So I bought a 2005 Excursion PSD a little over a week ago - primarily as a tow vehicle to pull an 8000# TT. I've been reading the engine forums and have cleaned the EGR - was pretty sooted but not blocked, cleaned up the Airaid intake (yes I know it's pointless until over 500BHP but it came with it and I can't afford $500 right now for all the stock airbox apparatus) and downsized the 20" rims to 18" rims with 275/65/R18's BFGoodrich XO's.
The problem is when driving there's a good 2" of play dead center in the steering wheel, I've had the alignment done twice, tires balanced, bushings replaced and steering box tightened but it persists. At 70mph it's about 3" of play and it's a constant and tiring job to keep it straight (bouncing through the deadzone to either end for minor corrections).
I suspect it's the steering gear, but before I fork out cash to have it replaced, I wanted to get some expert advice on the bellyside of the truck. I've attached some snaps of the shocks/steering. I'm not a mechanic and I'm still struggling with the terminology so please bear with me!
Underside of front end
Front shock (Bilstein)
Rear wheel end (photo taken from front - drivers side)
Rear shock (drivers side)
One of the shop guys told me it had a leveling kit, but to be honest, that means little to me. I'd appreciate any advice/explanations of what exactly I'm running.