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Steering issues

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I have an 07 VLX that we just put in the water for the first time this year. I am original owner and have never had a steering problem. Today when we went out and the boat felt like it had play in the steering wheel. Steering seemed hard in both directions but when turning right from 12 o’clock  the steering would then become easy to turn at about the 2 o’clock position. After turning right then moving wheel back to center position the wheel was off center to right. Then turn left and back to center, wheel is now off center to left. In short I have slop in the wheel as well as more resistance in the wheel when turning. I have read online that this could be anything from rack and pinion, steering cable, tilt column or rudder stuffing box issue. I don’t want to throw parts at it. Any ideas on how to diagnose my problem would be greatly appreciated. It’s also 1 week before Memorial Day weekend and we have big plans and don’t want to be without the boat. Do I have to worry about complete steering failure. Thanks in advance

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Seems like most of the time these steering problems a caused by the cable.  You could disconnect the cable at the rudder steering arm and see if it's still hard to turn.

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There are grease zerks on both ends of the cable, or at least one side.  Try grease, also make sure the cable did not bind up.  I do not see this as a potential memorial day weekend ender.

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Best bet is to isolate the parts.  Start by disconnecting the rudder from the steering cable.  Then move the steering wheel and see if it is still binding.  This will eliminate the rudder.  If you still have the issue try disconnecting the cable from the steering wheel.  Your wheel should turn freely.  95% of problems are due to a worn out steering cable.  I changed my cable on my 07 vlx in about an hr and a half.  

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Thanks for the tips. I will start by isolating the parts to determine what is bad. I will disconnect cable and check rudder and steering cable. After turning cable only I will grease and try again to see if grease helps. I will update later. Thanks again

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