Power Steering Question


Alan_nc

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So the steering on the truck is way to easy. You can't feel the road at all. Almost no effort to turn the steering wheel.
I have had several newer trucks and cars and all had more feeling (steering wheel was harder to turn) in the steering even though all had power steering.
Was that just a 90ies thing or is mine not working the way it should?
 


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You may have worn parts that are adding excess play to the system.
 

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So the steering on the truck is way to easy. You can't feel the road at all. Almost no effort to turn the steering wheel.
I have had several newer trucks and cars and all had more feeling (steering wheel was harder to turn) in the steering even though all had power steering.
Was that just a 90ies thing or is mine not working the way it should?
I've experienced that when I would over inflate the front tires. I know it sounds silly and its a no-brainer but it does happen and it does no harm to check your tire pressure anyways whether or not this may be your problem..... I've also noticed this "light" steering wheel when I had a load in the bed of the truck..... I would take note of both of those possibilities first..... I know this sounds silly but you'd be surprised how easy it is to overlook.
 

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When making a turn down a street, 90% of the way through the turn let go of the wheel just slightly. Does the wheel want to turn back to straight ahead as you continue down the street or does it hang there still wanting to make the turn? It won't come back 100% but it should try to straighten out significantly. If it stays mostly locked in the same radius and wants to keep going around by itself, you most likely have an alignment issue. Not enough caster.
 

Alan_nc

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Steering returns fine. Just takes such a light touch to turn the wheel. Truck doesn't drift when driving and seems to track straight down the road.

I'll check tire pressure.
 

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More caster would help road feel but you'll need to find an alignment shop that will install and adjust the caster/camber slugs properly. The original slugs don't easily get both the caster and camber in spec so most get the camber set to prevent tire wear and the caster falls where it falls. You need an experienced tech who is willing to take longer than usual to get it right. Twin I beam's don't make an alignment tech's life easy.
 

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I've been pretty-much a life-long professional mechanic (incl 20 years w/Ford, prior to retirement), with only a few brief "detours" for other professions, but I've never been an alignment tech. From my trade-school training, however, I recall that (assuming equal tire inflation) a vehicle will "pull" towards the side of most negative caster and/or most positive camber. Soooo......having 'em, relatively even from side-to-side is fairly important. I also recall that the caster specs for most old-school vehicles equipped with manual steering called for it being more negative than their brethren counterparts having P/S.

This difference in caster specs was due to the fact that negative caster reduces steering effort - which helped with those vehicles not having power assist. However, it also reduces the desirable "self-centering" feature.....i.e., a vehicles' tendency to return the steering wheel to a centered position after a turn, AND the stability that reduces "wandering". As pointed out by some, while it has a few undesirable characteristics, negative caster reduces steering effort. Soooo......if increased effort is desired, adding positive caster (king-pin angle tilted rearward from vertical at the top) should help slightly.

On Ford's twin I-beam suspension, there's only one "factory" method that I'm aware of for adjusting caster and camber on their 2WD trucks.....namely the eccentric on the top ball joint. While that adjustment is primarily intended to adjust camber .(as pointed out by Walt).......the resulting caster .can fall into two different settings when camber is correct. This being due to the ball-joint pivot stud being placed toward the front or the rear. When proper camber is achieved with the stud toward the rear......it will be in the position yielding the most-positive caster (what you apparently need). Likewise, when proper camber is achieved with the stud closest to the front......the caster will be more negative.

Other than those two choices, caster cannot be adjusted independently of the camber, AFAIK......without intentionally twisting the I-beam(s) or bending the radius arm(s) ~ requiring a LOT of heat and specialized equipment. .
 
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Alan_nc

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Thank you. Explanation was very clear.
Now just for a gut feel thing: Was the power steering in the 90ies Ford vehicles given a lighter steer/feel than todays vehicles?
 

TurboRay

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To the best of my alleged knowledge, the only thing that could affect the amount of required or perceived steering assist (greater or lesser), other than alignment, is the "yield strength" of the little torsion bar in the hydraulic valve located in the gear box.......something that's obviously NON-adjustable. If that bar is weaker (less crossection), it will yield more easily, causing quicker hydraulic assist ~ resulting in less input effort.

BTW - the notion of increasing or decreasing pump pressure to affect steering effort is an old wive's tale! Once the pressure has achieved the factory spec necessary to overcome the effort needed to move the drag link and turn the truck's wheels/tires.......anything greater than that simply overheats the fluid by causing a greater volume to "by-pass" the pressure regulator. IOW, hydraulic P/S cannot be incrementally-adjusted to tailor an individual's driving preferences/habits ~ like some of the newer electric units can. .
 

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Thank you. Explanation was very clear.
Now just for a gut feel thing: Was the power steering in the 90ies Ford vehicles given a lighter steer/feel than todays vehicles?
Generally the answer is yes. I believe what you are doing is comparing a newer vehicle with rack and pinion steering to your earlier recirc ball/steering box type of steering. The rack and pinion will always be faster and require more effort than the older type box steering. And be more accurate/less play.

You want to drive something really different, drive a old 50's or 60's car with power steering. They usually had an assist cylinder type of power steering. Way over boosted with a large steering wheel. You can take one finger and turn and turn and turn to get those old boats to go around a corner.
 

Alan_nc

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Thanks for all of the responses. I think I am just used to the newer tighter vehicles.
 

19Walt93

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There are alignment slugs that will allow both caster and camber adjustment available in the aftermarket.
Recirculating ball steering boxes always have some play in them and the manual steering ones are slow= 5 to 5 1/2 turns lock to lock. If you watch people drive in old movies you'll see them constantly moving the steering wheel left to right a small amount as they take up the play in the steering to go in a straight line. Add bias ply tires and the steering will scare the crap out of a driver used to modern vehicles.
 

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Ive looked into this quite a bit. The Ranger steering is over powered for the size of vehicle. Up until 98 it was still possible to get manual steering. The power steering unit was a parts bin add on that I believe was also used on the older F150. The 98+ power steering is so over kill that the pump will stall my engine if I turn all the way to lock. It also takes 2(?) turns lock to lock. I think my focus is less than one. Thats a huge difference.
I have never driven a ranger without power steering so there may be issues with bump steer that the over powered steering compensated for.
 

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If you have a 1980 thru 1996 f150 and thru 1998 f250/f350, the ranger steering boxes are good candidates for a rebuild/swap. They are the exact same box as used on these bigger trucks and lead an easy life steering the little truck around all those years.
 


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