power-steering-like vibrations, left turn only

Discussion in 'General Tech' started by teeth, May 21, 2012.

  1. teeth

    teeth 4x4 N00b

    I pretty much joined the forum because I have gotten so much excellent help in forums associated with my other vehicles. I do a lot of work on little Japanese cars and motorcycles, but not so much Ford trucks.

    The Ranger belongs to my wife and is by far the most practical vehicle in the family.

    Cutting to the chase--we've got an annoying vibration that is just unusual enough that I wonder if someone might not be able to tell me what's going on right away. There is a vibration in the steering wheel similar to what one would feel if the power steering pump were low on fluid--but it's not, and oddly, it only occurs when turning left:confused1: . I noticed it immediately because it felt so similar to what happened when a Volvo I used to own was down on PS fluid, but my wife didn't notice it until she drove faster than 60 mph, at which point it gets much LOUDER. In fact she didn't notice that it only occurred when turning left so it took us a while to figure out we were both talking about the same issue. When driving straight the vibration continues until one makes a significant turn to the right, and is also affected by compressing the suspension over bumps, vibrating when the suspension is compressed and getting quieter after rebound.

    I tried just turning the steering wheel back and forth a few times thinking that it might be a bubble in the system, but no luck. Given that the fluid is full and looks fine, I am wondering if the issue could actually be something else? I came up with some hits on front drive train issues, of which I am particularly mechanically ignorant, so I wonder if there's something that could be amiss there?

    The truck is a 2003 Supercab with the FX4 package.

    Thanks in advance to any gurus that can help me sort this out and taken care of!
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  3. OP

    teeth 4x4 N00b

    I forgot to add--the truck does have to be moving. No whine/vibration when turning the wheel while idling also suggests it is not the power steering at all, even though it sure feels like it once you get going.
  4. OP

    teeth 4x4 N00b

    OK, so I put the truck on a lift today and found a small but significant amount of play in the steering rack--not in the tie rods, because both wheels move together, but in the rack itself. I gather that means I should replace the rack, but I can't imagine how that would cause the vibration I am getting. Anybody able to explain this?

    How long can I drive the vehicle like this?

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