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Old 10-01-2018, 12:30 PM   #1
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Agile RIP kit and Steering Stabilizers

Hello forum.

I just bought a 2004 4x4 E350 Quigley Van. Initially I thought I'd get used to driving it, but after driving it for 200 miles home I am convinced I need to look into this further.

The steering wheel feels tight (actually not that easy to move), but the driving requires too much wheel micro-management. I especially struggled on our curvy mountain roads keeping in lane. I have driven large older HD vehicles before (e.g. had 98 GMC 2500HD pickup a few years ago), and while the driving won't be as enjoyable as my tacoma or forrester, I think the experience needs to be less tiresome.

I have found this thread talking about stabilizers. Unfortunately, I am not that well rounded when it comes to suspension (or much about mechanics in general). The previous owner has installed an Agile RIP kit. I've already reached out to Agile. It appears the kit already included a steering stabilizer (FOX Performance Series ATS Stabilizer). I plan to go to the mechanic later in the week for an opinion. I am looking for some feedback on what I should specifically ask them to take a look at. I have found 2 grease fittings and those joints seem relatively recently greased.


Other information.
Truck doesn't pull left or right
Steering wheel doesn't wobble at any speeds up to 75 (I don't think I got any faster as I am not that comfortable with the vehicle, partially because of steering).
Truck breaks hard straight at speeds, if it matters. (experiment forced by others on the rd).

So, my ask
What should I look at?

What should I ask the mechanic to look at, in case he's not familiar with this sort of setup (although my area is relatively heavily populated with older trucks)

Thanks!
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Old 10-01-2018, 02:38 PM   #2
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So is there no "dead zone" on center? I guess I dont really understand the issue. The vehicle doesn't wander, but requires steering inputs to maintain your lane? On the curvy road, what made it so hard to stay in your lane? Was the suspension bouncing causing the course to change? Hard to give any advice without understanding what the problem is.

How long ago was the RIP kit installed?
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Old 10-01-2018, 02:48 PM   #3
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Tires can also be a big factor on how your van tracks on the road.
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Old 10-01-2018, 02:53 PM   #4
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I think wanders is the correct way to describe it. It feels "tight" as artificially made difficult to turn, not tight as "responsive". That was probably not the best word to throw in the description. I felt the "tightness" may just come from heaviness of the vehicle, but i wanted to highlight that it requires more effort than I would have expected. Maybe it wouldn't have been noticeable if I didn't have to adjust driving.

The dead zone on "park" seems to be between 1-2 inches. I compared that to both Tacoma and Subaru, and those are noticeably smaller (under an inch).

The suspension was not bouncing, it was a paved road. I wouldn't complain if it changed course on a turn and a bump.
The kit was installed within last 12-18 month.
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Old 10-01-2018, 02:59 PM   #5
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I've owned 2 different Quigley 4x4's and they tracked very good with minimal input. I know with the bent I beam system, caster is a major factor in what you were describing. Also shock valving. Now I know the Quigley is a solid axle, so it's not apples to apples, but I would take it in to an alignment shop to make sure everything is in spec. I would also check to make sure one or more of the shocks aren't leaking.
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Old 10-01-2018, 06:52 PM   #6
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To address the earlier comment. The tires are AT 16" tires. Nothing crazy/oversized. My tacoma has similar tires (wrangler).
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Old 10-01-2018, 07:51 PM   #7
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Spend the energy finding a good mechanic. Any decent mechanic will cost some serious $$$. But will pay off greatly in the long run. A shop should be clean, organized and you shouldn't see big hammers laying around. The men/women turning wrenches should be well spoken and clean. Most of all, trust your gut.

As far as your problem, I could only guess. Do a short video (safely) and post it if you can.
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Old 10-01-2018, 08:00 PM   #8
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The consumer needs to be adequately educated in order to find those good mechanics. You can take into advantage word of mouse/social media, but those are not 100% reliable and mechanics may lack expertise in where you need (e.g. especially 4x4 vans?)
You can have smooth people that either don't know %% or are not productive.
I am limited by mechanics given the area I am in. There are 2 shops within 20 miles. One of them, I go to regularly for oil changes and other minor things (other cars are relatively new). Going "to town" 40mins away is always a possibility (and we have 3-4, one of which has an alignment shop).
My typical strategy to any outsourced work is to understand most of the components at least on a high level, so that the story of the mechanic adds up logically (not politician/salesmen logic). The solution needs to make sense, and the listener (me) needs to be somewhat understanding in order for it to make sense.

I primarily come to forums such as this one for self-education, and always welcome and appreciate any feedback.

Thank you for taking the time.

So far I'd expect the mechanic to lift the car and have me turn the wheel while he checks certain components which may include
ball joints
drag link
Tie rods
sway bar bushings

Somewhat also messaged me privately that "cams might be installed wrong or overtightened"

Lastly, there seems to be the "steering box" adjustment as last resort.

I am going to let the mechanic drive the conversation, would try to read up on how some of this works and ask questions if I feel like they're missing something.
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Old 10-01-2018, 08:07 PM   #9
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You pretty much described how my van was handling and still does to some degree. It's hard to describe, but it much more work to drive than it should be. There are lot's of things that will cause issues like this. Worn ball joints, worn bushings, a worn steering box, the amount of caster you have, the type of tires and the pressure your running in them, even worn rear spring bushings. I have a new Redhead steering box sitting on my bench to be installed this month, in hopes of recovering some of the precision I think the steering should have. I replaced it once before with a generic rebuilt unit, but within two years, the sector shaft has started to wobble. Redheads are built far stronger, so hopefully I won't have to change it again. If someone tells you your steering box should be adjusted, it's actually worn out, just replace it. So, have your shop check all the wear points in the suspension. The closer they are to new, the better the van should steer. Each item can make a small difference, but all together they make a big difference.
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Old 10-01-2018, 10:55 PM   #10
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Agree with having all those parts checked out.
One more thing to look at, the sway bar bushings, make sure theyíre not wallowed out. They tend to be a weak point, especially on our builds with the added weight. At the least, replace them with a good quality poly bushing.
While worn out sway bar bushings wonít necessarily produce a hard to turn steering wheel, it will introduce a bit of steering and handling vagueness. The van will also feel loose when going over bumps or coming off or going up a curb.
The Agile RIP kit should be the last thing that Iíd look at as the culprit, unless the steering stabilizer is either installed incorrectly but thatís hard to do or has lost its pressure, thereís a valve, check with Agile to get correct specs. Make sure the piston is centered when wheels are straight and itís got equal movement when turned left/right.
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