We all want to keep our boats in proper maintenance. But the boat steering play can be really annoying especially when it requires adjustment.
Boat steering wheel play, or looseness in the steering, can make operating a boat difficult and potentially dangerous.
To ensure smooth and safe steering, it’s important to regularly adjust the steering wheel play.
Don’t panic, you can easily adjust them following some quick and easy steps.
So, how can you do Boat Steering Wheel Play Adjustment?
To fix the play in your boat steering, you’ll need a wrench and screwdrivers. With those, you need to take a look at the steering cable and nuts.
Tighten the cable screws and replace cable nuts. Finally, attach another steering cable and keep everything back to its previous place.
So, that was a quick look at the fixing guide. But it shouldn’t be enough for you? Well, have discussed things elaborately below. So let’s get started!
How to Adjust the Steering Wheel Play
Like the engine, the steering is a very important part of any vehicle. Without any steering, you cannot control the boat going left or right. You cannot go only straight while driving. That is why steering is important.
Also, broken or loose steering can be more problematic. There are signs for problematic steering. If your steering isn’t straight, your boat can go the wrong way.
That is why precision steering is important. And there are ways you can adjust the steering on your boat.
To do the adjustment, you will be needing a screwdriver and a wrench. You also might need to replace the wire on the steering.
Cause over a period of time the wire can get Loose. And eventually, that can cause the loose of play on the steering.
Below, we divided the whole steering adjustment process into 5 steps.
This way you can have a proper understanding of what you really need to do. So go through the steps from 1 to 5, to do adjustments to your steering.
Step 1: Identify the Cause of Steering Wheel Play
Before you make any adjustments, it’s important to determine the cause of the steering wheel play. Looseness in the steering can be caused by a number of factors, including:
Worn steering components: Over time, steering components such as the steering cable, steering gear, and steering wheel can wear out, causing the steering to become loose.
Loose steering cable: If the steering cable is loose, it can cause the steering wheel to move back and forth, resulting in steering wheel play.
Loose steering wheel: If the steering wheel is not properly secured to the shaft, it can cause the steering to become loose.
Step 2: Check on the Tilt Section
Before you start working on the steering, you have to see where the problem is. Cause without that you cannot be sure where to work on.
But to check where the problem is, you need help from someone else. Bring a friend or anyone who can help and tell them to turn the wheel. While the wheel is being turned, you need to do the observations.
Keep an eye on the tilt section on the cable screws. The cable screws are which hold the cables. The screws should be snug on the slant tube. Now if the cable screws are loose, you need to tighten them.
Step 3: Tighten the Cable Screws
To tighten the cable screws, you’ll be needing an open-end tool. Otherwise, you cannot fit any tool inside the engine area.
With the open-end tool, tighten the screws on the cable. The steering rack wire nuts should be tight. Also, the wires should be able to move smoothly. So don’t tighten the screws with all of your strength.
But what to do, if the nuts are tight, but still there is a play on the steering? In that case, you need to change the screws.
Step 4: Replace the Cable Nuts
There are nuts on both ends of the wires. These nuts are which hold the steering wires. If nuts on both ends are snug, then you need to replace the nuts. If the cables are too damaged, you need to change the steering cables as well.
Also, while you change the nut on the steering, check on the cables themselves. Sometimes when the nuts are loose, the cable rip away. And that might cause you trouble while you driving. That is why it is better to change.
You can leave the nuts and bolts on the front of the boat in place.
Step 5: Attach a New Steering Cable
Get your new steering cables, and you have to put these on. Also, you need to screw the nuts in so that the cable stays secure.
Lubricating the new cables the proper way is really necessary. Lubricating will make sure that the cables don’t strip while they are moving. The cables move back and forth when you steer the boat. If the cables are not oiled, they can get stripped.
Also, rust can form over the cables without proper lubrication.
Step 6: Put Everything Back on
Now by following the above steps you can get your steering play adjustment right. But don’t go out for a run right after your adjustments.
Make sure all the nuts and screws are tight. Also, cover the exposed parts otherwise water can get inside.
And this is how you can adjust the steering on your boat. This problem is common for sea star hydraulic steerings.
But now you know how you can fix it.
How Can you Prevent Wheel Play?
To prevent wheel play, make sure you use the steering right. Any boat or vehicle has a turning radius. And the wheel can turn only the determined degrees it is supposed to.
If you turn the wheels more than it can, it can stretch the wheels.
If the steering rudder touches anything underwater, it can get damaged. But in most cases, you cannot notice if anything is under there.
But always be careful where you park your boat. Check if there are any obstacles underwater.
Also, if the water body you drive is too rough, the steering can be damaged. So make sure to do a maintenance run when you head back in the water.
If your boat has loose steering, it can move sideways or go in the wrong direction. That is why it is better for you to fix the steering first.
How do you tighten the steering cable on a boat?
Tightening the steering cable on a boat is an important part of maintaining the boat’s steering system and ensuring smooth and safe operation. Here are the steps to tighten the steering cable on a boat:
Locate the steering cable: The steering cable runs from the steering wheel to the outboard motor or inboard/outboard drive unit.
Check the cable tension: Use a cable tension gauge to measure the cable’s tension at the steering wheel and at the outboard motor or inboard/outboard drive unit. If the cable tension is too loose, it can cause the steering to become loose.
Locate the cable adjustment: The cable adjustment is usually located at the outboard motor or inboard/outboard drive unit.
Adjust the cable tension: Use a cable tension gauge to adjust the cable tension to the manufacturer’s specifications.
The cable adjustment mechanism may be a nut or a clamp, and it may require a special tool to adjust.
Re-check the cable tension: After making the adjustment, use the cable tension gauge to re-check the cable tension.
Repeat the adjustment process until the cable tension is within the manufacturer’s specifications.
Check the connections: Make sure that the connections between the cable and the steering gear and steering wheel are tight and secure.
How Much Play Should be in Boat Steering Wheel
Turn the wheel all the way to check how much the steering turns. The max should turn is more or less than 20 degrees. And steering fluid should be at the bottom of the fill port in the boat.
What makes a Boat Hard to Steer?
If the steering is hard to move, you should check the steering fluid level. Also, check if the steering is greased enough.
Without any lubrication, it can be hard to move the steering. Also, it can damage the parts inside.
What are the Hydraulic Steering Problems on a Boat?
The main problem people face with hydraulic steering is leaks in the steering. There are oils in the hydraulic chamber which can break out of there. Also, if the fluid level is low, it can be hard to move the hydraulic steering.
What is the maximum allowable amount of play in a steering wheel?
The maximum allowable amount of play in a steering wheel varies depending on the type of boat and the manufacturer’s specifications.
However, in general, a steering wheel should have no more than 3-5 inches of play in any direction.
It’s important to keep the amount of play in a steering wheel within the manufacturer’s specifications, as excessive play can make it difficult to control the boat, especially in rough conditions.
If the steering wheel has excessive play, it may indicate that the steering cable is too loose, the steering gear is worn, or the steering system is otherwise damaged.
If you’re unsure about the amount of play in your steering wheel or how to adjust it, it’s recommended that you consult the manufacturer’s specifications or seek the assistance of a professional outboard mechanic.
So, that was everything you needed to know about Boat Steering Wheel Play Adjustment.
Always make sure all the components are good before you head out in the water. Proper maintenance is crucial to reduce any risks.