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More Dodge Ram 2006 Steering Issues, Wander, Delayed Steering, Continued Correction, Poor Return to Center

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Gentleman, I have been spending way too much $ and countless hours of research and doing my own work on my 2006 2500 Dodge Ram 4x4 quad cab diesel pickup for some time now. The truck is used for towing ONLY, it has never been off road.  I bought the truck in 09 with 50k miles on it. I now have 155k on it and have replaced the following: Bilstein 5100 shocks, just changed to Rancho adjustables, front coil springs, lower control arms, BD steering brace, new sway bar bushings, all  new brakes, calipers, pads, rotors, lines, Borgeson input shaft and box, T steering, pitman arm, stabilizer, Mopar recall steering, Carli Ball joints, Dynatrac free spin kit, Lukes Link track bar kit, Michlien ATX plus 4 E rated tires, now BFG All Terrains (adjusted air from 50 to 65 lbs. Alignment- set caster +4.5 degrees, toe 1/8" in.  Everything I have done has improved the steering just slightly but still has the same problems as day one. (Wandering, delayed steering, continual correction, poor return to center). Of course when I load the Lance Truck camper, add air to the rear bags, hook up the chains to the load distribution hitch and pull my 18 foot trailer everthing is worse. Possible remedies  - Borgeson says to loosen the worm gear back off 1/4 turn to no avail, one of the forums says to change out high pressure hose leading to booster, flash ECM to change line pressure, track bar could be flexing, poor pressure from steering pump.  Help!

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transport...Welcome to the discussion, I pored over your post and have some comments...You've obviously done "all the things" that should counter the steering issues described, and yes, you've spent plenty trying to do this!

In my career as a professional wrench, including front end alignment, rebuilding and 4x4 work at the dealership and factory warranty level, I learned to avoid parts replacing as the first recourse.  In your case, I'm more concerned about vehicle dynamics than the parts involved.  First off, I'll share these observations:

1)  Tire pressure sounds okay for the Lance Camper.  My truck is similar to yours (2005 Ram 3500 4WD Quad Cab with Cummins), and I run 46 PSI front and 38 PSI on 35"x12.5"x18" BFG KO2 tires when empty (no trailer, no load equalizing hitch and no cab over camper).  Pressures would naturally go up with your camper loaded, both front and rear.  You know what works here.

2)  I would not readjust any steering gear to an arbitrary number like "1/4 turn".  I always adjust over-center load to factory specifications, or in your case, I would use Borgeson's precise specification.  Correct worm bearing preload and over-center load are crucial.  Also critical is that the gear itself is at its precise center point with the front wheels pointed straight ahead.  Likely you have done this centering approach, the gear should only be adjusted with the steering linkage disconnected at the pitman arm and the use of either a spring scale or torque wrench, depending upon the service method proscribed.

3)  The steering fluid pressure and volume should be tested with a pressure gauge before changing anything.  You do need correct pressure, volume and hydraulic steering valve action.  I would troubleshoot this by checking the actual pressures at the apply side with both the steering wheel stationary and moving.  You'll need to safely support the vehicle off the ground before doing this.  Also be certain there are no restrictions or flow issues on the return side.  Restrictions on the return side could trap pressure within the gear and create an issue with return-to-center.

4)  4.5-degrees positive caster is both normal and "factory", though with the cab over camper and trailer in tow, you may need more caster yet.  An increase to 5- or even 6-degrees would not be adverse and may alleviate some of this tendency.  (Watch for tire wear if you attempt this caster increase and rotate tires regularly. You have HD steering knuckle ball joints, so that's less of concern.  Excess caster does load the ball joints.)  Bear in mind that the load distribution hitch puts even more pressure on the front axle.  So with the cab over camper and the trailer load distributed along the truck's frame, you really have that front end squeezed down toward the ground!

5)  Make certain that your front wheel offset is correct.  You do not mention tire size or rim width.  Scrub radius is crucial and can be a problem, and if your front wheel offset is incorrect for the loads you describe, that could prevent the wheels from returning to center and could easily cause wander.  Dodge Ram front ends are hypersensitive to wheel width and offset.  Also, Steering Axis Inclination (SAI) is very important for return-to-center and should certainly be checked in your case.

