Loose steering in 2004 Tacoma


I’ve been experiencing increasingly poorer steering and handling in my 2004 Tacoma (39K miles)since around 20K miles. I’ve had it in to both local Toyota dealers to look at this problem, which I had thought might be attributed to the bad lower ball joints that Toyota had a recall on, but they say my VIN number doesn’t fall into this recall group. The dealers just realign the front end, even though the specs don’t indicate any major change from the last alignment. I’m sure that it’s the bushings or some component of the rack and pinion steering box, which both dealers insist isn’t so. I brought it in the last time just before the 36K bumper to bumper warranty expired, and got the same song and dance.

Has anyone had this experience with this model Toyota (4WD with the TRD package)? I mostly drive this around town on paved roads, with maybe one or two trips a year into the back country here in Colorado, but always on decent dirt roads. Thanks for any responses.