2004 Envoy Rattling from Steering Shaft?

Envoy_04

Well-Known Member
#1
I've noticed for some time now a slight rattling coming from what seems to be under my dash on the driver's side when driving on rough city streets or doing something like going over speed bumps, but lately it has gotten worse. I can now feel whatever this is in the wheel much more, and it is starting to rattle more and more, it is also showing up in how the steering of the vehicle feels. It seems to want to wander sometimes, much like Mom's Envoy did when the tie rod went out, but not as bad as the old farm truck with a zillion miles and shot tie rods. I initially laid the wandering off on my crappy worn out tires, but I recently got new tires and the wandering is as bad as ever, along with the rattling and the feeling in the wheel that accompanies the rattling. I have checked the tie rods, ball joints, and sway links all thoroughly, and they all check out nice and tight, no play that I can find. When checking the ball joints with the prybar under the jacked up front tires method, I also watched and listened to the struts and they seem to be fine as well, I have read that this has caused rattling of this type before. Is there a definitive test for a bad intermediate shaft, or maybe the steering gearbox? That's the only two things I can think of that would cause this.

Dad's 06 Silverado had a factory recall on the intermediate shaft about a year after it was new. I remember it making the same noise my Envoy is now because of the slop in the shaft, it went away after the dealership put in a new one. Has anyone experienced this before? I've been wrenching on cars since I was old enough to start handing Dad tools, this one's got me a little confused though. I don't want to go throwing money away by shotgunning the fix, especially when the parts are expensive and a pain to mess with like these ones are. Any help is appreciated.
 

kickass audio

Well-Known Member
#2
My truck had a slight rattle in it but only when I was turning the wheel. I noticed when I had the truck parked and took the wheel with the truck off and turned it a little side to side you would feel a click in the wheel. It was my outer tie rods that were both beyond shot. I know you checked them but try that test just to see how it behaves.

For how you say it is rattling on bumps, what about small ones? does it do it on them too? I upgraded my rear to z71 springs and new shocks and since then I noticed the back end of my truck has a rattle to it when I hit sharp bumps in the road like speed bumps or potholes that I can't avoid. I sure enough checked my sway bar end links I replaced in the rear 2 years ago with moog's and they are shot again and the bushing for the sway bar to frame is very loose and sloppy. I just for the heck of it checked the front links and they are bad too along with the bushings so next nice day I am doing all of those. Anyway did you check your sway bar bushing?

For the rattle noise I would say to disconnect one sway bar link to take that out of the equation but be easy on turns with it being disconnected. If it still rattles then you know your sway bar is not the problem. I know you checked everything I would but is there any play on the upper and lower control arms where they bolt on? The ball joints may be good but it could be something weird like if it is rattling in the back where it bolts to the frame. Just tossing out some ideas.
 
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Envoy_04

Envoy_04

Well-Known Member
#3
kickass audio said:
My truck had a slight rattle in it but only when I was turning the wheel. I noticed when I had the truck parked and took the wheel with the truck off and turned it a little side to side you would feel a click in the wheel. It was my outer tie rods that were both beyond shot. I know you checked them but try that test just to see how it behaves.

For how you say it is rattling on bumps, what about small ones? does it do it on them too? I upgraded my rear to z71 springs and new shocks and since then I noticed the back end of my truck has a rattle to it when I hit sharp bumps in the road like speed bumps or potholes that I can't avoid. I sure enough checked my sway bar end links I replaced in the rear 2 years ago with moog's and they are shot again and the bushing for the sway bar to frame is very loose and sloppy. I just for the heck of it checked the front links and they are bad too along with the bushings so next nice day I am doing all of those. Anyway did you check your sway bar bushing?

