Auto Service World
Feature   April 1, 2000   by Rich Diegle

Dodge Neon Steering Problem

All right, lunchtime's over, back to work. It's time to diagnose and repair that Dodge Neon steering problem you have been putting off all morning.The customer is complaining that almost since the car...

All right, lunchtime’s over, back to work. It’s time to diagnose and repair that Dodge Neon steering problem you have been putting off all morning.

The customer is complaining that almost since the car was new, it takes a lot of effort to turn the steering wheel, and after making a turn, the wheel is very slow to return to center.

Your test drive confirms the customer’s concerns and it’s time to figure out the cause for the problem.

Here’s a hint. Inspect the steering column coupler area. You want to determine if the steering column coupler collar rubs the left inside surface of the plastic dash cover. To do so, pull up on the lower steering column dash seal to inspect for rub marks.

Note: If the vehicle is equipped with a tilt steering column, the column must be in the full down position before you pull up on the dash cover.

Now that you’ve identified the problem, the fix isn’t that much trouble. You need to modify the plastic lower steering column dash cover to obtain the necessary clearance.

1. Turn the ignition to the ON position and turn the steering wheel to the right or left one-half turn (180 degrees) from center. Turn the ignition key to the OFF/LOCK position and verify the steering wheel is in the locked position.

2. Remove the steering column coupling pinch bolt retaining pin and remove the pinch bolt.

3. Remove the steering column dash cover seal by pulling it up over the steering coupler.

4. Remove the four steering column dash cover attaching screws and remove the steering column dash cover up over the steering coupler.

Special Note: Let me take a moment to give you a related tip. This would be a good time to check the steering coupler’s condition.

The steering column couplers for approximately 355,000 Dodge and Plymouth Neons may separate, causing a loss of steering control. This coupler must be replaced and there is a factory recall to replace it.

The recall is number 741. You may want to find out if the vehicle identification number of the car you’re working on is involved in this recall and notify your customer.

5. With the steering column dash cover removed from the vehicle, use a 1/4 inch diameter rattail file to slot the existing holes downward, not to exceed 1/2 inch long and not past the edge of the cover.

6. Install the modified dash cover with the four attaching screws loosely. Position the dash cover upward so that the attaching screws are at the bottom of the slots that you just created. Tighten the four screws.

7. Install the dash cover upper seal, making sure the seal is fully seated in the dash cover groove.

8. Install the pinch bolt retaining the upper and lower steering coupler on the steering column.

OK, that’s it.

Take that rattail file out of your back pocket and test drive the vehicle again to make sure the problem is solved.

Maybe when you get back, the dispatcher will have a gravy 60,000-mile service for you.

Courtesy of All-Data

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