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Thread: Tilt steering column bent while driving?!

  1. #1
    Supporting Member II Turbo Mopar Contributor jonnymopar's Avatar
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    Tilt steering column bent while driving?!

    I was driving the Daytona home yesterday, enjoying some twisties. I've got the car in a hard rightward bend, my left hand around the 10:00 position on the steering wheel, and I reached down to shift, and the whole steering column suddenly bent to the left! Thankfully I managed to keep control of the car and my bowels. I muscled the column mostly back to center, but not perfectly. I drove the car home carefully, and now I can't get the key out of the ignition. The tumbler rotates back enough to shut the car off, but won't rotate to the OFF or ACC positions.

    I won't have time to tear into this for at least the next week and a half. What in the hell could have possibly happened??! I've had this car for a very long time, and we've had our issues, but this one has got me spooked a bit.
    Jon J.

    1989 Daytona ES 2.4L DOHC
    2003 Neon SXT - gone but never forgotten

    If it ain't broke, fix it 'till it is!

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    Re: Tilt steering column bent while driving?!

    You need to stop taking those muscle supplements or you were exposed to too much gamma rays like the Hulk.....LOL
    On a serious note, it does sound scary.
    Regards,
    Miles

    DD '87 Sundance T1, 12PSI, SLH with rear disks
    '87 CSX #432

  3. #3
    Supporting Member II Turbo Mopar Contributor 85lebaront2's Avatar
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    Re: Tilt steering column bent while driving?!

    Sounds like the tilt mechanism either broke or came loose inside the column. It is a Saginaw (GM) built column, just modified for a Chrysler lock and switches. G and J bodies have a slight asymmetric mount to the car so if the column tube broke you will need one from one of those bodies.
    "growing old is inevitable, growing up is optional"
    1986 Lebaron convertible to replace totalled 85
    1986 Ford F350 Crew Cab DRW
    1995 Lincoln Continental (project car)
    2011 Ford Flex Limited (wife's)

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    Supporting Member II Turbo Mopar Contributor jonnymopar's Avatar
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    Re: Tilt steering column bent while driving?!

    Thanks for the replies. I can still use the tilt function even with the wheel off-center, so it seems like whatever's going on is above the fulcrum point. I'm really hoping something's just loose, but the way it felt in my hand was like something yielded as opposed to coming loose. Got the heebie jeebies enough to want to put a fixed column in it, but again I haven't ripped it apart yet.
    Jon J.

    1989 Daytona ES 2.4L DOHC
    2003 Neon SXT - gone but never forgotten

    If it ain't broke, fix it 'till it is!

  5. #5
    boostaholic
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    Re: Tilt steering column bent while driving?!

    yeah , should just be the bolts holding the tilt joint came apart

    when the top of the column moves up and left it will often shut the car off

    - used to happen in my local drive through everytime

  6. #6
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    Re: Tilt steering column bent while driving?!

    I agree...sounds like the tilt mount screws came loose. Happened on my '88 somehow while the car was sitting in an airport parking lot! When I parked it, everything was fine. Came back, damn wheel felt like it wasn't attached to anything! Still can't explain it.

  7. #7
    boostaholic
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    Re: Tilt steering column bent while driving?!

    lol
    it probably got wobbly as you drove it and didn't notice until after you haven't been driving it..

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    Re: Tilt steering column bent while driving?!

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Johny Dodge View Post
    lol
    it probably got wobbly as you drove it and didn't notice until after you haven't been driving it..
    I've thought the same thing, but holy crap it was bad! I honestly can't see myself driving the car the way I did with the wheel loose like that. Maybe I did and didn't realize it, but man...one would've thought I would've noticed! LOL

  9. #9
    boostaholic
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    Re: Tilt steering column bent while driving?!

    I think letting the wheel flop and thump unrestrained into the raised position causes the bolts to back out with the repeated impacts of daily use

    the last time you parked it might have been it's final flop up ...

  10. #10
    Supporting Member II Turbo Mopar Contributor jonnymopar's Avatar
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    Re: Tilt steering column bent while driving?!

    I had it apart about a year and a half ago in order to tighten those tilt mounting screws. I've had more than one of these cars with that style column, so I'm familiar with having to tighten those buggers. Whatever is going on right now is totally different. When it shifted off to the left, it didn't feel like anything was loose. The damn steering wheel was just suddenly pointing somewhere else!

    At the moment, I only know of one car in one junkyard near me that I could possibly get a column out of, so hopefully it's still there if I need it.
    Jon J.

    1989 Daytona ES 2.4L DOHC
    2003 Neon SXT - gone but never forgotten

    If it ain't broke, fix it 'till it is!

  11. #11
    Rhymes with tortoise. Turbo Mopar Staff cordes's Avatar
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    Re: Tilt steering column bent while driving?!

    I can't imagine what would yield in the column, letting the whole thing to shift like that. I'll be very interested to see the root cause.

