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Steering Column Repair/play in steering wheel

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Question
Hi Doug,
I have not purchased this, but I have looked at a dealership a nice looking 2003 Toyota Camry XLE (146,000 miles).  Overall the car looked clean, but while parked, the steering wheel had a lot of play.  I did not take it for a test drive.  Would you consider a loose steering wheel to be a serious enough issue that I should stay away from buying such a car?  Thanks.

Answer
Hi Glen:
I'm not real clear on "play in the steering wheel" especially when you say it is parked.  It should have power steering.  Are you saying the when you turn the steering wheel, the wheels on the road do not respond immediately?  Or are you saying the steering wheel itself is loose inside the cab of the car and has play (without turning it...just wiggling it)?

If it's the 1st scenario, then the problem could get expensive (rack & pinion?) so I would plan on $500-$1000 to take care of that.
If the problem is the 2nd scenario, then you would need a used steering column and that too would run @ $500 or so.  That column design is not serviceable so there is nothing to repair.  You just replace it.

I hope this helps you get a feel for what you are looking at.

Good luck

Steering Column Repair

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Douglas Gan

Expertise

My specialties are stolen vehicles, steering column and ignition locks repair, airbag service and installation and diagnosis. My work includes both domestic (USA) vehicles and foreign designs.

Experience

30 years owning a company that specializes in steering columns, ignition & airbag related problems

Education/Credentials
GM certified, ASE certified, 4 yrs college, Mech Tech degree
I own multiple auto repair companies and can help you professionally through any of our websites at:
www.steeringcolumnservices.com ---- we stock many older steering column parts and can rebuild your column if you ship it to us
www.airbagsolutions.com --- we sell airbag replacement information (no parts)
www.autoinformationservices.com -- we perform investigations for many types of vehicle claims
Please feel free to contact us through any of our websites for more information or help

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