I suddenly started having steering problems on my 2004 F150 4x4 Quad Cab. At first I assumed it was the steering pump but after reading through the forums I noticed that many people having this symptom found out it was the u joints on the steering shaft instead. I lubed the heck out of the 2 u joints on the steering shaft but it made very little improvement. The part that goes most commonly is the lower steering shaft. I believe it is a dealer only item. Ford part number 8L3Z3B676B. The part cost me $244.48 plus tax at my dealer, they had it on the shelf.
Despite how many people have had this problem fixed, I could not find a writeup or video anywhere of how to do it. Even my alldatadiy online truck manual does not describe how to change it. The only reference I could find was by the user "Scholar" on this site. Thanks Scholar. The thread is here:
Scholar's notes are accurate (and helpful) but I thought some pictures and some more information might be helpful to some as well.
I did not lift the front wheels off of the ground.
I did not do anything to keep the steering wheel from moving. In retrospect that would have been good, but I could not think of a good way to do it simply. Not having it secured meant that the wheel turned once the two shafts were separated and I had top turn the steering wheel back in order to get the new shaft in.
As Scholar suggested I made sure that the 13MM bolt head was facing the brake reservoir so that the bolt on the bottom would be accessible.
I removed the bolt holding the top of the shaft using a 13MM socket. I reached the bolt going down through the engine compartment.
I used a pipe to give me more leverage, the bolt was frozen solid and it was hard to get leverage in that awkward angle.
NOTE: Make sure that you REMOVE the bolt before sliding the lower steering shaft off of the top shaft. I tried removing it once I had the bolt very loose and then realized the bbolts must come out all of the way. The shaft is keyed(ish) in such a way that the bolt fits in a recessed groove in the shaft, so even when loose the shafts will not come apart. The bolt must be removed.
I had to coax the 2 shafts apart. I completely drenched the spot with liquid wrench, tried to pry the top shaft coupling apart using a screwdriver some and tapped it LIGHTLY with an 8OZ hammer. I wanted to make sure I did not bend the upper steering shaft or break something. The two shafts separated.
Next I moved on to the lower. I have a lift so this was much easier than doing it on the ground I suspect. I was able to find the 10MM bolt holding the shaft hidden behind the lower hose in the picture below. Difficult to see.