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In my 2002 Chevy Silverado (Z71, 4WD), turning left seems significantly more difficult than turning right, the latter of which poses no issues. According to the mechanic, I have the following issues (to the best of my comprehension) -

  • Power steering pump is leaking in the back near the pulley, restricting the PSI that can get through the line

My understanding is that the power steering will help the immediate issue, so I'm getting that done, but apparently all of the stuff listed needs to be replaced at this point. Does this seem accurate? How difficult is it to verify these and do the necessary replacements myself?

UPDATE - According to the mechanic, it seems the leaking pump caused to gearbox to start wearing out, which is the cause of the left turn problem

UPDATE - The arm repairs are related to alignment, not steering, so those are unrelated to the main issue. I've moved those below -

  • The inner and outer tie rods have some play in them, and as such need to be replaced
  • Also play in the pitman arm, so it needs to be replaced
  • Also play in the idler arms, so they need to be replaced
  • Once all of the arms are replaced, the alignment can be performed
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    All of it adds up. What I'd be wondering is if the rack may be going out on it. As the wheel is turned, one way or the other, hydraulic pressure is directed as needed to assist steering. If the check balls which are supposed to direct that pressure for when you turn left are hosed up and not working right, I can see this as a cause for not allowing for proper left turn "help". Just a thought, not a diagnosis. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Aug 15 '16 at 17:44
  • Hmm, so i guess in place of rack on my truck it might actually the gearbox, which was proposed by the mechanic. – pyrospade Aug 15 '16 at 22:27
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    Whether rack or gear box, the hydraulics work basically the same way. It seems reasonable what the mech is saying to me. Since he's now saying the other stuff is for alignment, I'd definitely think he's right. Get these trucks out to around 200k and all these parts start wearing out. I've got an 06 Silvy Z71 myself. For some reason I was thinking it was a rack, but you're right, lol. I need to pay more attention. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Aug 15 '16 at 23:10
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In order to confirm the diagnosis, you may want to get a second opinion. Some shops will do front-end inspections for free. If the truck is more difficult to steer in one direction only, it does suggest something's not mechanically right with the suspension or steering, but I doubt the power-steering pump is the real culprit. Also, to remove other potential causes, try putting the truck in other transmission modes (2WD Hi and Low, etc) and try the steering with those. Also keep in mind that your steering box may have a leak and need to be replaced.

In terms of fixing this yourself, this is very doable, but not for the faint of heart. Suspension and steering components tend to rust, making bolts potentially difficult to remove. You will most likely need some penetrating oil, and possibly a torch to heat the bolts up if they really don't budge. Also, suspension bolts tend to be quite large, requiring large-sized wrenches and sockets, sometimes even deep sockets. You will need a torque wrench to tighten the bolts up to spec when you are done. The best place to buy wrenches and sockets are pawn shops, torque wrench is best bought new so you know it hasn't been molested. :)

Again, this is doable, it just depends on your level of skill, tools you have available and how gung-ho you are about this. This is only a few hours of work if there are no issues, but be ready to have the truck sit for a few days if you get stuck removing one of the components and either rage-quit for a few hours or need to go somewhere :)

Here's a Youtube video for changing the tie-rods

Here's a Youtube video for changing the upper control arm

Here's a Youtube video for changing the lower control arm

Here's a 2-part Youtube video for changing the pitman arm, part 2

Here's a Youtube video for changing the idler arm

  • I actually just added an update. Apparently the gearbox is the issue? Does this sound right? – pyrospade Aug 15 '16 at 21:32
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    I'm not intimately familiar with the gearbox on this truck, but as I suggested in the first paragraph of my answer, if the steering problem goes away by changing the mode from 2WD to 4WD (or vice versa) or Hi or Lo, the issue is not the play in the tie rods and idler arm and pitman arm. :) – tlhIngan Aug 15 '16 at 22:08
  • oh yeah, forgot to mention that upon further probing the arms are strictly for the alignment and apparently aren't affecting the steering. – pyrospade Aug 15 '16 at 22:23
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Another Observation : "It is only hard to turn one way" ? Check and see if the steering box moves when you have some one else turn the steering wheel all the way back and forth. Occasionally the frame can crack where the steering box bolts on. "Fixable" but a big job...

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