Power steering repair on a Ford F150?
August 30, 2006 12:00 PM   Subscribe

Do I have any shot of fixing my 1984 Ford F150 power steering leak on my own?

I have a 1984 Ford F150 that went from running pretty decently...to dripping power steering fluid...to steadily leaking power steering fluid in the space of a 20 minute trip. I believe we got it home with no permanent damage, but this needs to be fixed. I know the problem isn't a loose stopper plug, but that's as far as I've gotten. This isn't an everyday car and I realize it may not have a lot of life left, so I don't mind giving it a shot myself. I'm very mechanically handy but don't have a lot of experience with cars, hence my related questions:

- Any ideas about what is most likely problem?
- If I were going to buy a repair manual which one might you recommend?
- If I have this fixed professionally any idea on cost range?
posted by true to Travel & Transportation (3 answers total)
Best answer: The most likely problem is a busted hose. The next most likely problem is bad seals in the steering rack or pump. The first would be inexpensive and easy to do yourself, while the latter would be a difficult job, but not impossible. Getting a used part from a junkyard for this, one of the most popular trucks ever made, would not be difficult. I say go for it.

Your library probably has repair manuals for this aged of a vehicle.

Also, you can still drive it without power steering, it'll just take a little more oomph on the part of your elbows.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 12:30 PM on August 30, 2006

Best answer: Followup to lo-carb, it likely doesn't have a rack, per se, but rather a gearbox. Luckily, a gearbox is easier to remove and replace.

However, yeah, likely a hose, or the seal on the gearbox. FIrst thing you need to do is get a can of brake cleaner. Spray it all over the area from whence comes the leak. Fill up the reservoir, and see where the leak is coming from.

As for replacing whatever part it turns out to be: if it's the reservoir/pump, you'll have to loosen a belt to get at it, and a couple bolts. If it's a hose, one fitting on each end of the hose. If it's the gearbox, there will be two or three bitch-ass bolts holding the gearbox to the frame, one coupler of some sort going to the the steering column (consider yourself luck if it's just a rag joint), and the actual steering arm, which might be connected to the gearbox via a spline and a bolt-if you're lucky- or some other cockamamie methid of attachment.

Regarding having it fixed, a small local shop should be able to source a used gearbox, or new pump or hoses. f-150s were made at a rate of nearly a million a year since the dawn of time, so getting a junkyard part should be cake. Replacing whatever part needs replacement shouldn't call for more than 1.5 hours * shop hourly rate.
posted by notsnot at 7:42 PM on August 30, 2006

Best answer: My 2001 Subaru Outback has 165k miles and a leak in the right-hand rack seal. It's too new for the reputable rebuilders to be offering affordable replacements yet, so I've been using Lucas Power Steering Fix from the auto shop until they do. It cut the leak from 1 quart/day to about 1 oz/day.

The net's consensus seems to be that if you have to use this kind of product, the Lucas is what you want, though I have to confess I've never been happy about "solutions in a can" for car problems and I have no idea what the potential for long-term issues is from doing this, so don't sue me if you try it and it blows your truck up.
posted by Opposite George at 10:13 PM on August 30, 2006

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