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Old 05-01-2009, 01:07 PM   #1
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Steering loose (SMB 4x4) drag link ball joint?

Can somebody help me identify what I'm looking at here...?

The steering on my van has gotten pretty loose lately: 3 inches or so of free play. My mechanic could find nothing wrong with the system. So I brought it home, and wiggled the steering wheel while my wife looked underneath at the steering linkage, and she immediately spotted something fishy. The ball joint at the passenger end of the drag link seems to be moving around pretty bad where it attaches to the steering arm:



It turns out my mechanic never tried having someone wiggle the steering wheel. When I pointed out the trouble to him, he then tried tightening the nut underneath the ball joint, but that didn't seem to work (the bolt just spins freely).

So... what do I need to replace here? This is the parts list I have from Sportsmobile:
  • Moog Tie Rod End: ES194R
    Dynatrac Tie Rod End: DA60-3304-B
    Ball Joints: Spicer 707238X
    My "knuckle" (I think that's what it's called) is marked "Dynatrac".

I can also try calling Sportsmobile for advice, but it'd help if I knew a bit about what I was talking about first.

-- Geoff
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Old 05-01-2009, 01:17 PM   #2
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Re: Steering loose (SMB 4x4) drag link ball joint?

I got mine from Rockauto (drag links and the Moog tie rod ends). remember, your tie rod ends are "R" and "L"

'03: Drag Link (Motorcraft w/ updated part nos): 8C3Z 3304 G and 8C3Z 3A131 J.

In fact, here's the relevant portion of that order:

MOTORCRAFT Part #MDOE8 Shipped
MOTORCRAFT Part #MEOE130 Shipped
MOOG Part #ES194R Shipped
MOOG Part #ES194L Shipped
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Old 05-01-2009, 01:38 PM   #3
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Re: Steering loose (SMB 4x4) drag link ball joint?

Forgive me for being a bit clueless here, but ...

From my description of the problem (ball joint moving around in its steering arm hole), do you think this is what I need to replace?

Are the Moog ES194R and Dynatrac DA60-3304-B tie rod ends equivalent/interchangeable parts? (Yes, at least they're both right-hand side parts, but are they the same thing?)

Learning...
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Old 05-01-2009, 02:02 PM   #4
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Re: Steering loose (SMB 4x4) drag link ball joint?

The Moog ends go on the big straight tube (the ends below the ends you identified in your pic). Those look like mine. That's the tie rod and they are Moog parts on mine. Its a very common rod end and pretty bomber.

However, when it comes to Dave's '06, this is what SMB told him:

Tie Rod Ends:
Moog # ES2082R Dynatrac # DA60-3304-T
Moog # ES2083L Dynatrac # DA60-3304-U

So, that's your cross reference to the Moog ends given the Dynatrac number you provided. Just not sure they switched to those for '04. The change came during or after '04, or so I understand. Your SMB book should tell you which you have.

The drag link is what you've identified in your pic. It is actually two parts. One part is the heavy tube with an end. The other is the threaded end. Those parts are Motorcraft and it should be the same as mine (both from the pics and when I cross-referenced).

To answer your other question, I'd replace all four items at the same time, not just the drag link. The Moog rod ends are relatively cheap and once you've done it, you know its taken care of. Doubt they need it, but you're on you back anyway, so might as well. Your drag link, for sure, given your description. Its a very easy process. from Herb's post on the subject:

"The below is based upon what I was told by the shop manager at Dynatrac. It was very basic, so I did not ask him about whether or not it was OK to post, but because of that, I won't attach his name to it.

Basically, there are two ways he said the tie rod ends could be replaced without having to go in for a front end alignment. He did not recommend doing either of these, but he didn't not-recommend doing either of these. Got it?

1) Measure the amount of thread visible on each tie rod end, and replicate it when installing the new tie rod ends.

2) As you unscrew the tie rod ends, count the number of revolutions, and replicate the same number of revolutions (in the other direction) when installing the new tie rod ends.

He did also mention that it was easy enough (with a helper) to measure the toe-in before and after. He recommended a toe-in of between 1/16" - 1/8"."
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Old 05-01-2009, 02:17 PM   #5
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Re: Steering loose (SMB 4x4) drag link ball joint?

Just reread the part about the spinning tapered part of the rod end (on the drag link). That's weird. Those are a taper fit inside the arm. When you get it apart, check to see if the drag link end wallowed out the tapered hole.
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Old 05-01-2009, 02:55 PM   #6
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Re: Steering loose (SMB 4x4) drag link ball joint?

Thanks for all the details -- especially how to do this without redoing the alignment!

Tapered hole -- that makes sense. I'll first try try unbolting it and see if the steering arm hole is unusually worn.

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Old 05-01-2009, 05:28 PM   #7
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Re: Steering loose (SMB 4x4) drag link ball joint?

Nothing I can add to what deminimis has posted geoffff. He's right on. That end should NOT turn when you go to tighten it. I'm with deminimis, replace all the ends. They really are not that expensive and loose steering is right up there with bad brakes on things you don't want on any rig.
If you don't go with an alignment, just keep an eye on your front tires for wear.
Good luck with the project.
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Old 05-01-2009, 06:02 PM   #8
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Re: Steering loose (SMB 4x4) drag link ball joint?

Just a comment.. All my tie-rod and drag link ball joints, especially the pitman arm, were loose after 8000 miles. After I tightened them up, the front end was a lot tighter.



Jeff
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Old 05-02-2009, 06:46 AM   #9
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Re: Steering loose (SMB 4x4) drag link ball joint?

All good advice from everyone else. I replaced my tie rod ends a while back, but only my tie rod ends.
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=2230&hilit=tie+ARSENAL

One piece of advice: find a new mechanic. If you bring them a vehicle complaining about loose steering, and they never have someone cycle the steering wheel while looking at the front end, tells me they're not a good mechanic, and they're not qualified for you to trust your life to (not to mention other people's lives) in working on something as important as your vehicle's steering.


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Old 05-02-2009, 08:47 AM   #10
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Re: Steering loose (SMB 4x4) drag link ball joint?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bronco_hauler
One piece of advice: find a new mechanic.
My thoughts exactly.

I'm open to any Seattle-area mechanic recommendations!

-- Geoff
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