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  #1  
Old 05-30-2011, 08:38 AM
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Location: Easton, MA
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How to replace Lower Steering Shaft (04-08)

If your steering wheel is getting hard to turn and won't return coming out of a corner, the lower steering shaft may be the culprit.
The lower steering shaft connects the stem of the steering column to the rack and pinion unit.
This is a short shaft that contains two small u-joints which due to their size,
can't be equipped with grease fittings. (I agree- lousy design)
The shaft is expandable to ease its installation. (stop laughing)

Please excuse the pictures,
I'm not sure why they load so big.

There are two bolts that secure it in place, the upper bolt is 13mm,
the lower is 10mm.
Turn the steering wheel so that the lower bolt is facing the radiator to allow you access.
(Spray Liquid Wrench or PB Blaster on it now to help remove it later)
[IMG]Click the image to open in full size.[/IMG]

To keep the steering wheel in proper alignment,
I installed a pair of vise-grips to hold the upper shaft stem.
(This will turn on its own if you don't do this).
>>>DO NOT FORGET TO REMOVE THE VISE-GRIPS WHEN FINISHED.<<<
Click the image to open in full size.

Once the upper bolt is removed, pull the top from the upper stem.
Click the image to open in full size.
At this point compress the shaft and push the top under the radiator fluid supply hose, (it's tight, but it will go).

Now comes the tricky part, the lower connection will probably be rusted to the shaft.
If you look closely, there is a slot where the bolt clamps this in place.
I hammered a screwdriver in to loosen it, (your long 1/2" socket extension or a piece of pipe helps).
>>>Leave the screwdriver in it to ease removal<<<.
If you remove the screwdriver, the metal closes just enough to make it difficult to remove.
Click the image to open in full size.

The shaft removed, screwdriver still in place....
Click the image to open in full size.

Next I wire brushed the end of the upper shaft.
Click the image to open in full size.

Wipe the rack and pinion post, and apply some anti-seize to both.
Click the image to open in full size.

Install the new shaft under the radiator supply hose, bottom first.
Click the image to open in full size.

Good Luck...this took me about 1 1/2 hours to complete.
(messing with the camera included)

Last edited by mjb1032; 01-21-2013 at 08:18 AM.
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  #2  
Old 05-30-2011, 11:55 AM
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Well done sir, I have a buddy that was saying his father in laws is doing the same think. I see free beer in my future thanks to you
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  #3  
Old 06-02-2011, 11:01 AM
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Where did you order the lower shaft from? And if you don't mind me asking how much did it run you? I'm getting tired of WD40'ing mine everyday so I don't need to hands to steer! Thanks.
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Old 06-02-2011, 11:37 AM
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I just saw this, thanks for the nice write-up. I have copied it and indexed it in the Articles and How To section. We appreciate you helping make this site a better tool.
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Old 06-02-2011, 04:24 PM
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Mine has been giving me issues for a few years now. Every now and again I have to WD40 it and/or get some oil on the joint which helps for a few weeks.

My stealership quoted me a few hundred bucks to fix it. Looks like I should be able to do this in a few hours...especially with my very limited mechanical aptitude.

Where did you get the new lower shaft? How much? Part Number?

Thanks!! Great write up!

