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Old 02-13-2019, 06:12 PM   #1
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Steering Box Woes

So I'm not getting off on a good start with my van. Pre purchase inspection indicated the steering box was leaking badly and needed to be replace. I ended up ordering a new one from Red Head Steering. Got it quickly and dropped it off at the Ford dealer to have it installed.

Took it for a spin on the weekend and noticed a very small power steering leak. Took it back to the dealer hoping it was a simple fix, nope. Tech diagnosed that there is a crack impression in the new box and that is where the fluid is leaking from. Thankfully I didn't send the old unit back, so I've asked them to see if they can fix the old one. I suspect the seals went bad since it was sitting for a while.

Red Head is closed, but I've e-mailed them with the issue and asking about next steps. I'm guessing full refund, there website states they won't cover labour costs. I'm already out of pocket for the initial install, diagnoses, now removal and return postage which probably now exceeds the cost of the part.

We will see what they have to say, but I'm not very thrilled with my experience so far as this repair has now doubled what it should have been. I've attached some pictures and would like your input.
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Old 02-14-2019, 02:32 AM   #2
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Have you considered using an epoxy like JB Weld to seal the crack on the RedHead unit? It bonds amazingly well to cast iron and should seal the leak without a problem if the surface is properly prepped.

Obviously it would be far better to replace the cracked box, but if you need a stopgap measure to make the van usable while you sort things out you may want to consider it.
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Old 02-14-2019, 01:22 PM   #3
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I've decided to get the dealer to order a Ford steering box which comes with a 2 year warranty. I will be returning the Red Head Steering box for a full refund. The tech said the the original steering box that came with the van could not be re-built.
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Old 02-14-2019, 02:09 PM   #4
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Have you considered using an epoxy like JB Weld to seal the crack on the RedHead unit? It bonds amazingly well to cast iron and should seal the leak without a problem if the surface is properly prepped.

Obviously it would be far better to replace the cracked box, but if you need a stopgap measure to make the van usable while you sort things out you may want to consider it.

You'll never get a Dealership's service department to perform something like that. Steering, liability, customer supplied part... that will never happen, for good reason.


Casting flaws happen for a few reasons, if the casting is 'bad', consider that the entire steering box case is 'structural', subjected to a lot of internal loads. It needs to be strong as an ox, particularly in a 4x4 van with larger tires. If indeed the Redhead steering box has a casting flaw so bad that it leaks, you don't want to use it anyway. It's not worth the risk.


Having said all of that; I may be misunderstanding, but if the old steering box leaked when you brought it in, they replaced it with your supplied Redhead box, and the new one leaked, something isn't right. If what I said is correct, then I'd suspect your original steering box wasn't the culprit in the first place. I'd also suspect, when the dealership sold you a new Ford box and a second round of labor, they also 'found something else that was ready to go at any time' and replaced it to. (and was the original problem). Point being, don't
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Old 02-14-2019, 02:25 PM   #5
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Hey Tom,

I think the last bit of your message cut off.

So the original steering box was leaking which was indicated during my pre purchase inspection. I also went through the old maintenance records of the vehicle and previous inspection also showed that the steering box had issues. I'd need to go over the documents again but I'm not sure if it was replaced or repaired (I'm guessing repair based the amount of surface rust).

I did not use the Ford dealer to do the pre purchase inspection, it was a different local mechanic from the area where I picked up the van that identified the leak.

When speaking to the service department they didn't replace anything that I did not instruct them to replace as I specified a very specific scope of work for them.
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Old 02-14-2019, 05:33 PM   #6
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Is the dealership the only place you can get quality work done?

I would look for a reputable independent, as soon as possible, for this type of work. Replacing a steering box in these vans is relatively easy. Bleeding the system after install is easier w two people.

And I am very surprised at the defective unit from Redhead, bummer.
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Old 02-14-2019, 05:38 PM   #7
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Hey Tom,

I think the last bit of your message cut off...

sorry about that cut off message...


