Second Generation Camaro Owners Group - Steering System Restoration

The steering system is critical to the safe & functional operation of your car. When dealing with any older car these systems should be thouroghly inspected and maintained. This article will identify and explain some of the different aspects of the steering system on the Camaro. Two forms of steering where available; Manual Steering (standard), with variable ratio Power Steering (RPO N40) being optional. Power steering was included with the Type LT. Power steering became standard equipment in 1977.

Above left is a restored, high end show car steering system. To the right is a "regular" average car. On the regular car photo you can see the end of the centerlink, a portion of the steering gear (pitman arm) and a clear view of the "inner" tie-rod and the outer tie-rod, joined by the adjusting sleeve in the middle.

Inspection - Tips/hints....
Prior to driving a car, you can inspect the steering system by testing the various components. Jack up the car and grasp the various components that make up the steering linkage and see if they're loose. Look for obviously bent/defective parts. Check for leaks. Make sure the tires are properly inflated and in good shape.

The best way to restore the steering system is replace everything that can wear out, regardless of how it looks. If you're on a budget you can wire wheel the parts, clean them up and paint them. In stock form, these parts are natural in finish. I paint them cast iron or you can clear coat them so they don't rust.

I recommend finding an auto parts store or supplier who carries MOOG brand. Moog is the best product you can get, and is generally what you get when you buy a top of the line aftermarket front end kits.

There are 4 distinct configurations of steering linkage:
1970 - 1971 (Manual Steering, excluding Z28)
1970 - 1974 (power steering, 1970 - 71 Z28 w/manual steering)
1975 - 1981 (including 1980 - 1981 V8)
1980 - 1981 (V6).
The centerlink spans 1970 - 1981, excluding manual steering & V6 cars.
Idler Arm usage is 1970 - 1972, and 1973 - 1981.
Three sets of Inner/Outer tie-rods are used. 1970 - 1974, 1975 - 1981, and 1980 - 1981 (V6).
Inner tie-rods are side specific. Outers are identical per side. You can mix & match years if you observe the above interchange.
The adjusting sleeves are common to all years.

These items are connected with castle nuts and secured via a cotter pin. The cotter pin is to prevent the nut from backing off due to vibration and allowing the component to become disconnected.

Jump to Related: Steering FAQ | DIY Alignment | Brackets & Pullies | Steering columns | High-Performance considerations
Exploded views: Typical Power Steering Pump Assembly | Typical Power Steering Gear

Steering System Information & Restoration

General Description (1974)
Gear type: standard manual steering gear is recirculating ball nut. Power (optional) is integral recirculating ball nut with hydraulic pressure provided from vane type pump.

Ratios, gear: Manual - 28.0:1 (base), 24.0:1 (Z28)
Power: 16.0:1 on center to 13.0:1
Ratios, Overall: Manual - 33.0:1 (base), 28.3:1 (Z28)
Power 15.0:1 on center to 11.3:1
Number of wheel turns, lock to lock: 6.27 (manual), 2.41 (power)
Turning diameter: roughly 40 feet.

Component identification, usage & interchange
Year Type Part # Code/Comments
1970 - 1972 PS Pump 6 cylinder   Minus pulley & Brackets
1973 - 1979 PS Pump - 6 cylinder    
1980 - 1981 PS Pump - 229 V6    
1980 - 1981 PS Pump - 231 V6    
1970 - 1976 PS Pump - 8 cylinder    
1977 - 1978 PS Pump - 8 cylinder   YF
1979 PS Pump - 8 cylinder    
1980 - 1981 PS Pump - 8 cylinder   DE
1970 - 1974 Steering Gear (manual)    
1970 - 1974 Steering Gear (power)    
1975 - 1976 Steering Gear (power)    
1977  - 1979 Steering Gear (except Z28)   XT
1977 - 1979 Steering Gear (w/Z28)    
1980 - 1981 Steering Gear (w/o Z28 and with std. suspension)    
1980 - 1981 Steering Gear (w/ Z28 or HD Suspension)   BY

Notes on above table:
6 cylinder steering pumps have slight differences between California or Federal Emissions system.
Major differences include hose fitting type and upper shaft connection (coupling) to steering gear.
Steering gear is minus pitman arm and upper shaft. Above table lists direct interchange. You can interchange components if taken as a whole compatable system. For example, don't expect to adapt an upper steering shaft intended for use with a square bolt onto a column designed for a round bolt, nor can you expect o-ring hose ends to fit into a steering gear intended for use with flaired fittings.

Steering Gears & Valving
My Z28 information will identify the Z28 steering rate vs. stock. Now, how do you identify, at a glance, what box is what? The trick is in the valving of the gear unit.
Note: 800 gear cover retained by bolts. 605 gear cover retained by retaining ring.
Year   Part Number   Description
1971-72   3996780   (Camaro w/PS, Gear unit, power basic, variable ratio)
1971-72   7808369   Camaro - valve
1972   7815770   (Camaro - exc p/s, spec. h/per. 350)
1973   7818145   (Camaro - exc P.S. 8 cyl. Pass, exc police)
1973-75   7818138   (Camaro - w/PS, exc. R.T.S, sport susp). (Radial Tuned Suspension?)
1973-75   358938   (Camaro - w/PS) Gear Unit
1973-75   7808369   Camaro (exc sp. hp 350) - valve
1975   7814930   Camaro (exc RTS) - valve
1976   358938   Gear kit (use with adapter kit 358942 or 358990)
1976   7808369   Valve (w/hd suspension)
1977   7833307   (exc Z28, HD) (F41) Gear, hyd strg (800 gear)
1977   7826116   Valve (exc HD suspension) Note 3
1977   7826113   Valve (HD susp & PS)
1978   7826116   Valve (exc HD susp, 605 gear)
1979   7826116   Valve (exc HD susp, Z28)
1979-81   7832058   Valve (exc HD susp, Z28)
1977-79   7833307   (exc z28) Gear, hyd strg (800 gear)
1979   7826113   Valve w/Z28.
1980-81   7848139   (V6 exc HD susp) Gear
1980-81   7848140   (V6 w/hd susp)
1980-81   7848139   (V8 exc HD susp, Z28)
1980-81   7848140   (V8 w/hd susp, exc Z28)
1980-81   7833147   (w/z28) Gear, hyd strg (800 gear)
1980-81   7834284   Valve (w/800 gear)
Source: General Motors Chassis and Parts catalog.
Chassis Group 6 (Front suspension steering), section .508, steering gear
section .550 Valve Assy - adapter assy., steering gear hydraulic.
AMA data

Last updated: 11/3/2011
Author: MadMike Maciolek

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