Beyond this, I don't want to upset anyone's plans, but I am dead set against a cab over camper combined with a travel trailer.  First off, I would not do a cab over camper or fifth wheel without a dual-rear wheel system.  For a single drive wheel rear axle, I would get a bigger trailer before considering a camper.  My opinion is based upon years of exposure to trucks of all sizes and towing.  The need for air bags, aftermarket sway controls and other remedies contradict the factory chassis engineering and intended vehicle dynamics.  I don't mean to raise hackles, there are many cab over camper fans, but the weight of the Cummins engine, in addition to a cab over camper plus a load distribution hitch that transfers additional trailer weight to the truck's front and rear axles, is just too much.

I need to ask the obvious question:  Does the truck handle okay empty?  Does the steering return to center, is wander non-existent, do you have safe control of the vehicle when running empty?  If so, let's talk about your towing and hauling needs and what a Ram 2500 Cummins 4x4 Quad Cab with SRW can actually do.

Moses

 

Edited by Moses Ludel

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Hello, Moses...I actually have one or two of your books somewhere in my collection... And I used to hang out with Bill Burke back in the days when he was just starting out and I am pretty sure that we met back in the day... thanks for the detailed reply.  Where should I start... I have been four-wheeling for 45 years now and have a current class A Commercial license so with that said I am no expert here, yet I have been around the track a few times....I definitely welcome your advice.

Lets start with tire pressure - unloaded I run 50 in the front and 45 in the back, loaded with Lance Truck camper (model 825 which was designed for F150 and Tundras) and 6 x 16 enclosed dual axle trailer I run 65 in front and 70 to 80 in the back depending what's in the trailer. (Also I use the truck to pull large RV trailers for hire occasionally all over the US and that tire pressure seems to work best for empty truck and pulling up to 13,500 lb trailer (which is my GVCW at 20,000 lbs), oddly enough, the truck steers the same loaded or unloaded...I currently have BFG KO All terrain tires 285 75 17 load range E on stock rims (these are plus two size).  (Ran bfg's prior same problem.) 

Caster, I am currently at 4.5 on both sides and went up to the low 6's according to my angle finder, I have also read in your or Megatron's post and cross measured the front to rear axle and it is right on the money.  Professional align shops have put it on the rack to check my settings and they were darn near right on... Guess I got lucky. But bottom line, I am close to factory specs.  Everything I have done to the truck is considered an upgrade beyond factory level, example the Carli lifetime ball joints, because we all know that the stock ones wear out around 20 to 25k miles at the least, also the Dynatrac free spin kit I thought was a good idea to eliminate the single bearing to the old Dana 60 inner and outer wheel bearing design and of course the benefit of lock out hubs to eliminate the rotating mass... 

The new steering gear is a disaster... the tech support told me to adjust the preload, so I did, knowing perfectly well that it should have been adjusted on the bench at the factory, I am replacing the steering gear with something else immediately with that said. 

The steering fluid pressure is an excellent to test to consider, however, I have been avoiding that test because of the test equipment involved to measure the correct fluid pressure, I am thinking by the time I beg, borrow or purchase the test gear, or God forbid hire it out, I can purchase a new stock pump, btw, I am running the factory ATF+4 with Royal Purple additive, I bled the system, cap off, sawing the steering about 20x engine off, tires off the ground.  I will definitely check the hoses for restrictions... a good call. 

"I need to ask the obvious question:  Does the truck handle okay empty?  The truck handles almost as poorly as it does fully loaded with camper and trailer. Does the steering return to center, very poor return to center is wander non-existent, it always wanders, last week I was on my way back from AZ to CA and there was a section on newly added highway, concreted that the truck actually handled satisfactory, do you have safe control of the vehicle when running empty?  I have better control of the truck when running empty opposed to being loaded. If so, let's talk about your towing and hauling needs and what a Ram 2500 Cummins 4x4 Quad Cab with SRW can actually do." 

Thank You for your time and your comments, very much appreciated.  FYI, many forums talk about this situation and it is very common, but no one has the actual cure and certainly the professionals won't even touch this topic especially the dealerships. 

Pete

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Hello, Moses...I actually have one or two of your books somewhere in my collection... And I used to hang out with Bill Burke back in the days when he was just starting out and I am pretty sure that we met back in the day... thanks for the detailed reply.  Where should I start... I have been four-wheeling for 45 years now and have a current class A Commercial license so with that said I am no expert here, yet I have been around the track a few times....I definitely welcome your advice.

