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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Yesterday, I was the victim of the dreaded "car won't shut off" symptom.

I can see that the coupling pin for the upper and lower rods is gone.

I checked the rods by moving them with key and various tools and they seem to be intact, but I have no idea what shape the gear teeth on the upper actuator are in -- rotating the lock gear moves it, but if there was sufficient stress to pop the pin out, the teeth and/or pin holes might be damaged to some degree as well.

I have to yank the tilt assembly to locate the pin and see if it can simply be reinstalled (and maybe somehow trapped to prevent a recurrence of this failure?) or if I need new actuator rods. I found them online for $11.45 each; is that a good price nowadays?.

I've yanked wheels before (not MN-12) with borrowed tools. I'm considering buying a new, multipurpose puller (Craftsman 47626) and need to know what bolts I need for the steering wheel of my '96 LX birdy.
Will the included 3/8-16 x 4" bolts fit or does it take something else? If the latter, will I need 4" for clearance or is 3" long enough?

I had considered installing a keyless system with remote start, but the ignition switch is used to program the things. I could just use the switch box that I've already dropped for programming, but if the fancy electronics failed, I'd be right back where I am now, so I may as well just go ahead and fix the original, PIA as it will be.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Fortunately, the service manual does a decent job of describing disassembly in this case. Actual photos always help, though, so thanks for the link.

Really the only thing that worries me is the tilt spring which is under considerable compression (well, it's a strong spring, anyway). As this will be a one-man job, I foresee lots of straining (accompanied no doubt by my fair share of profanity) when attempting to push the tilt mechanism back for pivot bolt hole alignment.

I'm wondering whether I could use a couple of ratcheting bar clamps to pull it back while I use my free hands to fix the bolts. hmmm...
 

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When I removed my steering wheel..
I just rented the Steering Wheel Puller from Autozone..IIRC I rented the Steering Wheel Lock Plate Remover as well..

Steering Wheel Puller

Steering Wheel Lock Plate Remover

The nice thing about that Loan-A-Tool program is..It pretty much only costs you gas money..

Hope that helps..



Rayo..
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Yup, I've done the Autozone loaner routine, too, but it's been a while. I've since been buying tools as I need them.
Fortunately, I haven't run into repairs that required exorbitantly priced specialty tools (unless you count the PCM breakout box that I haven't yet acquired). I'll probably rent or borrow super pricey tools or just turn the car over to a shop and cross my fingers that they're competent (which hasn't been the case around these parts).
IIRC, with the loaners you leave a refundable deposit when you take off with their tools, so they don't take a major loss if you "forget" to return them or lose or damage them.

I've seen those plate removers, but the service manual doesn't say anything about needing one for the '96 cars (it does mention the wheel puller itself). I have snap ring pliers. Is the plate remover just a luxury tool for this particular vehicle or would I suffer bigtime regret not having it on hand? Is the snap ring recessed way down farther than the average pliers can get at?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Ok, I see now why I didn't notice the lock plate in the service manual. The plate tool would make it easier to compress the spring when reinstalling the snap ring. The service manual instead suggests the following:

Install steering column upper bearing spring and new bearing retainer on top side of steering column upper bearing spring using a 19.05 x 60.32 mm (0.75 inch by 2.375 inch) PVC pipe
So, does this mean that with their method the ring will slide into position and seat itself w/o using pliers at all? That's what it looks like in the manual illustration.
 

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Ok, I see now why I didn't notice the lock plate in the service manual. The plate tool would make it easier to compress the spring when reinstalling the snap ring. The service manual instead suggests the following:



So, does this mean that with their method the ring will slide into position and seat itself w/o using pliers at all? That's what it looks like in the manual illustration.
I don't have the service manual in front of me at the moment, but with the Loan-A-Tools from Autozone..

Getting things apart, and back together was a piece of cake..IIRC I used a couple small picks to get the snap ring on, and off..

Whatever is easiest for you..


Rayo..
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
I purchased the Craftsman puller kit as linked above and, not surprisingly, the included bolts didn't fit.

To answer my own Q, and in case anyone else happens upon this thread looking for the specs, I removed the airbag and determined the puller holes on the stock '96 LX steering wheel are 5/16-24 thread.

None of the auto parts or hardware stores have the proper bolt in hex flange style (to match those in the Craftsman kit). I may try a local Mom & Pop bolt supply house later on. Fastenal does not have them. A quick Googling turned up a supplier: Allen's fasteners

For now, I picked up regular 3", grade 5, hex cap screws and washers from Lowe's; total price $1.52. Good luck finding 4" length at the usual places -- from a quick eyeballing with the puller tool before I reinstalled the airbag to go parts hunting, it seems 3" will be long enough anyway.

I'm considering ordering the 2 actuator rods before the tear down, since I feel confident the pin wouldn't have just popped out w/o good reason, such as a crack on the upper rod pin socket.

I suppose it's worth dropping around $25 on 2 chunks of plastic (and new pin) to ensure I won't have to pull the column apart again anytime soon -- assuming I have no issues with bearings!
Too bad the bums didn't make these actuators out of quality metal instead (same goes for speedo gears and most especially the crap intake manifold that cracked!!). I'd have gladly paid a few extra bucks on the new car in '96 to avoid these repairs. But, OTOH, I'm sure the makers don't expect people to keep their cars as long as I tend to. /rant
 

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You guys all just have bad luck, I didn't need a puller on my wheel... :tongue:
 

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You know, I have never needed a steering wheel puller on a Ford. I found if you pull hard on the top, then bottom, then left, then right, then repeat, it'll come loose by itself really easily.
 

