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Discussion Starter #1
I replaced inner/outer tie rods/ends, upper/lower ball joints, strut rod bushings, sway bar end links, and that is just the front of the car. It also has a new brake booster and master cylinder, new rotors.

When I drive straight, no trouble. Turn the wheel a little, like a lane change, and the wheel wants to stay there. Is that the rack going out? The power steering pump seems to be louder too. Steering is stiffer than when I first got the car too... 4 wheel alignment has been done after new wheels/tires, to rule that out.
 

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I think you pegged it. The rack. Same problem with my 98 Mark VIII.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Well, thanks for the quick reply!
Did you flush the power steering hoses out when you changed it? Do you have to also replace the pump with it at the same time?
I wonder what it is inside the rack that goes bad... Do you know, can I possibly rebuild it, or is it not worth it?
 

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Buy the re- manufactured unit!

Personally, I would just buy the re manufactured unit and eliminate further problems. Here's a price from www.Rockauto.com The core charge could be easier on your wallet if you bought locally from NAPA. I wouldn't trust Autozone or others for the unit. JMHO

1995 FORD THUNDERBIRD LX 4.6L 281cid V8 FI (W) : Steering : Rack and Pinion Complete Unit Price Core Total Advice
A-1 CARDONE Part # 22215 More Info {[Rack & Pinion] Complete Unit; Reman.}
Hydraulic Power Steering; Includes Inner Tie Rods

Part Image
$100.79 $75.00 $175.79
Add to Cart
APSCO Part # 3628 {Remanufactured}
With Power Steering (Only 2 Remaining)

$111.79 $75.00 $186.79
Add to Cart

ACDELCO Part # 3618510 More Info {#88991136}
GEAR,STRG (REMAN-RACK & PINION-POWER COMPLETE)

Part Image
$134.99 $110.00 $244.99
 

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Discussion Starter #5
For a hundred bucks, yeah, not worth the work and wait... I have nothing left to try to solve this problem... I figure with almost 200,000 miles on this car, it is likely the rack has reached it's service life? :)
 

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Personally, I would just buy the re manufactured unit and eliminate further problems. Here's a price from www.Rockauto.com The core charge could be easier on your wallet if you bought locally from NAPA. I wouldn't trust Autozone or others for the unit. JMHO

1995 FORD THUNDERBIRD LX 4.6L 281cid V8 FI (W) : Steering : Rack and Pinion Complete Unit Price Core Total Advice
A-1 CARDONE Part # 22215 More Info {[Rack & Pinion] Complete Unit; Reman.}
Hydraulic Power Steering; Includes Inner Tie Rods

Part Image
$100.79 $75.00 $175.79
Add to Cart
APSCO Part # 3628 {Remanufactured}
With Power Steering (Only 2 Remaining)

$111.79 $75.00 $186.79
Add to Cart

ACDELCO Part # 3618510 More Info {#88991136}
GEAR,STRG (REMAN-RACK & PINION-POWER COMPLETE)

Part Image
$134.99 $110.00 $244.99
I heard bad things about non-Ford racks and fuel pumps.
 

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I heard bad things about non-Ford racks and fuel pumps.
+1, went through multiple pumps on a car, all were noisy as hell and lasted a month or two before failing (lifetime warranty from O'Reillys). That car still doesn't have working power steering.
 

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I'd wait a couple of weeks before you replace the rack; :) The ball joints/rod ends, all require some wear to loosen up a bit.

It will be really stiff for the first week, less the second, and so on.

The symptom of the rack being bad is no assist suddenly while turning, or play in the steering wheel.

Mine wore out with tons of play... and it really sux to change out.

It suddenly being stiff after replacing all the stuff in the front end is totally normal.

I've done that to both cars so far. :)
 

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I'd wait a couple of weeks before you replace the rack; :) The ball joints/rod ends, all require some wear to loosen up a bit.

It will be really stiff for the first week, less the second, and so on.

The symptom of the rack being bad is no assist suddenly while turning, or play in the steering wheel.

Mine wore out with tons of play... and it really sux to change out.

It suddenly being stiff after replacing all the stuff in the front end is totally normal.

