A Cautionary Tale

My Duster has been on the road for about 2 years and in that time the power steering has become increasingly vague and the car has developed quite a lot of bump-steer. When I put the car on the road the pitman and idler arms were new and the tie rods and ends were upgraded to the C-body type. When I first began driving it I was very happy with the steering precision and feel and figured that I had lucked out with my Auto Zone rebuilt P/S gear and pump.
As the drivability got worse I blamed the AZ box and the general vagueness that seems common to the factory P/S setup. I was planning to switch to a manual set up with a new box from Flaming River.
Last week end I decided it was time for some maintenance. I repacked and adjusted the front wheel bearings and de-glazed the brake pads and re-seated them in the calipers. The last thing I did was check for play in the steering and boy did I find a lot. When I wiggled the wheel back and forth, I saw that the P/S gear was moving around on the K member. The bolts holding the gear box were not even finger tight. I checked my FSM and found that the torque spec for these bolts is 100 ft/lbs. After tightening the bolts (not an easy job on a car with headers) I test drove the car and the difference was amazing. The old Duster drives just like it did when I first put it together. From now on checking the P/S gear mounting bolts will be part of my routine maintenance.
You guys might want to check this on your own cars espescially if you have ever had the steering box out and reinstalled it without checking the service manual, like I did.

Or maybe I'm the only one who didn't know this.
Author: admin