So what are intermediate steering shafts? This is a car component found between the steering wheel and the gearbox or the rack and pinion. Upon turning the steering wheel, it is the shaft that turns in return and actuates the gearbox which turns the wheels. The motor intermediate shaft, which is the torque steer replacement, is placed across the bolts and tranny to the engine block. A bearing race keeps the shaft in place where both the driver side hub and the drive shaft are connected.
There is a universal joint at every end and that sets up the steering shaft and the steering gear middle angle. So, an intermediate shaft is primarily used on applications where two universal joints are needed to connect both the steering shaft to what is called the steering gear. A joint is also located at both sides of the shaft and it supports the middle angle in the steering gear and the shaft, which allows the wheels of the car to turn without any extra effort.
The intermediate steering shaft can be found underneath the car’s dashboard; but it is important to note that each system is used differently, and this varies from car to car. Like for example, in rack and pinion system vehicles, the power steering system’s shaft holds the rotary valve and steering wheel together, so if you start having a hard time trying to turn the steering wheel, it could be a problem with the intermediate shaft.
Intermediate Steering Shafts Noise
Like any other car component the intermediate steering shafts could also develop issues and it’s essential to understand the signs of trouble early before the problem gets any worse. Due to the shaft’s location in an area hidden, where it cannot be readily seen it could be hard to be warned of the problem. So it is important to know the tell-tale signs of shaft malfunction. One of which is hearing noise coming from it. Any unusual noise coming from your vehicle could indicate a problem.
Problems on the steering shaft could manifest as a grinding or popping noise whenever you turn the wheel. The noise is more likely coming from the steering column and it occurs over a lengthy period. You may hear it only occasionally at first at irregular intervals. The sound is mild but when left unchecked and unrepaired then it becomes constant and annoyingly loud. Once that happens it is imperative to have the vehicle looked at the soonest possible.
Intermediate Steering Shaft Symptoms
A car’s strength can be majorly found on its steering. It is one of the car features that draws customers to it. The vehicle could boast of its comfortable and easy steering, the sporty handling or accuracy when taking a turn when you drive it. All of these are coming from the consistency and quality of the steering shaft, as a part of the whole steering system.
The steering system is composed of a series of interconnecting parts that works together to create a smooth steering. The steering shaft or column, rack and wheel work together for the car to move and turn smoothly around corners and maneuver with precision. So as soon as the steering shaft starts having issues it follows that you’ll notice the problem in your driving.
A steering shaft that cannot properly connect to the steering gear will lead to issues when turning the vehicle which is very serious. The steering shaft should also work at its optimal level as it is responsible for stabilizing and securing the steering column lock and wiring that serves as critical components to perfect the steering function. If issues are left unchecked it could lead to accidents so it is best to be on the lookout for symptoms before a malfunction.
- Changes on Turning Capacity
Another symptom of a failing intermediate steering shaft is a steering wheel that was once smooth to turn all of a sudden becomes difficult to maneuver. Its clean and smooth turning capacity is replaced with sudden binding in the steering wheel as you turn. When this happens you’ll have no choice but to use up more force to turn the wheels stronger so it cooperates. The extra effort also causes delays even with the most basic of turns. When your precision in taking turns on busy roads or danger prone areas becomes compromised this can lead to serious accidents so it is best to have the steering shaft checked immediately once this happens.
Majority of luxury high-end performance cars are made to have a precise and tight steering efficiency that is felt on the steering wheel. But if the steering shaft starts to go bad you will notice that the steering wheel grip isn’t feeling as tight and firm as it once did, meaning the shaft has already gained unwanted elasticity.
- Premature Wear and Tear
The steering system goes through so much work and is naturally going to go worn out over time. With that it needs constant attention and care, especially certain steering components such as the shaft bearings as it takes on a lot of the stress of the steering system. Each of the intermediate steering shafts has a group of needle bearings, with grease stored in them sealing them off. The grease lengthens their lifespan without needing to maintain them. But then again it still could go worn out prematurely and one sign of that is seeing corrosion on the bearings. As the intermediate steering shaft starts to fail, the outside of the bearings starts to corrode after the grease inside has dried out.
- Steering Wheel Tilt Becomes Loose
Majority of newly manufactured cars already have a tilt feature integrated into the steering wheels. This allows drivers to adjust the angle of the steering wheel according to what they feel is comfortable. As the tilt of the steering wheel is adjusted it should be able to lock at the desired angle. But once the intermediate steering shaft becomes bad you won’t be able to lock it at the said angle and the steering wheel tilt becomes loose.
