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Old 10-11-2020, 01:29 PM   #1
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Alignment issue or something more serious?

Out in remote Utah in my 2000 e250 2wd. Bought the van 2nd hand and SMB did some of the interior (I did the remainder myself), but I don't believe did any suspension mods. 176K mi. Been out on the road about 4mo now and put about 7.5K mi on in that time. Van tracked perfectly straight at the start of the trip, but I suspect lots of off-road washboardy roads now have me pulling to the right.

Sadly I don't have any of the maintenance records with me, so I don't know much history.

I poked my head under there and I'm not entirely sure what I should be looking for. Spent a lil reading up on ibeam suspension. Took some pics of the radius arm bushings (I think). The rubber is starting to splinter a lil on the top sides, but I don't know how bad "bad" is. Hoping someone here might know. Attached some pics. Passenger is 1st pic, Driver 2nd (Driver side looks more worn than passenger).

Any advice for a newb? What else should I look at? I rarely go to dealers, but is this a dealer thing? Or a specific suspension shop? Pepboys alignment(ha!?) when passing through next city?

Thanks! I'm curious, so I'll keep reading in the meantime.
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Old 10-11-2020, 03:34 PM   #2
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I'd suspect a worn ball-joint, based on age, especially if it wasn't greased regularly.

I'd recommend Les Schwab's for a steering check-up. They seem to know the E-series better than other chains. But unless it's something that's ready to break loose, I'd try to save up for a full front-end replacement, using a new E-series take-off axle. In Utah, you might be able to source one from Advance 4x4. This will run a little more than doing just the ball-joint, but will gain you all new suspension bushings, bigger brakes, and a better radius arm and sway-bar design.

Also.... Steering pull that develops suddenly can be from a tread separation, so at least get that checked asap.
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Old 10-11-2020, 04:46 PM   #3
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Had a look at upper/lower ball joints on each side. Nothing looked too odd. The driver’s side bushing connecting the tie rod to the spindle looked a bit mis-shapen, but nothing serious. I looked for tread separation. These tires are well worn and probably need replacing, but i didn’t see anything alarming there either. Thanks for the tip on les schwab.
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Old 10-12-2020, 03:14 PM   #4
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One other quick q. I dont see that the upper or lower ball joints have a grease fitting. I guess these are sealed? Here are some pics.
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Old 10-12-2020, 03:15 PM   #5
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I wish my pics were right side up. :/
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Old 10-12-2020, 05:54 PM   #6
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Yup. Ford calls them "sealed". But the ones I've seen have a plug that come out so you can screw in your own zerk. But if they've never been greased... Probably time to redo it all.
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Old 10-13-2020, 07:40 AM   #7
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I'd get into to a shop where they can get it up on a lift and check a few things.



When my van pulls to one side, the first think I check is for a 'hung up' brake caliper, which will cause pulling to one side, even when the brake is not being applied. A second symptom to pulling, is one hub hotter to the touch than the other. Common on these rigs. Sometimes cleaning out the thick dust build up around the pads from dusty trails (air hose), re-lube the slider pins if needed, will fix it. Other times some knucklehead left out the pad return springs at the last pad change. Deeper and less common, a piston is hung up in it's bore from old fluid build up and a lip forming. Replace caliper and both sets of pads, bed them in, move on. Standard maintenance stuff.



I wouldn't worry about your radius arm rubbers, they look normal.



The only reliable way to check ball joints is for someone who knows heavy vehicles, have it up on a lift, and put a 3ft pry bar next to the ball joint, and pry up on the knuckle while while the knee of the bar is resting on the lower member, checking for up movement in the ball joint. Then check tie rod and pitman arm joints, steering box mount and pitman arm attachment nut, loose worn shocks while you're at it.
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Old 10-15-2020, 06:35 PM   #8
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Thanks Tom and carringb for the tips. I may have some more q’s in a few days.
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Old 10-16-2020, 08:15 AM   #9
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There's no rocket science under there. You're probably in luck in remote Utah. Any small town should have a reasonable and knowledgable auto/truck/tractor shop. Probably less fuss than dealing with a bigger chain type company in a city. At least that's my preference always. Here (small town TN) we have farmer's Co-ops in every town that are my go to for stuff like this.
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Old 10-18-2020, 01:08 PM   #10
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Tire Pressure, Bushings, and Shocks.. And your Steering Box. Check them all. its likly just Wear and needs Alignment.
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