Installing Ford’s OEM Commercial Steering Damper on 2002 Ford E-350 Van
Ford Econoline vans, the workhorse of the commercial van world, have always been notoriously hard on front suspension components and tires. The twin I-beam suspension design is a very strong solution for hardworking vehicles, but it has drawbacks that are amplified as the vehicles age. While this type of suspension doesn't normally align as easy and track as straight as its wishbone counterparts, the I-beam trucks are praised for their strength and capabilities both on- and off-road. This is the case with our 2002 Ford E-350. It has 100,000 miles on the clock and is starting to show its age. Ford offers a solution that helps to calm the nervous handling characteristics in the form of a bolt-on steering stabilizer. The assembly was factory installed on the E-450 and E-550 commercial chassis vehicles to help keep control as the added weight amplifies the problem even further. These components can be swapped from the commercial van chassis to the passenger and cargo van chassis with little effort.
We sourced our damper assembly brackets and hardware from the local wrecking yard from a donor vehicle that had seen better days. While these components are available from Ford as new, obtaining them from the yard and adding a little elbow grease yields a modification that can fit nearly everyone's budget. We got our kit removed from the donor, cleaned up with a sandblaster, and added a fresh coat of paint. Installing the components is a relatively straightforward process, as the mounting holes for the chassis bracket come pre-punched from the factory. They only need to be threaded with a tap to the appropriate M10x1.5 size. Once the holes are threaded, the chassis bracket can be installed. The factory hardware is triangular shaped on purpose to keep it in place once installed. Moving along, the tie-rod bracket and corresponding U-bolts and hardware are installed and oriented with the shock mounting stud level with the chassis bracket. There is a natural bend to the tie-rod bracket, and its location on the tie rod is obvious: It matches up perfectly, as many OEM parts should. Once tightened, the Monroe SC2955 damper can be bolted up with the factory hardware. Steering clearance should be checked lock to lock to make sure there is no interference at any point in the tie rod's travel.
With the damper assembly installed, the handling and steering feedback experienced is notably better than without. The van tracks straighter and lacks the nervous and twitchy handling as delivered from Ford. This is a very worthwhile upgrade, especially for those with heavily loaded vehicles or towing heavy trailers.
01 Our components were pulled from a local wrecking yard from a severely damaged commercial transporter based on the Econoline chassis. Despite the surrounding carnage, the damper brackets were in great shape.
02 This is the complete kit from the donor vehicle. There was an issue with the power steering pump that coated the components in a nasty oil and road debris mixture.
03 We thoroughly sandblasted the components clean and verified the pieces were in good condition and free of damage.
04 Several coats of gloss black spray-paint were applied to inhibit rust.
05 There is plenty of room on these vehicles for the damper assembly.
06 The factory plastic air dam was removed using a panel popper to loosen the three fasteners.
07 Three holes exist in the frame from the factory for this stabilizer assembly. They were tapped to match the M10x1.5 securing hardware.
08-10 The bolts were coated with anti-seize compound and the chassis bracket was installed and tightened.
11 The tie-rod bracket and hardware was installed with anti-seize on the U-bolts. Threadlocker is not necessary for this install, as the hardware is purposely deformed to keep it from spinning freely from the factory.
12 Once the U-bolt bracket bolts were started, it was located at the bend in the tie rod with the stud level to the chassis bracket bolt. There is a bend to the damper bracket to match the tie rod perfectly.
13-14 The damper can be installed on the tie-rod bracket stud first, then extended to the chassis bracket and secured with the factory bolt.
15 All that remains at this point is a visual lock-to-lock check to verify the damper does not contact any other components and the reinstallation of the plastic air dam and clips. The installation took us about 20 minutes from start to finish.