- Misaligned Steering Wheel
The steering wheel in a car with power steering should always automatically go back to its natural position, which is at the center — with the brand emblem at dead center. This is a safety feature for every power steering system. So if the steering wheel fails to return to the center even after you have taken your hands off it, then it could be a symptom of a problem with the intermediate steering shaft.
To diagnose and treat the problem readily with accuracy, it is important to pick up on the subtle symptoms that indicate steering shaft or column failure. There are undoubtedly particular symptoms that you may encounter in the performance of your car that suggest that there is a steering shaft problem, but it is vital to find a professional who can find the isolated cause of the problem and not confuse the symptoms with another aspect of the steering system. So as soon as you recognize any of the symptoms mentioned above, going to a mechanic is a priority.
Four needle bearings are mounted on the intermediate steering shaft in more modern steering shafts, which allows the shaft to have better stability. What's more is inside these bearings, grease is packed and sealed, and that's why bearing maintenance can be mislooked and when that happens the longevity of a vehicle's lifespan can be shortened.
If the grease dries out in any of these bearings, make sure that they are adequately shielded from moisture, as corrosion tends to occur when exposed to moisture as these bearings are located within the engine bay.
The intermediate shaft location usually varies depending on the following:
The shaft, which functions independently from the transmission system.
The shaft is completely integrated into the transmission system.
It is necessary in some vehicles for the location to be marked on the splines and on the steering rack shaft due to the intermediate shaft position varying from vehicle to vehicle. The explanation for this is that if it needs replacement, it would be simpler to place a newer u-joint.
Intermediate steering shaft replacement
If any part of the intermediate steering shaft goes bad, replacement is highly advised. As mentioned earlier for certain cars the position of the intermediate steering shaft can be read on the intermediate shaft splines as well as on the steering rack shaft so that it can be determined how to position the newer u-joint. If you want to replace the intermediate shaft on your own, make sure that the steering wheel comes with a strap to avoid rotation, as proper locking of the steering column avoids further damage and a potential SIR system failure. Front tires and wheels should not be moved after removing these components, as failure to follow either of these procedures can cause inappropriate alignment problems, resulting in potential damage to the SIR coil.
Replacement of the intermediate steering shaft should be pretty simple and straightforward. The service mechanic will only have to move a few components to access the shaft, as well as deal with potential leaking. The replacement should not take much longer than an hour. It’s even much simpler to work on some cars. You can always ask your mechanic before he takes on the job how long he will have to work on your vehicle.
In some cases, the mechanic may have to take apart other components to access the shaft, and this can further drag out the repair process and increase the total costs. Upon locating the steering shaft, the mechanic will take the shaft out and replace. Completing the job means putting the parts removed to access the shaft back into place. After that the mechanic will refill the power steering fluid and then proceed to examine the vehicle to double check that it steers properly. Lastly, the mechanic may want to perform a road test before turning the car back over to you.
Once you have your steering shaft replaced, after it has gone bad, you will get to enjoy improved control over your vehicle. The steering will no longer feel as loose or difficult to turn and you will be able to drive at ease. The steering function of your vehicle will go back to being precise and you no longer need to worry about getting into any accident. Plus you will no longer need to keep refilling the power steering fluid.
Intermediate steering shaft replacement cost
The average cost for replacing the shaft will be between $200 up to $350. The price of the parts is estimated to be anywhere from $100 to $150, while you will have to prepare anywhere from $100 to $200 for labor.
Replacing the shaft on your own would save you about 50% of this cost. That’s quite tempting and you might be inclined to do the work yourself but then again it is better to have a professional handle the job. It is totally worth paying extra to be assured the job is done right. By observation, you will really only want to tackle the steering shaft replacement work if you already have the experience with this kind of repair.
If not, then save yourself from trouble and save money by other means instead. Do it by comparing prices for labor and parts from many service centers or car part stores. The more places you go to and get to compare you have the opportunity to get yourself the best deals.
Remember that the sooner you get the problem fixed, the safer you are from running into serious problems that can get you into trouble not only with your safety but also trouble with your finances. After a minor problem is overlooked parts of the vehicle may wear out much faster than normal. So as soon as you feel any symptoms of trouble save yourself some money by getting the problems fixed right away.