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  #1  
Old 01-20-2013, 01:54 PM
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Steering problem

Well guys, something went wrong on my way home last night. I noticed the steering had excessive play in it suddenly. So, my guess is it's the steering box.

Anyone else want to take some guesses? I looked at the steering components while my wife turned the steering wheel back and forth and any time she turned left there was a delay before the arm would move under the truck.

See my image below. The Red line represents a rough horizontal (zeroed) steering wheel. The Blue line indicates where the wheel needs to be turned for anything to start happening at the wheels. Notice the turn left is pretty drastic while the right has almost factory slop in it.



Let me know if you can think of anything else that could be causing this. Remember, it happened suddenly without any really noise that I could detect.

Also, I don't know if it's unrelated, but a got a comm. bus error code about an hour after this that didn't allow the truck to start until I reset it. I would have checked wrote the code down but I was trying to get off the side of the highway. I'll post up another thread to detail the problem.
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Old 01-20-2013, 03:39 PM
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Could be a track bar issue too. I had excessive play in my bushing which made my steering wheel off centre. Might be a steering gear too. I went through a steering gear, steering stabilizer, track bar, and draglink on my truck. It had 48,000 miles on it at the time I replaced all those front end components.
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Old 01-20-2013, 03:43 PM
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Have the front suspension inspected as soon as possible, I would refrain from driving it until you get it inspected, as this is likely a very unsafe condition.
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Old 01-20-2013, 04:13 PM
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Yeah, you don't have to tell me about unsafe. I race cars and am used to inspecting for issues. I doubt it's any part of the front suspension as I sat under the truck for a while inspecting all the joints and links while my wife moved the steering. They all checked out fine under visual inspection with no noises, noticeable wear, or loose parts.

The steering box arm does not move while turning the wheel from straight to the blue line on the left. This leads me to believe that I need a new one. From red to blue, the wheel is light (no resistance) and will not return to zero.

I guess I'll try a replacement box and see what happens.
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Old 01-20-2013, 05:51 PM
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You can adjust the steering gear mesh/preload to help with this as well, but I find it unusual that it just all of a sudden went for a dump.

Have a look at the screw with the locknut on the top of the steering box and make sure it hasn't backed out or something silly like that, that will cause this issue. That setscrew is also how the gear preload is adjusted.

I find it unusual that the slop is only one way in the steering though.
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Old 01-20-2013, 09:10 PM
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Yeah, that's what has me wondering. I don't understand why only one side suffers unusually high slop while the other is pretty much normal (as close to normal as I can remember it). Also, the sudden issue is also unusual.

The only things I did yesterday before that was romp through a slick spot of mud at low speed in 4H and after that it was functioning fine. I also towed a trailer after that. It was acting normal and I went into the store to get something and when I came out it was suddenly acting funny. And I mean immediately... it was fine before the store and I rolled out of the parking lot and made a left turn and there it was out of nowhere. The truck was fine with decent reaction to highway lane changes, but if I changed lanes too quickly, the slop would come back and I'd have all that free play to deal with. So, I decided I could make it back to the house (2 hours away on straight highway).

Another unusual [possibly related] incident happened when I was limping it back to the house (still pulling an unloaded trailer and on the highway). I had to go around some wet grass and up a muddy hill (while towing a trailer) and rolled it slowly up the hill in 4H and parked it on the hill (no choice). When I came back out, the dash was showing the "Slippery when wet" symbol on the dash and I thought nothing of it as I climbed the rest of the hill. Well, it wouldn't allow me to turn the traction control back on (usually it doesn't in 4WD) and it sounded like the truck was working really hard (like there was no turbo and the radiator fans were on high). Not a problem, I'll move it through 4H->4L->N->2wd and get over this hill and it'll be fine. Nope. It still wouldn't let me turn traction control on and the truck was still breathing heavy even on level ground. So, I pulled over and turned the truck off. Then, the tried to restart and the truck wouldn't start. Check engine light came on and I got a comm bus error. Cleared it and it started up and ran fine, the TCS turned on, and the truck sounded normal.

Don't know what that was all about.

Anyways, getting back to the steering, I looked down there today for the Allen+lock nut, but didn't see it and it was getting dark so I decided not to fool with it tonight. I'll have to take the Cobra to work tomorrow probably... that's a dang shame :-)

Maybe this is all related or maybe it's just a pile of coincidences. I'm thinking one of the batteries is low on power so that may clear up some of the issues. I know vehicles do funny things when the batteries are dying.

Last edited by Doss; 01-20-2013 at 09:15 PM.
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Old 01-21-2013, 05:54 AM
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I think you're right on the battery thing.

Also, something I thought of, I had a truck doing something similar to this when I was at the dealership.

If you looked down where the steering shaft actually connected to the steering box, while someone turned the wheel, you could watch the input shaft actually walking out of the steering box about 3/8" of an inch...

The driver didn't even notice it!! I did a turbo or something on it, and I took it for a road test after and didn't go a block before going "Holy **** this thing is scary!!", so I had a look at it.

Come to think of it, that was one beautiful truck. 06-07 350 Lariat from Texas, black, crew cab long box, just a real beauty.

ADD kicked in ther...look a squirrel!

At any rate -- have a look at that input shaft while you have someone slowly turn the wheel back and forth.
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Old 01-21-2013, 10:57 AM
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Thanks Hillbilly. I take a look at the input shaft. I did already check the linkage bolt though to make sure it was still fine, but checking at the box will need to be done.

I'm also going to check the pitman arm. I checked it by hand yesterday and couldn't make it move. I know it doesn't move though when the steering wheel goes from red to blue (image above) on a left turn.

I think I traced the comm bus error back to the tuner... err... I mean diagnostic scan tool. The wire came loose and I had to plug it back in... I forgot all about that until late last night. Checked some forums and people that had had bad cables or loose connections experienced the same problem. I will probably still change batteries though, I can hear mine acting a little weak on start up (they are pretty much 6 years old).

I'm going to probably try dialing it back in on the box some anyways. It had a little more slop than I wanted before this but it was not more than what I would call OEM slop.
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Old 01-26-2013, 10:51 PM
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Just revisiting this since I fixed it. The steering box was dead dead dead.

I have to give a big thank you to Red Head Steering Gear. They got me a new box fast and it's pretty awesome. The steering has no slop, is accurate, and easier to turn.

I will say this though, removing the pitman arm off of the steering gear is a PITA. Don't even bother with a wrench-powered puller. Get an impact gun one or find someone with a press. Or, put the pitman arm in a vice and hit it with a sledge (5+ lbs).

Another thing, the three bolts holding on the steering gear, heat them up or you'll fight for a long while working them out. They have red threadlocker on them.

Other things, a lot of Mercon V is going to come out and it's going to go everywhere. Turn the pitman arm while the lines are off and it'll become a Mercon V-filled Super Soaker.

You need an 18 mm socket for a lot of things, 1/2" for some others, and, I think, a 46mm socket for the pitman arm nut (1-13/16" is a little too loose; 1-3/4" is too small). The reason I don't know for sure is I custom made a wrench for mine. Also, if you don't have an impact gun, you better have a long breaker bar for that nut (like 3+ feet).

Good luck if you have this problem. Now that I've fixed one, I think I can get it done in about 2 hours start to finish (with clean up).
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problem, steering, steering box, steering gear, steering issue

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