Tech Tip for 1993 Steering Problem

I ordered the truck new from the factory in 1993 at my local Dodge dealership (Virginia Beach Dodge in VA Beach, VA). The truck has performed flawlessly for years here in VA Beach while towing camping trailers, hauling firewood and then as a snow plowing machine in Colorado Springs where I had an Joint Tour with the US Navy. We returned to Virginia Beach back in 1999 and it is still running strong but the body is showing it's age.

The following are that specs on my truck:
1993 W350 4wd dual wheel 8ft bed
Cummins Diesel with Banks intercooler and turbo K&N air filter Automatic, 410 gears positraction, ARB air locker (front differential)

The Problem:
Steering Wheel shakes (oscillates) side to side after a turn I noticed that after making a turn left or right the steering wheel would shake back and forth. This was more predominant during a right hand turn but, was getting to the point where the truck was bordering on unsafe. In the past 15,000 mile I had replaced all of the steering components except for the steering box (tie rod ends, drag link, upper and lower king pin bearings and a drivers side u-joint.

I was out of ideas as to why I was having the wheel shake and brought it to two different front end shops and was told that my rotors had high spots and my calipers were locking up. I did notice the calipers were a little sticky at my last pad change (and I was out of ideas) so I did as suggested and replaced two rotos, calipers brake pads and the problem persisted.

Somewhat frustrated, I took a patient look underneath the truck and noticed that the right front u-joint seemed very rusty and the factory u-joints do not have grease fittings. Then I remembered what drove me to replace all the front end parts a few years ago in that I was having the same type of wheel shake, although not as severe. It was only after pulling the front axels to change the king pin bearings and races that I noticed that the left front axel u-joint was frozen. With this in mind, I pulled the locker unit on the right wheel and noticed that the aluminum locker insert was sheared from the center steel drive. So I pulled the wheel assembly and right axel and noticed the right u-joint was frozen.

After pressing in a new u-joint (with a grease fitting) and reassembly the problem was fixed. So, it seems that the frozen u-joint was forcing the wheel to oscillate as it tried to return to center. If you replace the u-joint, make sure you assemble it so the grease fitting faces towards the drive axel, not the outer stub axel that drives the wheel (in other words,the fitting faces the inside of the truck) this will allow easier access to the fitting with a grease gun.

Replaced frozen front end universal joint

Why I didn't change the opposing u-joint when I had the entire front end ripped apart the first time is still a mystery to me. But, why miss an opportunity to work on the truck and get all greasy is what I say, right?

Article written by Michael Troici October 2011

If you have questions or comments please feel free to email Michael at:

Joe Leonard 2012-05-07