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Explorer, Sport Trac, Mountaineer & Aviator 1991-1994, 1995-2001, 2002-2005, 2006-2010 Ford Explorer

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Old 06-16-2012, 08:30 AM
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steering jitter/jerky

After the brake job yesterday i noticed the steering was a little "off"

Finally figgured out what it was by hanging my head out the window and watching the wheel as i turned into the driveway.

it happens both directions at low speed for sure and i think at higher speeds around corners.

as you turn the wheel in either direction the wheels do not move smoothly. they go evenly, but do it in a jerky or jittery type movement. it seemed like it was much worse when moving than when sitting still. it was also worse on pavement than on gravel, and did not do it much at all in the grass.

so it appears to be load related. the steering is tight otherwise, inner and outer tierods seem to be tight with no play.

i drained the the power steering resivour and refilled it with a high mileage dex3/merc and it seems to be 100% better, but i'm not sure if it is "gone" or "fixed" for sure.

anythoughts? maybe just the pump going weak?

it is a 2000 explorer with the 5.0 AWD.
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Old 06-16-2012, 09:50 AM
explorerjwd explorerjwd is offline
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Check the front tire air pressure. The steering on my 94 explorer seemed to be somewhat sloppy and I thought it might be sloppy gear lash in the steering gear box but before I did anything else I checked the tire air pressure and found it to be in the low 20s. Inflated to 30 lbs and the problem was corrected.
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Old 06-16-2012, 02:42 PM
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The symptoms you have sound like a truck that is locked into 4WD. A brake job would not do that, but perhaps you pressed the button for 4X4 and didn't notice it? I have a 2004 so I am not familiar with the controls on yours as far as the 4X4 goes, but that's what it sounds like. Either that or your belt or belt tensioner is worn out and the belt slipping on the power steering pump pulley. A power steering fluid change would not do anything for this particular problem, and I doubt that your power steering pump is worn out. They generally either work or else they don't work, usually due to a seal or bearing failure. If it's full of fluid it should work fine. Since you said that it does it the most when sitting still, I'd check your belt or belt tensioner to see if the belt is worn out or slipping. Or it could be tire pressure as suggested above. The fact that it happened only after your brake job is of concern for sure. Who did the brake job? At the very least I would check to make sure that all the lug nuts on the wheels are tight. Maybe someone forgot to torque them? This could also be a CV joint problem. A binding CV joint will cause this and you can't tell if it's binding unless you remove it; it will feel fine when on the truck. But again, it doesn't sound like something that would be caused by a brake job unless it fell off the jack or something like that. Being that this only started after a brake job, my best guess is a dragging brake caliper or improperly installed brake pad. I'm not trying to confuse you but it could be so many things! However, my best advice is to start with the simple things first, like checking lug nuts and belt tensioners etc. before tearing anything apart. I'd check those first. If it still did it then I'd remove the wheels and make sure that the brake calipers and pads are properly installed. I hope something here helps!
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Old 06-16-2012, 03:15 PM
85e150six4mtod 85e150six4mtod is offline
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'94 steering gear is, iirc, recirculating ball. (similar to worm and sector)

'97 or '98 and up is rack and pinion.

If your fluid change and fill up fixed it, you are good to go. Of course, check the other items as per prior posts.

Old reciculating ball and other similar types get sloppy and loose when old.

A rack will sometimes have rough spots where it feels like you are at the steering stop, then it will break loose. Jerkiness and hard steering are part of that.

Racks are not that expensive, and compared to some old style boxes, pretty easy to replace.

Watch it closely.
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Old 06-16-2012, 10:17 PM
Graygeorge Graygeorge is offline
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Like JBronco said, check the basic, make sure the hose wasn't twisted when the caliper was reinstalled, or the bolts holding it on were left loose.
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Old 06-16-2012, 10:47 PM
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a friend of my suggested that it could be the pump cavitating and that sometimes a fluid change will cure the problem for a short time. if it comes back, he said that it is likely that the pump is getting worn and might need replacement.