Lets start with tire pressure - unloaded I run 50 in the front and 45 in the back, loaded with Lance Truck camper (model 825 which was designed for F150 and Tundras) and 6 x 16 enclosed dual axle trailer I run 65 in front and 70 to 80 in the back depending what's in the trailer. (Also I use the truck to pull large RV trailers for hire occasionally all over the US and that tire pressure seems to work best for empty truck and pulling up to 13,500 lb trailer (which is my GVCW at 20,000 lbs), oddly enough, the truck steers the same loaded or unloaded...I currently have BFG KO All terrain tires 285 75 17 load range E on stock rims (these are plus two size).  (Ran bfg's prior same problem.)

Tire pressures seem right on for nearly stock tires.  OE size would be 50 front/40 rear unloaded, you might be able to drop some with the added load capacity over stock.  Regardless, you're close, might try 48F/40R or something like that range when empty just to see if that makes any difference.  Wander can be over-inflated tires.

Caster, I am currently at 4.5 on both sides and went up to the low 6's according to my angle finder, I have also read in your or Megatron's post and cross measured the front to rear axle and it is right on the money.  Professional align shops have put it on the rack to check my settings and they were darn near right on...Guess I got lucky. But bottom line, I am close to factory specs.

The cross measurement in diamond has served me well.  Have done lift kit installations with adjustable link arms front and rear that ended up smack on.  I do all of my own alignment, have since the late 'sixties, sounds like you have this in hand with caster, camber and toe.  Have you done cross checks on the front axle?  Cross caster and cross camber?  This is crucial, please comment on results if you have any from the professional rack alignments.  If not, check cross caster and cross camber.  Forget the beam axle myth that camber or caster should cross check.  It seldom does and can sometimes be very challenging.  I have a friend with a 2014 Ram who purposely changed cross caster on his brand new truck to offset normal road camber pull to the right.  He used Specialty Products offset ball-joints to accomplish this.  Are the Carli ball joints zero offset and non-adjustable?  Beam axles seldom have proper cross caster or camber from the factory.  Camber is always in question. If conflicting enough, this can cause wander, drift and imprecise steering.  

Does your truck's steering pull, and if so how much?  How much drift on a cambered highway?  How quickly will the truck drift to the right?

Everything I have done to the truck is considered an upgrade beyond factory level, example the Carli lifetime ball joints, because we all know that the stock ones wear out around 20 to 25k miles at the least, also the Dynatrac free spin kit I thought was a good idea to eliminate the single bearing to the old Dana 60 inner and outer wheel bearing design and of course the benefit of lock out hubs to eliminate the rotating mass...

I've been very fortunate, still on the OE ball joints at 150K miles.  Never carry much load in the bed, trailering has been around 12-15% of the truck's use, never a cabover camper...Not a fair comparison to your truck.  

Your Dynatrac Free-Spin is actually a very good idea.  Presumably, the wheel bearings are adjusted properly by the end-play method? 

The new steering gear is a disaster... the tech support told me to adjust the preload, so I did, knowing perfectly well that it should have been adjusted on the bench at the factory, I am replacing the steering gear with something else immediately with that said.

Very sorry that you're disappointed in the steering gear.  Is it worth a bench adjustment now? 

The steering fluid pressure is an excellent to test to consider, however, I have been avoiding that test because of the test equipment involved to measure the correct fluid pressure, I am thinking by the time I beg, borrow or purchase the test gear, or God forbid hire it out, I can purchase a new stock pump, btw, I am running the factory ATF+4 with Royal Purple additive, I bled the system, cap off, sawing the steering about 20x engine off, tires off the ground.  I will definitely check the hoses for restrictions... a good call.

I made a pressure gauge kit for testing vintage power steering gears and pumps.  The hydraulic hose was constructed at a NAPA store with appropriate fittings and couplers.  The gauge came from a tractor supply, a basic hydraulic pressure gauge of the proper range designed for use with hydraulic fluids.  Whether you do this test or not, I invested less than $50 in this apparatus.  I can share photos if helpful... 

