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  #1  
Old 11-11-2009, 02:49 PM
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Scoob5555 Scoob5555 is offline
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Question Sticky steering, not returning to center

Hi all,

My 'new to me' 01 Ex has 129k miles on it and the one problem is the steering. I read (all 34 pages of) the wander cure thread and I played with my steering box extensively over the last 3 weeks. The initial tightening really helped with the slack in the steering, as did adding air to the passenger front tire to even it out with the driver's side. But it did not cure everything. In fact, the tightening of the box revealed something else - the steering now exhibits what feels like binding. And now I must make minute corrections every second or two all the way down the road, even perfectly straight, flat roads. It's sorta driving me crazy(er) and my wife won't even consider driving it until it's fixed.

I was so caught up in diagnosing this problem that I completely missed that the steering wheel would not re-center itself after turns. My father noticed when he visited last weekend and tried to drive it but parked it after going around the block. If making a 90 degree turn, the wheel will maybe make it back to 45 degrees and stops. So you must manually turn the wheel back to center if you want to go straight.

So I've gone back and tried to loosen up the steering gears to start again, but now the gears seem tight regardless of how I adjust it.

I have already planned to replace the ball joints and get the alignment adjusted when I do the shocks and rear sway next week. Should i wait to see if the ball joints fix the problem or should i plan to replace the steering box at the same time? What say you all?

Thanks!
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'01 Excursion 7.3 PSD
DP Tuner, Rancho RS9000XL, Hellwig rear sway, 4" Diamond Eye exhaust, RAS, pulling an All-American 28FB Toy Hauler with Hensley Arrow hitch
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  #2  
Old 11-11-2009, 06:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scoob5555 View Post
Hi all,

My 'new to me' 01 Ex has 129k miles on it and the one problem is the steering. I read (all 34 pages of) the wander cure thread and I played with my steering box extensively over the last 3 weeks. The initial tightening really helped with the slack in the steering, as did adding air to the passenger front tire to even it out with the driver's side. But it did not cure everything. In fact, the tightening of the box revealed something else - the steering now exhibits what feels like binding. And now I must make minute corrections every second or two all the way down the road, even perfectly straight, flat roads. It's sorta driving me crazy(er) and my wife won't even consider driving it until it's fixed.

I was so caught up in diagnosing this problem that I completely missed that the steering wheel would not re-center itself after turns. My father noticed when he visited last weekend and tried to drive it but parked it after going around the block. If making a 90 degree turn, the wheel will maybe make it back to 45 degrees and stops. So you must manually turn the wheel back to center if you want to go straight.

So I've gone back and tried to loosen up the steering gears to start again, but now the gears seem tight regardless of how I adjust it.

I have already planned to replace the ball joints and get the alignment adjusted when I do the shocks and rear sway next week. Should i wait to see if the ball joints fix the problem or should i plan to replace the steering box at the same time? What say you all?

Thanks!
I would wait to see how the BJs change it.
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  #3  
Old 11-11-2009, 10:46 PM
Husky44 Husky44 is offline
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How big of a bind will you be in if you get the truck back and the ball joints don't fix it? Obviously there's a chance that you can save $$ by doing the work incrementally, but if I were a betting man, I'd wager pretty heavy that you're going to need a new gearbox. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

Good news is, you should be able to do this work yourself, if you want to save some $$.
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  #4  
Old 11-12-2009, 08:34 AM
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Thanks for the opinions, guys.

