Most of today’s cars have tilt or multi-position steering columns. They are a lot simpler than classic cars. I’ve rebuilt a few late 70′s Ford tilt columns that have a simple eight position, up or down tilt. They have a lot of internal parts to allow that function to happen. Flash back to the 60′s, and they did all kinds of things. Recently, I diagnosed and repaired a tilt-a-away steering column out of a 1968 Shelby KR Convertible. Not only are they eight position up or down, but they tilt away when the door opens, so you can get out of the car easier. There are all kinds of parts making these functions happen, and if your car does not start, it could be caused by one of those parts in the column. There are vacuum hoses, cables, relays, switches and solenoids just for the steering column alone. Also, the turn signal switches are unique. The cancellation lever also operates the up and down function. I had to replace it because the turn signals and brakes were not working.
This 1968 Shelby had an intermittent no start problem, and a lot of play in the column. On a 1968 Shelby with a 428 big block and automatic transmission, there are three starter safety switches. The first one is the neutral safety switch, so the engine does not start in gear. The second one is a starter delay relay that provided a 4 second delay between starts, so the starter did not engage while the engine flywheel is still spinning. The third one was the vacuum motor for the tilt steering, so the engine would not start while the steering wheel was in the tilt away position. To diagnose a no start, each one has to be isolated and tested individually. After going through them all, I discovered it was the vacuum motor. It’s vacuum pod with an electrical switch inside, and if it leaks or the switch is bad inside, the car will not start.
The other issue was the amount of play from side to side. The up and down was fine, but the side to side had excessive amount of play. There are four pivot points in the upper column tilt knuckle. There are some adjustments on the column, but none of them address the play, and there are no rebuild parts for it. The play is usually caused by worn out pivot pins holes. Only a couple of places rebuild them. They drill the holes over sized, and machine larger pivot pins for them. The other option is to find another tilt column as in the case of this one, but they are very rare in good condition. 1968-1969 Mustangs and Cougars are interchangeable. 1967 Mustang columns mount to the dash differently, and do not have the collapsible tube. 1970 Mustangs have a locking steering column, and the ignition switch was moved from dash to the column.
If your Classic Ford is having tilt steering column issues, then give Classic Resto Garage a call at a 619-929-8506, or fill the contact form.