Why is my grand am floating all over the road


Asked by Feb 05, 2013 at 11:00 AM about the 2003 Pontiac Grand Am

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

This week my car started having a lot of play on the steering wheel.  It's resulted in me hitting a curb during a u turn
and now the steering wheel is off center about 45 degrees.  Had to go out of town so my mechanic looked at the
front end and said its all tight and solid.  Recently replaced wheel bearings and tie rod is ok.  So I drove it yesterday
but its sometimes hard to hold it in the lane and there is still a lot of play in the steering.  Also when I am going slow
and turn sharply to the right or left I hear a clunk clunk sound. Can I safely drive it the two hour drive back home to
have my regular mechanic look at it.  What could this be?

11 Answers

ball joints need inspection asap. A 2 hour drive? No. I suggest some other arrangements, steering problems are life and death problems

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

The clunk - clunk sound may be a CV joint or the wheel lug nuts are loose. Have it looked at ASAP. Maybe a different mechanic may find the cause.

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

Would either of these answers explain the play in the steering wheel or are you just addressing the clunk sound? Also the fact that the steering wheel is somehow turned to the left instead of centered. A friend suggested maybe a steering pump? Could that be it?

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

Pump, no.


There a thing called a rag joint that may have come apart. It's on the bottom end of the steering shaft and it's similar to a universal joint. It attaches the shaft to the steering rack pinion. The wheel turned 45* could be something bent or slipped when the curb was hit - maybe the rag joint failed. --- A rack and pinion steering system is pretty simple. A rack is attached to the wheels with tie rods - the rack moves, the wheels move. Here's a site that shows the basics -- http://auto.howstuffworks.com/steering2.htm

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

First, bag a stupid general mechanic and take it to an alignment shop where you have guys who know front ends if you can't do it yourself. I did the exact same thing last year and bent my tie rod ends, if you turn the wheel sharp and hear a clunking noise, it's more than likely the CV, or for you guys who know me its called CV for Constant Velocity, you can do the repairs, just hope the axle didn't get smacked in. These axles have two sizes, but we can talk about that later. I can't believe your mechanic could say all is good when obviously it isn't, you better go to a shop that does suspensions specific or we can start right here. Turn the wheel real sharp to the left and drive in a circle and let me know if you here a clunking noise Not steering pump, not lug nuts jeez, and if you don't see obvious bent tie rod ends or sway bar links then I'm not sure without looking at it myself. If you can, I'd jack it up, take the tire off and start looking, preferably put the entire front end up on jack stands and find a helper to turn the wheel. You have to be careful real careful because you will have to start the engine, start thinking outside the box, I think the mechanic is crazy or lazy.. It is almost impossible to bend and axle, you would break it first, you might even have smashed wheel bearing or hub. Start looking....You don't have loose lug nuts TeenSpeed that's not even funny. Let me say this GM suspension is crap out of the box, and I have rebuilt maybe 10-15 of them so I kind of gotta an idea of how they work and hitting a curb, of course depending how fast just might have screwed up the alignment at best case scenario, go to an alignment shop and have these guys take a look.

5 out of 5 people think this is helpful.

Bye the way, if your serous about the floating all over, you broken strut will cause that, or shock. GO, to an alignment shop and have them put it on the lazer and find out.

Sorry, but a 2003 GM the ball joints will probably need replacing but here's the problem, if they have never been replaced then you will have to either replace the entire control arm and I'll tell you which one to buy because there is a big difference and GM's ball joints are fixed permanently to the control arm, sort of. You can't just unbolt them and replace the ball joint, You will have to remove the entire control arm and drill out the heavy duty pop rivets for lack of a better word then buy a bolt on ball joint, Raybestos brand that has the zerk fitting so you can lube the ball joint each time you change the oil. GM ball joints are sealed and you can check these with a pry bar and a floor jack but to explain that gets lengthy, But the problem here then gets to where all the rubber suspensions will be worn out also on the control arm, so unless you have a press and a lot of knowledge don't even consider that kind of repair, so you just buy a whole new control arm and replace it. I'll show you which YouTube vids that will show you how to do it. It's not that difficult but will cost you a grip at a shop, believe that. So, if your serious about doing this yourself well contact me and I will walk you through, but start by going to and alignment shop and check the strut on the side you hit along with anything that looks bent, like tie rods, ends, spay bar links, just start looking and it does sound that when you turn left hard and hear a clunking noise that the CV is gone and that is probably coincidence and was ready to go to begin with, what engine do you have ??

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

Alright Teenspeed I am giving you a B+ on the rag joint, good thought, and I'll leave that there, but great thinking ~

I was going to say that. And I bought the Eiffel Tower in Paris, it has become structurally unsound and the iron is now mine to sell for scrap.

Sounds quite simple / tilt wheel on Column - pivot pin has come out or loose and needs to be repaired. Normally there are two locating pins in a tilt wheel column. One on the left side and one on the right side. if either pin pops out the column will wobble and flop all over while trying to turn the steering wheel The fix is: Either have the existing loose pin or pins put back in place or new ones installed. Most professional auto shops have a man capable of doing the work. Normally about a 2 hour job.

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