As for the brake job, i did that myself. I honestly don't think that the two are related, it's just that i'm much more sensative to any kind of problem after i work on them. it could have been doing it for quite some time and i might not have noticed.

Bit for what it's worth, im 99% positive that i got everything back together right. torqued the caliper bolts to 22lb-ft, the calper bracket bolts to 80lb-ft, and the lug nuts to 100lb-ft, as as per the manual that i have. I always torque everything and then double check, so i'm sure that part is done right.

i can double check the tire pressure tomorow, but to be honest, i had them filled with nitrogen 4 years ago and have never had to touch them. i used to check them all the time and they were always 28psi when it was really cold and 35psi when it was really hot and usually 32psi when it was more moderate, so i kinda stopped checking them unless one looks low ... and they never have gone low. (i like nitrogen fills!)

the suggestion about the 4wd is actually quite interesting and surprisingly close to the mark. It is AWD so there is no switch, it is always driving all 4 all the time. but because of that, it does steer a bit harder than a 2wd, so i think the steering pump does have to work that much harder to turn the wheels.

thanks for all the replies and suggestions!

i think for now, i'll just change the fluid again here in a few weeks to get a better fluid change and keep an eye on it to see if it comes back. if it does come back i'll change the fluid again and see if it helps .. then just keep doing that until it does not work anymore.
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Old 06-17-2012, 01:51 PM
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If it is indeed a rack and pinion problem, there are two things I can tell you about it - 1) it's worse when it's cold and 2) Putting some STP in the ps pump can help a lot. I once had a 1984 Chevy Cavalier wagon (oddly enough I liked that little car) and the rack and pinion steering was very jerky. When cold it felt like it had manual steering until it warmed up. Then it was just sorta jerky. Someone told me to drain some fluid out of the pump and put STP in there and it will help it a lot. I did this and the problem went away by about 90%. It was like a miracle cure. I drove it that way for a while and stupidly I figured "well if -some- STP is good then -all- STP would be better!" so I drained the whole thing and replaced it with STP. Not surprisingly it didn't work out that way and it got worse. I should not have messed with success. But if you think it is the rack and pinion causing the problem I'd start by draining about a quarter of your ps pump fluid and replacing it with STP. But only do it if you've narrowed the problem down to the rack and pinion steering.
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Old 06-17-2012, 05:21 PM
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I'd say give it a few days. I'm guessing while you did the brakes, you manually turned the steering knuckles to more easily reach the bolts and such. In the process, you may have introduced air in to the system, hence the roughness in the power assist. After a few days of driving you'll likely work the air out the system. It's not all that uncommon for this to happen, and it seems to get worse the faster you manually turn the steering knuckles.

-Rod
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Old 06-17-2012, 06:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shorod View Post
I'd say give it a few days. I'm guessing while you did the brakes, you manually turned the steering knuckles to more easily reach the bolts and such. In the process, you may have introduced air in to the system, hence the roughness in the power assist. After a few days of driving you'll likely work the air out the system. It's not all that uncommon for this to happen, and it seems to get worse the faster you manually turn the steering knuckles.

-Rod
guilty as charged i'll watch it for a while and see if it gets better or not. I don't drive it every day so it might take it a while to bleed out, but i did put a couple hundred miles on it this weekend, so we'll see.

thanks for the input. the nice thing about it is that there is no emergency with it. it feels safe driving it, so i'm not too worried. I just like to fix little things before they turn into big things.

thanks again to everyone!
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Old 06-23-2012, 04:53 PM
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Drive it, it will get better. Happens all the time from turning steering by the knuckle.
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Old 06-23-2012, 10:26 PM
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it did seem to come out of it. it may still be there a bit, but no worse than it ever was before if it is.

i never did turn the steering by hand from the spindle, i always used the steering wheel. but at this point i am positive that it was caused by turning the wheels from side to side while it was up in the air.

it needed a fluid change anyway, so it all worked out i suppose

thanks for the tips, everyone!
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Old 06-23-2012, 10:26 PM
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