"I need to ask the obvious question:  Does the truck handle okay empty?  The truck handles almost as poorly as it does fully loaded with camper and trailer. Does the steering return to center, very poor return to center is wander non-existent, it always wanders, last week I was on my way back from AZ to CA and there was a section on newly added highway, concreted that the truck actually handled satisfactory, do you have safe control of the vehicle when running empty?  I have better control of the truck when running empty opposed to being loaded. If so, let's talk about your towing and hauling needs and what a Ram 2500 Cummins 4x4 Quad Cab with SRW can actually do." 

Thank you for your time and your comments, very much appreciated.  FYI, many forums talk about this situation and it is very common, but no one has the actual cure and certainly the professionals won't even touch this topic especially the dealerships. 

Pete

 

Pete...We need to keep this exchange going and get down to a solution here.  I've had no handling issues with my '05 3500, the ball-joints are original, stock steering gear and steering linkage.  (I adjusted over-center gear mesh at 90K miles with no trouble since, would be glad to update to the larger gear if this one would give it up!  Running a dropped pitman arm which usually hastens wear on a steering gear.)  Stock steering linkage with "wrong configuration", still handles well.  Bilstein shocks and a 4-inch aftermarket Mopar/Superlift kit.  (I enhanced the bolt-on dropped track bar bracket, the install was 60K miles ago.)  Handling has been good both empty and with a 9000 pound trailer in tow.  Fuel tank in back holds 75-gallons, I seldom load the bed, often carry a light load in the rear cab...Let's get down to the bottom of this issue...Willing to hang in there!

See my light red comments within your quote above.

Moses

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Hello Mosses, Thanks again for taking the time to reply.

A couple of notes in random order...

*I will be working on my truck as soon as the new rebuilt gear box comes in from Redhead Steering later on this week.

*Discount Tire looked up in their chart for my truck and my specific tires came up with 62 front and 62 rear, I believe this is close to the manufacture specs at 65 front and rear, that's as bad as the 09 ford f250's, you have to keep +/- 5 lbs of air in them or the idiot lights come on and those truck ask for 70 psi front and rear, my 62 psi unloaded is ridiculous, a rough ride.

*I will locate my latest alignment printout, since it was checked on the rack about 2 months ago, I still am going to cross measure the front axle, then we can compare notes.

*The Carli Ball Joints are non-adjustable as far as I can tell, I just took them apart to make sure they had grease in them and weren't binding up and also retorqued them, as per there procedure.

*The truck does not actually pull per se, if you point the steering wheel it goes that way and stays that way.

*I was talking to the aftermarket people about my lower control arms and they were not surprised that my truck has steering issues because I replaced my lower control arms bushings with red polly ones instead of there (johnny joints), point being, as the truck moves up and down the control arm bushings actually move from side to side (the jury is still out on that one)

Pete

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Pete...My OE tires were LT265/70R17/E and called for 50# front/40# rear when empty...I use them on my 4" lift.  Consulting industry pros, the rule of thumb from those in the know is a crush of 0.015" per bushing.  Since there are two aftermarket urethane bushing halves per link arm end, this would be 0.030" bushing crush at each end of the link arm.  If your link arms are "floating" laterally, there's trouble...

Moses  

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Wow, I will be sending some pics as I start to work on my truck in the interim here is my combo...

 Interesting about the bushing crush. If anything I am too tight because I don't want the caster bolts to move. But I will check the crush measurement for sure. Is there a torque spec for that?

Thx

Pete 

20151122_104109.jpg

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transporter...I really like your truck, thanks for sharing the photo!  Quite a load there...The massive front bumper and winch add to the front axle weight.  I'm familiar with this story...

When I set up my front end with aftermarket urethane bushings on the link arms, I used the OE factory torque specifications and Loctite 242 on the factory nut threads.  (If these self-locking nuts are not firmly pinching, replace the nuts.)  The crush I describe is controlled by the metal spacer sleeves that fit inside the urethane bushings.

To establish crush, the bushings should be installed in the link arms (with link arms unbolted from the axle or frame).  Carefully measure the un-crushed width of the bushings from outside shoulder to outside shoulder while installed in the link arm bores.  Now measure the inner spacer sleeve width.  The sleeve width should be narrower than the spacing between the outer shoulders of the installed bushings.  The sleeve should be sized (width-wise) to allow for crush when you tighten the hardware to specification. 

