1997 diagnosing steering problem & intermediate steering shaft removal | Page 2 | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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1997 diagnosing steering problem & intermediate steering shaft removal

This intermediate shaft repair is still working well. Does anyone have a picture of the top end of an Intermediate Steering Shaft that the could post here?

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This morning after I woke up, I had a text from the wife saying to call her at her 7 O'clock break. She clocks in at 5 a.m. INHUMANE ! I immediately say to myself, "What's wrong?" I text her and she calls saying that this morning turning in to the parking lot at work, the steering felt very stiff. The same as she turned in to her parking space. At 7 a.m. She is going to call and I'm going to walk her through checking the power steering fluid. That is her idea and I give her credit for thinking of that, but I actually suspect an issue or more so a problem with her intermediate steering shaft, compound u-joint that was originally the problem that kept us from driving this Explorer after all of the engine work. I misdiagnosed the problem and after replacing what I thought was a bad power steering pump and that was not the problem. Later when loosening up the column to slide it up to get it a loose from the collapsible steering shaft, I broke the shift cable. @410Fortune Jamie probably remembers this and really helped me a lot during my point of panic. Now I'm trying to remember what I did to break the cable and don't want to do that the 2nd time as I loosen the column again to get it up off of the frozen collapsible shaft assembly. The replacement shift cable is at least $60- and unique to the'97 V-6 truck. I'll be able to confirm that it is not a low fluid problem at 7 a.m. central time. I do have the poor Mountaineer ('97) that has kept the wife's '97, in an emergency for parts, going. I will check out the intermediate steering sector on the Mountaineer when I get to work. More later.

Don’t break another cable! Lol lol
Good luck!

1997 was a long time ago!!

@410Fortune Earlier while I was sitting in my thinking room, I decided that if I saw the intermediate steering shaft on the wife's truck to remove it, I can save a very long amount of time not touching anything on the inside of the truck. When I first got here, I looked at the Mountaineer and it has the same type. I hope it will slide or collapse as designed. I see that, that part of the boot is still covering it. It is a lot easier to get to it too remove it with the underhood items currently not attached.

MM5.0 4-45-23.jpg

Here is the current state of the 5.0. Block off cover on the intake and wheel bearing grease on the crankshaft snout.

That was the easiest ISS that I've ever removed on these Explorer/Mountaineers. It took me 5 minutes with the extra stuff removed. I will purchase a steering universal joint with the ice cream cone (<D) shape on one end and DD on the other. I have a piece of DD rod around here somewhere. It will replace the Mountaineer shaft or swap back off of the wifes truck to put back on the MM. I hope that I don't have to go do a parking lot repair but if I do, I'm taking a 100' power cord, the sawsall and a grinder to remove hers. I know the sliding shaft is stuck on hers because May 2020 I didn't ever free it up. I stuck it back in and stuck the column back in to it.

MM intermediate steering shaft assembly. Not available aftermarket.

Well done.

Stuff that rag joint full of grease, add some sort of boot (s), and you are good to go!

(Weren’t there some sort of very expensive aftermarket equivalent parts available? As I recall, stainless steel stuff for hundreds of dollars? You definitely went the best route).

Well I have the MM intermediate steering shaft ready to go in the white '97. I'm waiting to hear if she thinks that she can safely drive 40 miles to my shop where I'm ready with the part and tools.

I found some heavy zip ties to use this time instead of hose clamps

About a year ago, I found a piece of ragged out rubber in the parking area. Now I think that I know where it came from. Look at post#20.
Wife is rolling and headed south this way. I'm praying for the next 35 minutes.

^^^^ More prayers

Well, there was a catchy spot in the universal joint of the mid shaft that I removed, and the one off of the MM went on fairly quick. However, it does feel like there possibly is a hydraulic pressure problem. When you turn in to park or turn on to a side street, the steering gets a little difficult. 3 years ago, I installed a remanufactured pump that was rebuilt by Lares. After 38,000 miles, it should still be good. The truck only as 186K on it and wouldn't think that it is a rack problem. The rack & pinion assembly looks difficult to remove. I'm really undecided about what to do next.