For the rattle noise I would say to disconnect one sway bar link to take that out of the equation but be easy on turns with it being disconnected. If it still rattles then you know your sway bar is not the problem. I know you checked everything I would but is there any play on the upper and lower control arms where they bolt on? The ball joints may be good but it could be something weird like if it is rattling in the back where it bolts to the frame. Just tossing out some ideas.
I kinda focused on the front end, but I'll check out the rear sway links just to be sure, I've never replaced them before. I never checked the sway bar bushings too hard, I'll have a look at those later today too. I can't see those parts causing the wandering that it does though, I'll check out the A arm later on too.
 

kickass audio

Well-Known Member
#4
I don't think your rear end is the problem. I was just using a for instance on what I found with mine. For how the steering wanders I can only think of something where your rack may be a little loose from the body but that is pretty hard to do considering how many bolts there are for it. It could be something with the rear end making it wander but who knows. I would check the rear end just for the heck of it and make sure everything checks out.
 
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Envoy_04

Envoy_04

Well-Known Member
#5
I think I found the culprit today, I pushed the boot back on the lower part of the intermediate shaft, and there is visible and audible play in the short piece that connects the rack to the steering shaft. At my cost from the dealer it's a $67 part and it looks to be a simple swap out. Now I just gotta tell em I need one on Monday and they'll have it for me when I get in from school next Thursday.
 

IllogicTC

Well-Known Member
#6
Envoy_04 said:
I think I found the culprit today, I pushed the boot back on the lower part of the intermediate shaft, and there is visible and audible play in the short piece that connects the rack to the steering shaft. At my cost from the dealer it's a $67 part and it looks to be a simple swap out. Now I just gotta tell em I need one on Monday and they'll have it for me when I get in from school next Thursday.
Pictures.

Sounds like you're having more fun than me, and I actually feel productive today and I have nothing to wrench on currently :rotfl: probably will end up just running down to P-Burg and staring at things I can't afford.

Final note.... PICTURES! :biggrin:
 
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Envoy_04

Envoy_04

Well-Known Member
#7
IllogicTC said:
Pictures.

Sounds like you're having more fun than me, and I actually feel productive today and I have nothing to wrench on currently :rotfl: probably will end up just running down to P-Burg and staring at things I can't afford.

Final note.... PICTURES! :biggrin:
I hear that the right parts of 7th street have girls with decent rates. :raspberry:

:rotfl:




In all seriousness, I'll put some pics up when I replace it next week, I was in "find that blasted noise" mode today and forgot to take pics. :redface:
 

IllogicTC

Well-Known Member
#8
Envoy_04 said:
I hear that the right parts of 7th street have girls with decent rates. :raspberry:

:rotfl:
Oh I heard about those girls under the overpasses. I work with a guy who found a homeless woman there and made her a deal to live with him in return for... services... now they're married. Colorful bunch in Ritchie County.
 
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Envoy_04

Envoy_04

Well-Known Member
#9
Replaced the intermediate shaft AND the short shaft that connects it to the rack today. Unfortunately, no change in the feeling of the steering or the noise. :no: I'm at a loss form ideas now, by the feel and sound I was just sure it was the shaft. What I thought was play on the old shaft I determined to be he U joints in the shaft moving as they should.

I did take a couple pics, the stuff is in hard places to get good ones though.

Intermediate shaft connection at the steering column under the dash.

View attachment 33773

Joint accessed by removing left front wheel.

View attachment 33774

Short shaft hanging from the rack, taken from underneath.

View attachment 33775
 

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gmcman

Well-Known Member
#10
Generally the rattling in the steering wheel over bumps are signs the front sway bar links are bad. Don't jack one side up to check, both sides need to be level...either on the ground or in the air.

Your wandering could be an alignment issue, been a lot of potholes around here so you could have knocked the toe out slightly. How often have you rotated your tires? Try swapping front to rear and see if the wandering lessens. The rear tires are generally worn flat and not rounded off so this may show where to look, either alignment or possible tire separation.

Worn front links replicate a small hammer tap on the steering column.
 
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Envoy_04

Envoy_04

Well-Known Member
#11
gmcman said:
Generally the rattling in the steering wheel over bumps are signs the front sway bar links are bad. Don't jack one side up to check, both sides need to be level...either on the ground or in the air.

Your wandering could be an alignment issue, been a lot of potholes around here so you could have knocked the toe out slightly. How often have you rotated your tires? Try swapping front to rear and see if the wandering lessens. The rear tires are generally worn flat and not rounded off so this may show where to look, either alignment or possible tire separation.