My 0.030" (0.015" per bushing shoulder) crush figure comes from Energy Suspension for my particular bushings and application.  This crush figure may vary based upon the durometer (hardness) of the bushings, so follow the manufacturers' recommendation.  Contact your poly bushing supplier and ask what they like to see as crush.  Please share your findings.

If you need more crush, size the metal inner sleeves accordingly.  (Use a liquid cooled band saw or a metal lathe for this task to avoid impacting the sleeve's hardness.)  This has no bearing on the torque specs for hardware.  The sleeve will be solidly anchored when you tighten the hardware.  The sleeve's width controls the amount of urethane bushing crush.

Moses

Edited by Moses Ludel

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Hello Moses,

The front bumper is Aluminum and beautifully crafted from Aluminus and believe it or not, it weights the same as the stock bumper with mounts, Obviously the throw away Harbor freight experimental winch is a real piece of work and the 12,000 lbs rating is a real joke.

The research on the crush was a disaster. I purchased the lower control arms 2 years ago from 4Wheel Parts on line, Skyjacker part SKYDLL232. After calling, Procomp, Skyjacker, Rancho (while I had Rancho on the phone I asked them how are you supposed to adjust the front shocks? The knob that has the settings is almost impossible to turn, because it nested very close the the lower front coil, fingers and pliers just don't work, they are lifetime warrenty and I can refund at any time, on a positive note, the Rancho 9000's work really well because the Bilstein 5100's were removed on the front because they were too rough when the truck was unloaded on rough roads) . And of course the last place I checked was 4Wheelparts tech group - no one had any idea of the crush distance or even what what the crush was all about or even the factory torque for that matter. I asked about warranty them out, just for kicks and Skyjacker would only sell me a new bushing and sleeve kit HBll1752 for the radius arms for $30. Furthermore, no one could tell me where the bushings were sourced so I could get some tech information about them.  After pondering over this, I wonder if the sleeves are too short, I will investigate.

Well the rebuilt steering box from Red Head should be in Friday, I will pull the new old Borgeson unit out and ship it back for full credit thanks to the great people in your back yard at Summit Racing. I will take some pictures to document the process so you can see what is going on, and since you have helped me out on this major mystery.  This is crazy, I have built Jeeps/fiberglass bodies, lifted everything on earth, built cages, installed lockers designed my own lifts and restored half a dozen classic cars from ground up... and this dodge is kicking my butt.

Pete

Please review my alignment specs as requested06_dodge_ram_alignment.thumb.jpg.a366245

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Pete, the alignment seems within reasonable readings by stock standards.  Contact tech at Energy Suspension and describe your current link/radius arm bushing arrangement.  They will be glad to outline how these bushings and sleeves should fit up and can make recommendations.  

Discuss lubrication and the lube grooves needed in the bushings.  My aftermarket bushings that came with the Superlift/Mopar kit had no lube grooves, but the arms have zirk fittings.  The zirks serve little purpose without channels for the grease.  When I have time, I'm replacing these bushings with a set on my shelf from Energy Suspension.  I'll fit the sleeve widths to achieve the Energy Suspension crush spec.

One clue that you shared was the stability of your truck on a new road surface.  When the road is not feeding back, the truck has control; convolutions in the pavement make it "loose".  Could be that it is loose!  I'm targeting the arm bushings at this point.

Let me know if the Red Head gear helps...

Moses

Edited by Moses Ludel

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Hello Moses,

More questions and school of thought... The Red head box will delivered till Monday... with that said, I have some concerns about my existing Borgeson intermediate steering shaft. Their tech people could not answer the basic questions, so here we go.

 The following problems encountered with the intermediate steering shaft, and the steering box. There have been no positive conclusions to remedy the following.

1. The Borgeson intermediate steering shaft has needle bearings at the bottom end u-joint coupler which to me is no better than factory. The intermediate steering shaft obviously fits on the steering gear box splines with a 3/4" Double D end spline configuration, this means you have to file a flat spot on the input shaft on the box for the set screw to be properly fastened to the intermediate shaft (problem- poor design, not safe).

