Question: I have a 2005 Dodge Ram 1500 with the 4.7-liter engine. If I pull the steering wheel toward me, it moves a little bit in and out. Is this just a loose bolt I can tighten if I take off the wheel?

Answer: No, there's more to it than that. Some 2003-2005 Rams, Durangos, and Dakotas have had problems with a spring and retainer inside the steering column. You'd have to remove the airbag, steering wheel, column trim, clock spring, and multifunction switch before reaching the suspect retainer and spring. Keep in mind that the battery should be disconnected and the SRS system's battery discharged before messing with any airbag or system component. Once you're inside, the spring beneath the retainer must be visually inspected to determine if the spring is fully compressed. If so, Dodge recommends replacing the entire steering column. If it's not fully compressed, there's a bearing retainer kit that can be installed to correct the in and out play in the column.

Do not do this job yourself. There are special tools required, plus there's the danger of accidental airbag deployment. If the fix doesn't require column replacement, the price of the job at a Dodge service department should be somewhat reasonable, with minimal parts and one or two hours of labor time. If the column is junk, the price might not be so reasonable.

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