replace steering wheel motion sensor

lone ranger

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Well I finally replaced the sensor. It makes a difference. For those that wrote about the sensor on this forum I say thanks for pointing me in the right direction. It took me longer than expected since I was working alone and didn't have the use of a shop manual and I had to get up and down to get the tools I needed. Always nice to have a helper.

Before I did anything I moved the seat as far back as it would go. You will want to do this if you have power seats. I then disconnected the battery. The nut on the lower column that goes thru the wall is the one that comes off. It is behind the bracket holding the steering wheel and is the one that you have to loosen to pull the shaft towards the firewall. I used a 15mm box wrench, as the space is too confining to get a socket in there. Once the nut is off just pull the bolt out. It comes out rather easy and goes back the same. Realizing that the sensor sits in a case, gray in color, with about 4 retention clips, I inserted a small screwdriver behind each clip and pulled on the clip as I worked the sensor forward towards the firewall. On a couple clips I used a bent wire to move the sensor forward as I worked the clip, as they are buried on top. Don't break the clips, they are plastic tension release types and retain the sensor in the proper position. Break the clips and you might have a bigger problem than the replacement of the sensor. The connection for the sensor was located on top of the column and wrapped in foam. I had to peal the foam away. To disconnect the sensor I removed the green retaining clip by sliding it back out of the connector and once that was done the connection came apart pretty easy. Don't pull on the wires to disconnect. I might add that the wiring does not seem long enough to remove the sensor first by sliding it down the shaft prior to disconnecting the connector. Once disconnected you need to slide the connector thru the bracket and the steering column. It will get thru. You could cut the wires but I chose to leave them intact. Cutting would make the job easy. Once I got the connector thru I slide the sensor down the shaft and off.

The sensor goes back on the column with the metal bushing facing the driver. There is a notch at the top of the sensor housing that the sensor wiring fits into. You can feel this but I also used a mirror to see, with the help of a shop light, exactly what was there and how it fit. After fitting the sensor I connected the wires on the top side of the steering column. You have to fiddle with the connection but it will go thru the small opening that you previously removed it from. Someone else said to connect the connector first but this worked just a easy. Once connected I then pushed the green retaining clip back in, take notice how it comes out and replace the same way. I then slid the column up onto the shaft and aligned the holes, dropped the bolt thru the opening and then put the nut on and tightened it. I once again made sure the connection was good and that the sensor was seated proper in the housing and retained by the clips.

I took it for a test ride and all is good with the world.

You can buy the sensor thru GM, any auto store, or on-line. Mine was the "Help" brand part #31025 and fits '94 to '04 models. I mine purchased on-line, but I probably could have gone to my local auto store too.

Thanks again to all that posted information about the sensor.
 

JP422

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Thanks! Is this the EVO sensor that jerks the steering wheel when bad?
 

lone ranger

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Don't know if it is called EVO. But what I have read here, when it goes bad it affects the wheel. The other comments have been about the steering box I believe. Sorry it took so long to respond, I've been away.
 

JP422

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Just to clarify... I think what I understand now is that the EVO is at the steering box (under the hood) and the Steering wheel position sensor is the one on the column (thanks Lone Ranger).

The EVO is what somehow "adjusts" steering feel... and the position sensor is what gives it the information it needs, so if the position sensor goes bad, then the EVO gets "jerky" and scared the jeebus outta you.

This is what i got so far from some of the other posts (from searching)... but If this is inaccurate, please feel free to elaborate.
 

JP422

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Ok... I finally got off my lazy arse and actually worked on my truck. I changed the steering sensor at lunch time. here's some pics.

Lone Ranger's write up was on the ball. Some extra tips:
-Turn the steering left about 9 O'clock. Then the 15mm nut will be facing straight down and you can use a socket wrench to speed things up.

-Also, the bolt is like a carriage bolt, so you'll have to press down on it while wrenching so it won't spin.