2. There have been a lot of complaints (especially from me) that at this intersection at box and shaft, there is a raddle that is transmitted up through the steering shaft to the brake pedal area. This raddle is felt over certain bumps unloaded at low speeds. It is at the intersection talked about in problem one area. The new Borgeson box (part #800123) installed a couple of months ago and 750 miles did not help the raddle. Note: This raddle occurred since day one when I bought the truck, and with no success using old/new part configurations. (It is either end play on the input steering gear or the coupler attachment at the bottom of the intermediate shaft in my opinion)

3. Moving farther up the shaft to the halfway point is the set screw to hold the bottom shaft to the upper shaft, enclosed with a rubber boot to keep dirt out -the comment/question here is your going to have some movement between the frame  (where the box is mounted) and the body (where the upper shaft and steering wheel are located) problem here is what happens to the movement between the frame and cab and how does it relate to the movement of the shaft especially when the set screw is tight with Loctite (Boregeson shaft has a set screw that is tight at the midway point where you have a single spline in case of accident the shaft collapses and compresses along the spline and negates the set screw, so normally there is no slidding movement in or out on the shaft to allow for the cab to chasis movement). I contacted Borgeson, they were no help here, one person actually told me to "look for write ups in the forums" REALLY! I am having thoughts of reinstalling the original Mopar steering shaft, because I like the positive fit at the box with the coupler using the clamp/thread installation.

4. The area at the firewall where the shaft goes through consists of a plastic bearing that has no support valve, I think it is there to cover the hole between the shaft and the firewall. This is fine however, the shaft is a double D design and therefore since it is a DD design, it is not a true circle and still allows engine heat/water into cab.  Borgeson had no comment.

Thank You, Pete

 

 

new shaft at firewall.jpg

new shaft old box install.jpg

new shaft to box installation.jpg

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Pete, the Borgeson steering shaft is popular, I've not used it and have nothing symptomatic that would encourage the conversion.  I get your concern about the upper coupler wobbling out of center when rotating.  That would be an issue that could even affect steering.  Optimally, as we know from drivelines, the joint angles should cancel each other.

There's an underlying presumption that the factory Mopar engineering is lacking.  At 150K miles, my steering, column and even the tie-rod ends and ball joints are still original. I would gladly replace them if showing signs of wear.  I'd certainly consider select upgrade parts (like the later Mopar steering gear and linkage) if an obvious weakness exists.

With the list of modifications you've done, it becomes difficult to sort out what is impacting what.  My truck being stone stock in this regard, I can isolate and narrow down problems as they come up.  I hate to see you throw good money after bad while serving as the R&D and QC for aftermarket manufacturers.

Moses

 

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Pete, there must be a means for extending and compressing the steering shaft.  As you note, the cab and frame have movement between them, and this requires compensating.

OE is typically a slide coupler (metal to metal sliding parts, usually the crush zone for collisions) or a rag coupler joint—or both.  If everything is rigid, and that includes the steel coupler joints, the shaft will likely bend or flex out of center to compensate for normal length change demands.  These length changes can be either the flex between cab and frame or the lengthening and shortening of the steering shaft if the coupler joints are not cancelling each others' angles.

Did Borgeson talk about joint alignment on the steering shaft?  Like a driveline, these joints must be able to cancel each other's angle.  Otherwise, an out of phase condition exists.  This could create bind or flex, and it could force the shaft into an elliptical movement.  You describe the shaft moving elliptically at the firewall.  Is the steering shaft out of phase from joint misalignment?  Check the steering shaft joint angles and also the alignment of these joints.

Moses

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Hello Moses after much hands-on research the borgeson intermediate shaft is in phase.

I think I found the rattle issue there is a few thousands  slop  between the steering wheel and the inner bearing in the column  under the dash. So now before I do a whole lot more research I need to figure out how to tighten the steering wheel or is there an inner bearing in the upper steering column to deal with there's a bearing on the bottom of the steering column under the dash that is in good shape something from the bottom up there's a little bit of slop side to side

Then I need to see which intermediate steering shaft I'm going to install.

Thx

Pete

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Okay let's back up a bit I found the rattle that everybody is talking about here's the big secret it's in the tilt steering wheel coupler right next to the ignition switch here's a picture with all the covers and everything removed from the bottom of the steering column. So now the big question is how to keep the slop out keep it from rattling. It's such a minut bit of play I wonder if some grease might help what that small amount of play gets amplified through the shaft and then the steering column support and then you feel it in the brake pedals. Please review picture please review picture

 

 

20151207_191626.jpg

Edited by transporter
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Pete...This is a classic issue with tilt steering columns over time.  If you can feel the clucking at the brake pedal, that seems measurable.  Doubtful whether grease could "fix" this, but if there is evidence that grease was there and is no longer, you might consider doing this with the proper factory-type lube.  Beware of the air bag while working around the column and steering wheel!