Last edited by Bluejay; 06-02-2011 at 04:27 PM. Reason: language
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  #6  
Old 06-04-2011, 02:19 AM
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I have this happening as well, but my mechanic said few years ago when I bought the truck to let it be because of the expense to change it. Might have to talk to my dad about this one. Going to grease it in the mean time
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Old 06-05-2011, 01:49 AM
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I hope that is all it takes to fix your issues. I had a stiff steering and the first dealership where I bought my last 3 new vehicles said there was nothing wrong. Took it to another dealer and they diagnosed the rack as bad. I ended up replacing the rack and pump, with labor I came in at $1000. Fixed my issue, but the steel on aluminum in the rack got fouled up some how and starting chewing on each other which also took out the pump.
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  #8  
Old 06-05-2011, 07:57 AM
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The shaft u-joints can be checked by removing the bottom bolt, and pulling the bottom from the rack (leaving the top end connected).
Now you can check the ease-of-movement of both joints.
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Old 06-09-2011, 12:19 AM
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I tried ordering the lower shaft from Tasca and they don't have any and said they're on backorder. I called Ford and they said they don't have any and don't have an ETA for when more will be available. Anybody know where i can get the lower shaft soon?
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Old 06-09-2011, 05:59 AM
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A++ man! My truck started having those conditions a few weeks ago but it comes and goes I figured its my ball joints getting ready to snap. Im also intrested in the cost of the part and where to get it. Thanks for the write up man
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  #11  
Old 06-20-2011, 10:49 PM
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i don't quite understand the exact way these parts link and work together and what exactly makes the part above "bad". i mean, is it rust build-up to the point where the part corrodes too much to work right anymore? it's really hard to tell, even from your good pics. the damn thing is so buried under everything in there! anyway, from my experience-mine got stiff after sitting and not being driven much due to having a work truck for my job. i tried lubing the hell out of the joints with seafoam. that worked for about a week. i then used an old-fashioned oil can with old-fashioned oil. i haven't had a problem in a month and the steering feels like new. i dripped it down from above in the engine compartment very liberally.
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  #12  
Old 06-21-2011, 07:44 AM
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Dozer,
The steering column exits the firewall at a (+-)45 degree angle, and the rack and pinion shaft faces upward.
This shaft with two u-joints provides the flexibility that's needed to bend while turning.
The lower u-joint gets wet and rusts, which leads to it becoming hard to turn.
I sprayed, oiled, lubed, etc, but the tough-turning always came back.
MB

Last edited by mjb1032; 06-21-2011 at 07:46 AM.
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  #13  
Old 06-21-2011, 09:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjb1032 View Post
Dozer,
The steering column exits the firewall at a (+-)45 degree angle, and the rack and pinion shaft faces upward.
This shaft with two u-joints provides the flexibility that's needed to bend while turning.
The lower u-joint gets wet and rusts, which leads to it becoming hard to turn.
I sprayed, oiled, lubed, etc, but the tough-turning always came back.
MB
ALL great info-thanks. mine is a 2006, so now that i'm more aware, i'm hoping maybe to keep mine well-lubed to last a little longer anyway......btw-would you happen to have any close-up pics of the rusted shaft after you removed it? they would be kinda cool to see.
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  #14  
Old 06-22-2011, 07:48 AM
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No, It wasn't too rusty, the u-joint was though.
I only wiped off the lower rack stem, it was as you see it in the pic with the arrow.
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Old 06-26-2011, 10:17 AM
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Click the image to open in full size.

Did this yesterday, fixed a long standing problem, thanks!

Got the new part from Tasco, it is a bit different than the original. I found it easiest to remove the lower joint first. Turn the steering wheel so that the bolt on the lower joint faces the forward engine compartment and remove the 11mm(or 10, I've forgotten) bolt from the shaft, accessing it from inside of the engine compartment. Then turn the steering wheel counter-clockwise a quarter turn or so until the slot is visible from underneath the car. Drive a long, blunt screwdiver into the slot from underneath the car and the joint will pop right off. The upper one is easier. As mentioned by th OP, clean up the posts so that the new assembly will slide on easy, I used steel wool. And use some anti-seize. You should also use thread-lock or sealer when replacing the bolts, you really don't want this puppy to come off unexpectedly!

I also found that this truck will not run with the air filter out, at least at idle. The airflow over the MAF is apparently too turbulent. Cleaned the MAF with a couple of shots of electronic parts cleaner and that seems to have helped a rough idle.

There was one partially seized joint in the lower steering assembly, it feels much better now! Fixed two problems in under two hours, a very successful effort, thanks mjb1032
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Old 06-26-2011, 10:17 AM


 
 
 
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