I've done that to both cars so far. :)
Thats what Ive been noticing with my 95, my 96 had a nice stiff feel to it, but I feel a lot of play in the wheel now.

:(
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Well, it was hell to do, but I replaced the rack. It didn't take long to bleed the air out at all, and I ran fresh fluid through the reservoir and lines before putting the new rack in.
It drove fine, even with my tape measure toe-in adjustment. On my second trip of the day all went well, but then when I got home, all of a sudden, the wheel got stiff again, and something started squeaking like crazy like some bushings again... Does it even with the engine off. When it was running, it seemed like the engine was laboring, and I could hear what sounded like the IAC valve moaning. I replaced the IAC a little while ago. Looks like I will still have to replace lower control arms and all it's bushings and hope (again) that this will finally cure my annoying problem. I feel as though the early stiffness while driving is temporary, but when I pulled up in my driveway it fel like I lost power steering again. No idea what the heck is going on. I do know that I will never replace a rack again in a Thunderbird! Easy to get out, murder to put back in because of the lines and reattaching them. If anyone wants some tips, let me know, and I may be able to save you some time. One tip includes removing the oil filter on the 4.6. The other has to do with the line reattachment.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I had to post this in another thread, as it was a follow-up to what I thought was another problem, but turned out to be suspension related, not brake:
Today I got a phone call at work from my wife. She said she was backing out of the driveway, went to turn the wheel straight and something popped. She got out and saw that the driver side front wheel was resting up against the top of the wheel well! I had no idea what coud have happened. I got home, had diner, and jacked the car up (it was sitting in the sand of my yard, half on the street). The freakin ball joint was pulled out of its socket, and the spindle was resting on the inside of the rim! It gouged a groove all the way around the wheel maybe twice before she stopped. I had just replaced the lower ball joints two years ago! Well, I called Advance, which is across the street from me, and they had one left LCA in stock. I grabbed it, and in 45 minutes, I had it on and was driving the car. I must have got the camber pretty close since it drives quite nice now... The best part? No more pulling! No more groaning sound either. it was that blasted ball joint. the other LCA will be done soon, believe me!
 

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I replaced inner/outer tie rods/ends, upper/lower ball joints, strut rod bushings, sway bar end links, and that is just the front of the car. It also has a new brake booster and master cylinder, new rotors.
Doesn't this say you replaced the ball joints? :confused:

We can't give you good advice if you leave things out like "the ball joints are ready to fall out", lol.

I'm glad no one got hurt; Just think if that had happened at 80 on the freeway...
 

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Same thing happened to my mom with her '93 some years back; luckily it failed on a turn at only 15 MPH.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Doesn't this say you replaced the ball joints? :confused:

We can't give you good advice if you leave things out like "the ball joints are ready to fall out", lol.

I'm glad no one got hurt; Just think if that had happened at 80 on the freeway...
Yeah, Grog, I DID replace the ball joints, two years ago, with Moog replacement, I believe... I rented the tool to press them in, pulled the LCA out to do it, pressed the new joints in, and this is how they treat me. That is why I bought complete LCA's this time.
The ball joints gave no indication of 'falling out' like you say... Even the dealership that did the alignment didn't catch it. There was no play in the joints whatsoever. When I look at the ball, it looks pretty scarred up under the grease. No idea why the short life, but I was pissed!
 

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You have to have the knuckle completely loose to check them well; I usually swap shocks ever two years, so that's when I check mine.

If they're bad, they will move around while you lift up on the knuckle; you can feel the play. Once you know what you are looking for, you can put a 2x4 in between and pry on the ball joint, and see if it moves.

Stiff steering with a bad ball joint means it is working its way out the hole... :(
 

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Discussion Starter #17
The ball joints were my first thought, if you look back at some of my old threads... The funny thing is, the problem started not long after I replaced them! Even the alignment shop didn't catch it. (they did the first time, on the original set).

Anyway, you say you swap shocks every couple years... Why is that? Do you race your car or something, or what causes your shocks to wear so quickly? I want to put lowering springs with new shocks in soon... OEM seem to be working fine still...
 
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