Stop Wandering! - Ford Super Duty Steering Fix
How To Get the Slop Out Of Your Steering
No matter how solidly built or heavy-duty a truck is, the simple fact is that parts will eventually begin to wear out. Sure, most of our beloved eight-luggers will go for more than 100,000 miles—even with hard use on most of the factory equipment—but once you start approaching the 200K mark, you can be assured things are getting loose.
Our project F-350 has 192,000 miles on the odometer now, and for the past 15,000 or so we’ve been noticing the steering and frontend getting more and more sloppy. A cursory inspection underneath while a friend lightly moved the steering wheel back and forth revealed multiple parts that were moving in ways in which Ford never intended. Though it was not to a dangerous point of imminent mechanical failure, all that slop made driving our F-350 much more of a dreaded chore than a pleasure. Since it’s an early Super Duty with a leaf spring front suspension and the notable low level of caster, it provided for a rather white-knuckle driving experience—especially when towing. It was time to accept the fact that we needed a full rebuild.
"No matter how solidly built or heavy-duty a truck is, the simple fact is that parts will eventually begin to wear out."
There are some excellent high-dollar upgrades for front end rebuilds out there, but it honestly wasn’t in the budget this time. Perhaps next time. For this rebuild, we decided to stick with readily available stock-style parts from the aftermarket that most of you who use your trucks for work will likely opt for. That makes the rebuild straightforward and cost-effective—and hopefully capable of going another 100,000-plus miles.
Once we gathered up our needed parts, we called up Frank and Charlie Gilliland at South Bay 4x4 in Torrance, California. One thing we can state for sure is that South Bay 4x4 is one of the very best shops to get your off-road or heavy-duty truck worked on in Southern California. Frank and Charlie are not only professional and skillful, but they work quickly. Despite having to swap out all four ball joints, all of the steering assembly and track bar, the steering gear box, and the power steering pump, we were done in a day. That’s even with us slowing down to take photos.
So if your ’99 to ’03 4x4 Super Duty is feeling sloppy in the frontend, here’s what to look for and the procedure for swapping it out. You can do this at home, provided you have the tools. But if you’re within driving distance of SoCal, we’d say it’s worth your time and money to give Frank and Charlie a call. After they were finished, our steering felt tighter and more responsive and confidence-inspiring than we had ever felt it. It was well worth the time and money.