I recently purchased a 1993 F150 4.9L straight 6. While the body is relatively good condition I'm not so sure about the rest. First thing I have noticed is a large amount of play in the steering wheel. Basically I can turn the steering wheel 3-4 inches past center either way before the wheels turn. I have done the 'wobble' test on the front wheels and see little to no movement in the wheel which I think suggests that the tie rod ends or the bearings are not to blame. However when someone else turns the steering wheel from inside the car I can see that the steering shaft rotates within what I think is the steering gear box without moving the drag link. I have attached a photo with an arrow on what I guess to be the steering box. Am I correct? If so should I replace the box or just tighten the adjustment screw? Any suggestions would be of great help.
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there is on my 1990 i dont know about all years but at the knuckle where the steering wheel shaft meet the front axle there like a nut that can be adjusted loosen this and have some one turn the wheel ever so slightly until you get the right amount of play (had the same problem in my 1990 this fixed it in 5 min) once you get what you want (amount of play ) tighten it back up this is if you notice the play is only in the wheel and not the rest of the suspension
I first jacked the truck up and set it on jack stands at a height just high enough to have both front wheels off of the ground.
The screw discussed above in is located on the side of the steering gear box directly opposite the Pitman arm coupling.
I loosened the nut around the screw using a 9/16 socket. The nut sets fixes the screw so that the screw cannot rotate. The nut was pretty rusty and I may end up replacing the entire steering gear box because of the rust. A new Napa steering gear box for an F150 is $139 in MD.
Once the nut was loose I tightened the screw in small increments (about 1/4 turn of the screw) and had someone in the cabin check the steering play after each turn of the screw. The play decreased noticeably as I tightened the screw. I found overtightened made turning the wheels to the right slightly harder than turning left.
I adjusted the screw until the play was reduced to an inch or so and the wheels could be turned relatively easily.
I then tightened the nut surrounding the screw to prevent the screw from turning on its own and let the truck off the jack stands.
This procedure will work for a lot of the power steering boxes out there no matter what kind of car or truck it is.