Worn front links replicate a small hammer tap on the steering column.
I'm beginning to think its a compound issue of alignment and possibly sway links. My tires are brand new, less than 2000 miles on em so far, but the old ones were wearing flat as a pancake, no obvious signs of misalignment. The next thing I'm gonna do is take the links off and test drive it to see if the rattling stops. I'm REALLY hoping that's what it is and that I just missed it when I checked them before. I'll know come next Friday.
 

triz

Well-Known Member
#12
I have the same rattle. Haven't looked yet to see what it is. My alignment is good and so are my endlinks (suspensionmaxx). It doesn't wander but I feel the vibration over bumps. I may just go in and take wrench and make sure everything is tight. My rack was done about two years ago so I will double check everything.
 

gmcman

Well-Known Member
#13
Jack up your front tire by the lower control arm just high enough to get a pry bar under the tire. Raise up on the pry bar to lift the tire and observe the lower ball joint. If the joint compresses then it needs replacing.

[video=youtube;zJlOVWP_35s]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJlOVWP_35s[/video]
 
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Envoy_04

Envoy_04

Well-Known Member
#14
I think that between my GM mechanic friend and I, we found the problem today. There seems to be some play in the shaft coming out the back of the steering column itself, EVERYTHING else from there down on the entire front end is tight and without play. We have it narrowed down to the bearings and/or bushings in the steering column, most likely what my mechanic friend referred to as a lower mast bearing. It isn't a safety issue, and the new intermediate shaft did seem to help some of the wandering plus quiet the problem slightly, so until it becomes worse I am going to live with it as it will require pulling out the column to fix. What small amount of wandering is left I imagine is coming from my alignment being slightly off since the bad winter and the resulting potholes, I'll get an alignment in the near future and call the front end fixed until the next part wears out or breaks. :rotfl:
 

gmcman

Well-Known Member
#15
Just curious how did you check the front stabilizer links? Did you raise the vehicle and let the wheels hang down or support the lower control arms? I'm not saying the steering shaft isn't bad you didn't state whether or not you checked what I had posted.
 
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Envoy_04

Envoy_04

Well-Known Member
#16
gmcman said:
Just curious how did you check the front stabilizer links? Did you raise the vehicle and let the wheels hang down or support the lower control arms? I'm not saying the steering shaft isn't bad you didn't state whether or not you checked what I had posted.
Supported the LCAs to check them per your post. :thumbsup:
 

LikeEnvoy

Well-Known Member
#17
My 2007 Envoy has play in the steering wheel and I get knocks through from the road on some bumps.
I just replaced the upper intermediate shaft (there seemed to be a lot of play in the U-joint and wiggling it caused a clicking/rattling noise )... Well, the new shaft is definitely stiffer in the U-joint and there is a slight improvement, but I discovered the thinner shaft that goes up into the column itself is rattling when you wiggle it side to side (more at the top end).
Diagrams seem to indicate this is the shaft that has the tilt bearing in it and the splines to mount the steering wheel. Likely this is what Envoy_04 meant.
steeringColumn shaft.JPG

I realise now that when I wiggled the lower shaft (the upper intermediate shaft) the noise I heard was from this column shaft rattling at the top. It's worse today; knocks and rattles a lot.
Anyone replaced this column shaft? Does it stop the knock? Does it remove the rest of the play? Or is there a bearing that needs replacing too? (My wheel moves a bit up/down or side/side if I grab it firmly and rock it, too)
 
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LikeEnvoy

Well-Known Member
#18
Nobody has replied since my post so I will have to guess and order the steering shaft. Hopefully that will stop the knocking and there is no other bearing that needs replacing with it. I would hate to do all that work and find i have to go back in for something else.
 
#19
It's not for a lack of wanting to help but probably that nobody has any experience with that particular part. I know I don't. And this is a rather old thread too.

Knocking from road bumps is usually indicative of play in steering or suspension parts like tie-rods or end-links. I'd check those out thoroughly before looking at the shaft.
 