-The wire and connector can be pulled down to the right of the steering shaft, where it's easy to work on.

-When the steering wheel is straight, there is a slot in the plastic housing that the sensor snaps into... I stuck a flat blade screw driver w/ gently pulling the tab to push the sensor out. I only felt 3 tabs total (i could be wrong on this)... but I still pushed the sensor out through this slot, and it was easy.

Now that I know how to do this (thanks for the info!~) it seems like a 5-10 min job. Pretty simple.

**I changed my sensor becuase it jerked w/ me a few weeks ago when I was making a sharp right turn on an off camber corner. It totally caught me off guard and baffled me. It never did that again, but I don't plan to wait for symptoms. Once was enough. Also, a few drives before this incident, my power steering felt weak at low rpm/idle situations... but only when the steering was turned a bit. I thought my power steering pump or fluid was the culprit.

Result: The steering feels normal... no big difference... but the steering feel actually feels a bit more firm. With the old sensor, the steering was very loose and easy, and almost felt overboosted. Now it feels more solid, and seems to return back to center better too (If the sensor has nothing to do w/ this... then just play along) Overall, not bad for $35 (original AC Delco part... online)

Anyway, hope this helps~
 

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JP422

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OK... something just occurred to me.

What position should the sensor be rotated to when the steering wheel is straight? I'm not talking about the sensor housing, because that will only fit one way... but the rotating part that w/ the brass tabs that actually touch the steering shaft. I didn't "clock" mine when I installed it... does anyone know what it's supposed to be at when straight?

I figured this out last night when I took apart the old sensor out of curiousity... and saw that it might need to be clocked right. It works fine right now.. but I'd like to get it right.

Damn.
 

freewheelincowboy

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I have a 1998 GMC Z71 4x4 and my steering is doing exactly what yall are saying!
My question is the sensor behind the steering wheel or is it under the dash like in the excellent pics that were posted?
 

JP422

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slide your drivers seat back ... and look under the knee area... you'll see it. Easy.
 

freewheelincowboy

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I just wanted say thanks for all of the information i just changed mine and it was as easy as yall said it would be.
 

lone ranger

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Glad to have been of help in enabling you all to have an easy time replacing the sensor. Our next project will be.................only kidding.
 

DigitalDenali1

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JP422...did you figure out what position the sensor should be rotated to? I've got an 01 Yukon Den that has steering issues...its harder to turn the wheel left than right and when you make a right turn the wheel stays put forcing you to bring it back (like you're driving a semi). I had some ball joints with busted boots so I changed those (major disaster of a project...ended up spending $500 at midas to get this done right) and got an alignment done, but the problem is still there. Seems like changing this sensor might help me out and its a cheap thing to change which I like. Please let us know and thanks for posting the pics.
 

JP422

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Digital... well, when I opened up the old sensor, I did find a point of symmetry (most likely the straight steering position). I haven't tried it myself yet, but I will adjust it soon (perhaps during the holidays).

If you look carefully at the sensor, the side without the wires has some pinholes, and a "U" shaped detail. If this U shape detail is aligned w/ the wire post on the backside, then the metal contacts are at a point of symmetry (It's at point zero and should read the same either direction rotated)

To say it simply, try installing the sensor w/ the "U" shaped detail up. (it will be aligned w/ the wire post on the backside).

My steering actually got a bit more firm since installing the new sensor (not clocked right?)... even at slow speeds. This isn't totally a bad thing. It feels sportier, and seems to want to whip back to straight (kinda like having a lot of caster in the steering)... but I know that's not how it was originally, when the truck was new. I'm gonna try clocking it and see if there's a difference. It should be easy to do.

