I have a 2007 Toyota 4-Runner, 6-cyl, RWD. I've noticed my steering has developed a bit (OK, maybe more than a bit) of play in it:

Too Much Play in Steering?

What are the possible causes of this? I am not a professional mechanic, but I do most of my own work on my car...should I even mess with this?

1 Answer 1


This could any, or even all of these things -

  1. Worn universal joints in the steering column
  2. Worn steering rack
  3. Worn ball joints
  4. Loose steering rack mountings

They are all things you should be able to repair yourself.

While the car is stationary, get someone to wobble the steering wheel back and forth as far as it will move without the front wheels moving. Examine all of the components listed above to identify which component is allowing the movement.

If for example it is a universal joint on the steering column that is faulty, then you will see one side of the UV joint moving, while the other side is not. Likewise if the steering rack is faulty, you will see the input shaft moving back and forth, but the track rods going to the hub carriers will not be moving.

If you have to replace the steering rack or ball joints, then you will also need to get your wheel alignment adjusted.

  • Wheel alignment is not required when replacing ball joints, unless it was last done with the ball joints being already bad.
    – EᑎOT
    Commented Aug 17, 2023 at 20:23
  • @EᑎOT The track rod end ball joint will screw on in any position. How can you guarantee that the track rod is of the correct length without getting the wheel alignment done?
    – HandyHowie
    Commented Aug 17, 2023 at 22:55
  • I guess the misunderstanding is due to variations of English. What you are referring as track rod is called tie rod in this neck of the woods. When replacing that wheel alignment is definitely recommended.
    – EᑎOT
    Commented Sep 5, 2023 at 22:54

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