LikeEnvoy

Well-Known Member
#20
Hi mooseman,
Old thread- yes but I tried to keep my post in the thread that was relevant instead of starting a new thread about the same thing. Good points you make although I just fitted new shocks, struts, sway bar end links, upper/lower ball joints, tie rod end (rhs)- lhs has absolutely no play when I heave on the jacked up wheel.
So that should eliminate all those. ride is still disappointingly "bang, bang, thud but I assume its the Winnipeg roads- they are very bad; it gets better on the few newer sections of road.
The knocking therefore seemed to be either the steering rack or shaft parts, especially because the wheel has play too. I found definite movement in the upper intermediate shaft so replaced that. It made only a small difference but that's when I noticed the main shaft above it was moving around. I have bitten the bullet and ordered it -hopefully that will make a difference.

Thanks for spotting the thread _ I realise now that maybe old threads don't get flagged like new ones :Zzzz:

I'll update this once I have installed the new shaft.
 

dna59

Well-Known Member
#21
I have the same problem. There was a thread on the TBSS forum with a some bolts under the steering column cover if I remember correctly that needed tightening. I did that along with making sure the steering wheel bolt was tight and it helped a lil bit but there's still a rattle. Mine is surely coming from the steering column shaft tho, but like you no one seems to have much info or experience with that particular part. I know my Colorado had a similar thing and I fixed it like the Silverados where a joint or something needed grease.
 

Wooluf1952

Well-Known Member
#23
Worn swaybar mounting bracket bushings can also make noise. That's what it was on my '03 Envoy.
 

LikeEnvoy

Well-Known Member
#24
OK, winter is finally over here so I spent a couple of days removing the steering column (had to solve a few problems like make up a couple of special tools for removing the pivot pins and front bearing retainer clip). Before I started, I could already grab the uppermost part of the steering column(inside the housing) and rock it, producing a knocking/clicking sound. Once I got the shaft out it was obviously loose; the shaft just dropped to one side at the bearing point whereas the new shaft assembly is stiff and stays put while holding one end. Absolutely no play in the new tilt-joint at all.
Once reassembled, I test drove the car. Like night and day for me! It seems that with the old, worn shaft, every road bump /knock in the suspension must have been amplified by the loose joint. Now the steering wheel feels firm and smooth as I drive; the normal road bumps (well normal for Winnipeg roads, which means awful) are still there of course but I feel only a single, subdued bump for each one and only at the back of the car, no knocks or rattles through the wheel. Now I enjoy driving again.
Also, the play at the rim of the wheel has gone. Before, rotating it left then right made a click at each end of the play. Now, rocking the wheel gently left and right just has a nice, firm, springy feel with only a very small movement, like a new car.
Well worth changing this shaft.
 
#25
LikeEnvoy - I just ordered a new steering column shaft. Already replaced the intermediate shaft, but still have clunking in the column. Seems like the inner shaft is bouncing inside the lower bearing in the column. Anyhow, how difficult was it to replace. Any pointers? Do I need any special tools other than the basic steering wheel pulling kit? Do I need to remove the whole steering column or can I do it with the column mounted in the truck (2003 Envoy XL) and pull the shaft out the top or bottom of the column?
 
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LikeEnvoy

Well-Known Member
#26
Remove the column. Removing the whole column is not difficult and allows you to remove all the other bits, like the switches etc. and to use other tools/pullers.
However you need to do it all carefully and methodically to avoid damage to anything. I strongly recommend that you follow the steps in the service instructions for the steering column- Mooseman can probably point you to the service manuals if you have not seen them.
I'll mention some main points here but do follow those instructions so you don't miss anything.
The steering must be centered before starting and if your vehicle has the steering lock then leave it locked. You don't want the air bag coil spring connector to get out of alignment or it will break when you turn the wheel.
My 2007 doesn't have a locking hole in the shaft so I just made sure I kept everything in alignment during dismantling and reassembling. As long as you understand how those 'clock springs' work it will be obvious that you need to keep it all centred as you assemble so you don't overturn it in one direction.
The air bag fuse (or battery) needs disconnecting and leaving for at least 30 mins to discharge then disconnect all electrical connectors (take pictures first!)
You need to remove the HVAC duct ( one plastic clip) that is below the steering column.
Undo the clamp bolt on intermediate shaft (bottom of steering column shaft) and pull the joint off. Then remove the air bag carefully (you push a solid pin into the holes on each side of the wheel to release the clips, gently pull back (not too far - the wires are short) and then examine the airbag electrical connectors carefully to understand how the latches work before unlatching and removing the connectors.
Remove the horn connector - a push and twist thing.