  12. #12
    boostaholic
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    Re: Tilt steering column bent while driving?!

    http://www.crankshaftcoalition.com/w...ck_Rebuild.pdf

    nevermind what the link says .. just click on it

    if you have an extra 2.2 thermostat housing you can make a cheap easy tool for removing the steering lock plate

    cut both bolt locations off your t stat housing

    place on column over shaft and flat against the lock plate

    mark the t stat hose neck to cut it shorter while allowing enough material to be left to enable the steering wheel nut and a large washer to thread down onto the t stat housing enough to reveal the c clip retaining the lock plate

    with the bolt ears and neck cut , now you need to cut a rectangular hole in the side of the t stat housing

    do not cut the bottom gasket flange of the t stat housing
    you need the lower circumference intact or else the housing will simply spread and compress without revealing the clip

    the window allows you to get in to remove the c clip with your c clip tool of choice


    - once upon a time the lock plate tool was only available at a GM dealer and it cost 140 bucks
    I found the way round that .. back then
    Last edited by Dr. Johny Dodge; 10-04-2019 at 12:19 AM.

  13. #13
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    Re: Tilt steering column bent while driving?!

    that link is the best posting I've found yet for this topic
    maybe it should get a sticky re- posting it in chassis / something- somewhere easy to find

  14. #14
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    Re: Tilt steering column bent while driving?!

    Quote Originally Posted by cordes View Post
    I can't imagine what would yield in the column, letting the whole thing to shift like that. I'll be very interested to see the root cause.

    the joint with the two rods and the plastic ball move up in the column tube when the bolts and the upper retainer plate come loose

    it's the ball section popping up out of place that makes the while deal seam so fubared as now the lower rod can move about in the space the much larger ball fits

  15. #15
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    Re: Tilt steering column bent while driving?!

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Johny Dodge View Post
    that link is the best posting I've found yet for this topic
    maybe it should get a sticky re- posting it in chassis / something- somewhere easy to find
    Great link Johny, you get a gold star!!!
    Regards,
    Miles

    DD '87 Sundance T1, 12PSI, SLH with rear disks
    '87 CSX #432

  16. #16
    Supporting Member II Turbo Mopar Contributor jonnymopar's Avatar
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    Re: Tilt steering column bent while driving?!

    I finally had a chance to rip apart the column. Not good:







    I don't know what happened first, whether the aluminum piece cracked and it stressed the steel tube, or if the tube cracked first. Maybe I overtighened the 4 Torx screws last year and this was a ticking time bomb. Maybe the aluminum was worn from the screws being loose for so long and it just got chewed up over time. Who the hell knows. Whatever the case, it looks like this column is junk.

    Anybody got a rebuildable column they'd part with? Even if it needed a complete tear down, all of the guts and switches on mine are fine, so I think I'd have everything.
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    Jon J.

    1989 Daytona ES 2.4L DOHC
    2003 Neon SXT - gone but never forgotten

    If it ain't broke, fix it 'till it is!

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    Supporting Member II Turbo Mopar Contributor 85lebaront2's Avatar
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    Re: Tilt steering column bent while driving?!

    Yes, I have two sitting here, let me see if one is the asymmetric mount the G and J bodies use, I am pretty sure the complete one is from an 84-86 G body (it came from a Laser). The stripped one may be a K body one. I will look in a little while and maybe get pictures.
    "growing old is inevitable, growing up is optional"
    1986 Lebaron convertible to replace totalled 85
    1986 Ford F350 Crew Cab DRW
    1995 Lincoln Continental (project car)
    2011 Ford Flex Limited (wife's)

  18. #18
    Supporting Member II Turbo Mopar Contributor jonnymopar's Avatar
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    Re: Tilt steering column bent while driving?!

    I really appreciate you looking for me, however I'm seeing them on ebay for upwards of $400. If that's actually what these go for, this car will be sitting in its current state until at least next May.

    Would a GM column be close enough to steal the necessary parts from? That may open up options for me locally.
    Jon J.

    1989 Daytona ES 2.4L DOHC
    2003 Neon SXT - gone but never forgotten

    If it ain't broke, fix it 'till it is!

  19. #19
    Supporting Member II Turbo Mopar Contributor 85lebaront2's Avatar
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    Re: Tilt steering column bent while driving?!

    Part of the guts are the same, the outer tube is Chrysler specific. If you can cut off and reweld the upper mounting bracket, the stripped down K tilt column can be made to work. The difference is in the mounting ears, the lower ones are transferable by unbolting them, the uppers are welded to the tube. I will get you some pictures in a while so you can see the difference. The K one I don't need, as I am using a 1989 J body dash in my konvertible so need the asymmetric upper mount.
    "growing old is inevitable, growing up is optional"
    1986 Lebaron convertible to replace totalled 85
    1986 Ford F350 Crew Cab DRW
    1995 Lincoln Continental (project car)
    2011 Ford Flex Limited (wife's)

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    Re: Tilt steering column bent while driving?!

    Quote Originally Posted by jonnymopar View Post
    I finally had a chance to rip apart the column. Not good:
    Could you not get the aluminum part TIG welded back to form?
    Regards,
    Miles

    DD '87 Sundance T1, 12PSI, SLH with rear disks
    '87 CSX #432

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