Why is steering worse now with new ball joints than before with the old worn out ones?

ford
clubwagon

#1

I have an 08 E-350 that I recently replaced both upper and lower ball joints on both sides on. The tires are quite new as well. After I replaced the ball joints I got it aligned and they made a slight toe adjustment. After all of that, the steering was quite hard, stiff and difficult. The wheel would stay in whatever position it was turned to and not track back to center. This made highway driving difficult and constant battle with the wheel. I removed both tie rods and manually checked the ease of turning ability by swinging the wheel back and forth. One wheel was very difficult so I replaced those ball joints again on that side only and did not get it realigned. The steering is not as stiff as it was but the wheel still does not track back to center after a turn and doesn’t always track straight on the highway. Sometimes it goes right, sometimes left, and after a hard turn I can’t just relax my grip on the wheel and have it return to center, I have to pull it back to center. I replaced them at 104,000 miles and now have 108,000 miles. I thought they might need some time to break in and loosen just a little but that has not been the case. It steered fine before I replaced them, and they were very worn. Also, sometimes when I hit a bump on the highway the van will veer rather hard and swiftly.
Why is my steering worse now with new ball joints?


#2

I just went through this with my wife’s Blazer back in the fall. It turned out that the technician that “aligned” the Blazer front end had no idea what he was doing. It took another alignment shop over an hour to fix the incompetent technician’s work. Did you ever take your vehicle back to the alignment shop to have it checked? If you can’t do that…get a second opinion at another alignment shop.


#3

+1 - my first thought is they botched the alignment, caster in particular. Have another shop check it out.


#4

I don’t know anything about truck alignment, but I fired the Goodyear dealer after his last alignment. The car was downright scarry on a wet curve. It took an old guy with equipment from the 60’s to properly align it and fix the frame mounts.


#5

One thing not mentioned but I think worth noting is that some ball joints have specific orientation requirements. There may be a mark on the boot or base indicating this side toward vehicle. If you install them otherwise, they can bind up.


#6

I have to ask.

You did grease the new ball joints after they were installed?

Tester


#7

There is an alignment setting called caster, the basic concept is the center of the wheel is placed behind dead center so it will straighten itself out if not influenced otherwise. The stiffness you feel can prevent that, or another alignment may be needed.


#8

I just thought of something extremely important

The Econoline 350 uses the twin i-beam suspension. It is not comparable to a car’s suspension at all

There are special procedures and tools needed for adjusting the camber and caster. If the shop isn’t aware of this, or doesn’t have tools . . .

And as far as the new ball joints go, they might have those small plugs installed. If they’re still there, remove them, install the proper zerks and grease them


#9

Other than agreeing with others about dry ball joints and alignment, I might lean towards the caster angle of this based on the comment about swiftly veering after hitting a bump. That usually points to a caster problem; as does the wheel not returning to center.


#10

Thanks for all the feedback. I did grease them after I installed them. It’s funny that most of the replies focus on the alignment. The caster is sort of what I was leaning towards myself. When I went into the shop, the kid who was going to do the alignment was in the waiting room trying to make time with a cute girl who’s car he had just worked on. When his boss came in and told him that he had an alignment to do he kind of rolled his eyes and gave him a dismissive look trying to impress this girl like he was too cool for school. Meanwhile I’m looking at him like ‘hey man, that’s my van your about to do so get on it and do it right’. Suffice it to say, I was always a little suspect as to quality and accuracy of the alignment that I received.


#11
the kid who was going to do the alignment was in the waiting room trying to make time with a cute girl who's car he had just worked on. When his boss came in and told him that he had an alignment to do he kind of rolled his eyes and gave him a dismissive look trying to impress this girl like he was too cool for school.

Ummmm, yeah. Not the kind of ‘professional’ that gives me confidence in his abilities. Was this at a chain-type tire shop? I’d go to another one with a better staff to see if they can fix it under the alignment warranty.


#12

ignore lift spacer


#13

See that hex shaped thing that’s above the upper ball joint?

You reposition/replace it to set camber and caster on the twin i-beam suspension

I wouldn’t be surprised if that kid didn’t know


#14

Were these bushings installed

http://www.autozone.com/autozone/parts/Duralast-Caster-Camber-Bushing/2008-Ford-E350-Super-Duty-Van//N-jsmh5Z8oy9t?itemIdentifier=55985_479074_4319

Those bushings enable adjusting caster and camber. Without them only toe can be adjusted.


#15

Yes it was at a chain-type tire shop.