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Also, you should only need the upper actuator. The little metal pin breaks. That happened on my Thunderbird about a month or two ago. And, now the same exact issue on my 95 Taurus... Damnit.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
It seems you're making this harder on yourself than it has to be..lol
Matter of perspective. I wanted a new balancer puller for my tool chest. In rereading the OP, I can see how I might have been a tad ambiguous on that point.
The Craftsman is only $18; not bad for a USA-made kit. It seems to be rugged enough to last.
Add a buck and a half and it's a functional steering wheel puller (for this car; I may need different bolts for other vehicles, but they're cheap, so collecting an assortment won't hurt much). Actually, I already had a cap screw that would have worked, but only one (figures!).

Anyhow, I'll have this tool on hand for future repairs or mods to the column, plus it'll pull other items that a dedicated, 2-hole wheel puller won't (or would have trouble with). Some of you guys probably have several pro puller kits, but I didn't even have one decent one, so now seemed like the perfect time to get it.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Also, you should only need the upper actuator. The little metal pin breaks. That happened on my Thunderbird about a month or two ago. And, now the same exact issue on my 95 Taurus... Damnit.
My local Ford stealer had several of each in stock. These are used in some later models as well -- the packaging says revision August 2004. Ford obviously knows how commonly they fail (since they designed them that way), as most stealers around here stock them.

I didn't want to chance the old lower rod over the long term, since most of the other plastic on my car has embrittlement issues, so I bought both -- $35.12 for the pair, including tax.
The base price is definitely less online, but once you add the ridiculous S&H fees (for two relatively small, lightweight chunks of plastic), the deal is far less attractive.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
edit: lock cylinder bore bearing retainer removed

I have the front part of the column (tilt assembly) off the car and discovered that apparently the lower actuator cannot be removed w/o a complete teardown of the column.
The spring is held by a metal bar which in turn is blocked by a thick collar on the steering shaft.
I found no way to push in the bar toward the shaft in order to release the spring and slide the plastic forward past it. Thanks a helluva lot, Ford.

Furthermore, the lower actuator can't be pulled out far enough to maneuver the upper actuator pin into it. I examined the old upper rod under magnification and can't find any cracks after repressing the pin into it. The pin didn't fit extremely tightly, but it's pretty snug.
I was going to put it all back together and see how long it lasts, but found out the lower actuator can't be pulled forward enough.

I thought about trying to press the pin in from the other (steering shaft) side of the lower actuator, since there's a slot in the column housing where one might could get a tool in there to push with.
If I can't do that, I'll have to yank the entire column for a complete teardown, as I refuse to file down the pin or actuator head in order to squeeze it in there.

edit: Filing of the upper actuator is begging for trouble, IMHO. If the pin is filed down, there's that much less contact area with the lower actuator pin slot, possibly causing wear (digging) of the slot, thereby weaking it, potentially leading to cracking of a part that apparently doesn't typically crack.
If the plastic head is filed down, an already weak design will be made even flimsier, because there will be that much less plastic holding in the pin.
This pin popping out issue could have been easily prevented, IMHO, by simply having molded in a back capture plate/plane into the lower actuator pin slot. It seems the pin slips out in that direction -- the slot in the steering shaft bore allows it to freely enter that area as it loosens.
Since the bore slot is necessary for lower actuator spring bar movement, the only way to attack the problem is on the actuator itself and I see no reason why that side of the pin slot couldn't have been molded with a back plane to trap the pin. This actuator is probably nylon, which would make solvent gluing a trap plate to it after the fact (and having it stay on) nigh on impossible.
One could try screwing in a thin metal plate, but the screws would weaken the plastic around the slot and an equivalent amount of material the thickness of the plate would need to be trimmed off the actuator, further weakening it.

edit 2: Success! I used a different pair of small needle nose pliers with serrated jaws and was finally able to grab the upper tang of the lock cylinder bore bearing retainer for removal (bottom tang wouldn't budge, YMMV). Fortunately, I don't seem to have broken any of the tiny clips on the back of it. I did, however, scratch the top side a bit during the previous effort, due to tool slippage.
If you attempt this repair, don't bother using any tool but the aforementioned pliers (ones with tips that fit well in the tang slot) and clean up any grease to avoid tool slippage.
The retainer looks delicate and you may be afraid you're going to shatter it, but it does come out relatively easily (and suddenly, so be careful not to let it twist in your pliers or otherwise become damaged).
 

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I filed mine down, put it in, and have no problems as of yet. I'll cross that bridge once I get there :tongue:
 

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I gave up after wasting a whole weekend trying to fish out the steel pin. Took it to a mechanic, they had the pin out and new actuator installed in under an hour. Cost me $100 though...
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I gave up after wasting a whole weekend trying to fish out the steel pin.
Did you try using a telescoping magnetic pickup tool? I was lucky -- my pin fell to the floor as I was removing the tilt assembly.
 

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time to bring life to yet another dead thread...

Looks like I have a very similar problem. My question is, since I have a spare steering column complete with wheel (sadly it has a blown airbag), would it be easier to disassemble both columns and use parts from the good one to fix the old one, or would it be easier to just install the other (working) steering column? how hard is it to separate the column at the tilt joint?

Oh yea... How do I remove the blown airbag? Whats holding it on?
 

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time to bring life to yet another dead thread...

Looks like I have a very similar problem. My question is, since I have a spare steering column complete with wheel (sadly it has a blown airbag), would it be easier to disassemble both columns and use parts from the good one to fix the old one, or would it be easier to just install the other (working) steering column? how hard is it to separate the column at the tilt joint?

Oh yea... How do I remove the blown airbag? Whats holding it on?

The back of the steering wheel has two bolts under plastic covers. They should pop right out with a flathead screwdriver and the bolts are 8mm iirc.
 
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