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Old 11-08-2018, 12:27 AM   #1
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2002 SL2
Post PSA for those strange front-end clunks (Intermediate Steering Shaft) on your Vue

Or any car, really. Apparently GM had a really bad go with the first few generations of these shafts. If you don't read this whole thing, at least read this: SILICONE SPRAY LUBRICANT IS YOUR FRIEND.

If you have a clunk in the steering that you can't quite narrow down, especially over bumps while moving slowly, it may be your intermediate steering shaft. For me, it was. I replaced the entire front end and still had a clunk - but I had diagnosed it as the shaft beforehand, by feeling the knuckle under the dash and shaking the wheel.

If anyone doesn't know what this intermediate shaft is, it is basically a rod in a sleeve that has knuckle on each end. Itconnects your steering column to your rack and pinion underneath the car. It lets your steering wheel move and articulate smoothly. If it is worn, the rod will knock around in the sleeve and make the whole steering system feel sloppy.

I spent a lot of time researching how to do this, and there was nothing, really. So, I winged it.

The part I ordered was here, from RockAuto. The UltraPower 425108 shaft. It looks to be the newer, painted style similar to the 3rd gen GM design that fixed the wearing down of the shaft over time. $82 CAD. Worked perfectly for me, and seems well-built.

To remove:

1. Remove the 2 under-dash bolts below the steering column. I believe these are 7mm heads, but I may be wrong.

2. Slide out the dash cover.

3. Locate the intermediate steering shaft. It is clamped onto a spline which comes out from the steering wheel column (which you won't be able to see until you remove the old shaft) using a 15mm head bolt.

4. Rotate the steering wheel so you can access, loosen, and remove the 15mm bolt. If you don't want to lose your steering wheel alignment, don't remove the shaft at this point.

5. Jack up the car, and remove the driver's side wheel. I bet can remove the other half of the shaft it without removing the wheel and simply using ramps, but if your Vue has any rust you'll wish you took it off to get better access.

6. Locate where the intermediate steering shaft connects to your rack and pinion. If you have trouble, follow your tie rods back until you see a rod coming up vertically out of the assembly. OPEN YOUR HOOD AT THIS POINT, the extra light from above will be really useful.

7. You'll see a similar setup here, a bolt clamping a spline. I believe this is a 13mm head, but I may be totally wrong here. Memory is bad. Check around. Using a long extension will be helpful.

8. If you haven't removed the shaft from your steering wheel as of yet, good job! You need to rotate the steering wheel to give you access to this bolt head. Once done, remove the bolt.

9. Slide the intermediate shaft off of your rack and pinion spline, and do the same on the interior from the steering column. If you don't let your wheel move, you won't lose the centering of your steering wheel.

10. Now, the fun part. Remove the rubber boot covering the firewall, and remove the shaft through the interior of the vehicle.

11. BEFORE YOU EVEN TRY ANYTHING WITH YOUR NEW SHAFT, LUBRICATE THE RUBBER BOOT WITH A RUBBER-COMPATIBLE SILICONE LUBRICANT. I spent literally nearly 3 hours trying to force this boot into the firewall, bashing and cutting up my hands, until I lubricated it. It took 20 seconds after this point.

12. Insert the new shaft through the firewall, and match the ends onto their respective splines for the steering column and rack and pinion.

13. Reinsert and tighten the clamp bolts. I don't have a torque spec, but even a small amount of torque keeps them very snug. There's no opposing forces to remove the shaft, so I wouldn't worry.

14. Test and profit! The new shaft also cuts down on noise when you bottom out the steering, there's no clunk.
2002 SL2 A/T "Pluto" 250,000KM
2006 Vue V6 AWD A/T "Benji" 150,000KM

Last edited by Walkop; 11-08-2018 at 12:35 AM.
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Old 11-26-2018, 10:27 AM   #2
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Default Re: PSA for those strange front-end clunks (Intermediate Steering Shaft) on your Vue

Thanks for the nicely laid out procedure Walkop. Got the part a while back but then got intimidated by the project. I have no excuse now other than the cold.

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Old 12-10-2018, 10:56 AM   #3
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2003 VUE 3.0L
Default Re: PSA for those strange front-end clunks (Intermediate Steering Shaft) on your Vue

i did it also and i think it made no difference. but thats me. the process is quite easy. odd that the elec boost unit at boneyard is almost always missing but the intermediate shaft remains. i always wondered why the steering column is dropped in so many vues in the yard?
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Old 12-16-2018, 06:15 PM   #4
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2003 VUE 3.0L
Default Re: PSA for those strange front-end clunks (Intermediate Steering Shaft) on your Vue

I also replaced the intermediate shaft on my 2003 VUE first, no difference, turns out my rack and pinion was making all of the noise and sloppy steering. Over bumps, it would make such a racket.. I never would've thought it was the rack!

If you have someone sit inside the VUE with the car OFF, but key ON so the steering wheel can move freely and not lock, and you go out to each wheel, have the person inside the car move the steering wheel back and forth a full turn each way. If your rack is bad, you will HEAR the noise from the rack and pinion.

Fun fact: the rack and pinion was replaced already, under warranty, in 2005 (we bought the VUE brand new in August 2002). This tells me either we had bad luck, or rack and pinions on the Theta platform vehicles do sometimes fail.

Ever since I replaced the rack & pinion, did it myself in my garage, took about 2-3 hours... the front end has been as good, maybe better, than new!
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Old 12-21-2018, 11:22 PM   #5
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2004 VUE 2.2L
Default Re: PSA for those strange front-end clunks (Intermediate Steering Shaft) on your Vue


I have decided to scrap my 2004 2.2L Vue, with 178k miles on it, because the frame has gotten so weak I cannot jack up the back of the car and put stands under the frame, without the frame crushing

but I have been getting bangs and clicks in the steering, like its coming from behind the steering wheel, for the last few thousand miles.

I looked at my steering link in the engine compartment, and one of the pins on one of the universal joints is sheared on one side. I think its been that way for a while.

I only have to drive the car 4 miles to the scrap metal yard, I think it will last another 5 minutes on the road, but yeah... If I was going to keep the car this would be another $100 in parts to repair it.
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