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6.4L Power Stroke Diesel Engine fitted to 2008 - 2010 F250, F350 and F450 pickup trucks and F350 + Cab Chassis

Steering gear install

  #1  
Old 10-12-2014, 02:17 PM
99expyTN
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Steering gear install

The steering on my 08 F250(RWD) has been extremely loose. To turn, you had to turn the steering wheel 90 degrees before the truck would actually begin to turn. I decided it was the steering gear after turning the steering wheel and watching the steering shaft turn but the pitman arm on the bottom of the steering gear didnít move. My local mechanic quoted me $1050 to replace it. This was 3 hrs labor and the rest was for a Ford remanufactured steering gear. I decided to try it myself. Maybe my experience will help others who might find themselves with the same issue.

My initial thoughts were to do this job myself with selective help from my 16 year old son. About half-way through I had to get my Dad to come up and help finish the job. It is definitely a 2 person job. Also, you need a really good toolbox.

Tools:
floor jack, jack stands
13 mm socket (steering shaft to steering gear pinch bolt)
18 mm socket (3 bolts that hold steering gear to frame)
17 mm pivoting flare nut wrench (for power steering fluid connections to the steering gear)
24 mm socket (nut holding pitman arm to drag link)
1 13/16 socket (large nut holding pitman arm to steering gear shaft)
various ratchets, breaker bars, screw drivers, hammer, c-clamp, pitman arm puller

The first step is to center the steering wheel and lock it in place. I looped the seat belt through the steering wheel and then pushed the driver seat all the way back to tighten the belt. This secured the steering wheel. The next step is to lift the negative battery connection and then raise the both front wheels and secure the front with jack stands.

After you remove the wheel and splash shield, you can access the top of the steering gear from wheel well.




To remove the pinch bolt and disconnect the steering shaft from the steering gear you need to unclip the plastic shield from the power steering fluid line and slide the shield up the shaft.




Use a 13 mm socket to remove the pinch bolt and then slide the connector up the steering shaft. I found that it came off pretty easily.




Next, disconnect the power steering supply and return lines. Disconnecting and reconnecting these lines was one of the most difficult parts of the job. I could not get an open end box wrench on either line, so I went and purchased a pivoting, flare wrench (17 mm). From under the truck, I could get the wrench on the nut, but there was very little room to turn the nut. The flare wrench was too long. To reconnect the fluid lines, we cut the end off the wrench and made it a stubby. This made it much easier. With a shorter wrench, you have plenty of room to turn the nut. It is also very helpful to have someone looking in from the wheel well to guide you.








With the pinch bolt and fluid lines disconnected, the next steps are to disconnect the pitman arm from the drag link. This also proved to be difficult. The screw to tighten the puller sticks up into the engine and again there is very little room for a wrench. To turn the screw, I was pushing up which caused the jaw of the puller to keep sliding off the pitman arm. I finally read a trick online that said to use a c-clamp to keep the jaws tight. With the c-clamp, I was able to tighten the screw, but still had to beat on the pitman arm with a hammer to break it free.




Up until this point, I had been working by myself. I had originally thought my son and I could remove the steering gear, but the 3 bolts holding it to the frame were very difficult to turn. I was unsure I could hold the steering gear from underneath the truck long enough while my son struggled to remove the bolts. Also, there is a brake line that runs below the steering gear and I didnít want to damage the line by dropping the steering gear on it.

My Father volunteered to come up (he lives 3 hours away) and help me finish the job. He must have brought good luck because the job went pretty smooth once he arrived.

He removed the 3 frame bolts (18 mm socket with a large breaker bar) while I supported the steering gear from beneath the truck. After the steering gear is removed, we stuck the pitman arm in the 2 in receiver on the truck (I donít have a vise) and used the floor jack to support it while we worked on removing the nut. To remove the nut, you need a 1 13/16 in socket and a very large breaker bar. We also used a pipe slipped over the breaker bar for more leverage. Below is a picture of the new steering gear in the ďviseĒ. The removal setup was the same. Removing the nut and using a puller to remove the pitman arm proved fairly easy. Also, installing the pitman arm and nut on the new steering gear went smoothly. It did take some brute force of both of us leaning on the breaker bar, but slowly we were able to pull the pitman arm onto the new steering gear. We alternated by beating on the socket slipped over the nut and then turning the nut to pull it up.




The installation is the reverse of the removal. I did buy 3 new frame bolts ($21) because I was afraid of rounding the heads. I also bought a new steering gear nut ($10) because we thought we might have to cut the old one off. The new bolts and nut were coated with a dry, red threadlocker. As noted earlier, a stubby wrench makes all the difference in the world when connecting the lines to the steering gear. It also proved helpful to unclip the lines from the frame so you had some flexibility to move the lines while trying to get the threads to catch.

We filled the power steering fluid resevoir with about 1.5 quarts of mercon V. We kept turning the steering wheel while filling the reservior to work out the air.

ONE HUGE PIECE OF ADVICE. With the truck still up on jack stands we kept checking the turning of the wheels and found we couldnít turn all the way to the right. We had about decided we messed up and had put the pitman arm on the steering gear wrong (i.e., the steering gear was not centered). We disconnected the pitman arm from the drag link and realized the pitman arm had full movement from left to right. Only then did we realize the right tire was hitting the jackstand and would not turn completely to the right. We reconnected the pitman arm to the drag link and moved the jackstand. With the jackstand out of the way, the steering went to the left and right correctly. That was a huge relief.......I couldnít imagine doing this job twice.

Below is a video of my old steering gear. Hopefully, you can see the play in the steering shaft connector. I could turn this very easily by hand about half a turn. The steering gear shaft never moved.


My overall thoughts is that this is definitely a two person job. I spend several hours laying on my garage floor trying to figure things out. Having two brains and four hands make the job much easier. We could probably do the job in about half the time, but I would be dreading it the whole time.
 
  #2  
Old 10-12-2014, 03:47 PM
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Originally Posted by 99expyTN
My local mechanic quoted me $1050 to replace it. This was 3 hrs labor and the rest was for a Ford remanufactured steering gear. I decided to try it myself.
So, at $120 per flat rate hour, that works out to about $360 for a dealer tech to do this repair. (BTW, I have done this specific repair on my share of trucks myself)
Originally Posted by 99expyTN
My overall thoughts is that this is definitely a two person job. I spend several hours laying on my garage floor trying to figure things out. Having two brains and four hands make the job much easier. We could probably do the job in about half the time, but I would be dreading it the whole time.
Now, after doing the job yourself (and kudos to you by the way, for the successful outcome to the repair), how much is that $360 worth?
 
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Old 10-13-2014, 07:38 AM
99expyTN
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Originally Posted by m-chan68 View Post
how much is that $360 worth?
It is nice to have saved the money, but I must admit there were a couple of times when I was wishing I wasn't so cheap and would have paid the mechanic.
 
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Old 10-27-2014, 10:47 PM
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Bough my gear box from Red head out of Washington stats
 
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Old 10-28-2014, 12:07 AM
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I just went thru this post and i don't any reference to torquing the pitman arm retainer nut.

You did a good job on the write up but i would add this info to anyone attempting this Job.

Torquing the retaining nut is an important process as the nut requires 350 FT LBS. This requires a serious torque wrench usually a 3/4 drive. This Insures the pitman arm has been fully seated on the shaft splines and that it does not come loose. Some reman companies recommend that the the pitman arm is re-torqued after several hundred miles. In addition the nut is a one time use nut, it should be replaced as well during a service that require removal i believe this is all stated in the shop manual as it has been a little while since i did one.
 
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