GM Corvette 1963-1982 Repair Guide

General Information


See Figures 1 and 2

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Fig. Fig. 1: Exploded view of the steering column and linkage-1969-82 vehicles

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Fig. Fig. 2: Key list for the steering column and linkage-1969-82 vehicles

The 1963-82 Corvette steering system is a recirculating ball, relay type. A pitman arm connects the steering gear to the relay rod by way of a pivoted joint. The opposite end of this transverse relay rod attaches to a frame-mounted idler arm by way of another pivoting joint. These joints are the ball and socket type.

Two adjustable tie-rods join each steering arm to the relay rod through self-adjusting ball and socket joints. The steering arms have two tie-rod end holes drilled in them to provide a road steering ratio of: 19.6:1 or 20.2:1 on earlier models; a faster ratio of 17:1 or 17:6.1 on later models. This adjustment is made by disconnecting the tie-rod ends from one steering arm hole and moving to the other. The later models (1969-1982) have Function Locking Energy Absorbing steering columns. With this design, the mast jacket and steering shaft are designed to collapse during conditions generated by a front end collision.

The collapsible mast jacket has ball bearings embedded in plastic and pressed between the upper and lower jackets. A predetermined load will collapse the assembly. The steering shaft collapses under predetermined loads, shearing the plastic pins. Additionally, these columns contain an anti-theft ignition switch and ignition lock system. This system prevents the removal of the ignition key unless the automatic transmission is in Park or the manual transmission is in Reverse, and the key is in the LOCK position. In this position, a rod and lock plate mechanism lock the steering wheel and shift lever.

The power rack and pinion steering system has a rotary control valve which directs hydraulic fluid, coming from the hydraulic pump, to either side of the rack piston. The integral rack piston is attached to the rack and converts hydraulic pressure to a linear force which moves the rack left or right. The force is then transmitted through the inner and outer tie rods to the steering knuckles which turn the wheels.

Lip seals, which seal the rotating shaft, require special treatment. This type of seal is used on the steering rack and pinion at the rack, at the pinion and valve, and on the driveshaft of the pump. When leakage occurs in one of these areas, always replace the seal(s), after inspecting and thoroughly cleaning the sealing surfaces. Replace the shaft only if very severe pitting is found except for the rack. If the rack shows evidence of corrosion, it should be replaced. If the corrosion in the lip seal contact zone is slight, clean the surface of the shaft with crocus cloth. Replace the shaft only if the leakage cannot be stopped by smoothing with crocus cloth first.