It wouldn't be too big of a problem since it's getting worked on by a friend of mine who works in a shop. With winter coming fast, I think it would be preferable to do the work in a toasty garage with a lift instead of my driveway or street (since it won't fit in my garage). Just means another day off work playing in his shop, but the money difference probably won't be too bad.
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  #5  
Old 11-12-2009, 09:22 PM
goldsmje goldsmje is offline
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I was having the same sort of steering problem with my 2002 Excursion. I noticed that the steering wheel had to be manually returned to center. That wasn't too much of a big deal for me, but it eventually got to a point where I was constantly steering making minute steering corrections all the time. The progression to that point was so gradual it wasn't something I readily noticed. Turns out one of my ball joints was sticking and going bad. Once I got it replaced, all was good.
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  #6  
Old 11-14-2009, 06:39 PM
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I just finished rebuilding the front end after 247,000 miles - 2000 Limited, 4 WD and 6.8 litre. I replaced the ball joints, tie rods, sway links, bushings etc. Anyway I was so used to correcting the steering that I never really noticed the problem until now. It has wandered as long as I can remember. Anyway I noticed the steering wheel wouldn't return to center. The place where I got an alignment said this was normal for about 2,000 miles. After about a 1,000 miles I really started to think it was in the steering gear, especially after I made numerous adjustments to loosen the steering gear to help it return to center. I was making more steering corrections than I felt was safe. Anyway after several conversations with Harvey at redhead steering gears we concluded the steering box is worn out..... He said to place one finger on the steering wheel at the 12:00 position, have the key in the ignition to unlock the steering column but the engine not running, and move the steering wheel back and forth in a sawing motion. Any play in the wheel indicates a possible worn steering box - it moved at least an inch and half on each side of 12:00. Just to confirm this I moved the steering shaft in near the gear and had excessive movement since it shouldn't move at all..... I have one on order and hope this will correct my wandering and steering problems..... A project for next weekend!
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Old 11-14-2009, 06:53 PM
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Here is the link that got me headed in that direction:

http://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/85...installed.html
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  #8  
Old 11-14-2009, 08:53 PM
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Of course the steering box people will lean towards a new box but I have my doubts that that is it.
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Old 11-14-2009, 09:28 PM
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ExV10,

What do you think the problem is?
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Old 11-15-2009, 06:28 AM
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Thanks, everyone. I'm hopeful that it's the ball joints, too. Makes more sense than the steering box because of the sticking. I'm trying to get this done on Tuesday (along with the sway bar and new shocks).
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DP Tuner, Rancho RS9000XL, Hellwig rear sway, 4" Diamond Eye exhaust, RAS, pulling an All-American 28FB Toy Hauler with Hensley Arrow hitch
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Old 11-15-2009, 10:55 PM
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Quote:
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ExV10,

What do you think the problem is?
Ball joints
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Old 11-16-2009, 11:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scoob5555 View Post
Thanks, everyone. I'm hopeful that it's the ball joints, too. Makes more sense than the steering box because of the sticking. I'm trying to get this done on Tuesday (along with the sway bar and new shocks).

I have the exact same problem w/ my '02 and I can you it is not the ball joints. I replaced those along with new Bilsteins and it is still not returning to center. I'll be very interested in how the Redhead box works if you get one.
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  #13  
Old 11-16-2009, 06:42 PM
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yea i have the same problem. its not the ball joints, i just got those replaced along with the hubs in july and ever since i drove it after that its been like this
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Old 11-17-2009, 11:45 AM
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Stiff (rusty) axle u-joints can cause bad return to center also. Should be apparent during disassembly, but you never know
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  #15  
Old 11-17-2009, 02:30 PM
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OK, I'm back from the shop.

Right side lower ball joint was shot, all others were OK. New ones feel a little better, but I still have some stickiness happening and the return to center did not change even a little. So it looks like a new box for me after all...

We put on the Rancho RS9000XL shocks and without even playing with them, they feel better (with the truck loaded with tires and wheels) than the Reflexes that were on there. I'll play with the dials a bit to see what works for me with a (mostly) empty truck for most of the time.

We were supposed to put on the Hellwig rear sway, too, but the plates in the box were the wrong ones - the slotted holes were too small for the larger U-bolts. I talked to Tim at Hellwig and he said thet've had a few calls about this, so it looks like they've recently had a problem with the wrong plates getting into the 7643 box. So we had to ditch that install. I'll probably do it in my driveway once the new plates arrive.
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GO BIG RED! And whatever team is playing Penn State...
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Old 11-17-2009, 02:30 PM
 
 
 
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