Here is the factory procedure for servicing the column of a 2005 Ram, note the distinctions and differences between an SR-T through the HD 4x4s.  There are many insights and safety footnotes throughout this information.  I use a 49" computer monitor these days for video editing, and the images in this PDF are well suited for zoom-in details:

 2005 Dodge Ram Steering Column Service.pdf

Did the force of the stiff aftermarket steering shaft put pressure on this tilt wheel coupler?  How many miles does this truck have now?

Moses

2005 Dodge Ram Steering Column Service.pdf

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Hello Moses, I can't wait to review the procedure a side note there is grease on the tilt steering coupler mechanism this truck had the rattle since the day I bought it at 50000 it now has 100 plus more on it several of my friends have this exact same rattle but no one seemed to know where its coming from. I removed the intermediate shaft all the coupling and put a vice grips on the steering wheel shaft eliminated the bottom bearing and it's definitely absolutely positively the coupler. In my opinion I don't think the stiff intermediate steering shaft put too much of a bind on the steering wheel column or that bearing on the bottom of the column would have been destroyed there is absolutely no slop on that bearing but a side note I can't believe the way they have that bearing secured to the column they bent the metal tabs over at the end of the bottom of the column. Can't upload the picture of the bearing on the bottom of the column it's 4mb with a flash and very detailed

Disconnected the batteries for  20 minutes before I disconnected the airbag so the capacitor had enough time to discharge. Oddly enough there's a recall on my dodge 4 something in the airbag control... dodge has no clue when the parts are available.

Thx very much for your time.

Pete

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Glad the professional grade service details will help, Pete.  I got the recall on the airbag, too, no part(s) available.  Is the issue the airbag itself, part of the Tanaka chemical debacle?  If so, FCA must supply a new bag at some point...We're in a drier climate, which allegedly means less likelihood of spontaneous deployment.  If this is the Tanaka airbag issue, the worst climates were high humidity areas of the country.

Sounds like you're safety oriented!  I'm glad.  Others should value your comment on discharging the capacitor.  I noticed the bearing "installation" with the pinched tubing.  The engineers expected this to be a "lifetime" component, apparently.  Looks like an obvious scar if the bearing gets replaced.  Bearing may be sold with the column tube until the part becomes obsolete.  With some care, the bearing could be replaceable.

Moses

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Moses, after pouring over the service details, the only thing I learned is the column/tilt unit has to be replaced as a unit for a deal of $1200. Furthermore the details say not to disassemble the tilt mechanism. Yea right... After a few hours of inspection and pondering it was impossible for me to remove the two hybrid bolts on either side of the tilt mechanism to explore further. Time to go to plan "b". Pack the joint full of grease or plan "c", cut the two bolts off and replace with similiar hardened bolts when done, which could get ugly and maybe cause a saftey issue.

Pete

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Moses, After many tests and measurements and adjustments, here is what I found. Still not what I want, but truck steers a lot better... empty.

*installed new/rebuilt Redhead steering gear - works much better.

*adj toe in another 1/16". Now toed in 3/16"

*cross measured rear axle to frame, front axle to frame and axle to axle per our previous discussion - all measurements are right on the money

*As far as the rattle and infamous clunky from the tilt steering coupler - After removing darn near the entire steering unit, I packed the coupler full of red grease, I should have used something that smelled a bit better, but that took care of the noise for now

*heavily packed the Boregson steering shaft with grease and that also took care of some slop in the shaft, I am going to install a zerk fitting where the shaft slides to accept pressurized grease from grease gun

*as per our discussion, I made sure the steering shaft couplers are in phase

still working on the steering

Pete

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Pete...Pleased that you're gradually getting results...It's mechanical, there's always a solution, and you're willing to work through this.  It's a great truck and should provide satisfaction once working properly.  

Glad the Redhead steering gear made a difference.  From industry coverage I've seen, they seem to concentrate on precise setup and proper tolerances...

