&Ps and... really crappy gas mileage! <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shiner.gif" alt="" />
Re: Steering gear play [Re: Peabody] #1042668 02/25/12 10:38 AM
Joined: Dec 2008
Posts: 336
2002_Sporty Offline
My Sporty has the 3" lift and I do get a good amount of play in the steering. It's like an inch or so left to right and I get nothing in the steering. But my wheels are way out there too. Kinda like in the movies where the person seems to be steering back and forth but is supposed to be going straight.

2002 4dr Kia Sportage 4X4
Tires:235/75/15, Wheels: Black 15x8 Steel ProComp 2.5" B.S., Hubs:Warn Manual, Lift:3" UPYOURKIA, Trailer Hitch, Cargo Rack, Clinometer.
Re: Steering gear play [Re: 2002_Sporty] #1042669 02/25/12 08:30 PM
Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 235
DRX350 Offline
I'd recommend checking the pitman and idler arm. My truck did the same thing and the shop said it was okay.

I replaced it anyway, and the problem was greatly minimized.

"Does this part need to be in there?"

1996 Dodge 1500 single cab / short bed, 5.9 4x4; 2" lift (springs not blocks), C.A.I and more mods to come.
Re: Steering gear play [Re: DRX350] #1042670 02/26/12 06:19 PM
Joined: Mar 2002
Posts: 1,396
DennisThompson Offline
Body Damage is Cool
You replaced your used box with a used box, you don't know the history of that used box. Your best bet is to find a new or rebuilt box, check all your tie rod ends, idler arm and ball joints. I know it cost alot more but it should drive like new when your done. With my lift and 31s I replaced my ball jonts every 80,000 miles, the original tie rod ends and idler arm went 180,000 but when they needed repleced your could feel it.


95 Sportage, gone but not forgotten.
98 Jeep TJ, 4" Zone springs with RC Long arms, Ford 8.8", 4.56 gears & Detroit locker rear, D30, 4.56 & Detroit Trutrack front.
Re: Steering gear play [Re: lochabay] #1042671 03/04/12 05:57 PM
Joined: Mar 2004
Posts: 360
Lou Offline
I have a lot of free play too...and my wife bought herself another car (SX4 AWD) because she could not handle it.
Power steering always have a dead play at rest (engine not running) because the initial movement of the steeering shaft is the power steering control valve input. However, as soon as the engine runs and the pump supplies pressure, a tiny amount of valve action opens the oil flow and this is what drives the pitman arm...not your direct steering input, and you think there is no free play because the PS does the job instantly.
If valves become sticky or obstructed, oil flow is retricted and you have to turn the steering more and eventually until it reaches the end of the valve free play and then YOU turn the wheels. Use of unsuitable steering fluid can dissolve valves and seals and degrade or ruin the power steering action. So....it turns out indeed that the gearbox..containing the PS control valves...is shot...or your power steering pump is shot.

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