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Shifter went all sloppy today. I disassembled steering column moldings and found that the shift tube has broken. Is this do-able for a fairly experienced home mechanic? (I see parts online for circa $40)
answering my own question - yes, can do. Some tips:
I have the Ford service CD (Haynes guide doesn't begin to address this) which specifies complete removal of the steering column. Not needed! Compared to the step-by-step guidelines:
in general --
DO pull positive battery to deactivate airbag.
DO remove lower trim panel, steel brace, and steering column molding
DO remove key cluster (put in key, push drift pin up through hole)
DO unhook the gear indicator cable from shift tube - probably don't need to remove its mount but it's easy in any case.
DON'T pull off steering wheel or airbag or turn signal.
DON'T disconnect steering linkage
DON'T remove steering column
Instead, simply loosen it: there are 4 nuts holding it in place. First loosen but don't remove the pair of nuts closest to the front of the van. A long metric socket would have ben wonderful here (13mm if I remember aright) but I made it even without. Then support the steering wheel and remove the two nuts closest to the seat. The wheel and column will then come to rest on the seat and give you JUST enough room to remove the shift tube (Torx T30 tip needed). My replacement from partstrain.com was about $50 with shipping and works OK - note there are several components to swap between the old and new tube involving hammering out pins.
All told, took way less time and was less frustrating than I feared. Probably 5 hours altogether with suboptimal tools and learning curve, but I shudder to think what I would have paid to have it done elsewhere.
Working well, albeit a little stiffer than the old one, but I can live with that.
^^^^That's a good tutorial---much the same way I approached changing small bushings inside the column. Even though removing the column completely isn't too tough there's no reason to go any further than BKR2 recommends. While you're in there that far check other things too, replace anything that looks suspicious or tighten the various fasteners.
Wires from the OD Cancel switch or the multi-function switch should be inspected too--there'll be signs of chaffing etc if anything has affected them. This isn't too likely and if everything is already working well it would seem all is okay as is.
When tightening the Torx fasteners don't over tighten them! The column body casting is easily stripped so be careful there.
Do you have access to an exploded drawing for the column?
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