Feels like a wheel is going to fall off

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HoeLV

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I am stumped on tracking down what is causing it to feel like a wheel is about to fall off while driving.

98 2 door tahoe, 4WD, 256k miles

My tires were/are getting close to needing to be replaced. 2 tires are getting real close, while the other 2 have about 5000-7000 fewer miles on them. I found a deal for a set of 4 used tires/wheels and decided to get them mainly foe the wheels, but figured the tires were about 50% tread and would buy me a bit more time before getting 4 new tires.

Due to offset being different, I knew I wouldn't get much bite from the lugnuts, so I put longer lug studs all the way around and put the "new wheels/tires" on. I noticed that the tires were rubbing when turning, so the next day, trimmed back the quarter panel and front bumper a bit, tested again and don't see/feel any additional rubbing. After driving with this new setup for a couple weeks, I notice a looseness in the steering and start trying to track it down.

A little recent history...About a year ago, I changed out inner/outer tie rods, upper control arms, lower ball joints, sway bar links and had purchased pitman arm, idler arm w/ bracket, but never got to the pitman/idler arms. About 9 months ago I replaced the drivers wheel bearing/hub assembly as it went out.

Back to current timeline...I did the usual tests to check the tie rods, wheel bearings, etc. and found a slight bit of play side to side. Being the tie rods were newish, I figured they aren't causing the side to side play as they felt tight when trying to move them individually and went ahead and replaced the pitman/idler arm. No change really, except for what seems to me is the looseness getting worse. I decided to check the rear wheel bearings as I didn't know the history there before I bought the truck 3 years ago. They both seem tight, the differential seems tight. I decide to try going back to the previous wheels/tires to rule out the "new" set being the issue. Again, seems like it's becoming even more noticeable, no improvements. While turning full lock or close to, I can feel a clunk and almost like the tires are skipping. Seems like a CV axle could be going bad. I replaced both, no improvements again. I've checked the hubs/wheel bearings, fron tand rear, the tie rods all feel tight, made sure that none of the new studs are loose, made sure no loose bolts/nuts in steering/suspension of both front and rear. I changed the u-joints out on the rear driveshaft as I had been noticing a clunk when starting to pull from a stop on occasion, that seems to have gone away at least, but the looseness, uneasy feeling still there, if not slowly getting worse. I'm basically at the point of I can't drive it, but I kinda need to to drive.

I'm not sure what to check or change next. There is just an uneasy feeling while driving. Sometimes it feels like it's just floating. What am I missing?

Thanks for any ideas, help you can provide.
Brian
 

97YukonNZ

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Hi Brian
I have a 97 Yukon and have done similar to you in replacements up front.
Could it be a steel belt gone out in 1 of them front tyres maybe?
Body mounts connected to the frame nice n tight? Have read about some guys feelings before discovering that a couple had rotted and were loose up the front.
Hope any of those ideas help man.
 
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HoeLV

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Hi Brian
I have a 97 Yukon and have done similar to you in replacements up front.
Could it be a steel belt gone out in 1 of them front tyres maybe?
Body mounts connected to the frame nice n tight? Have read about some guys feelings before discovering that a couple had rotted and were loose up the front.
Hope any of those ideas help man.
The tire issue was something I was thinking about as well. There doesn't seem to be anything noticeable with any of them. I'm not sure if there would be a heads up other than steel belts showing through.
I haven't specifically looked at body mounts, but I imagine I would see something like that or at least notice play when jacking the truck up, but maybe not. I'll take a peek tomorrow.

Thanks for the ideas.
 

Hoesgottaeat2

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Have you ruled out the steering gear box? On a '98 I used to own it had a broken tooth on a gear internally causing sort of a "play/looseness/drift" when in a certain steering range. Wasn't as drastic as what you're describing, but hopefully it's one more thing you can rule out. A friend who owns a shop help diagnose it back when I had this issue.
 
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HoeLV

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Have you ruled out the steering gear box? On a '98 I used to own it had a broken tooth on a gear internally causing sort of a "play/looseness/drift" when in a certain steering range. Wasn't as drastic as what you're describing, but hopefully it's one more thing you can rule out. A friend who owns a shop help diagnose it back when I had this issue.
I haven't. I am guessing this is a gear box replacement kind of situation?
 

Hoesgottaeat2

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I haven't. I am guessing this is a gear box replacement kind of situation?
Potentially yes. When mine was discovered, I continued to drive it. It did not get any worse. I suppose I would have replaced it if it had continued to get worse.
 
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HoeLV

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I believe most of the issue was a tire about to separate. I went ahead and put a used tire on to finish my drive back home and the issue was better, but not gone.
 

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