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steering shaft repair

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New User

Dec 10, 2011, 6:38 AM

Post #1 of 5 (2540 views)
steering shaft repair Sign In

I have a 1999 ford f150 with a steering issue. The vehicle drove fine, gave me no indication of a problem in the steering. I pulled up to a stop sign, turned the steering wheel and the front wheels would not turn with the steering wheel. After further investigation, the ujoint coupler at the steering gear was loose on the gear box shaft. There is no indication of wear, stripped splines on either the shaft or the joint, and the pinch bolt was tight. I loosened the bolt, put the joint back on the gear box shaft but i am nervous to drive it now, wondering why it would have come loose to begin with. SHould i replace the ujoing on the steering shaft, or is there something else i should be looking for?

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Dec 10, 2011, 7:19 AM

Post #2 of 5 (2514 views)
Re: steering shaft repair Sign In

This is a new one to me and YES I'd be VERY alarmed at how and why this could happen!?

Hope this pic shows...........

You are saying this coupler just came off the shaft at gearbox but bolt was tight? Something is way wrong and needs investigating as of course one of the two or both are messed up. Do you know of a repair there or accident in truck's history?


Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Discretesignals profile image

Dec 10, 2011, 7:50 AM

Post #3 of 5 (2503 views)
Re: steering shaft repair Sign In

I've seen this happen on vehicles with pinch bolts that hold a knuckle to a ball joint shaft. This might be related to your situation.

Someone at one time may have done repair to the steering system and had to disconnect the gearbox. If you over tighten the pinch bolt, it will stretch and distort the coupler end causing it to be loose. It is important on a pinch design fixture that you tighten the fastener to manufacture's specs.

If the pinch is over torqued causing distortion, then you should replace the coupler for safety sake and tighten the bolt only to 30-40 ft/lbs. You may think that 30-40 ft/lbs isn't much, but its the coupler's pinching action that keeps it tight.

Major misconception and I have seen a lot of people over tightening pinches.

Since we volunteer our time and knowledge, we ask for you to please follow up when a problem is resolved.

New User

Dec 15, 2011, 8:55 PM

Post #4 of 5 (2469 views)
Re: steering shaft repair Sign In

Thank you all for your input. Something i could have mentioned previosusly and did not is this: I purchased the truck from my next door neighbor 2 years ago, and he bought it new in 1999. It has never had any damage of any kind. In fact any work over the years that it has needed, brakes, oil changes etc, I have done on this vehicle, so other than driving it for the first 10 years it was maintained as though it was mine. What i have determined after further investigation and the only thing i can think of that makes snese is, that since the joint came off of the steering box shaft, and the pinch bolt was tight, it is my thinking, that the steering shaft was never properly put on to the steering gear box so the pinch bolt was actually located in the grove as it should have been. I'm not placing blame or anything on anyone, but the steering gear box shaft and the universal joint on the shaft and the pinch bolt are designed to prevent the joint from coming off of the gear box. And as easly as it slid off the steering box shaft, and the bolt being tight, thats the only thing that makes any sense to me. In all of my years of auto repairs and driving i have never experienced anything like this. It is definately one for the books! I have test the sterring by parking with the front wheel against the curb and turning the steering wheel aginst the curb gently, but putting some pressure on the joint, and it seems to be tight like it should be. I drove it today back and forth to work, a bit nervously i will admit, but it functioned and handled just fine. Seems all is well. Well except that the airbag light is now on in the instrument cluster and the cruise does not work. My guess from what i have read is that the wheel was turned too many rotations one direction while the shaft was disconnected and things came unplugged underneath the airbag. Pulling an airbag off of a steering wheel is something i have never tackled before but from what i have read, if i disconnect the battery and let the vehicle sit for at least 5 minutes the airbag can be remove without worry of setting it off and i can take a look at things inside the wheel. Still not sure if i will tackle that or not. Thanks again for your feedback. I am glad i found this site and will monitor it in the future. I may be able to help someone sometime.

Veteran / Moderator
Sidom profile image

Dec 15, 2011, 9:04 PM

Post #5 of 5 (2465 views)
Re: steering shaft repair Sign In

Unfortunately it sounds like you stretched your srs cable so if that's the case it'll need to be replaced. I would pull the code and test it out to confirm it but I've seen this before with racks & gear boxes where the column wasn't secured properly...

You theory sounds on target but I would be tempted to replace the joint anyway. This is really the only link that would make sense in what happened....If your theory is right, then all is good....If DS's theory is the one that hit the bullseye then there could be a problem down the road..

From what you've posted it really doesn't sound like you trust the truck 100% yet.....Replacing that joint at a minimum would give you peace of mind to not worry about it anymore and if the joints are cheap enough buy an extra one and throw it in the back and then you can totally forget about this and get back to normal

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