How to Troubleshoot the Steering System in a Ford Explorerby Contributor
Ford's Explorer is a mid-sized SUV introduced in 1990. The rollover accidents involving Firestone tires drew the public attention to stability issues involved in driving cars with a high-wheel base. While the tires have long since been replaced, Explorer owners may still want to keep a few troubleshooting tips in mind to keep your Ford Explorer's steering system in top condition.
Keep your tires in the best possible condition, rotating them regularly and balancing the wheels. Replace worn tires immediately (in pairs), keep the tire pressure even and the front end properly aligned. Poor tire conditions and alignment can cause a number of steering system symptoms.
Inspect and lubricate steering linkage and ball joints with zerk fittings every 15,000 miles. Make sure to check the power steering hydraulics for leaks, loose connections, cracks and signs of age or wear. You want to keep your reservoir properly filled and the fluid clean with Type F automatic transmission fluid or Ford Premium Power Steering Fluid (do not mix types).
Purge the power steering pump if the fluid appears to be aerated. Ford recommends a full purge with their vacuum pump kit and evacuation cap. Other automotive sources question the value of a full purge, so you may want to discuss this procedure with your mechanic.
Tighten or replace loose steering linkage components to correct side-to-side wobble in the steering wheel or steering wheel vibration. Loose linkage can also cause noise during turns and even cause the car to wander in one or more directions.
Check the steering pump if the steering wheel jumps or is hard to turn. If the power steering fails you should not only check the pump, but check the fluid for contamination, the fluid lines for leaks and the belt for wear. Hard steering can also be caused by faulty gear components.
Adjust the steering box and linkage if the steering is too loose. If the linkage components are worn, you should replace them.