08 196 steering play

TELTEL Posts: 193 Solid Baller
Steering play, the play when you’re sitting still and move the steering wheel back-and-forth with no rudder movement. With over 700 hours I have never replace my steering cable. since I live on a very short set up lake I'm getting a little nervous flying into shore, I think it's time. Have read posts about steering play and have performed all the adjustments. At lower speeds 28 mph it becomes a battle to drive straight down the course. So my question is: do I just replaced the cable? or replace the tilt steering mechanism along with the cable? I've driven new 200's and there's absolutely no play in the steering. Do they use the same cable and tilt unit as my 08? If they don't can I upgrade to the new steering unit?


  • marknmarkn Posts: 157 Baller
    Properly installed steering cable should rectify your issue. Think I have replaced mine 3 times in 1000 hours.
  • igkyaigkya Posts: 515 Solid Baller
    @TEL, how does it track at 34/36 mph? We replaced our steering cable 2 years ago, but it still doesn't track well at 30 or below. 32/34 tracks just fine.
  • KelvinKelvin Posts: 1,064 Crazy Baller
    Could be play in the rudder itself.
    Kelvin Kelm, Lakes of Katy, Katy Texas
  • TELTEL Posts: 193 Solid Baller
    @igkya - Tracks fine 32/34/36, @Kelvin- no play were the cable is bolted to the rudder
  • swc5150swc5150 Posts: 2,026 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    Agreed, replacing your cable will solve the problem. At 700 hours, you've gotten lots of life out of the existing cable, but now you're due.
    Scott Calderwood
  • igkyaigkya Posts: 515 Solid Baller
    @TEL, How often do you drive at 28, maybe we don't fix what ain't broke. While only a small handful, I've yet to be in a ski boat that tracks well at 28 or below (always having to correct steering left/right). That being said, you could take the wheel off and check the rack/pinon for wear and tear. There's also a screw or 2 in there that gets loose and can cause some play. Search BOS for the thread for more info.
  • 6balls6balls Posts: 4,895 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    Cable is not that pricey...I'd start there. Rudder packing is more problematic...under the tank so take it out to get there (on my 2000 SN anyway). I did cable and rudder packing when I got it and the steering is so smooth if feels like it's operating thru melted butter.
    Dave Ross--die cancer die
  • TELTEL Posts: 193 Solid Baller
    @igkya, I did check the screws they were tight. Every time there has been a post about steering play I checked my boat. Have several new to the course people that have got the bug and ski between 27 to 30mph. I will replace the cable first, during the winter break. In Florida that means when the water temp is below 65.
  • Orlando76Orlando76 Posts: 784 Crazy Baller
    I think the cable and helm is the same for 196 and 200. The helm is cheap and easy to change. Not terrible idea to change helm but I doubt it’s necessary.
  • oldjeepoldjeep Posts: 3,146 Mega Baller
    At around 750 hours we had to replace both the cable and tilt unit on the lxi. The helm was still ok.
    Chuck P
    Not a mechanic but I play one at home
  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,660 MM Trick Skier / Eccentric Person
    Steering cables usually give lots of warning before failure. They get stiff and hard to turn. I have never had one get to 700 hours without tightening up. Sometimes a strand of the cable breaks and the steering goes from nice to horrible in the span of a run. Steering cables are a consumable maintenance item. Replace it and your boat will drive better.

    The rudder and packing does wear out. This will make the boat loose. Replace both the rudder and housing to fix it right. Or turn the housing 90 degrees to get a fresh bearing surface. That trick will work for a while. I was going to say that it's not a huge safety issue but I did have a rudder break off pulling a skier in the course. Actually I was skiing and I didn't get hurt, the boat crew didn't get hurt and the only damage to the boat was the broken rudder.

    Helms fail as well. The fancier, the more failure spots. I've rebuilt one but now they make you replace the whole unit. Probably a good idea if it's squirrelly. Don't ignore it when the helm occasionally locks up on you - order a new one.

    Just a little looseness at slow speed is not a sign of imminent failure. But definitely something to pay attention to. If you can't spin the wheel with one finger, replace the cable. Maybe that will fix everything.

  • 6balls6balls Posts: 4,895 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    Now that I think about it...a buddy with a 206 (who is a mechanical engineer) opened up his helm and fixed something and problem was solved. He had on center issue of no steering and then suddenly would bite sounded dangerous. At the dealer they wanted to replace his helm at significant cost he opened it up and took care of it himself I can get more detail if you like PM me.
    Dave Ross--die cancer die
  • Orlando76Orlando76 Posts: 784 Crazy Baller
    Do use blue loctite when in the helm. I didn’t and after 40 hours it was loose, could hear chatter in the rack and pinion. Upon tightening up I messed up and miss aligned the yoke assembly and it’s four bolts which caused the on-center snap back.
  • thagerthager Posts: 4,318 Mega Baller
    I replaced the cable,rack and pinion on my 02 196 with a kit from Tim White at Inboard Solutions. Nice and tight ever since.
    Stir vigorously then leave!
  • musclefixermusclefixer Posts: 49 Baller
    Had the exact same problem on our club '07 196. We were at 830hrs. We changed both helm and cable for under $400. Fixed everything!
  • swc5150swc5150 Posts: 2,026 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    It does make sense to repack your rudder while you're replacing the steering cable, since you already working by the rudder. Plus it's quick, easy and necessary eventually. Just be sure your boat is slightly back on the trailer, or your rudder will hit the prop guard when you try to remove it.
    Scott Calderwood
  • DWDW Posts: 1,863 Mega Baller
    @TEL : sloppiness in the steering will be related to some looseness in a joint or gear mechanism in the system, cables don't tend to stretch or cause your issue. The helm / tilt systems are prone to become loose as is the rudder bushing components. With a buddy at one end, you should be able to trace down where the looseness is coming from.

