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Q: The steering shaft (I believe it's the intermediate shaft) disengaged from the steering column.

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My trucks steering wheel free spins. So took the bolt out of the bottom of the shaft that connects it to the splined shaft coming out of the steering box. When I push the shaft up it renegades and the steering works, but that leaves about an inch to an inch and a half gap between the shaft and the steering box. Now I could just shim the shaft up but. I would like to know why this is happening and what caused it. I want to fix it properly. It seems to be a safety hazard.
My car has a manual transmission.

Freely turning the steering wheel past the normal extent (travel limits), while the shaft is disconnected from the splined yoke will damage the "clock spring" in the steering column that the air bag relies on to fire. That assembly should be inspected and repaired.

The steering shaft has linkages that are fixed, by design, in position and you are right if you have to leave "gaps" anywhere in the assembly, such as where the yoke splines to the shaft coming out of the gearbox obviously something is broken or has moved out of position. It is going to be hard to guess at the fault without an in the field inspection and/or a better explanation of what you mean by the steering wheel just freely spinning. Such cannot happen unless the splines somewhere in the column assembly are basically completely destroyed on the linkage (typically a u-jointed splined yoke) or a complete break in the shaft. If you would like to have this issue inspected by an expert, a certified pro from YourMechanic can diagnose the steering problem in person so that this can be repaired.

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