Steering too loose

  • 1976 FORD F-150
  • 5.9L
  • V8
  • 2WD
  • 60,578 MILES
I have a 1976 stock ford F150. When I received it only hand 39000 miles on it. The steering has always been loose. It is very touchy, when you turn the wheel 1/2 turn it turns very quick. I want to know if I can tighten it up. I tow a 32 ft rv and I fight it all the time. It has no simmer or shakes but feels loose. Can the steering box be tighten up. Thanks Doug
Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014 AT 3:30 PM

1 Reply

  • 33,763 POSTS
There are adjustments on steering gear boxes, but they require very tiny changes. If you over-tighten them, you'll really be in for a miserable ride. Before you go looking for the complicated stuff, have the steering and suspension systems inspected at a tire and alignment shop. Ford has always had a real lot of trouble with parts separating leading to loss of control and crashes, so you don't want to overlook a safety-related problem like worn ball joints or tie rod ends.

They will also look for looseness in the steering system, and if their rules allow, they'll take you into the shop and show you any loose parts. You can do that yourself with a helper if you know what to look for.

If you have the twin I-beam front suspension, the truck came from the factory with a front tire wear problem that can be reduced but never eliminated. Part of that involves the strut rod bushings where those bars attach to brackets on the frame. Any movement there will allow the wheels to change direction, then you have to counteract that with the steering wheel. That's a suspension problem, not actually a steering problem.

Less common is "memory steer" caused by a tight ball joint. The steering wheel will stay wherever you put it, and you have to tug it back to center after turning a corner. That makes for a very miserable truck to drive too, and a lot of people refer to it as "loose" steering. True loose steering means you can rotate the steering wheel perhaps 1/8 revolution each way and not see any movement in the wheels.

Also look at the front tire wear patterns. If you feel a choppy or raised edge on one side of each block of tread, "total toe" is not adjusted properly. You ARE going to find that on the right front tire, so look on the left one for this. Incorrect total toe means the two front wheels are steering in different directions. The truck is going to follow the tire with the most weight on it which is usually the right one since roads lean to the right so water runs off. When the left tire hits a bump, the truck will momentarily follow that one.
Was this
Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014 AT 3:57 PM

Please login or register to post a reply.

Sponsored links