    Just an FYI, my vessel has over 1000 hours on the steering cable, it is still free but with full disclosure, I take several steps to keep it that way which include lubing it with ATF and always parking the steering wheel so the cable is not exposed to the bilge moisture (full left steering input) & I drain the bilge after every use.
  • TELTEL Posts: 193 Solid Baller
    Everyone thanks for the info. @DW- When you turn the steering wheel you can turn it about 3" before the cable begins to move where the cable connects to the rudder arm. So I was thinking Cable and pinion but now it sounds like its the helm that is worn too. What I find odd when looking at prices the local dealer prices are the cheapest.
  • Orlando76Orlando76 Posts: 784 Crazy Baller
    Whoa! You’re in Orlando right? Better recheck that, think they’re quoting wrong item. Typically SkiDim is in line with lowest price available. 3” movement? Did you look at the clamp block? Granted a worn cable doesn’t usually create slop but it can and does sometimes.
  • TELTEL Posts: 193 Solid Baller
    @Orlando76 Clamp block tight. In Orlando but was looking at Miami dealer they have everything on line. will check out sSkiDim.
  • LeonLLeonL Posts: 2,259 Crazy Baller
    I would eyeball the rack and pinion, but 3" seems too much for that.
    Leon Leonard Stillwater Lake KY - SR Driver SR Judge
  • 6balls6balls Posts: 4,895 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    This is my friends response...and it sounds a lot like the issue you are having:

    I replaced the "Helm"
    There are really only 4 sub systems... Helm, Tilt, Rack, Steering cable.
    The helm is the spindle/pinion side of the rack & pinion steering system.
    Replacement took me 90 minutes and parts were $74.

    I'm not sure if the original helm just had slop or simply installing the
    new one with better alignment and less clearance fixed the issue. But
    since I had her open, I changed the $74 part of course.

    Finally, there are a set of washers (4) between the helm and the rack.
    I'm not sure if they are purposefully put there or if there was a
    manufacturing error requiring the gap.
    It may simply be that removing these washers, thus taking clearance out of
    the rack and pinion, would fix the issue.

    Dave Ross--die cancer die
  • acmxacmx Posts: 228 Baller
    I have seen washers between rack and helm (pinion) on several 196's that were brand new. Don't know why they put them there but made steering on new boats loose. Removing one at each bolt made steering much better on new boats. I would guess that extra clearance would wear the tips of the teeth sooner also.
  • swc5150swc5150 Posts: 2,026 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    Remove the rack and look at the helm spindle as you turn the wheel. I had a similar issue with an '06 196, and thought the helm was toast, but the wheel and spindle were in perfect sync. For me, it was the rack having some bad gear teeth, as well as the rudder packing.
    Scott Calderwood
  • Kdinger838Kdinger838 Posts: 57 Baller
    edited October 2017

    Spoke with you earlier, But to me it sounds like the cable.
  • Jody_SealJody_Seal Posts: 2,434 Mega Baller
    Ok the cat is out of the bag!!
    You do it your selfers might want to check out amazon. $135.00 delivered to your door for that cable.
    Just picked up a ford 351-W left hand marine starter delivered for under $50!!!
    Hobby Boats can be expensive when the hobbyist is limited on their own skill and expertise.

  • Kdinger838Kdinger838 Posts: 57 Baller
    The retail price for that cable from Nautique is $206.50. We have it on the website for $184.00 with free shipping However, if a baller were to email me I always willing to help out the most possible. I can't speak on behalf of the quality or brand of the amazon cable. I do know most would rather pay a little more to a company(especially one that promotes the sport) who has an oem product with a person they can call, email, etc when questions or issues arise!
  • oldjeepoldjeep Posts: 3,146 Mega Baller
    Doesn't Teleflex make most of the cables. I bought cable and tilt units off Amazon, same Teleflex stuff everyone sells.
    Chuck P
    Not a mechanic but I play one at home
  • Kdinger838Kdinger838 Posts: 57 Baller
    @oldjeep Most marine steering is seastar or teleflex.
  • dbutcherdbutcher Posts: 292 Solid Baller
    Question: Why do you have to repack your rudder? Several people have recommended that on this thread. I haven't done that since Nautique started putting a grease fitting on the rudder box (sometime in the 1990's?). I do grease the rudder frequently though. I don't give the grease a chance to get old or dry, and I keep the bilge dry.
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