Ford F-150: How to Replace Lower Steering Shaft

As you are about to drive out of a parking lot, you hear a clunking sound and suddenly your steering wheel begins to tighten up. If you ever experienced this before, chances are your lower steering shaft needs to be replaced.

By Makeda - October 2, 2014

This article applies to the Ford F-150 (2004-2014).

You turn the wheel as you're leaving the parking lot and suddenly the steering in your F-150 begins to tighten up. Steering feels stiff. If you've ever experienced this before, chances are your lower steering shaft needs to be replaced. To ensure your safety, it is best to replace the lower steering wheel as soon as you notice this problem. While there are parts you can buy at your local dealership or auto shop, depending on your level of experience, it is cheaper to do the job yourself, but it may require an expert.

Materials Needed

  • Lower steering shaft $150 - $300
  • 10mm socket
  • 13mm socket
  • Flexible ratchet
  • Breaker bar/extension
  • Hammer
  • Flat head screwdriver
  • Penetrating oil
  • Liquid wrench
  • Anti-seize lube

Step 1 - Remove top steering shaft bolt

The steering shaft should be on the driver's side of your engine bay. It is connected directly to the steering wheel, so just draw an imaginary line from there to the engine bay and you should be able to find it under the hood.

Turn the steering wheel enough so that you can get a wrench on the lower bolt. Remove the bolt before sliding the lower steering shaft from the top area of the shaft.

  • Lower Steering Shaft Bolt
    Figure 1. Remove the 10mm bolt circled above.
  • Lower Steering Shaft Bolt with Socket Wrench
    Figure 2. Use a breaker bar or an extension to get some extra torque if the bolt is stuck.

Pro Tip

To keep the steering wheel in proper alignment, install a pair of vise-grips to hold the upper shaft stem. The steering shaft will turn on its own while you're working if you don't do this.

Step 2 - Disconnect lower steering shaft from upper one

Once the upper bolt is removed, pull the top from the upper stem. Compress the shaft and push the top under the radiator fluid supply hose.

There's a good chance that the upper and lower shafts will be rusted together. If so, spray the junction with penetrating oil and let it sit for a few moments. Pry the top shaft coupling apart with a flat head screwdriver. If it's still stuck, tap the screwdriver lightly with a small hammer. Be careful not to break or bend the (much more expensive and difficult to fix) upper steering shaft.

Lower Steering Shaft Removal
Figure 3. Pull the two shafts apart. The rust on the upper shaft will cause binding. We'll deal with that later.

Step 3 - Remove lower steering shaft bolt

The 10mm bolt holding the lower steering shaft to the steering gear is difficult to get to, but you can reach it with an extension or by getting underneath the truck.

Lower Steering Shaft Diagram
Figure 4. You'll need to remove the bolt from the joint circled above. You might need a breaker bar or an extension for leverage.

Pro Tip

Soak both the bottom and lower bolts with liquid wrench before trying to get them off. If they're old and seizing, they'll be rusted and difficult to remove without it.

Step 4 - Remove lower steering shaft

If the shaft is rusty, hammer the slot where the bolt clamps to loosen it. Jam a flat-head screwdriver in the gap between the lower shaft and the steering gear to ease removal.

Lower Steering Shaft Repair
Figure 4. The screwdriver above is wedged between the lower steering shaft and the steering gear joint.

Step 5 - Clean connectors

Use a wire brush to knock the grease and excessive rust off the upper steering shaft connector and the steering gear at the bottom. Apply anti-seize grease to both ends.

  • Upper Steering Shaft End
    Figure 5. Cleaning the rust and applying anti-seize will prevent issues down the road.
  • Steering Gear Post
    Figure 6. This is the steering gear. Clean before re-installing lower steering shaft.

Step 6 - Install New Steering Shaft

Install the new shaft onto the steering gear first, then the upper steering shaft. Use new bolts for each end. We recommend using loctite as well for added piece of mind.

  • Lower Steering Shaft and Lower Steering Gear
    Figure 7. New lower steering shaft attached to steering gear
  • New Steering Shaft Installed
    Figure 8. New lower steering shaft attached to upper steering shaft

Featured Video: How to Replace Lower Steering Shaft

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