The steering system is one of the most fundamental and essential systems in the working of any car. Even the slightest fault in one can make your driving uncomfortable. Not to mention that it is a potential recipe for disaster. You do not want to cut corners when it comes to any component of the steering system. And due to the presence of multiple components, it is extremely easy to misdiagnose the problem.
One of the most common problems that we read about or have encountered, is that of a steering wheel making a clunking noise as you make turns. The first impression is that it is a problem with lubrication, possibly in the u-joint and a lot of people attempt to coat it with layer after layer of WD-40. It may possibly even run smoothly for a while. But if it’s a sticky shaft, then replacing it is the best choice you have because sooner than later, it will come to point where you won’t even be able to make turns with all your might.
The other problems can make your car more dangerous to drive. The steering might feel like its hit a hard spot while making turns and then suddenly, it jumps off the hard spot as you apply force and the vehicle veers off to the side. If this is on a corner, then it can be a very perilous position to be in.
The first thing to do would be to diagnose the exact problem and pin it down to the steering shaft so that if it demands the replacement, you can easily find the exact fit for your car.
How to determine if it is a problem with the steering shaft
The steering shaft which is also called as an intermediate shaft is a part of the steering column that has a u-joint at one end which connects to the steering rack. After a point of time, the U-Joint starts to wear out and that’s when it can get too stiff or just too loose. In the situation that we described above, it just gets stiff for a while and then suddenly gives away. On a power steering rack, that can throw you off balance.
The other situation is when you can feel that the steering is too loose.
So, if you are experiencing any of these problems with your steering, it usually is an indication that the steering shaft needs a close examination.
While the part that actually needs to be replaced here is the u-joint, it usually comes as a single unit with the steering shaft. However, it is not a very expensive purchase and you can easily find an OEM or aftermarket steering shaft that fits perfectly for your vehicle.
Replacing is not a very difficult procedure either for most cars. If you are handy with the tools and know how to go about it, it’s a one day job at best. But if you wish to go the mechanic route, then it would be best to buy the replacement steering shaft yourself as it allows you to save some dough that can be put to better use.
The best steering shaft for your car
As always, we have dug through the muck and have a list of the best steering shafts for your car. This is a mix of OEM and aftermarket steering shafts. Some are the intermediate shafts, while others also include the complete assembly with the u-joint.
1. Dorman 425-361 Steering Shaft
Dorman is one of the most reliable names in the world of replacement auto parts. This is the 425-361 steering shaft made of durable stainless steel that is a perfect fit for Ford and Lincoln Mark LT cars. If you have been experiencing the dreaded clunking or a binding in the steering, then this inexpensive replacement part will restore the smooth functioning of the steering.
The steering shaft features U-joints that are engineered to precision with high-quality needle bearings that are sealed to resist corrosion and provide near flawless performance for a long time.
Also, this is a direct replacement part that can be fitted in just minutes giving your steering system a new lease of life in no time at all.
Coming from Dorman, you can rest assured that it has been manufactured in adherence to their stringent quality control procedures. The OEM part retails for about $200. But with Dorman, you get the same quality for much lesser. On Amazon, it is almost $40 cheaper than what retail outlets sell it for.
The Best Features
High-quality shaft made from heavy-duty steel
Perfect fit for the Ford and the Lincoln Mark LT
Assembly includes U-joints with sealed needle bearings
Cheaper than the OEM part
Verdict: The only drawback to this is that it does not have any protective coating on the main shaft. It is just steel and hence may start to wear or get corroded with time. But that does not take anything away from the quality. Great price too!
2. Genuine 19153614 Steering Shaft
If you own one of the pre-2005 GM trucks then you must be aware or must have encountered the dreaded clunking sound from the steering system at some point of time. This is a known problem with the cars and the GM 19153614 is the company’s replacement part for the same.
This does not look like the original part. However, do not be thrown off by this as it has been redesigned to solve the clunking noise issue on both designed dampened as well as non-dampened Intermediate shafts.
The shaft itself is a full-size truck upper steering column one and is designed for long-term performance. Installation should be relatively easy unless you have adjustable pedals. If you do, then you may have to move the two bolts that hold the pedal down.
The Best features
Inexpensive solution to the known clunking noise issue with GM trucks
Upper steering column shaft that works with both dampened as well as non-dampened intermediate shaft
Fits directly without any modifications
Improves steering control
Verdict: Considering that GM acknowledges the problem with the clunking but refuses to recall the trucks, it would be ideal that you replace it with this OEM shaft that has been designed to address this specific problem rather than going the aftermarket route. For under $65, you get a permanent solution to a very agonizing problem that can mar your driving experience.
3. APDTY Steering Shaft
Our next pick is this very versatile steering shaft from APDTY that is a universal replacement for a variety of steering shafts for GM trucks that have the known clunking problem. This is an aftermarket part as opposed to the original from GM which costs higher.
This is the upper or the intermediate shaft that also includes the U-Joint coupler. The joints are made of durable components and are manufactured to fit your GM vehicle to perfection. It provides the same performance, quality and the service lifespan that you’d expect from an original OEM GM part.
The only difference is that this is priced at 1/3rd the cost of the original, which is about $180.
The Best features:
Good quality replacement for the complete steering column shaft
Comes with the U-joint coupling
Universal shaft replacement for four GM steering shaft models that have a known issue with the clunking noise
Manufactured to precision to match the specifications of the original
Long lasting replacement
Verdict: Great quality replacement part at a much lower price. Cannot go wrong with it.
4. Borgeson Steering Shaft
The Borgeson 000940 Steering shaft assembly is a bestseller in the steering shafts category on Amazon. This is a replacement part for Dodge pickups 79-93 and will fit the trucks right out of the box. Unlike the original, this comes with a full-fledged u-joint and will markedly improve the steering control of your old truck. That’s not the only difference though.
This is a pure stainless steel shaft that does not have a coating. Surface rust is a real possibility and you should ensure that you paint it. However, do not paint it until you ensure that it is a right fit for the truck.
If customer reviews are to be believed, this comes true to the size and fits perfectly without requiring any modifications.
The Best features:
#1 selling steering shaft on Amazon
Perfect replacement for Dodge pickups from 79-93
Includes the U-Joint assembly unlike the original
Enhances the steering control
Stainless steel shaft that is extremely durable
Verdict: Borgeson’s steering shafts have a great customer rating too due to their quality and durability. Dodge pickup owners should not even think twice about buying this.
5. Borgeson Steering Shaft
Replacement intermediate shafts from Borgeson are the most preferred replacement parts for GM trucks that have the clunking noise problem. This is a replacement part that not only eliminates the problems with clunking and kick bank, but also enhances the steering control.
Just like the replacement steering shafts from Borgeson, this is made of pure stainless steel and does not have a protective coating on it. So, you will have to paint it.
However, it is built to perfection to fit GM pickups and you will not need to make any modifications. The shaft is designed to resist corrosion and it features Borgeson’s Vibration reducers, which are U-Joints designed for high impact performance. These will not wear out as easily as typical factory-made u-joints and this reduces your chances of the clunking reappearing after a few thousand kilometers like it usually happens with cheap repairs.
The Best features:
Quality replacement part from Borgeson
Improves steering control
Heavy duty stainless steel
Resistant to corrosion
Includes Borgeson’s Vibration reducer technology
High impact U-joints that don’t wear out as fast as normal ones
Long lasting service life
Verdict: This is another quality product from Borgeson. The vibration reducers increase the lifespan of the steering shaft while the heavy duty steel construction ensures that it offers excellent resistance against corrosion. Great value!