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'79 tilt and telescoping column play....how to fix?


Active member
Jan 16, 2002
Austin, Texas
The colum on my 79, has some play in it where it tilts. It isn't too much play. When you pull down on the wheel you can feel the tension of the spring(?) It pulls down and to the left. I was told that you can fix that by tightening up a retainer bolt in the column that keeps the tension on the spring. Sounds logical. Suggestions.....thanks!
This job is not too bad, however, I stronly suggest you get an official G.M. service manual for that car. There is an exploded view there that really helps get it all back together.

You need the removal tool for the upper section. You can actually get these at most auto parts stores now real cheap. It will hold the blinker switch in place while you pull the clip, and vise versa.

Your problem is one of two things. The joint retaining bolts that are right there where it tilts have either gotten loose, or the actual bushing mechanism is worn out.

There is a cheap way, less cheap way, and very expensive way to fix this. First, just jump in there and do it yourself. You will see after the horn ring, blinker switch, etc, comes out that you can start pulling the whole column apart. You will find the tilt mechanism bolt heads facing you if you are in the driver seat. You will leave the column in the car to do this job. There is no need to remove the whole thing.

There are companies in most major cities that specialize in steering column repair. Your auto insurance company will know who they are if you can't find one (call the claims dept). These people have a mobile service that will come to you and do a complete rebuild with all the right tools and parts in about an hour. This will cost from $150 to $250 for the service.

If you go to the dealer, they will either bill by the hours and parts, or get the same steering column company to come out, have them do it, then mark it up 35%. (most expensive way).

Good luck and keep us posted.
Well as a follow up to the above post, it turns out the pivot pin that holds the housing to the upper shaft assembly, which is a major factor in allowing the column to tilt, is worn out. This is where the play is coming from. I pulled it out with without any effort. Seems the hole is worn out also. Need to look into that and find a replacement pin or figure out how to keep the housing from being to lose.
This is a common problem. I was hoping the bolts were just loose.

This happened to our 90 model as well. I was able to get a replacement section for the tilt from the junk yard (actually came out of a chrysler-one company makes most all the tilt columns in later year models) and it had tight pins on either side.

It was a fairly aggravating job considering the air bag, anti theft key system etc.

You will need to search for a replacement section, or maybe get a shop to machine a set of oversized bushings or sleeves to tap into there.

Keep us posted.

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