Notes for Rebuilding a 1992-1996 Tilt Steering Core

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I rebuilt the steering column in my \’93 automatic using a
column out of a parted-out \’96 manual.
The steering colum core
is pot metal or very low quality cast steel. The yoke around the pivot
pins stretches and wallows out, allowing down-and-left play in the column
that is disconcerting. it requires repair or replacement if you\’re
serious about your driving.
If you go the rebuild route, there are
some notes to remember –
Make notes. Bag and label the bolts and
screws. Otherwise, you WILL forget where something came from. I spent
thirty minutes staring at a couple of carriage bolts until I remembered
that they came from the parking brake, not the steering column (different
Remove the driver\’s seat and the roof panel. It makes
a hard job a little easier.
Disconnect the battery and pull the
airbag fuse. Then wait ten minutes before doing anything else, and keep
grounding yourself.
The steering columns contain plastic shear pins
in the column and collapsible plastic capsules in the column support. If
you intend to use a salvaged column out of a wreck, you HAVE to make sure
that none of the pins have been sheared in a column collapse. If the pins
have been sheared, don\’t buy that column. It\’ll be much easier to
find one that is in pristine condition. Using columns from cars with
heavy front end damage is probably a bad idea.
The intermediate
shaft pinch bolt, the last bolt in the engine bay that you must pull to
get the shaft out of the car, is a pain in the tuckus. You can get to it
by turning the steering wheel until the bolt head is on top of the joint,
at which time it\’s just barely under and in front of the vacuum
booster. Then you\’ll need at least 12\” of 3/8 socket extension, and
a 1/2\” or 13mm socket, and a skinny forearm to guide the socket down
onto the screw head. A wobble extension would be helpful.
This is a
deadly critical bolt. It is the only thing connecting the steering column
to the front wheels. When you put it back together, I\’d recommend
threadlocker, and checking it every couple of days to make sure you\’re
not about to die horribly from steering disconnect!
\’92-\’93 columns are shorter than the \’94-\’96 columns. This is
because the \’92-\’93 cars used a bulkier airbag canister, and had a
deeper steering wheel. The wheel+column overall length is the same, but
mixing the two causes things to shift.
Putting a \’92-\’93
wheel on a \’94-\’96 column moves the wheel closer to the driver, like
it telescoped. It also makes you reach further for the turn signal
Putting a \’94-\’96 wheel on a \’92-\’93 car makes
the wheel further away from the driver.
Also, though I haven\’t
checked this, the upper column shaft from a \’92-\’93 car may be too
long to work with a \’94-\’96 wheel.
The columns for the manual
cars and the automatic cars are different. The automatic cars have a
\’cable backdrive\’ mechanism that keeps you from pulling the key
while the car is in gear.
You can put the column from a manual
car into an automatic car, but the keylock feature will no longer work.
You cannot put the column from an automatic car into a manual car
unless you completely dissassemble the automatic column down to the lower
core and remove the cable backdrive mechanism. You won\’t be able to get
the key back out of the cylinder reliably with a functional CB on a manual
The airbag coils are different part numbers for \’92-\’93
and \’94-\’96, and you can\’t use one in the other – the connectors
are different. Whichever column you have, you\’ll have to use your old
coil in the new column if you\’re mixing years in the column/wheel
The graphics on the \’94-up cars are white. The graphics
on the \’92-\’93 cars are orange. The (more sturdy, better-looking)
turn signal lever on the \’94-up cars will work on a \’92-\’93 car,
but will look odd and lose you NCRS points. Same for the hazard light
The \’94-\’96 columns have an improved buzzer switch
that makes re-assembly after you\’ve taken everything apart a bit
When you rebuild your column, no matter what mix of parts
you use, you will have to use your old lock cylinder. If you do not use
your old lock cylinder, you can\’t use your old key, which means that
you\’ll have to get your ECM reprogrammed to be able to start the
Before you bolt everything back together and close up, hook up
ALL the electrical connections and make sure everything works and that you
can start the car. It\’s a great feeling when everything comes
When you put everything back together, remember that you
had to unbolt the accelerator pedal bracket. Now you\’ll have to
re-adjust the throttle cable and the TV cable (if 4L60 trans). Refer to
the other tech tips.
Now check that pinch bolt again. 26 ft-lbs,
is that all…?
~Matt W.

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