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RamVanMan
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594 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hey 2nd Gen guys:

I was wondering how many here have had that annoying steering wheel / column 'clunk / rattle' develop in their trucks.

My '97 Ram 4x Cummins developed it and it was totally annoying - I replaced most all the front end components and it still had the steering column clunk.

I know the guys over at the Turbodiesel site have agonized over this, and suspect that the same trouble prone column is in most 2nd gen Ram Trucks - regardless of engine configuaration.

Anyhow, I just developed a fix with a machined Nylon / Delrin bushing and would be happy to share how I did it here, or offer them, once we develop it a bit further.

It totally transformed how my Ram steers - which surprised me. I was just trying to get rid of the 'clunk' - little did I know just how much the lower column bushing failure was allowing WAY excessive play, which made the steering vague & imprecise.

Now, the truck steers with rack & pinion precision - Amazing !

When you consider this can be done at a fraction of the cost of a new column from Dodge $ 700 ea, for the same (defective) design, it only makes sense.

Anyhow, I can post pics & procedure (still doing research, don't know what cost will be - pretty cheap), but it would help to get some feedback first, so to the original question:

I was wondering how many here have had that annoying steering wheel / column 'clunk / rattle' develop in their trucks ?

If so, please give: year, engine, trans, miles and any thing else you think relevant....

Thanks guys ...I'll post more once you give some feedback......take care David B. Ram Van (& truck) Man :gr_patrio
 

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Banned
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intermidiate steering shaft
 

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RamVanMan
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594 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Details.....

satexasdodge1 said:
intermidiate steering shaft
I'm referring to the 'clunk' that remains after you've eliminated the "Intermediate Steering Shaft" as a suspect.

In my case, I replaced my worn out OEM shaft with a Borgeson. Steering was tighter, but the 'clunk' grew worse......the steering column lower end bushing is tensioned by a spring that fits over the Primary steering shaft / column section - (the one that protrudes through the firewall).

If you reach in and twist this 'tension spring' it can sometimes make the 'clunking' go away for a while - this is a good test to see if this is the source of the noise.

Here's a some pics (manual trans Ram), showing how it looks stock (with spring) and after bushing installation:
 

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The Green Machine
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1,722 Posts
RamVanMan said:
Anyhow, I just developed a fix with a machined Nylon / Delrin bushing and would be happy to share how I did it here, or offer them, once we develop it a bit further.

Anyhow, I can post pics & procedure (still doing research, don't know what cost will be - pretty cheap)...
I would love to see that - there's definitely a need for them. The problem is not gonna get any better as our trucks age...

I've gotta 98 Ram 4x4 360/Auto with 159,000 miles
 

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RamVanMan
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594 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
back to you.....

edglock21 said:
I would love to see that - there's definitely a need for them. The problem is not gonna get any better as our trucks age...

I've gotta 98 Ram 4x4 360/Auto with 159,000 miles
Is it clunking yet ? Mine is a 97 and started clunking about at 150 k miles earlier this year ....seems to take a while....I've heard of it on trucks as young as 2001 but usually they've been driven a lot of miles or very hard.

BTW, Ed love that quote by Reagan in your sig. about Freedom - so true !! :gr_patrio

David B.
 

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mope
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Ive got it to. Not real bad yet, but its there.
 

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I don't have a "clunk" or "rattle" but I do have a pronounced "dead spot" if you will, when the steering wheel is rotated about 1/4 turn in either direction. It's most noticable to the right.... same thing, similar, or waaaay off?

2001 Dodge Ram 1500 4x4 Off Road, 109,000 miles, 5.9L, auto, 37" tires.
 

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EPA's Worst Nightmare
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1,673 Posts
I have a clunk. It seems like it goes away every other week that I drive.
102K
 

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RamVanMan
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594 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Hey Off road, don't know if it could be the 'lower column bushing' issue that's causing your 'dead spot'. You might try checking out the end of your column as it comes through the firewall - grab the spring part and try to move it back & forth hard. If you feel any significant play - that might be it.

To the Quad Cab in Wa: do the same thing, wait til it starts clunking, then pull over, twist the spring and see if it doesn't go away for a while, also feel for play as above.

wish you well, David B.
 

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An Army of One
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1,227 Posts
Had it since the first couple of months! Had shaft replaced 3 times by Dodge but no
good still! As far ar the play in the steering, try changing your pitman arm, made a world of difference in mine, and not that much money!
 

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The Green Machine
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1,722 Posts
RamVanMan said:
Is it clunking yet ? Mine is a 97 and started clunking about at 150 k miles earlier this year ....seems to take a while....I've heard of it on trucks as young as 2001 but usually they've been driven a lot of miles or very hard.

