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2013 Impala LT
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630 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is more of an FYI thread as I didn't find much info here when searching for answers to my problem.

My 2013 Impala as slowly been getting more and more steering wheel play. I guess I didn't notice it was that bad as it happened slowly over time, but my wife drove my car one day and was not thrilled. After paying more attention to it, I realized I had about 25-30 degrees of play. There was no weird clunking or noises, and I could see that it was not a tie rod issue. It's virtually impossible to see the top of the steering rack when the vehicle is on the ground, and when it was on the lift the problem kind of went away (needed weight on the tires). I was thinking I probably needed a new rack, but didn't love pulling the trigger on a $200+ part without knowing for sure. I googled around, found a youtube video of a guy who said that almost 100% of the time, it is the lower steering shaft. Again, I don't like buying parts without verifying myself, but I wasn't sure how to verify, plus the guy seemed pretty sure. Part of my symptoms that made me feel he might be right was that the play was there regardless of what part of the steering rack I was in. So even if I was turned half a rotation of the wheel, I'd still have the play. I figured if it was the rack, the play might only be in the center portion.

Turns out he was right. I got the part from rockauto and swapped it out. Changing it isn't technically hard, but it is a pain to work on. You don't need any special tools. This is how to do it:
  • Straighten steering wheel and make sure tires are straight
  • Remove driver side front wheel
  • Lift boot on top of steering rack to expose a bolt on bottom of steering shaft
  • Remove bolt with 11mm socket and extensions.
  • Pry shaft off of steering rack.
  • Get inside your car and contort your body however you feel necessary to remove lower panel under the steering wheel (panel with the obd port on it). There are a couple push pin fasteners.
  • Pull back steering boot to expose bolt at the top of steering shaft.
  • Use 13mm socket and 15mm wrench to remove the nut and bolt holding the top of steering shaft in place.
  • Remove steering shaft from inside the car. Install is the reverse.

I did not worry about locking the steering wheel. The top of the steering shaft can only be installed in one orientation, and similar for the bottom. As long as you don't actively spin the steering wheel when the shaft is disconnected, you shouldn't have any issues. It can be wiggled around to access bolts more easily. Just make sure not to rotate the wheel more than 360 degrees and remember which way you need to go to get back to center.

It was clear when I got my old part out that it was certainly the issue. There are two u-joints, as well as the rubber bushing part where the telescoping part of the shaft goes in. The later is where my issue was, but I could see worn u-joints could cause issues too. Long story short, if you got some play in the steering wheel, think about replacing this before the steering rack. For half the price, and a lot less work (took me about an hour), its not too bad of a job.
 

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2,526 Posts
This is more of an FYI thread as I didn't find much info here when searching for answers to my problem.

My 2013 Impala as slowly been getting more and more steering wheel play. I guess I didn't notice it was that bad as it happened slowly over time, but my wife drove my car one day and was not thrilled. After paying more attention to it, I realized I had about 25-30 degrees of play. There was no weird clunking or noises, and I could see that it was not a tie rod issue. It's virtually impossible to see the top of the steering rack when the vehicle is on the ground, and when it was on the lift the problem kind of went away (needed weight on the tires). I was thinking I probably needed a new rack, but didn't love pulling the trigger on a $200+ part without knowing for sure. I googled around, found a youtube video of a guy who said that almost 100% of the time, it is the lower steering shaft. Again, I don't like buying parts without verifying myself, but I wasn't sure how to verify, plus the guy seemed pretty sure. Part of my symptoms that made me feel he might be right was that the play was there regardless of what part of the steering rack I was in. So even if I was turned half a rotation of the wheel, I'd still have the play. I figured if it was the rack, the play might only be in the center portion.

Turns out he was right. I got the part from rockauto and swapped it out. Changing it isn't technically hard, but it is a pain to work on. You don't need any special tools. This is how to do it:
  • Straighten steering wheel and make sure tires are straight
  • Remove driver side front wheel
  • Lift boot on top of steering rack to expose a bolt on bottom of steering shaft
  • Remove bolt with 11mm socket and extensions.
  • Pry shaft off of steering rack.
  • Get inside your car and contort your body however you feel necessary to remove lower panel under the steering wheel (panel with the obd port on it). There are a couple push pin fasteners.
  • Pull back steering boot to expose bolt at the top of steering shaft.
  • Use 13mm socket and 15mm wrench to remove the nut and bolt holding the top of steering shaft in place.
  • Remove steering shaft from inside the car. Install is the reverse.

I did not worry about locking the steering wheel. The top of the steering shaft can only be installed in one orientation, and similar for the bottom. As long as you don't actively spin the steering wheel when the shaft is disconnected, you shouldn't have any issues. It can be wiggled around to access bolts more easily. Just make sure not to rotate the wheel more than 360 degrees and remember which way you need to go to get back to center.

It was clear when I got my old part out that it was certainly the issue. There are two u-joints, as well as the rubber bushing part where the telescoping part of the shaft goes in. The later is where my issue was, but I could see worn u-joints could cause issues too. Long story short, if you got some play in the steering wheel, think about replacing this before the steering rack. For half the price, and a lot less work (took me about an hour), its not too bad of a job.

If I remember correctly - GM recommends replacing the bolt and nut for this part? Was this the intermediate steering shaft (ISS) that you replaced?
 

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2013 Impala LT
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630 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
If I remember correctly - GM recommends replacing the bolt and nut for this part? Was this the intermediate steering shaft (ISS) that you replaced?
Yes, I believe so. Some places call it the lower steering shaft, others intermediate. I wonder why they require replacement of that bolt and nut? Didn't seem to be a locking nut or anything special. Would be surprised if that was a TTY bolt...but I suppose it could have been.
 

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'12/'13/'16 Limited LT's
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3,649 Posts
Yes, I believe so. Some places call it the lower steering shaft, others intermediate. I wonder why they require replacement of that bolt and nut? Didn't seem to be a locking nut or anything special. Would be surprised if that was a TTY bolt...but I suppose it could have been.
reubenswinks, did you get the lower steering shaft from Rockauto? What brand did you use?
 

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2013 Impala LT
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630 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Yup. That is the dorman part I replaced. I am sure the one Sheila pointed out would work too. That was unavailable when I looked. I did not use a new bolt. I just re-used the existing bolt/nut. Haven't had any issues with it.
 
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