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Questions and Answers

Ford F-250 Hard Steering And Wanders

Q. Hi Vince, I have a 1990 Ford F-250 XLT Lariat 4x4 with a 7.5 liter with 98,000 miles on it. I have been having an intermittent steering problem. Sometimes during a turn the wheel becomes hard to turn back to center. It's a fight to get it out of the turn and then the wheels feel like they are flopping back and forth on the straight away.

Ford F-250 Hard Steering And Wanders

I got underneath and checked all the linkage, ball joints, U-joints, and wheel bearings and everything is tight. I had my mechanic look it over and he also says everything checks out okay. Within the last 2,000 miles the inner and outer tie rods, drag link, adjusting sleeves, power steering pump, pulley, and belts have been replaced and there are four new tires on the truck. I am suspecting the steering gear box is going bad. Will the box intermittently get loose like that when it is going bad? Is there anything I may be overlooking?

Thank you,
Ed

A. The steering box could be starting to go bad. Since wheel alignment, specifically caster adjustment, does effect steering return, I would get a wheel alignment first. Also, the steering box is adjustable, so an adjustment before replacement would be a good idea.

If you have a torque wrench that will measure inch pounds, here's how to adjust it.

  1. Disconnect pitman arm from sector shaft.
  2. Disconnect fluid return line at reservoir and cap reservoir return line pipe.
  3. Place end of return line in a clean container and cycle steering wheel in both directions as required to discharge fluid from gear.
  4. Remove ornamental cover from steering wheel hub, then turn steering wheel 45° from right stop.
  5. Using an inch-lb. torque wrench on steering wheel nut, determine torque required to rotate shaft slowly through approximately 1/8 turn from 45° position.
  6. Turn steering gear back to center, then determine torque required to rotate shaft back and forth across center position.
  7. On 1988 and 1989 models, adjust if mesh load required to rotate shaft back and forth across center position is less than 10 inch lbs. greater than force required to rotate shaft from 45° to stop. If necessary to adjust, loosen adjusting nut and turn adjusting screw until reading is 10-14 inch lbs. greater than torque measured 45° from stop. Hold screw in place, then tighten lock nut.
  8. On 1990 to 1992 models, adjust if mesh load required to rotate shaft back and forth across center position is less than 10 inch lbs. greater than force required to rotate shaft from 45° to stop. If necessary to adjust, loosen adjusting nut and turn adjusting screw until reading is 9-13 inch lbs. greater than torque measured 45° from stop. Hold screw in place, then tighten lock nut.
  9. Check readings, then install pitman arm and steering wheel cover.
  10. Connect fluid return line and replenish reservoir.

Additionally, there is a steering damper kit for your truck to help with this problem.

Article No.: 90-23-12
Suspension - Front - Shakes Or Vibrates - 7.5 liter EFI - F-53 Motorhome Chassis

Vibration - Front Suspension - 7.5 liter EFI - F-53 Motorhome Chassis
Light Truck: 1989-90 F Super Duty Stripped F53

ISSUE:
Front end shake and vibration may be caused by loose, worn and/or broken front suspension components. A steering damper kit is now available for service.

ACTION:

Inspect the front end components install a steering damper service kit. Refer to the following procedure for service details.

If this all fails, Ford has an improved steering box, part number F1TZ-3504-B - Power Steering Gear Assembly, that can be installed.

Additional Information provided courtesy of ALLDATA

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