Steering wheel puller - yes. I recommend locating and identifying the alignment marks for shaft, wheel and turn signal cam/disc Make your own extra marks if necessary and take pictures. Better more clues than none!

Then disconnect the big rectangular steering column connector underneath the column then the bolts holding the column ass'y.
Another point is that with the column ass'y off and the solenoid and switches off (Torx head screws as I remember), it requires a tool to compress the spring at the top bearing in order to remove the retainer clip. The tool spreads the load over the plastic turn signal disc/hub and presses on that. Be careful of that plastic turn signal disc/hub when you do that - see the service instructions.
I screwed a piece that was in the steering wheel puller kit onto the steering wheel thread and used the u-shaped tool from the kit but the kit had no plate to depress the turn signal disc so I used a metal piece that I had available (cable/winch hook actually) and it fitted nicely on the strongest part of the plastic disc's hub with the u-shaped tool pushing on this to take the load and avoid pressing on the outer part of the plastic disc.

Once the disc is depressed enough you can reach the retainer ring and pick it out of its slot and up around the shaft.
With the spring released again the disc will come off- watch out for a washer stuck to these parts- there may be one so don't lose it and remember to refit it later. With the disc off, the spring and upper bearing seat and race will be loose too.

The other tool you need to make is to pull the pivot pins. After removing the tilt lock spring you need to pull those pins and I found a suitable combination of socket to fit around the pin, washers to reduce the hole size for the bolt and a strong bolt that fitted the thread in the pins to jack the pins out. The column shaft then comes out! (To refit the pins they will just tap in with a hammer)

On reassembly take care that the mark on the shaft is in the correct position at the top and the parts that fit onto the shaft are aligned with the mark too. The intermediate shaft should be in alignment then as well. Make sure the turn signal disc is not trapping the conductor pin as you assemble it.

Take plenty of pictures and care and it's perfectly 'doable'.
 
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#27
Wow, thanks so much for the excellent description. I've pulled the steering wheel in the past and examined the steering steering shaft, but never did anything other than reassemble. I've been watching videos online of various people working on their steering columns so I'm starting to developed a relatively clear picture of how I'll attack it. Your write-up is great. I'll be doing this sometime in the next couple of weeks and I'll report back whether or not resolves my clunking issue. I'm pretty hopeful it will.
 
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#28
There is a hole in the bottom of the column for a special "tool" to lock the steering. I used a specific sized Allen key (don't remember the size) to essentially do the same thing. Our columns do not lock with the key.

The link to the manuals is in my signature.
 
#29
Okay, I replaced the shaft in the steering column with the help of the tremendously useful instructions and manuals from LikeEnvoy and Mooseman. Everything went pretty smooth, though I was slow. I did not remove the column from the truck and that worked okay. Getting the pivot pins pounded back in would have been much easier with the column out of the truck. I took both panels out from under the dash, including the metal piece below the steering column, the vent tube and removed both plastic panels from the column. I futzed around a lot with the c-shaped ring that holds whatever it is that has the spring behind it. I didn't have the special pressure plate tool, so I improvised with the U shaped tool in the steering wheel kit, an old door handle remover tool (for my 64 Chevelle) and a couple of washers. It was a rube goldberg type setup and I would recommend buying the GM tool for that. All in all, it went relatively smooth given this was the first time I've ever been that deep in a steering column.

Best of all, the steering is tight again - just like new. I had a nasty rattle and once I had the old steering shaft out, it was pretty obvious as to why - those things just wear out. Our bumpy road probably didn't help it much. Now it is nice and quiet and the truck steers like new.

Thanks again for all your help.
 

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