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Old 02-21-2011   #1  
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Default Frustrating Day For My Truck!

Sorry, long post.

Short story - New lower ball joints, inner/outer tie rod ends, front brake pads/rotors installed. Upper ball joints feel very loose, and steering rack may be bad.

Longer version below.

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I took the truck into the shop this morning with brake pads from Napa, inner/outer tie rod ends and lower ball joints from Moog.

When I was screwing with the truck the other day trying to find the play in the front end, it appeared to be coming from the driver's side inner tie rod end. With the right front wheel on the ground and the left front in the air, I could turn the left wheel slightly and hear a quiet "knock".


So the truck went in around 9:30. He said now way he would have it done in time to take it for an alignment. Hmm, okay fine. I'll call in a bit and see where you're at. I called at 1PM and asked how he was doing. He said that the inner tie rod ends won't work and the lower ball joints are being a PITA to remove from the lower control arm. He also said that the tie rod ends seem fine.

I was sure that the inner tie rod end was bad so I called every shop in town, and the only inner tie rod end I could find was at Ford and they just had one. Fine. I bought it and drove 20 minutes to the shop. When I got there I asked him to show me why the moog parts don't work. I held up the Ford part, same length, same threads, just the end (nut for lack of a better word) was a different shape where you tighten it down. However it fits inside the boot just fine, it just isn't rounded off as nicely as the Ford piece. I told him to use it. He removed the factory piece, and installed the Moog inner tie rod end. When he went to tighten it the whole assembly had some movement INSIDE the steering rack. Oh great. It looks like a bearing/bushing or something is bad in there. I guess with the leveling kit the tie rods are at an angle, and steering forces get translated at an angle in the rack. At this point he said that it may not be as much of the issue as I think, he suggested installing everything and seeing how the truck feels.

On to the next thing, they wanted to use new rotors up front. I don't blame them. The stock rotors were rusted really bad and worn pretty thin. He was still having a hard time with the ball joints and said he may not finish it tonight but would try. So I went to Ford, returned the tie-rod end and picked up new rotors at Napa for $110. I came home, stressed a bit as I looked up reman steering racks and headed back out with the brakes.

When I got back he had installed the new left lower ball joint and said that the left upper ball joint was pretty loose feeling. No visible play but it felt really loose, he hadn't checked the other side yet.

We went to the other side and removed the knuckle, everything felt pretty loose. Again no visible play, just very loose.

About 5PM everything is back together. New pads/rotors, inner/outer tie rod ends and lower ball joints. He only charged $175 for labor. The truck does feel a lot more solid up front so far, but I'm sure that slop is still in the rack. I don't feel it as much but I think that is because the toe is off so much that there is always pressure on it from one direction.

The alignment is off a fair amount. I went to do a DIY alignment but my back is killing me, and laying on the floor with a short end wrench I couldn't loosen the jambnut. lol

I'm hesitant to do much of anything because I fear that the rack should be replaced. I don't want to install upper control arms and align it, and still not be satisfied. Steering racks are $200-250 after core charge. I never would have guessed that it was the rack going bad already either! (64k miles) I've always gone through tie rod ends and ball joints fairly quick but never steering racks!




So, I guess that's it. I'm really frustrated. If I knew that the play was in the rack I would have ordered the rack earlier and saved some money, since most steering racks come with new inner tie rod ends! I don't know whether to order just the upper control arms and align it, and deal with the rack for a while or just do it all now. Money is tight at the moment, I have money for labor but the parts went on a credit card. Crappy timing.
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Old 02-21-2011   #2  
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Ouch, man that does suck. Just saw on another forum the other day someone else had to have their steering rack replaced at around 70k miles. Leveled on 35s as well

I hope this isn't in my future
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Old 02-21-2011   #3  
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I was searching around and it looks like it isn't uncommon for them to go bad even earlier, even with stock trucks! lol. I read several other posts (usually with no responses) where people said they thought the inner tie rod ends were bad, only to find play in the steering rack.

It seems like if it was common enough, someone would rebuild them to higher quality. I mean maybe they do, but I kind of doubt it. Hmm...

I've changed my mind literally every 5 minutes since I got home.
a) order upper control arms only, align and deal with it for now
b) order rack only, align and deal with it for now
c) order both, align and pout about my credit card balance a lot more.

I'm 99.999% sure that if I don't order the steering rack now I'm going to be kicking myself and want to replace it soon. Now I especially want to lower the front end down an inch as I think it will reduce steering at the rack. Just as I started to feel like I would be okay with having the truck leveled I find out where it is really causing problems. doh! The tie-rod ends and ball joints and more expected and I'm not that upset those, but the rack? blah
Unfortunately my bilsteins only have 2 settings, stock and +2". To get 1" I'd have to remove the shocks and find someone to machine them, align it again, etc.
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Old 02-21-2011   #4  
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Yeah I'm hoping all my stuff lasts until 100k, then its all getting swapped out. Thats 30k more miles so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
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Old 02-21-2011   #5  
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Man thats not cool at all Brian. i hope this issue gets resolved quickly and properly. have you tried Tasca to see how much theyd charge for a steering rack?
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Old 02-21-2011   #6  
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I can only imagine that Ford only has new steering racks. $$$ Maybe I'll look anyway.

I ordered the moog upper arms.

I think I will order a reman rack from Napa tomorrow. It's a little more than ordering online but I there is no shipping and it will be a lot easier to get my core charge back! I'm sure it's just one little bushing or bearing in there which is what really pisses me off. I'm a little curious to poke around at it after it is off. I really hate to spend all this money but after seeing where the play is it makes 100% sense that I've been feeling what I have been. I know if I don't do it now I'm just going to be thinking about it a week from now and regretting it. The only major wear item that won't be new on the front end will be the lower control arm bushings and the driver's side wheel bearing! haha. Actually I shouldn't say that, there are a few other things that haven't been problematic yet. I'm still stressing about the spark plugs as it is.

You know what else pisses me off... Last time I ordered Moog components they all had heavy duty blue poly boots on them, now it is just regular old rubber. Lame.
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Old 02-21-2011   #7  
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If you are sure that's the problem I'd go ahead and get it fixed if you can swing the money. It will have to happen sooner or later so you might as well get it done at the same time as the other work.
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Old 02-21-2011   #8  
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Anyone have access to a flat rate book? Wondering what the estimated time is to replace the steering rack...
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Old 02-28-2011   #9  
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dam Brian that sucks. Fortunately i am not getting any steering play in the truck YET, although I just put the 35's on. Truck needs an alignment pretty bad, but thats about it. hopefully you get it fixed and it doesnt cost you an arm and a leg! I cant wait to get back to florida so i have access to the auto hobby shop's lifts so I dont have to pay labor, just find a friend who knows what the hell they are doing and buy some beer lol
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Old 02-28-2011   #10  
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You didn't even hear it all! lol
My truck sat at the shop Thursday and Friday, I had to rent a car. Went to pick it up Friday night and he didnt even touch it.
I ran to a shop in Lexington first thing Saturday morning (not a shop in town was open) and asked if they could install the steering rack, upper arms and blocks then align it. They said they could but labor was double the other shop. I told them to do it, but the blocks and alignment were priority. Even if I have to bring it back and do the other stuff and pay for the alignment. I needed the blocks for the air bags to pick up the camper in indiana.
Saturday at five I go to pick up the truck, they did everything but the blocks!
Called Nick and he helped me install the new blocks late at night. Had to cut the u bolts off.
Came home and installed the airbags into Sunday morning.
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