I have a 1999 Ram 1500 4x4 that has a new steering gear, fairly new U-joints and non-leaking bearings, but the drive shaft (left side and wheel) slides in and out about an inch and a bit. I went to an alignment place they would not do anything, they told me I needed a Pitman arm and bearings. Bearings are tight and Pitman arm is not affected by anything I can see. Wheel will not rock (pivot) so I am guessing ball joints are good, it just slides in and out. Truck will hold true line on the road, but last set of tires indicated a camber problem wearing the outside edge of the tire. Any thoughts as to what I may be looking at?
Pulling the axel in and out doesn't sound good. Remove the wheel, caliper and rotor and see if the play in and out is still in the axel shaft. If it is you may have to take the cover of the front differential and see if the "C" clip that holds the axel in place on the spider gear is intact.
I am just mentioning this because it may be related. Was the truck in an accident? There is a service bulletin on front end collision that includes the front wheel(s). I listed it below.
GROUP: Collision Bulletin
DATE: January 11, 2012
Wheel Bearing and Hub Replacement/inspection Guidelines During Collision Repairs
This bulletin involves wheel bearing and hub replacement/inspection during collision repairs.
During a collision repair where suspension damage has occurred from direct impact to a wheel, the wheel bearing and hub will be addressed as follows:
^ If there is damage to the steering knuckle or control arm(s) and ball joints, the bearing and hub are to be replaced.
^ If there is damage to suspension or steering components, wheel(s), or the cradle, other than the steering knuckle or control arm(s) and ball joints mentioned above, the wheel bearing and hub should be inspected and replaced if any concern exists.
Disclaimer :This bulletin is supplied as technical information only and is not an authorization for repair.
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Get back to me with your results we can diagnosis the problem further if needed.
Some time back (12-18 months) the left wheel separated from the hub, loose lug nuts after maintenance was the cause. The truck fell onto the rotor, vehicle was stopped after 100 yards (at most). Shop replaced rotor and brake assembly. Maybe they failed to check the clip? Thoughts?
To answer your original question... yes there is play with the wheel, rotor, and caliper removed.
Remove the cover to the front differential and inspect the spider gears, pinion shaft and lock pin C clip and axel shaft. If there is any damage you may see broken parts at the bottom of the differential and metal filings in the differential oil.
To inspect the "C" clip and axel shaft remove the lock pin and pinion shaft and push in the axel shaft and the clip will fall out. pull out the axel and Inspect the clip and the end of the axel for damage.
Okay, thank you. Will do and get back with results as I discover them.