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Driving down the highway the other day a wobble got progressively worse until I had to drive the rest of the way home at 30 mph. For the past year though, after driving down the highway for a bit, then stopping for gas, then leaving the station it has a tightening popping sound. Like the sound of tightening a nut super hard, or a door creaking. It goes away once I get up to speed. And it never happens during city driving. I dont know if this is connected to the current wobble problem or not.

So I have a couple noob questions here as I dont have much experience with front end steering and wheels and whatnot.

I guess I dont have ball joints? just a king pin. The king pin was loose so I tightened it and the driver side wheel stopped wiggling up and down. the passenger side doesnt wiggle at all. so i dont think its the bearings. The tie rod ends seemed to have the rubber parts degrading so I am replacing those, but they still seemed ok anyways.

How tight should I tighten the king pin? Also, how tight should I get the nut for the outer tie rod end?? I can't find specs anywhere and its always been like that. 1989 e350 dually cutaway with '94 7.3 turbo crammed in makes it difficult. I see other torque specs for some big ford trucks say 67 lbs for tie rod ends. should I just shoot for that??

also, any idea what the tightening sound is after taking off from a highway stop??

Im about to drive this across the country again so I just want to get it right.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
oh also, before the wobble started on the highway the other day, I could feel I sort of winding or grinding sensation. just like a liiiiitle more friction. somewhere. I almost thought it was just the pavement of the road. but nah, it was something else. so now before getting up to the wobble, I can feel that winding thing again.
 

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When you say you "tightened the kingpins" that doesn't sound possible. Kingpins usually turn inside bushings in the spindle hand held tight in the axle bore. So worn bushings could easily cause your wobble. The bushings and kingpins would need to be replaced to fix it.
As far as the popping, on takeoff, that could be worn u-joints or slip joint on the driveshaft.
The "winding or grinding" could easily be worn wheel bearings.
You need to check the whole front suspension for looseness in any component. Jack the wheel barely off the ground and stick a prybar underneath and move it up/down - in/out while checking for looseness between components.
Or maybe take it to an alignment shop and see what they say.
 

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I guess what I mean by "tightening the kingpin" is that at the top of the knuckle where that zerk is, was loose. The 3rd and and last photos show what I am talking about incase im getting my terminologies wrong. The wheel was moving up and down when I just used my hands. Then I tightened that nut I'm talking about and the up/down movement stopped. I dont feel like I tightened it too much though because I just didnt know
 

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When you say you "tightened the kingpins" that doesn't sound possible. Kingpins usually turn inside bushings in the spindle hand held tight in the axle bore. So worn bushings could easily cause your wobble.
ahh... i see what you are saying I think. Bushing probably got worn down.

I totally thought that the winding sound could be a bearing too. But when I spin the wheel it seems fine. And also, there is no wobble at all now when just moving it by hand. I would like to take it into a shop, cause I want to get it aligned anyways. Just dont want something terrible to happen on the way there. also want to do as much as i can on my own, cause money.
 

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Spinning a tire in the air and it spinning with the van on top of it will present different loads to the bearings. Basically when you hand spin it, it has no appreciable load on it. So the bearings might be on the way out (or not tighened properly, it happens). This truck has the axle trailing arms IIRC. I drove E-350 Ambulance bodies for years (2wd, 460cid) and the trailing link bushings would wear out every 9-12 months on them.

Twin I Beams will present with popping sounds from the trailing link bushings (worn and the axle moves fore and aft), and the inner axle attachment point bushings. It's probably wise to get all the bushings checked and replaced if necessary, have a shop check the bearings (and races) for abnormal wear (replace if necessary).
 

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If you replace the tie rod ends you will also need an alignment done. The shop will know how to inspect and replace/repair/tighten the king pins. Better to do it all now before you have a 100 mile tow bill on the road.
DENNY
 
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