BTW, Ed love that quote by Reagan in your sig. about Freedom - so true !! :gr_patrio

David B.
Yeah, it's clunking - I chalked it up to my bad trackbar though. After reading your first post and checking the pictures, I should probably look in to this as well. How do you like the Borgeson shaft? I was looking at doing this too since my steering has been bad for sometime now.

I love that quote too - had to add it to the sig :rck:
 

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RamVanMan
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594 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Back to you, Ed.....

For sure, don't overlook a loose track bar as a potential source of noise. Mine was rebuilt with lukes' link 2 years ago, and very solid - I'd recommend that route as it's way stout and very reasonable cost $ 70 ea I think & lasts forever.

I'm not a real big fan of Borgeson. I took mine off - actually it prevented me from 'reinstalling' it after the said 'lower column bushing repair' completed.

When new, the Borgeson had a very stiff 'slider' joint, and it only got worse with time (this undoubtedly contributed to the clunking, if it's joint refused to slide as Dodge intended). Anyhow, I tried to pull it up from the collapsed position - impossible, on or off the truck.

Thank God I had been at Mopar parts the day before - checked out the OEM shaft - they beefed it up from my original one - and it slided very smoothly, so I bought it 'just in case'. Yes, it's got about 2 degrees of slop in it, but with the added precision of the bushing upgrade, it's more accurate than before by far....

I'm not trying to talk bad about Borgeson, could be I got a bad one, but as I read thousands of posts searching down the source of the column clunk, I noted many guys put on a Borgeson, and their clunking problem got worse not better. Does that make sense ?

If you must have a Borgeson, I can probably let mine go cheaply, but it will need some work - don't know if it can be disassembled - has to be a way - to clean out any dirt & crud, relubed & needs a new rubber boot. With that done, the sliding joint will not bind as bad, surely.

Thanks for the feedback - I'm looking into making more of the bushings by next week......

Take Care, David B. :gr_patrio
 

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yea i have that rattling sound also how do i get rid of it?
 

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RamVanMan
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594 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Fix has been found & pictured, if this is your problem...ideas for you

01 CUSTOM RAM said:
yea i have that rattling sound also how do i get rid of it?
01 Custom Ram:

I explained how I fixed the "lower steering column bushing" in the first post or two I made.

It wasn't hard if you have a lathe to machine the bushing from Nylon or Delrin round stock- I'll tell ya how if anyone wants to make their own.

I plan to make more and then offer them at a minimal cost - we're still working to see if this 'bushing upgrade' can be done 'on truck' ie, w/o pulling the column, like I did - could cut repair time by 2/3 rds.


Check out the pics and compare to your truck - the columns are pretty much the same from truck to truck - with the auto trans trucks having some linkage & brackets that cover the lower column end where the bad bushing sits -under that tension spring which covers the column just above where it joins the 'intermediate shaft' - my pics show it pretty clearly, but are from my '97 manual trans.

If you check with Mopar parts, they only sell the entire column for $ 700 - so you're forced to buy the whole thing, and they still have the same bad design - a weak lower plastic bushing that develops play and then clunks you crazy !

It's worth mentioning to make sure the clunking is not from front end componenents - 4x4 trucks having a variety of things that might be your problem like: worn tracking bar, control arm bushings, worn steering box, bad sway bar links, worn intermediate steering shaft etc.

In my case, I had fixed every single one of those things and yet the clunk only got worse !!

I read thousands of posts here & on the TDR site and only 1 guy ever figured out EXACTLY what was causing it - he did a 'home brew' fix - and I'm in his debt.

All I've done is refine his fix - planning how to make more of them, with better material (Delrin should outperform Nylon...) and see exactly what repair method can be developed - we still need to see how hard this is to attempt an 'on the truck' R & R & on an automatic truck, too.

It shouldn't be expensive, maybe $ 30 for the kit with step by step instructions for a foolproof fix. Or just follow these principles and make it yourself - that's what these forums are so good for, eh ?

Also, note how it doesn't just take care of the clunk sound, but tightens the steering more than any other mod I'd made so far - and I have them all. The truck now steers with the precision of rack & pinion - which I never thought possible.

Hope that fills in the blanks - I appreciate hearing your responses. It seems like the 4x4 Diesels have the problem worse - probably due to the fact they are more front end heavy and get used to tow bigger loads - but since they are 95 % the same truck even if a gasser, this weakness is in all the Ram trucks, I think mainly in the 2nd gens.

(Haven't checked yet to see if the 1st gen guys have it, I suspect so... ? )

Take Care, David B. "Ram Van & Truck Man" :gr_patrio
 

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BLACK
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I got it too. 2001 ram 1500 off road package automatic 5.2. If you get these things up for sale, I will take one.
 

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yeah ill take one also
 

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mope
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I'll take one too.
 
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