03' Explorer seems hard to steer | Ford Explorer - Ford Ranger Forums - Serious Explorations

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03' Explorer seems hard to steer

mbrando1994

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May 17, 2015
Messages
274
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Year, Model & Trim Level
2003 Ford Ex XLT
4.0 V6
Hi all,

Truck is a 2003 Explorer XLT 4.0 AWD

I've been having some strange steering issues since about the middle of this year. Haven't had a lot of cash so haven't been able to do anything yet. It still drives well but to me the steering just feels super tight. I've driven our neighbors explorer and the steering feels like heaven compared to mine.

I taught a friend how to parallel park months ago and she ended up blowing out the steering pump, that has been replaced and new fluid installed. The steering seemed tight even before that happened though, so I doubt it's a fluid issue. It does not bind, catch, or become tighter or looser in certain spots so I'm doubtful it's the rack as well. I might be missing something simple here but I just want to be able to handle the vehicle like I did when I first got it, it's just not fun to drive anymore because it takes great effort just to turn the wheel.

Thanks for your help!
 
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Tylers02

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Messages
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City, State
Overland Park, KS
Year, Model & Trim Level
2002 Limited
I can understand your frustration I've been dealing with steering issues for the last several months. I've put new tires on it front brakes including calipers front wheel bearing both inner and outer tie rods on the front. Have an sod rear hub and bearing on the way as well as moog problem solver ball joints. I installed those ball joints in July and both boots are completely torn so moog is sending me new ones. Front sway bar bushings and links have been replaced as well as rear links. I'm a little embarrassed about this last part but I found a good rear hub at the junkyard so trying so save some cash I picked it up. Well I have an 04 and didn't even think about the draglink stud size change. Well it was 9 at night I was at a friends house and no one had the link in stock. I had to make mine work until I could get back to the junkyard this morning and pull a 15mm stud draglink. Got that swapped out and just got another alignment. Sometimes it's perfect sometimes it super stiff and sometimes it feel like a wheel is going to fall off and I have no steering at all. I've checked the double checked everything, I flushed the power steering fluid. If it wasn't for the fact that I can't even get back what u put into chasing down this problem let alone all the other costs I would just sell it. I'm thinking about just getting a beater truck for work and slowly fixing up the explorer. It's hard to spend $10,000 on a truck with none of the frautuers my limited has plus will most likely still have problems.
 
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mbrando1994

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Messages
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Year, Model & Trim Level
2003 Ford Ex XLT
4.0 V6
I understand that, I simply don't know what's wrong. I'm going to replace the Tie rod ends soon and see if that helps any, being the boots are torn I think they might be getting grainy inside and causing rough steering. As I said I know it's not the pump, rack, or fluid. Maybe it's a CV axle somewhere
 
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TechGuru

Explorer Addict
Joined
August 23, 2015
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Location
Texas
Year, Model & Trim Level
2003 XLS 4X4 4.0L FLEX
Hard steering is usually the power steering pump or the valves in the steering rack not opening all the way. If one has blown a pump, just like with a/c compressors you probably have metal shavings in the system now clogging the valves in the rack. So the rack needs to come out and be cleaned or replaced. Flush all lines before replacing.

No idea if Explorers have a inline power steering filter or not. If they do I'd replace that first as it's probably clogged.
 
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boominXplorer

Elite Ranger
Elite Explorer
Joined
September 16, 2002
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City, State
Virginia Beach, Va
Year, Model & Trim Level
00 4x4 Mounty
F150 and explorer's 02+ are common for some reason to have steering shaft issues. The u joints like to get tight. See if any of the joints in the shaft look rusty.
 
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mbrando1994

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Joined
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Messages
274
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Year, Model & Trim Level
2003 Ford Ex XLT
4.0 V6
I've been looking for a fix for my intermediate ujoint on that shaft, I found a part that's over $300 but doesn't look the same as whats on there. I suppose spraying the joint with liquid plumber wouldn't be advised?
 
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boominXplorer

Elite Ranger
Elite Explorer
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00 4x4 Mounty
Spraying it with any kind of lube won't hurt, just be careful of overspray. You can always find a used one to get you by. They make 2 different 3rd gen shafts. The v6 and v8 are different as the v8s have an extra U-joint at the top of the engine bay.
 
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