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too much play in the steering wheel


Ed_Strong
12-07-2008, 11:57 AM
I drove the son's newly acquired 1993 Ford Escort Wagon 1.9L (81k mi.) and noticed there is probably 6 inches of steering wheel travel before you feel the wheels turning. No weird noises or movement other than what I think are struts doing their thing. Vehicle runs great, Tires are in good shape and not wearing unevenly and it had the left Axle/CV Joint replaced this weekend, as it was making noises while turning, but that didn't fix the steering problem. Is this a Rack & Pinion steering system? What would cause this?

AzTumbleweed
12-07-2008, 05:03 PM
Make sure the rack & pinion unit is securely mounted. They've been known to come loose.

Ed_Strong
12-08-2008, 01:23 AM
Thanks... I'll check into that. But wouldn't a loose rack & pinion cause a lot of noise and rattle while turning the wheel or like going over bumps? I did try to shake the wheel left and right violently while driving to see if anything sounded like it was loose to no avail.

Davescort97
12-08-2008, 10:51 PM
To check for looseness jack up the front and put it on stands. Grasp the tire at the front and rear and push in at the rear and pull out at the front. Any looseness in the rack and pinion could be loose mounts (AZ Tumbleweed) or worn tie rod ends. If the mounts and tie rods are all right the rack and pinion would probably have to be replaced. There are plenty good ones at the boneyard for a fraction of what a new one would cost.

zzyzzx2
12-10-2008, 02:03 PM
Most likely cuplrets:

Power steering rack busings.
Outer tie rod ends.

mightymoose_22
12-10-2008, 04:40 PM
I had same problem at one point... lots of play in the wheel and some noise when turning. It turned out that I had lost a bolt from the steering rack mount and the others were extremely loose. The whole thing would have fallen off before long if I hadn't gotten under and looked around.
Your car is the right age for it... they somehow just work themselves loose.

denisond3
12-11-2008, 08:58 AM
That one of the GREAT things about this board - - I learn what to look for and inspect on my own cars. Among other things, Im going to check under my 94 Escort that the bolts for the steering rack are snug, before we head south into Mexico for a long drive. (In winter we live close to the Rio Grande river in Texas.)

zzyzzx2
12-11-2008, 04:15 PM
Exactly what do I look for with respect to this?
I mean I have 173,500 miles on my 1995 Escort, which I pruchased new, and I've never tightened those bolts that you speak of, nor have I seen any power steering rack bushings that look so bad that I've heard so much about. Anyone got any pics?

mightymoose_22
12-11-2008, 09:41 PM
I haven't had trouble with the bushings... just a matter of the bolts working loose.
There are two U shape brackets that mount the steering rack to the firewall... just check to make sure they are tight and that the rack does not move side to side. If it is jacked up, have someone turn the steering wheel while you look from underneath and make sure it is all snug.

Ed_Strong
12-12-2008, 12:35 PM
Thanks for all the input and help... I really appreciate it. Son took the wagon to the mechanic who diasgnosed it as wornout tie rods. Will bring it in for repair in a couple of days and report on progress. Again... Thank you all!

ethanaw
01-06-2009, 03:55 PM
you could also check the lower ball joints. just raise the front end, hold the tire with your hands and see if you can turn it without the steering wheel turning and watch the lower ball joint to see if there is any play. I had to replace the ones on my '94 escort wagon at 181k and the steering wheel straightened right up.

zzyzzx2
01-07-2009, 09:47 AM
Thanks for all the input and help... I really appreciate it. Son took the wagon to the mechanic who diasgnosed it as wornout tie rods. Will bring it in for repair in a couple of days and report on progress. Again... Thank you all!

Tie rod ends are something that you can easily replace yourself. Just make sure to get an alignment afterwards.

I highly recommend MOOG outer tie rod ends, and if you don't at least get ones with grease fittings on them so you can regrease them.

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