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Old 10-03-2012, 05:39 PM   #1
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F-250 front end problem after towing/backing

TV= 1997 F250 HD Diesel. A/S= 25' Classic.

After towing, and I think mainly after backing the trailer, when I unhitch and drive away, I get a kind of pulsing feel from the front end when turning in either direction. When it first happened, I had been doing alot of wheel cranking due to inexperience when I backed into a site. Someone told me it could be power steering related, and that cranking the wheel while not moving (which I was) can be hard on the system. My fluid level is fine. The problem eventually goes away after driving awhile. I'm wondering if I might be getting air in the lines. Just thought I'd post here before involving a mechanic in case anyone has experienced this.

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Old 10-03-2012, 06:18 PM   #2
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I would change the fluid and replace the steering damper if there is one.

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Old 10-03-2012, 06:25 PM   #3
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I'm assuming you haven't put it into 4w drive...
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Old 10-03-2012, 06:37 PM   #4
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Hi, The front end on a F250 HD diesel is very heavy and cranking without moving is hard on the system, always try to be moving even just a little, if it heats up and the fluid thins out you will get the chatter, it will go away unless you have blown a seal and you would have a puddle of fluid if you had.

I also assume you are not in four wheel drive, right?

Usually if a problem goes away after a little while it's not time to sweat it just yet!

Long time F250 SD owner!
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Old 10-03-2012, 08:22 PM   #5
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No, not using the 4WD. Makes sense that the fluid might be heating up, which would change the viscosity. I'm getting much better at cranking while in motion and making smaller steering changes when backing. I'll change the fluid also, and check on the steering damper. Thanks all!
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Old 10-03-2012, 10:04 PM   #6
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Hi, could be a slipping/worn belt. Also when turning and driving slow, if you have your foot on the brake pedal, the hydroboost takes a lot of the pressure needed for your power steering.

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Old 10-04-2012, 07:35 AM   #7
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The front end is the weak point on 7.3 Power Stroke diesels as it was designed for a gas engine not the heavier diesel. At 205,000 miles on my 2000 Excursion, I have replaced the 4x4 hubs, shocks (2 times) ball joints (2 times), power steering pump and hoses, sway bars, and tie rod and ends. All this work, particularly the hubs was expensive, but much less than the depreciation on a new vehicle.
If you have average mileage on your 97 and have not replaced your power steering pump, it is toast and needs replacement. Worn out pumps make a wirring noise and don't work when the vehicle is standing.
If you have uneven tire wear or squirrely handling, you have other front end problems.
Fixing up your old truck is worth the money as the engine and transmission will last a long time.
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Old 10-04-2012, 08:15 AM   #8
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I have 105K miles on it. Just put on a new set of wheels/tires and shocks, and tread wear was very even. Changed from auto to manual hubs due to one failure. I think I should probably look at replacing the pump- I would not want it to go out while towing!
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Old 10-04-2012, 09:57 AM   #9
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My father had a similar problem on his 2006 F250,
Ford insisted it was the PS pump at $2500 installed.

After they replaced the ball joints and tie rod ends it turned out to be a bad front universal joint,

I still don't understand how exactly that affected the steering, on my
Toyota the front shaft doesn't move at all unless you're in 4x4.

With the cost of the pump I would check every possible part of the front steering, suspension and driveline. I once bought mustang for parts that had really stiff steering, we assumed the pump was shot but it turned out to be a frozen strut.
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Old 10-04-2012, 03:14 PM   #10
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Wow! I didn't think it would be that much! I bought an extended warranty that covers all internally lubricated parts of the drivetrain, so the differential would be covered. Its good for another year. I'll change the PS fluid first though. This will probably take some time to resolve as no trips are planned. I'll post if anything changes. Again, thanks all for your help with this.
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Old 10-04-2012, 05:22 PM   #11
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I'd definitely take it to a good front end shop. These trucks do wear front end components (ball joints, etc), and you can get a variety of symptoms as a result.

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Old 10-04-2012, 08:12 PM   #12
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Have to second the comments from Handn. Have done all that at least once. Before our trip to Canada had the shocks replaced (all around, first time) and upper and lowers replaced on our 01 F350. Never had a power steering issue (knocking on wood). In our business I haul a lot, so if you can't make the cut the first time I always pull out enough to go straight back in if possible. If not then far enough out to get the max length out of what I am hauling to back in without twisting and turning beyond what will get you there easily.

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