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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Can you feel a bit of a click in the steering over bumps or when turning corners? A little play on center? Might be the steering spline wanting some fresh lube. Seems to need doing at 50k miles or so. Here's how:

1) Remove the under dash panel on the driver's side by removing the 5 T-30 screws. The OBD connector stays attached to the car - the wire is really long so you can pull the panel out then push the connector back under the dash while you work.



2) The white clip on the left should be in the hole in the panel, mine was not installed correctly. You may need to unclip it to remove the panel. Also remove the screw-on retainer holding the carpet in place.



3) Here is the culprit. This splined joint wants grease - thick, heavy stuff like wheel bearing grease.



4) Fix the steering wheel in place before you remove any more! The wheel can spin freely when disconnected and will damage internal wiring.



5) Remove the bolt (13mm socket, 3/8 drive ratchet, 6" extension) and pry the connector up to disconnect the steering linkage from the steering rack - I used the ratchet handle.



6) MARK the splined joint so you can replace it in the same spot. Pull it apart. Clean up all the old grease as well as you can (don't muck the carpet....) and regrease heavily - you want all the splines greased.


Now, put it all back together....

This is a regular maintenance procedure on both my 9-5s. Takes me about half an hour.
 

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Thanks so much!

Added to the FAQ's too ;)
 

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This is perfect, thank you.
The dealer did this for me under warranty with my sedan.
Now I think my wagon is exhibiting this same behavior so I will give it a go.

Both my cars seem to have had this issue between 30-35k miles.

Can you tell us what exact kind of great to use?

thanks again.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I used Permatex SuperLube synthetic grease from a tube I've had for 15 years - it's the closest thing I've found to a generic grease (I use it for dielectric grease in electrical connectors too).

Any thick wheel bearing grease should work fine in the spline. Just not a thin grease like Lubriplate or white grease.
 

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God I hope this fixes my loosey-goosey clunking steering wheel. It baffles my mind that simply LUBING that stupid joint will solve it but it's worth a try I suppose. Thanks for the tips! Hopefully I'll get to it today.
 

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Was there any doubt? ;);):lol:

Good to hear.
There was some doubt, haha. This has been driving me nuts for over 6k miles and I just could not accept that a little grease on this thing would clear it up. I guess now that I've taken it apart and see how that spline works... it makes sense though. A big THANKS again for the writeup! I would have been 100% lost down there without the pictures.
 

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Had the same problem and thought it was engine/transmission mounts.
However, followed your instructions (well almost as I forgot to mark where the parts came off so abit tricky getting them back on in the same position) and the problem has now gone.

Cheap and easy, thanks very much.
 

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This worked out well for me to; I added a little feature that will keep anything from getting in there. I made a rubber boot with a piece of a bicycle inner tube slid it over the shaft and tie wrapped it; now it should be awhile before it has to be cleaned and done again.


 

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Can you feel a bit of a click in the steering over bumps or when turning corners? A little play on center? Might be the steering spline wanting some fresh lube. Seems to need doing at 50k miles or so. Here's how:

1) Remove the under dash panel on the driver's side by removing the 5 T-30 screws. The OBD connector stays attached to the car - the wire is really long so you can pull the panel out then push the connector back under the dash while you work.



2) The white clip on the left should be in the hole in the panel, mine was not installed correctly. You may need to unclip it to remove the panel. Also remove the screw-on retainer holding the carpet in place.



3) Here is the culprit. This splined joint wants grease - thick, heavy stuff like wheel bearing grease.



4) Fix the steering wheel in place before you remove any more! The wheel can spin freely when disconnected and will damage internal wiring.



5) Remove the bolt (13mm socket, 3/8 drive ratchet, 6" extension) and pry the connector up to disconnect the steering linkage from the steering rack - I used the ratchet handle.



6) MARK the splined joint so you can replace it in the same spot. Pull it apart. Clean up all the old grease as well as you can (don't muck the carpet....) and regrease heavily - you want all the splines greased.


Now, put it all back together....

This is a regular maintenance procedure on both my 9-5s. Takes me about half an hour.
Where are you marking the spline at?
 

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WIS says different

As per WIS we should not disassemble the steering column from the rack for no reason I don't know why and i don't understand it, but in the WIS steering section it has it with red letters. Can somebody enlighten us .Thanks
 

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I wouldn't remove it without marking it and holding the steering wheel steady.
As per WIS we should not disassemble the steering column from the rack for no reason I don't know why and i don't understand it, but in the WIS steering section it has it with red letters. Can somebody enlighten us .Thanks
 

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I just went through this procedure and found that the cause of the play was actually that the 13mm bolt needed to be tightened. Tightening it causes the block that it threads through to clamp down harder on the steering shaft.

I'm sure lubing the splines doesn't hurt, but I think what actually may be fixing the issue is torquing the bolt down at the end of the proceedure. If that's the case you can save yourself some time.

I think if it loosens up again in the future I'm going to take the bolt out and put some medium strength threadlocker on and reassemble.
 

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OK, for someone that doesn't understand steering shafts and splines...

1) Where do you mark it? In the pics do you mark the spline shaft and outer shaft before you separate them and just make sure you line them back up after? Or is there another area I can't see in the pics that they are referring to marking? I don't see any markings on the pics (like a sharpie, etc.) I saw someone asked but still didn't understand the answer.

2) What does greasing it do exactly? Again, I don't understand how it works, but what's the spline joint for exactly instead of a straight bar right there? It looks like just a multi-grooved connection between the two so why would it clunk?

Hopefully someone can explain it simple enough...I like understanding to some extent what I'm doing beyond just following the pics. :)
 

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OK, for someone that doesn't understand steering shafts and splines...

1) Where do you mark it? In the pics do you mark the spline shaft and outer shaft before you separate them and just make sure you line them back up after? Or is there another area I can't see in the pics that they are referring to marking? I don't see any markings on the pics (like a sharpie, etc.) I saw someone asked but still didn't understand the answer.

2) What does greasing it do exactly? Again, I don't understand how it works, but what's the spline joint for exactly instead of a straight bar right there? It looks like just a multi-grooved connection between the two so why would it clunk?


Hopefully someone can explain it simple enough...I like understanding to some extent what I'm doing beyond just following the pics. :)
#1 - I might get flamed for saying this, but on my '06, marking it isn't necessary. It will only go on one specific way. Any other way and it won't slide on all the way. This was also the case on my '04. It may be different on other models.

#2 - I think gunk/dirt/debris gets in there and it the old grease gets gummed up and sticky. Cleaning and re-greasing helps that. Think of how gnarly a dirty old bike chain is! A cleaning and re-greasing does wonders for the bike. Not that a bike chain and a spleen shaft are an apples to apples comparison of course.

The two pieces slide in and out of each other a bit (not all the way) when the wheel is turned, and that's when the "clunk" or click or whatever you want to call it happens.

If it was a straight or smooth bar, the smaller piece would spin around inside the larger piece, and the steering wheel wouldn't grab very well. The splines help lock the two pieces together, I think, but still allows them to move up and down (but not rotate). I could be wrong. This is my uneducated opinion on the matter. :)
 
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