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Old 07-18-2009, 08:41 AM   #1
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Steering wheel play

I know there has been a few topics on this, so I'll keep it short. I think I read most all of them by searching. None of those seem to have a very definitive solution on fixing steering wheel play. I have a 2000 E-350 2x4 that wanders and is driving me nuts.

Anyone had similar issue and a solution?
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Old 07-18-2009, 11:58 AM   #2
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Re: Steering wheel play

The front end on these vans is a fairly complex system of links, rods, ball joints and bushings, IOW; plenty of parts to suspect and inspect: Tie Rod Ends, Steering Knuckles, Radius Arm Bushings, Steering Box, Steering Shaft Flex Joint. Wear and looseness in any one of these parts can create unstable steering symptoms. Even worn out shocks will cause the steering to wander over an uneven pavement. Also, bad wear in the rear suspension components can make it feel like there's something wrong with your steering.

The definitive solution is; someone has to get under there and check all the parts for wear and looseness, and the culprit will soon be found. - I would start with the Tie Rod Ends.

I'm a former mechanic and have done a lot of front-end work in the past. If you need more info on how to perform these checks, I'd be glad to write a quick tutorial.
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Old 07-18-2009, 12:51 PM   #3
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Re: Steering wheel play

Gulliver

If you wouldn't mind, a short overview of what/how to inspect would be great. Pics possible...?

Tom
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Old 07-18-2009, 01:36 PM   #4
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Re: Steering wheel play

Have someone move the steering wheel back and forth and watch every connection point for movement. Also jack the front end up off the ground a bit and check your ball joints by seeing if there is any movementne hand at the bottom of the tire and one hand at the top of the tire, now push/pull. There should be no movement or clunking.
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Old 07-18-2009, 03:49 PM   #5
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Re: Steering wheel play

Quote:
Originally Posted by saline
Have someone move the steering wheel back and forth and watch every connection point for movement.
This is what I did (and my mechanic did not do). I wiggled the steering wheel, and it was obvious to my wife looking under the van which part was not acting right. http://sportsmobileforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=2915

[Hi kre7277 -- I also sent you a message on this.]

-- Geoff
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Old 07-18-2009, 04:43 PM   #6
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Re: Steering wheel play

Thanks for the advise. That is what I was thinking, I just wanted to confirm it with a few guys that have delt with it before. As for the tutorial, I may hit you up. I'm going to dive into it and report back on my findings. I know I can rule out a few of the items you mentioned. They are all new and heavy duty. So it should be a little quicker to figure out what's up.
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Old 07-18-2009, 06:01 PM   #7
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Re: Steering wheel play

LOL! - I love how geoffff makes his wife crawl under the van, while he wiggles the steering wheel

That mechanic was seriously incompetant...I wouldn't trust him to sweep the shop floor!

If you don't have an assistant (or an obediant wife), you can first crawl under and do a visual inspection of all the little rubber boots covering the ball joints. If they are split and leaking grease, or worse, dried up and cracking with perhaps some rusty dust; then you will want to replace the ball joint, no question.

Next, use a trolley jack to lift the van so one front wheel is hanging in the air (you MUST use an axel stand to support the frame solidly when you do this). Then with both hands, grasp the road wheel at the 3-O-clock and 9-O-clock posistions, and aggessively try rocking the road wheel from left to right. Since the other front wheel is still firmly planted on the ground, there should be no movement in the steering. If it does move, you will usually feel roughness or clicking, indicating a worn tie-rod end or drag-link ball-joint end. Usually you can stick your head over the top of the wheel and look down at the tie-rod end as you do this and actually see the looseness, if it's bad.

Next, with both hands, grasp the road wheel at the 12-O-clock and 6-O-clock posistions and try rocking the road wheel up and down. You will not be strong enough to cause the suspension to move, so any looseness or movement here is bad and would most likely indicate a loose or worn wheel bearing. If you are really aggressive and strong you may also detect looseness from a bad steering knuckle joint. However that is more easily detected in the next step.

With the axel stand still supporting the frame and the road wheel hanging, place the trolley jack under the lifted front wheel, whilst laying on the ground, in front and slightly under the van, with a good view of the steering knuckle. Now gently pump the jack to raise the road wheel (not too much, or the wheel might spin and dislodge the jack). You may need to pump and release the jack up and down gently a few times. If the steering knuckel joints are worn you will see/hear them move with looseness.

You could also try using a 24" crow-bar/nail bar and wedge it between a tie-rod or drag-link and some other solid part of the chassis. Then try to create downward and upward pressure on the ball joints...there should not be any detectble looseness other than the normal tight, but fluid motion of a ball joint rotating in it's socket .

That's all I got time for right now...hope it helps.
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Old 07-18-2009, 10:52 PM   #8
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Re: Steering wheel play

Thank you! I wasn't exactly sure how I was going to attack this. But that really helps. I will report back on the outcome.
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