Prior to 1969, GM had tilt steering columns in production, but these were typically only available in their luxury models. From 1969 on up, tilt columns were readily available in most GM vehicles. These new tilt columns featured the ignition in the column rather than on the dash. Since then, lowriders, hot-rodders, street rodders and every one in between uses the GM tilt column when they build their cars.
However great these columns are, they do have some inherent problems. After several years of use and abuse they tend to malfunction. The tilt no longer has any tension and you can literally lift the column up and down with a pinky. Should one attempt to drive the vehicle with such a tilt column, it can make for some scary moments when suddenly you find the steering wheel in a completely different location.
We asked a friend who happened to be a GM master mechanic about the floppy column syndrome. He said they fix those columns all the time and that that particular repair is the shop’s bread and butter (meaning these mechanics fix it in less than an hour, while the customer ends up paying the shop’s basic hourly rate and the mechanic gets to pocket the difference). Bread and butter, baby, bread and butter. Let’s butter our own bread and save about 100 bucks by doing this repair on our own.
Our pals at Harrison’s Restorations in Upland, California, gave us a step-by-step tutorial on how it’s done without having to remove the column from the vehicle. The idea of breaking down a steering column can be a bit intimidating if you’ve never done it before. Keep in mind that the parts in these columns are layered like a cake. It might help to put them in the order in which you removed them, and if you have a digital camera, taking a snap shot of every part as it looks before disassembly is a valuable reference tool.