What is the level/condition of your fluid.

I checked only the level of the fluid for years, and ignored the condition of the fluid. It almost turned to black grease. Easy to flush the fluid.

Since you said you replaced the pump a few years ago, your fluid should be ok…

The rack and pinion unit is available and inexpensive. If you follow suggested procedure, it is still an annoying project, but very doable. I would not think the rack and pinion would be a lot tougher than replacing the pump.

Good luck..

@Mr. Alligator After sleeping on it, the only thing I thought of is to read the DTCs having to do with power steering. The pump is not making any funny noises and the fluid looks good at a good level.
I just found these codes and won't be able to read the DTCs until this evening. In the mean time, I am looking for the good pump that I removed 3 years ago. It seems like the most logical 2 steps before blaming the issue on the R & P.

P0550 Power Steering Pressure Sensor Circuit Malfunction

P0551 Power Steering Pressure Sensor Circuit Range/Performance

P0552 Power Steering Pressure Sensor Circuit Low Input

P0553 Power Steering Pressure Sensor Circuit High Input

P0554 Power Steering Pressure Sensor Circuit Intermittent

I have replaced about 10 of these rack and pinions it gets easier each time

I did a full write up how to when I replaced the rack in my old 96 with a carquest reman many years ago

They do wear out… but first make sure you do not have a “foaming” issue
When we first add fluid and turn the wheel the power steering pump will aerate the fluid and the now
Foamy fluid will act strange inside the rack, given time the fluid will lose its air bubbles and normal behavior returns.

@410Fortune Can a rack "pass" fluid internally rendering the power steering ineffective? I'm still looking for my pump from 3 years ago that was working. In the mean time, I have been making up a temporary replacement steering shaft to put on the MM so that it can roll and steer. I had a Chevy truck steering box laying here with a collapsible Intermediate steering shaft connected to it. I cut off the top of the Explorer shaft and I flipped over the Chevy piece , chop, chop and cut the shaft of the Explorer bottom U-joint. The DD Chevy shaft of the Chevy part slid right into the bottom Ford piece. This is just to make the Mountaineer move around the yard.

Chevy shaft

Explorer top piece. It's a little loose on the Chevy outer shaft

Picture slid on

Chevy DD shaft slid into Explorer bottom U-joint piece. No money involved, just time.

@410Fortune I found the pump that I removed 3 years ago before I found the steering U-joint froze up being the problem. I see this disfigured O-ring down in the hole where the high pressure line screws in. Should this be on the male fitting of the line or down in the hole or both?

This Thursday morning the wife strong armed her '97 to work again. I can't put the old working pump back on until Saturday when I can unwrap her fingers from around the steering wheel. But here is what is baffling today. She said she only had trouble with the power steering once this morning and when she turned in to the work parking lot it was steering perfect. What is going on? is there some kind of stuck check valve in the pump causing issues? I was hoping to get Jamie's take on this as well as you other guys/gals (PC) too. I got up just before 4 a.m. to read her DTCs but she had already left for work. I guess I will go back to bed and sleep on it for a bit.

Air was in the system .....maybe

@donalds I'm having a hard time seeing that because 3 years ago, I installed a new pump and properly bled the air out. It has worked flawlessly since then and not lost any fluid. I suppose I will follow through with putting the original pump back on and see what happens. If it does the same as it has been doing this week, I would be inclined to think that a seal inside the power rack is leaking or more so, something hanging up on the part on the steering shaft of the rack that tell the R&P to power left or right.

Not sure! I know when the rack goes out it can act really strange like intermittent steering kinda as you describe

But At this point based on what I’m reading, I suspect your pump!

How does steering rack look feel when the engine not running? Jack up front tires and turn lock to lock is it smooth? No noises? Not moving in it’s mounts? When they go out they get a rough spot in them and they will quickly wear out the rubber bushings they mount in and start moving back and forth

Also put in an additive, Lubegard makes one and they do have a PS fluid too. I try to keep the best fluid in mine and change it every year or two for my work.

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I put an oz of lube gaurd as well