Good luck~
 

DigitalDenali1

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JP422, please let me know what you find. I just bought my truck a couple weeks ago and this is one complaint that I have. Midas said the caster is nominal, but the wheel doesn't come back at all after a right turn so if you're getting a feeling thats "like lots of caster" that sounds good to me. Only problem is I just called the local dealership and the part was $82 for an 01 Yukon Den. After wasting $500 trying to fix this with no luck, I'm a little leary of going any further, but if replacing this sensor is as easy on my 01 as it is on your trucks, then I'd like to get it fixed and be done with this problem. Again, please let me know what you find.
 

JP422

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Sure... I'll post any results...

Funny thing about the whole castor feel... is it didn't have that "wanting to return to straight" feeling w/ the old sensor. At least not as much as now. It's hard to believe this sensor has so much control... GM could dial in some nice steering input.. too bad they didn't.
 

DigitalDenali1

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Well if that's the response you get from a new sensor, then I'm thinking that HAS to be my problem. My steering column looks a little different than yours, but that carriage bolt is down there. I might have to disconnect the wire harness that goes to the accel pedal because those wires are in the way, but if things pull apart as described, it doesn't look like that bad of a job. When I got the truck back from Midas the other day, I asked the tech about this problem and he printed a TSB about these sensors that was a little cryptic and stated that you need to remove the steering wheel (aka air bag and all the other stuff) to change these sensors. I definitely didn't want to do that myself and didn't want to pay someone to do that either if its only a small change in the steering, but if swapping this sensor is as easy as described, I can handle that.

One of my pet peeves are things that don't work properly and this steering thing annoys the crap out of me because I know the steering system isn't working correctly and I notice it EVERY time I get in the truck b/c obviously I steer whenever I go some place. It'd be sweet if a sensor fixes this issue.
 

JP422

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Yea... good luck on that... and please post results~

Oh one more thing... after I removed the carriage bolt, it wasn't the easiest to push the steering shaft forward... took some good effort to get it forward. If it weren't for these forums w/ all this info, I would have never known that the shaft would push forward... let alone even know about this sensor...

Good luck!~
 

DigitalDenali1

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Just to clarify, once I get the carriage bolt out, I push the shaft heading into the firewall toward the firewall -or- push the other part connected to the steering wheel up toward the wheel? I'm not sure about the orientation in your pics, but starting at the wheel and coming down the column I have 1) the wheel. 2) sensor. 3) carriage bolt. 4) a universal joint. 5) firewall. Is that the same setup as your truck? When installing the new sensor, how easy/hard is it to pull the shaft back where it should go? Will this be obvious once I get in there...

I think they changed things a little bit with my sensor as there are no wires coming from the sensor. There is a multi-pin connector (only 4 pins are actually present on the sensor, 2 pins on the outsides with some empty spaces for additional pins in between them) that snaps into the sensor. I'm thinking that eliminates the need to thread the connector through things as you described and it simplifies disconnecting the wires as this connector was facing the floor. Unless of course you did all this and I'm misunderstanding your description.

Please let me know what you think.
 

JP422

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"Clocked" the steering wheel sensor...

Digital... you have that right... on the OBS, we just push the steering shaft forward through the fire wall... starting from the joint where the carriage bolt is removed.

As for the sensor alignment... I just fixed it during lunch today. Very simple. I rotated the steering wheel 180*... so it's straight upside-down. Then I felt for the "U" dimple on the sensor, and rotated it around so it was pointed down. This way, when the steering is straight forward, the sensor's "U" mark is pointed up, aligned w/ the wires.

As for result... I dunno. It just feels normal. It could be just in my head, but I did notice a tad less steering wheel return (wanting to spring back to straight position). Also slightly less steering tension... but all in all... it feels normal again. I still don't really know exactly what this sensor does for the truck... but I think i'm done w/ this sensor issue now.

thanks for all your tips~
 

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bassman542001

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I have a 1998 K1500 with a 5.7 engine and I'm having the same problem with the steering. What I would like to know, is there another sencor on the steering other than the one under the dash. Also does anyone know where to find a diagram for this trucks steering system
 
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