Moses

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Hello moses,

A while back we touched on the truck possibly doing well after all the measurements and adjustments the truck pulls slightly to the right do you have any suggestions to remedy that. I haven't given this a whole lot of thought I thought I'd ask the experts before I contemplate the adjustment at hand.

Thx, and happy new year

Pete

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Pete...If everything from the frame's straightness to axle alignment, thrust, caster, camber and toe each check okay, a deliberate change in the cross caster can force the vehicle into a straight (zero-pull) mode on a normally cambered/crowned highway.

Does your truck always pull right, or just when the vehicle is on a crowned road or normally cambered roadway?  If a perfectly flat surface does not create a pull, I would leave the alignment alone.  If you're finicky about pull on normally crowned or cambered roads, I can share that some will go to great lengths to end this natural tendency.

Note:  I always rule out tire "radial pull".  Attempt to correct a pull one way or the other by swapping the front tires side-to-side.  This will often eliminate an exaggerated front end pull.

A friend and colleague bought a new (late) Ram/Cummins 2500 4x4 and was unhappy with the natural right pull.  He is a journalist and tests tires all the time.  This right pull, in his experience, is normal for the stock tires and would likely be either less or more with different brands and treads of tires.  The front wheel alignment readings were each well within specification, and he elected to change the caster (only) at the right front wheel—to intentionally create a modified cross caster.  

This was accomplished with a Specialty Products' 1.5-degree offset ball-joint.  The front end was set to 5.1 degrees positive at the left front wheel and 7.0 degrees positive at the right front wheel.  Camber was maintained at the stock spec, and toe remained stock measurement.  

Note:  Factory caster calls for a cross caster of -0.4 degrees (difference) between right and left sides.  In this case, the cross-caster was modified with the 1.5 degree off-set ball joint at the right front upper position.  This takes the cross-caster to approximately -1.8 degrees, according to the machine readout (apparently rounded off).  It stands to reason that routine tire rotation is now even more important! 

His truck now pulls slightly left on a perfectly flat road surface but drives straight without pull on a normally crowned or cambered highway.  He has done this on several 4WD vehicles with IFS, this is the first such change on one of his beam axle trucks.  He's very happy with the results.

Specialty_Products_Company__1.5_degree_b  Specialty_Products_Company__1.5_degree_b

Specialty_Products_Company__1.5_degree_b  Specialty_Products_Company__1.5_degree_b

Specialty Products Company 1.5-degree offset ball-joint for changing caster, camber or both.  (Available in various degrees of correction.)  Photos courtesy of my friend, the owner of a late model Ram/Cummins 2500 4x4 pickup with beam front axle.  This one ball-joint, clocked as requested by the owner, was used to modify the cross-caster measurement.

Considering the work involved in changing an upper ball-joint on a beam axle steering knuckle, this is a great length to go in order to get rid of what many would regard as the "normal" float to the right on a cambered road surface.  Of course, if the caster and/or camber are out of specification, this type of ball-joint in the right clock position can save changing a beam axle or steering knuckle.  

Warning:  An off-set ball joint should never be used to compensate for damaged parts (a bent knuckle or spindle, bowed axle tubes, etc.)!

Moses

Edited by Moses Ludel

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Wow moses, what a truly unique detailed overview of the "pull to the right syndrome", you gave some input that I never really thought about.

The truck does not pull on newer non-crowned concrete, so after reviewing your reply, I will leave the alignment alone.

I paid a lot of money for my Carli lifetime balljoints, and I don't want to mess with them to create an offset.

Thx again for schooling me.

Pete

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Moses, after pouring over the service details, the only thing I learned is the column/tilt unit has to be replaced as a unit for a deal of $1200. Furthermore the details say not to disassemble the tilt mechanism. Yea right... After a few hours of inspection and pondering it was impossible for me to remove the two hybrid bolts on either side of the tilt mechanism to explore further. Time to go to plan "b". Pack the joint full of grease or plan "c", cut the two bolts off and replace with similiar hardened bolts when done, which could get ugly and maybe cause a saftey issue.

Pete

    I had the exact same issue and found a replacement column at the wrecking yard for under 300.00.  Take two pairs of vise grips and clamp one at each end of the tilt joint. with your hands oppose forces to check the joint in question for play.  If it is tight, make sure you have the key. You will need to swap the tumbler assembly and the electronic key reader from your existing column.

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