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Old 07-10-2019, 05:16 PM   #1
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Play in Ford E350 steering

2009 Ford E350 extended, 2wd, 5.4, 90k miles, all seats removed and built into a campervan.

Recent upgrades trying to fix my steering/wander/play

New Moog ball joints installed by mechanic
New Moog wheel bearings mechanic
New Moog sway bar end links installed by me
Tried changing tires pressures, settled at 70 front 80 rear Tires are Michelin and Firestone MIX. All in good shape.
New Redhead steering Box installed by mechanic
and had same mechanic check pitman arm etc, all good.
Aligned twice and had as much caster added, I cant remember what the #'s are...

Two mechanics have told me these vans are all like this and I should drive with two fingers and act like I am holding a hot coffee in my other hand... Acceptable???

At freeway speeds, I STILL have play in my steering wheel... I feel unsafe, wife says I'm crazy... I am comparing the steering to our Nissan Murano, AWD. When you turn the wheel the slightest amount, it reacts and TURNS. The Van is like being at the helm of a ship... chasing a straight line...

I have been obsessing about sway bars front and rear thinking another $500 will fix it and now I am thinking the slop may be coming from my upper steering shaft or lower steering shaft...

If you have replaced your steering shafts and found the play left your steering wheel, PLEASE let me know!!

I am purchasing a Camp trailer to travel in and live fulltime, eventually (AGAIN) This trailer will weigh #4500 lbs dry and also be using a weight distribution set up...

I am hoping to remedy this steering problem asap, Please help!!

Thanks!!
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Old 07-10-2019, 05:44 PM   #2
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happycampingcouple --- do you have a steering stabilizer installed yet?

If not ---
Since your van appears to still be sitting at factory-original ride height, your solution is pretty easy --- you'll want to hunt down the OEM Ford steering stabilizer brackets and stabilizer. They became a standard factory component on the E350's (sometime in the early 2000's I believe) when the long-rear-overhang Econoline "Church Buses" were having a lot of instability-related accidents.

Forum member redoval was selling these kits for $120 several years ago, here's a link to a thread where he was advertising them. Not sure if he can still locate them, but this is a good thread to read regardless and learn about the stabilizers.

Ford E-Series Van OEM Steering Damper Kit
http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/for...kit-14303.html

I found these to make a pretty big difference in how my van drove/steered/tracked.....especially if you install one of the Bilstein gas-charged stabilizer replacements. (They fit directly into the OEM factory stabilizer brackets, which you still have to somehow track down.)

Bilstein 24-174534 B8 5100 Steering Damper Front B8 5100 Steering Damper
https://www.amazon.com/Bilstein-24-1...?tag=chrmwp-20

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Old 07-10-2019, 07:19 PM   #3
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Steering Stabilizer

Hey Mike, I installed the factory hardware and a monroe stabilizer on my last e250... which I regretfully sold...

I know Jeremy at Weldtec has a stabilizer set up with a Bilstein for a decent price.... Which I may order soon...

But, I still wonder if the slop is from wear in the steering shafts? I read another post on a google search that talked about a "flat" spring that wears out over time and falls out... I am the 2nd owner, so who knows...

I have removed the shafts before and found a tiny bit of slop. I took it to my mechanic and he said that is fine... But I still think its the problem???

UGGGGG, Thanks for the reply!
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Old 07-10-2019, 07:41 PM   #4
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70 psi is way too high up front, on an extended van. The small contact patch will adversely affect steering. You probably only need about 50 psi.
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Old 07-10-2019, 08:14 PM   #5
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What about tie rod ends?
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Old 07-10-2019, 08:56 PM   #6
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CarringB, I tried 50, But I will try again! Thanks!
STeelheadjones, My mechanic said everything was good... Thanks for the reply

I also read about adding spacers on the rear...
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Old 07-10-2019, 09:27 PM   #7
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Steering shafts can indeed develop slop! There’s a telescoping section in the lower steering shaft on my ‘95 E250 that got pretty bad....I had to go dig for a junkyard replacement for it (discontinued part...)...and then I had to carefully shim the inside of **that** to get the slop removed.

(I bought a cheap set of Harbor Freight feeler gauges....they were exactly the right width to slide into the telescoping section (it has two “flats” inside of it that the are the same width as the feeler gauges) — I kept experimenting until I found the thickest one that I could slide into it. Believe it was only around .007” to tighten it up and make a HUGE difference in how the van drove.)

It doesn’t take hardly ANYTHING to make these Econolines drive squirrelly, it seems....
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Old 07-10-2019, 10:51 PM   #8
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It only takes one person to wiggle the steering wheel, and one person to see what is or isn't moving. It's not rocket surgery. Definitely don't just start throwing parts at it. Proper tire pressure is the easiest one to fix first, or at least get right to rule it out.

Adding aids like rear wheel adapters, sway bars etc will improve handling, but won't fix the slop if something's worn out.

That all said... It'll never steer like your Murano. You're comparing a lightweight car chassis with rack-and-pinion, to a long-wheelbase medium-duty truck. Steering will never feel quick, but at the same time, the wander you describe is not normal.

Lastly, its a good idea to look up your caster numbers. What many mechanics think is "maxed out" isn't anywhere close, or even near a good number
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Old 07-11-2019, 08:12 AM   #9
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Mike, I will be pulling the steering shaft out today and will attempt to shim... I am thinking if this reduces my play in the steering, I will replace the shaft in the future. Thanks again for your input!

Carringb, As always thanks for your input! I will adjust my front PSI today also. I located my alignment paperwork and if I am reading correct, the final #'s are Caster Left final =4.09 and Final Caster Right =4.93 I am hoping that is what you would like to see?

I am also wondering how my conversion (removal of seats/brackets) affects the driveability? Those seats and brackets are super heavy,, compared to the bed and cabinet I installed!!
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Old 07-11-2019, 09:37 AM   #10
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happycampingcouple -

No need to remove the steering shaft until you verify that it has a problem. As carringb mentioned, have one person wiggle the steering wheel while a second person looks/feels along the length of the steering components to see where it might have slop. In my case it was the section of steering shaft that goes between the underside of the steering column and then down through the floor of the van to the top of the steering box. I could reach down and grab it with my hands by the gas/brake pedal and wiggle the steering wheel myself to feel the “clunk/clunk” twisting slop in the telescoping section of it. (with the column unlocked of course.)

It’s entirely possible yours is fine however, so again as carringb said it’s best to spend some quality time doing the two-person steering linkage analysis first.

(**Also — mine is a ‘95, yours is a good bit newer....they may have redesigned the telescoping section of the steering column on yours....so if it’s a different design, I’m personally not sure if it can be shimmed in the same exact fashion.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by happycampingcouple View Post
Mike, I will be pulling the steering shaft out today and will attempt to shim... I am thinking if this reduces my play in the steering, I will replace the shaft in the future. Thanks again for your input!
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