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99 & up 7.3L Power Stroke Engine and Drivetrain Discussion of the 99 & up 7.3L Power Stroke diesel engine and drivetrain in the 1999-Up Super Duty trucks and Excursions. No gas engine discussion allowed except on transmissions and drivetrain that pertain to all models. Please confine discussion of topics in this forum to those items that are specific to the 7.3L Power Stroke engine.

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Old 12-28-2006, 08:02 PM   #1 (permalink)
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steering wanders

Just got new tires on my truck and it's much better than with the bald ones that were on it. But, (there's always one of those, isn't there?) I still have a wandering problem. Seems to drift a bit one way, I correct, then it will drift the other. A really light touch on the wheel helps but the second you relax, off it goes. The steering pump makes some noise but it seems like every Ford I ride in has a noisy pump. Can you adjust the steering box? My Chilton manual doesn't show it. Alignment? Seems like that would just pull one way. Help.
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Old 12-28-2006, 08:20 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: steering wanders

Check it out on a road without a crown. Double check tire pressure. Run the tires at 50# front and rear. Unless loaded. Check wheel bearings adj. How much mileage on the new tires? Could switch tires front to back? Is any load unbalanced?( not enough load on the front?) If nothing works get out the wallet. Most likly you will need ball joints and tie rod ends. Got the same truck with only 65 thousand miles and will replace the stock batt. tomorrow.Shop around for a price. Prices are all over the place. Good luck
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Old 12-28-2006, 08:35 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: steering wanders

Replaced the only bad tie rod end we could find. Ball joints seemed tight but haven't done a real thorough test. Tires were brand new today, less than 70 miles now. Truck was empty, not pulling anything.
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Old 12-28-2006, 08:49 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: steering wanders

Mine has had the same problem. After alignment,new tires,new shocks, inspecting tie rods, ball joints, wheel bearings etc, fiddling with the steering box preload adjustment, I just gave up and got used to it. The next thing to try after all that would be a steering box from Red Head steering gears. I have heard Red head steering gears make a big difference. I may try that sometime.
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Old 12-29-2006, 01:02 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: steering wanders

Did you just start fiddling with the steering box farmerdave? Or did you find instructions someplace. I did that on an old '67 Chevy 3/4 ton and helped a bunch - but it four inches of wheel play.
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Old 12-29-2006, 03:17 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: steering wanders

It sounds like you've verified that the ball joints, wheel bearings, tie rod ends, drag link joints, etc are all OK? There is a Ford procedure for tightening the steering box but hardly anybody uses it. If I recall, it required some special tooling.

I went thru the same thing with my truck and about 1/2 turn "tighter" on the steering box allen screw made the truck MUCH easier to drive. My suggestion is to go in 1/8 turn increments and retest each time. Don't get too greedy or you'll accelerate the wear on the gear and could possibly bind things up.

Good Luck!
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Old 12-29-2006, 03:43 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: steering wanders

IMO what you are feeling is caster related or rather lack of caster. Caster is an imaginary line through the ball joints. Basically the more the upper ball joint is leaning rearward, the more straight line stability and return to center the steering wheel will have. Most of our trucks sit waaaaay raked out (rear 3-4" higher). With a load on the truck, the truck will level out AND improve the caster angle. My 350 is a wandering barge with no load... hook up to my trailer and it pulls straight as a train on some tracks.
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Old 12-29-2006, 07:08 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: steering wanders

Thanks for that bit of info dysfunctional, I always wondered why these trucks drive so much better with a load on them!
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Old 12-29-2006, 10:55 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: steering wanders

With the last set of tires I bought, my truck also seemed to have that wandering feeling. I even changed my shocks thinking they might have something to do with the problem. It still felt strange driving though. What fixed mine was to get some miles on the tires.
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Old 12-30-2006, 07:49 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: steering wanders

The caster thing makes sense. Think I'll hook up the trailer and take it for a drag just to check. Wiggled wheel bearings and pry barred the ball joints and there was no movement. Thanks for the tip on going slow on the box. That's what's so great about this board, somebody is bound to know the answers.
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Old 12-30-2006, 08:18 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: steering wanders

yea,pullingdoublezero, I just started fiddling with the steering box screw, on hindsight probably not the smartest course of action. I ended up geting too tight and the steering got "notchy" in the center and drove worse. There is the danger of the steering actually locking up at that point, and I may have caused extra wear in the end.
Reading here about the castor issue makes a lot of sense, when I pull a trailer mine drives nicer too. Has me thinking about asking my alignment shop about that one.
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Old 01-02-2007, 08:39 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: steering wanders

Have you had the toe-in checked. It is very important that it is set on Zero degrees. If you have even a little toe-out it will want to wander on you.
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Old 01-02-2007, 02:18 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: steering wanders

[ QUOTE ]
The caster thing makes sense. Think I'll hook up the trailer and take it for a drag just to check. Wiggled wheel bearings and pry barred the ball joints and there was no movement. Thanks for the tip on going slow on the box. That's what's so great about this board, somebody is bound to know the answers.

[/ QUOTE ]

My truck pulls "straighter" with my trailer hooked up as well. But I believe that is mainly caused by the anti sway/dual cam distrubution bars I use. In my opinion, this is not really a problem by design (as mentioned by others) but rather a problem caused by worn parts, incorrect settings, etc. For example, my truck drove straight as an arrow when it was new. The dreaded "wander" didn't show up until 50,000 miles or so. If this was caused by the way Ford designed it (relative to front/rear ride height, "rake", factory caster alignment settings) I believe it would have done it when new as well.

Let us know what fixes it. Happy new year!
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