Recently a friends 04 150 has been giving him trouble, it's been steering really hard, but not making any noise. Also he has no leaks.Now today the problem is gone and it's ok again, my personal expirience has been when it's the pump, it will make noise, usually when it's the rack, it will leak or make a different noise than the pump or both, i told him to have the ball joints checked. After working in a friends garage for 4 or 5 years we had a few fords that the ball joint seized up in the front, one day it was all right the next day when turning it would act just like a bad rack/pump. I would like to hear opinions or first hand knowledge about this topic.
I had the same problem and tracked it down to dry u-joints in the steering column.
I used a dental pick to lift the rubber seals on the u-joints and sprayed penetrant/lubricant into the joints and needle bearings, problem solved instantly for the cost of 8 shots of lubricant.
My truck steered very stiffly when the weather was below freezing and would steer normally when the temperature was warmer.
It was so stiff below 32F that it would not return to straight ahead when you let go of the wheel after a 90 degree turn.