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Steering Safety and Transmission Concerns

10-03-2007, 08:26 PM
Hey all, new here!

I have a 1989 Ford E-150 conversion van (4.9L, inline 6 engine.) The engine was rebuilt a few years ago and I recently replaced all the brake lines, installed new wheel cylinders and am currently overhauling the interior (you can see pictures of the process here - .) It runs like a champ, rock solid on oil levels, but there are still two problems with the van that need to be addressed, one of which concerns me as a potentially serious safety hazard. That would be the steering.

The van has power steering but the wheel still has about three to four inches of loose play. I drive a 1994 Honda Civic LX as my primary day-to-day car and love how nice and tight the steering wheel is. When I drive the van though, there is still a lot of back and forth play in the steering wheel that makes it difficult to drive. I have to constantly fight it. Tonight when I drove the van to Home Depot, I noticed at one point after driving over some sewer lid covers and rough/uneven pavement, it felt like the whole steering column was shaking side to side and the van was getting just a little “squirrelly.” It really had me concerned, especially considering I need to drive the van to Richmond, VA next weekend. My Dad was trailing me and drove the van back to the house, and while he didn't really have any problems with it, he said it's definitely sloppy. I don't like it because I have to be constantly on alert and focused on the steering while driving, and that’s going to be extremely draining on me over the course of a 9-hour drive. What should I be looking for?? Should I be looking at the suspension (shocks, radius arms, etc.) as an accomplice to this dangerous problem? It sort of drives like a boat but the play in the steering wheel worries me. Also, the wheel turns a little too easily, I would like to make it a bit stiffer, like my Civic or my Dad’s Taurus. Is there a way to do that on my van? There’s nothing in my Haynes manual about that.

My second question is about the transmission. The van has a three speed C6 automatic transmission, one of the better transmissions Ford has ever built from what I’ve read. The problem is that it doesn’t stay in gear when the van isn’t warmed up. When I come to a stop, the van slips out of gear again. I can start the van up, back halfway down the driveway then stop, and the van will slip out of gear (neutral.) Sometimes I have to rev the engine a bit to get it to kick back into gear and I don't like doing that. Once the van is warmed up, usually after 15 minutes of driving a little, stopping, slipping out of gear, then slipping back in gear, the problem goes away and doesn’t come back. It seems like the more the van is driven, the less this occurs. Does this sound like a vacuum or linkage problem, or is there something more serious that needs to be addressed?


10-06-2007, 01:22 AM
Take it to the alignment shop and have it checked over. It sounds like you've got some serious wear in the front end. The alignment guy will check all the front end parts before proceeding with lining it up. He will tell you what it needs done before aligning it. It's just about impossible to line up a front end with worn parts. He'll tell you what it needs so you can go back to your garage and do it yourself or have him do it. There's usually no charge to check over the front end. They'll only charge you for the alignment and repairs.

10-30-2007, 09:23 AM
as for the steering problem ford has a sheer coupleler that is made out of rubber that is to sheer if you get hit head on as the steering column won't go back in to the driver. the rubber gets old and will tear causing alot of slack in the wheel. i have made them out of mudflaps but you can buy one already to put on. as for the c-6 have you changed the filter in it also change the fluid and get bands adjusted.

10-30-2007, 09:25 AM
also check the gromlets on the shifter for wear

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