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Steering - Lower Shaft & Joint Ass'y

Trainmstr

Member
Joined
September 2, 2003
Messages
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City, State
Winter Springs, FL
Year, Model & Trim Level
96 XLT
Has anyone else had their lower joint ass'y wearout? You'll hear a low clunking noise coming from the firewall when first moving or slowing to a stop. Every mechanic I took truck to, including Ford, said it was control arm bushings. After totally rebuilding the front end myself, including rack & pinion chassis bushings, the clunk was still there. Snooping around under truck one day, I grabbed the steering shaft going from column to rack, it moved making the clunking noise no one properly ID'd. Looks like the ball joint type universal has gone bad. Going to order new one, best price so far is $218 + ship. Anyone know of better pricing? Also, anyone know how difficult to replace? Noticed a TSB for F-150s to replace this part for premature failure, couldn't find one for an Explorer. Should have caught this when I replaced the rack bushings.
If anyone needs advice on rebuilding a front end on a 2WD give me email, it is alot easier than the books make out. I used all Moog parts.
Thanks for any feedback.
 



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Hmm....I have a clunk when starting or stopping but have assumed that it is probably the ball joints or control arm bushings. I am currently working on my other truck, so I haven't investigated yet. I will check this out.
 






Trainmstr said:
Has anyone else had their lower joint ass'y wearout? You'll hear a low clunking noise coming from the firewall when first moving or slowing to a stop. Every mechanic I took truck to, including Ford, said it was control arm bushings. After totally rebuilding the front end myself, including rack & pinion chassis bushings, the clunk was still there. Snooping around under truck one day, I grabbed the steering shaft going from column to rack, it moved making the clunking noise no one properly ID'd. Looks like the ball joint type universal has gone bad. Going to order new one, best price so far is $218 + ship. Anyone know of better pricing? Also, anyone know how difficult to replace? Noticed a TSB for F-150s to replace this part for premature failure, couldn't find one for an Explorer. Should have caught this when I replaced the rack bushings.
If anyone needs advice on rebuilding a front end on a 2WD give me email, it is alot easier than the books make out. I used all Moog parts.
Thanks for any feedback.

I replaced mine at around 210,000. Mine wasn't making a noise but was definately adding some slop into the steering. the cheapest place I've found online for Ford parts is at :

http://www.fordgenuinepartsonline.com/

They have the shaft for a V-6 explorer for $174. Replacement is really straightforward as there is only a bolt that holds this shaft to the intermediate and one pinch bolt that holds the bottom to the rack.

Good luck,

Steve
 






Thanks for the site Steve, they have lowest price. I'll order from them this week.
 






Or if your in good with the guys behind the parts counter, you can get them for around $80 i believe.

I replaced mine around 196k or so. It was incorrectly diagnosed as the problem, but figured it should be replaced anyways after i installed it. My problem was the upper shock mount busings on my old IAS edelbrocks, just gotta put some grease inbetween them and the shock mount.
 






Has anyone else had their lower joint ass'y wearout? You'll hear a low clunking noise coming from the firewall when first moving or slowing to a stop. Every mechanic I took truck to, including Ford, said it was control arm bushings. After totally rebuilding the front end myself, including rack & pinion chassis bushings, the clunk was still there. Snooping around under truck one day, I grabbed the steering shaft going from column to rack, it moved making the clunking noise no one properly ID'd. Looks like the ball joint type universal has gone bad. Going to order new one, best price so far is $218 + ship. Anyone know of better pricing? Also, anyone know how difficult to replace? Noticed a TSB for F-150s to replace this part for premature failure, couldn't find one for an Explorer. Should have caught this when I replaced the rack bushings.
If anyone needs advice on rebuilding a front end on a 2WD give me email, it is alot easier than the books make out. I used all Moog parts.
Thanks for any feedback.
I'm having trouble finding "clunk" on my 96 Expl 4.0 4wd also. There is some play in lower steering shaft but I cant make it clunk like the noise I hear while I'm driving. Should I replace it anyway? Changed control arms, ball joints, inner/outer tie rods already.
 






I have 2wd so there may be more issues for you that could create the clunk sound. Before changing the steering joint check your calipers, the pins they float on sometimes wear and create a play condition when the brakes are not applied. Doesn't happen often but it doesn't hurt to check. Others have posted that this sound is caused by the torsion bars, where they ride in the cup (under the front seats). In my case this did not cause the clunk, it was the steering joint. When I moved my steering shaft I definitely heard the clunk.
 






I changed the torsion bar adjusters too and just put in new front pads and rotors yesterday. I didn't notice pins in the calipers, just two bolts. I have some stabilizer bar bushings on order but I'm beginning to think it might be my drive axle or hub. I don't get the clunk first thing in the morning. It's seems I get it after the outside temp warms up. I'll probably take it to a 4x4 shop next week or possibly Tijuana and leave the keys and a bottle of tequila on the front seat.
 






have you replaced your front shocks recently?
 






I replaced the factory shocks with Monroe Reflex about 50k miles ago. I swapped sides with the front shocks and still sounds like the noise is coming from left front.
 






Hi Trainmastr,

Sounds like I've got a similar "clunk". Steering seems tight. I notice it when I first go to take off, usually in reverse and sometimes hear it again when backing down the driveway apron. It is definitely not a tranny shift clunk. I can feel it in the steering wheel. I first suspected the rack but like I said, it turns tight with no noise. Let me know if the your fix is correct. If it is drivable I will probably leave it. I only use this Explorer to tow a boat a few times a year. It's got 170k on it so I'm not surprised it needs a few things.
 






Ya me too, only when I back up and have the wheels turned to the right. The "clunk" comes from some where around the front drivers wheel.I've been on crutches for 3 months now and haven't had someone to back it up while I watch and see if I can see where the "clunk" is coming from, or filling good enough to go out and put it up on stands and start moving stuff around.
 






Has anyone ever removed the lower steering shaft on a '98 and JUST REPLACE the universal joint that goes bad?

A new, discounted complete lower shaft is around $185

In today's economy there has to be a home work-around to the Factory Parts Network.

Any pics of the shaft removed and the u-joint at the bottom?

I imagine the u-joint would be welded onto the steering shaft - hence havong to buy the whole assembly - BUT - I'd imagine that it is an "off the shelf" u-joint that's welded on there...

Anybody?????
 






Anyone know where to get this lower shaft assemble for a decent price? Only place I can find that has the damn thing is FastPartsNetwork, and it's priced at $500 there. :(

Where the hell are you guys finding these for $100-$200?
 






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