Point being, I wouldn't look to the past paperwork, the pre-purchase inspection, or what the Ford Dealership's service writer tells you, as gospel, rather, as clues. I can't tell from the steering box picture if that's a casting flaw or not. I can tell you that service departments don't like to install customer supplied parts, and most of the time, when the install doesn't go right, the first thing blamed is that customer supplied part. They are protecting their shop labor charges.



If the old box leaked, then the new box redhead leaked, I'd be asking myself "what are the odds of that?"



Then the dealer sold you a new box at full retail (probably cost more than the redhead box, even though Redhead uses better parts inside), and the leak went away. You see where I'm going with this, the issue may not have been a steering box leak at all.



Understand that I'm not giving you a hard time, you have little choice but to accept what they tell you, but I've just dealt with too many dealerships and unscrupulous service writers, most of whom get a month end bonus from the parts department based on volume sold by Service. I've had too many technicians just throw parts at my cars until the problem goes away, justifying their mis-diagnosis along the way. Heck, it's not their money! The first thing they are going to say, is the problem lies with the part the customer didn't buy from us, and therefore by nature is suspect (and the service writer didn't get a bonus for selling).



As an example, when my plastic power steering pump reservoir leaked (common), the drips collected at the low point of the steering box. There's so much air swirling under the front of a van, it can be hard to tell.



If Redhead says the casting is fine, and it might be, you may have to fight with the dealership to get some money back.


The main thing is you got your van to stop bleeding
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Old 02-15-2019, 04:28 AM   #8
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Since I'm considering a Redhead box for one of my E-Series this is of high interest to me----hopefully we'll get an update when Redhead responds to this issue.

FWIW my 2003 E250 developed a small steering box fluid leak at the lower bearing/seal, about 177,600 miles at the time.---I thought it best to change it before complete failure. Opted for the Ford reman'd box to the tune of a full $100 more than even an NAPA reman'd unit----no worries since it should be of higher quality right?

About 85,700 miles and 5 years later the Ford box simply "exploded" from the lower seal, not a bit of warning like leaking drops of fluid. In fact I'd parked the van for about one hour and only when I restarted it to drive away did that seal just give way.

Currently there's on of those Cardone-brands installed and its just a real piece of junk IMHO. Fortunately this isn't a valuable van but one I'm building out is which is the one under consideration for a Redhead replacement. Nothing wrong with the current box but with Redhead's reputation I seems like a good idea.

Anyway hope to hear how this turns out, what Redhead has to say about it all.

Best of luck Cyrull!
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Old 02-15-2019, 11:40 AM   #9
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Looking at your third picture that shows the "flaw", I don't see any sign of fluid weeping. If it is leaking from this casting seam, where's the fluid? Doesn't look like its been wiped down in this pic. I'm with TomsBeast. I'm a "show me the proof" kind of guy. I see this in my industry all the time, where an allegedly reputable installer blames the wrong part because its easier than a real diagnosis.

I had a friend complain to me years ago in regards to his VW Vanagon that "we've got to be the experts on every system on this van" because he had too many misdiagnosis from alleged experts. Unfortunately its true about everything we buy.

Good luck.
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Old 02-15-2019, 01:28 PM   #10
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My steering box just went south and was replaced with a Redhead with no issues. We did a trip last summer, I went over the truck pretty good. Rear axle seals, battery,water pump, all new pullies, Cordone Power steering pump, PS hoses,Bosch HD alternator and belt. On the return trip the alternator went out in Missouri in the middle of no where, luckily there was a chevy dealership at the next exit so it was minimal down time so i replaced it with an OEM, Then the Cardone PS started to sound like a chain saw about 500 miles from home but we made it. After reading reviews on the Cardone it turns out they are POS so when I had the steering box replaced I had the cardone PS pump replaced with an OEM, it was a lot more, guess the price you pay for piece of mind. One super epoxy to have in your tool box is a product called MarineTex the stuff is amazing, you can even repair fuel tanks with it. We were in the Keys boating and took a hit to the one of the outdrives. It cracked the lower unit from the front of the bullet back to the prop. Pulled the boat, filled in the crack with marine tex sanded it down, refilled the lower unit and used the boat for two more weeks until we got home
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