I bought a used 2006 F250 XL, regular cab long box 4x4 with the 6.0 and the 6 speed manual last summer and am wondering what I gotten myself into.
First time something broke was on the test drive and a ball joint or something went out in the front end, and I thought, what are the odds of something else going wrong.
High, very very high.
I would gather you did not pay a qualified mechanic to check this truck out before buying it.?.?
Next the rear ABS sensor went out, but that is a typical problem (I guess ford uses crappy sensors). Then the integrated trailer brake controller flashes TBC Fault every time I start it up. Then I was having a sporadic problem with the steering not wanting to return to center after turning a corner and finally I was stranded in my parking lot at work because I couldn't get the pickup into gear and the dealer just said that I need a new slave cylinder AND a clutch. I have also not done anything to bullet proof the motor yet!
Here is my question. This is the first Ford product I have owned. Does this kind of typically happen with these vehicles? It is a 2006 with 72k and that doesn't seem old to me.
You bought a used truck....and bought it knowing it had issues.
If something breaks on the test drive, that typically doesn't indicate that the vehicle was well cared for.
That problem you are having with the steering wheel not returning to center, and wandering is probably because whoever replaced the balljoint doesn't quite understand the front end of a 4x4...or whoever paid for the repair told the mechanic to do it as cheap as possible.
When you are in far enough to replace the balljoint, you should replace the u-joints on the axles as well. Your right there and they are cheap and easy to replace at this point, and will cost you much much more to have to go back in later to change.
Those u-joints tend to wear a certain way, and once you disturb them (like having them go beyond where they have worn when removed for balljoint replacement) will result in their failure. This holds true on ANY solid axle 4 wheel drive.
It sucks to have to go back in to address the failed u-joint and the cost of the seals you will need to replace will cost you more than the u-joint itself. Do it right, do it once. Half-azz the job and do it over and over and over again until it is done right.
When that u-joint fails, it will cause the steering wheel to act rather strangely as the u-joint locks up as it rotates. It may pull to one side, then quickly pull to the other side. The steering wheel may stick when turning corners, it may vibrate like crazy at all speeds.
It is also possible you have some other suspension related issue with the front end that could do result in it acting the way you describe. It isn't easy to diagnose suspension problems without physically seeing the truck..driving it..riding in it.
Since you knew that there was bad front end maintenance when you bought it, you should expect to have to rebuild the front end from one side to the other. If anything is "good" then that should be viewed as a bonus.
As far as not doing anything to the motor yet, don't.
Not until you get the proper gauges on it. Those gauges should be very high on your to-do list. They should be so high on that list that they should come straight out of your next paycheck. Those gauges will pay for themselves many many times over if you know what to watch for, and you react when they give you a warning...and not waiting for total disaster to strike.
You bought a used diesel truck that requires frequent and expensive maintenance...and you have no idea what that maintenance was like previous to your ownership, so you should expect to have to play catch-up on it.
Check out the "basic info for the 6.0 owner" link in my signature line for more info about the gauges you need, why and what to look for.