Steering Column Removal & Installation

Written by: Brandon Hicks

This is a “how-to” article written by Brandon (a.k.a. 79BIG10) on how remove and install your steering column.  Brandon wrote this after he replaced the column in his '79, but it should be accurate (or very close) for all 73-87 models.  Thanks for the great article Brandon!

1. First make sure wheels are totally straight. Also disconnect the ground on the battery.
2. Remove the lower bezel cover below the steering wheel.
3. Remove the lower metal dash panel and the heater duct as well. Move any wires out of the way. This will save you a headache later.
4. Remove the 4 bolts (2 either side) that connect the steering brace to the dash metal undercarriage. The bracket also holds the wires coming from the column upper to the lower part. Keep the bracket and bolts you will need these on reinstall.
5. The column will be looser now. Don't move it too much. Now you will do down the column and on the top or the right side you will find wiring connector for the turn signal, horn etc. This is a flat black piece of plastic with wires that connects to the same kind with the same color wires on the other side. To disconnect release the tabs on the outer edges and pull the plastic not the wires!!
6. Once the column is loose you will then be able to see the top of the column where the next connection is to take off. This is the ignition switch that is connected to the key switch. It simply pulls straight off.
7. Next at the base of the column you will see the 4 wires and 2 plastic connections that mount to the base of the steering wheel column. These easily disconnect by pulling the plastic pieces straight out. Remember the positions they were in for reconnection.
8. You now will need to remove the carpet and rubber mat (if there) to get to the rubber gasket that surrounds the tilt column. This comes out with a few bolts and a good pull. The edges are sharp so be careful not to cut yourself.
9. Once the cover is out the inside part is done and onto under the hood. Inside the engine compartment you will see where the transmission linkage hooks up to the shifter column (for automatics). You need to remove the cotter pin that holds the shifter rod to the column's shifter hole. Once you remove the cotter pin the rod moves out easily.
10. Next go to the 2 nuts that hold the steering shaft to the steering gear box. These come off easily and the shaft will then be free to move easier.
11. Now the last part is to take off the 2 nuts that are holding the steering column in. These are at the firewall right under the brake booster and the bolts do not come out just take off the nuts. This is a very tight spot. Once you have both nuts off and the bracket off then you need to pull the steering column out. Make sure to have all the wire free and clear. Use the steering wheel to pull out the column. This helps in turning the column any way it needs to go. Once you have the column completely out you need to swap over the steering shafts.
12. Take the bolt and nut loose from the shaft and it will be tough to take out. I used a lot my feet on the hook up for the shaft to the gear box then pulled up on the column shaft not the steering wheel. It also helps to lubricate it with WD-40 or something similar.
13. Next once you have it off then if you want to paint the shaft then do so.

14. Now reinstall the same way it came out of the old column. I used a block of wood and a hammer to install the shaft back into the new column. This way nothing was getting bent. Tighten the bolt and nut back. I couldn't find a torque spec in the shop manual on this. I tightened up to where it was tight.
15. Now take the column and stab it back in. Make sure to not move any wires and tear something out (you did move them out of the way right before right?).
16. Once it's placed in start tightening up the clamp on the firewall. Make sure to tighten up enough to keep column up out of the way but do not tighten all the way.
17. Now once the column is in place but still loose reattach the steering shaft to the gearbox (do not add nuts yet). The bolts are 2 different sizes and nuts only go on their respected size bolts. The alignment pins go onto the large cut out flanges on the shaft. Now go in and make sure the steering wheel is in correct position. If not (upside down) then pull column back off the gear box and insert the key to the ignition to turn the wheel and turn the column to get it in correct position.
18. Once the wheel is correctly aligned reattach to the steering gear box and tighten up nuts.
19. Then go back inside the cab and attach the wire connections- 2 at base, top of column for ignition and the wire harness. Now once you have that done loosely tighten up the 4 bolts and bracket that hold the column in place inside the cab to the dash.
20. Once those are attached go back and tighten up the clamp with the 2 nuts that is against the firewall inside the engine compartment.
21. Now go back and finish tightening up the 4 bolts again. Make sure to get it up against the dash where when you tighten up the 4 bolts they have no play.
22. Now go back and reattach the rubber gasket to the firewall/floor. Then place carpet and rubber mats back and make sure the mats are not in the way of the pedals.
23. Reattach the heater duct and the metal dash cover then lower cover of the steering wheel.
24. Reconnect the ground on the battery and check to see if all your turn signals, etc. work.
25. Once you feel that everything is nice and tight take it for a drive and test it out.