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I replaced the steering gear box on my 2004 E250 with a remanufactured one. I'm still getting play in the steering wheel, about an inch as measured by the circumference of the wheel. I took a look under the truck and the pitman arm is not moving when the wheel is turned the inch.

Should I adjust the sector gear, or did I get a defective gear box? It was my understanding that the gearbox came pre-adjusted, and there is no mention of adjustment in the instructions that were provided.

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Wheel bearings? – Mike Saull Jul 22 '13 at 14:12

Looseness in the steering box can cause handling issues as the wheels will drift left to right as you make steering corrections. If this is a used steering box it may need to be adjusted. This typically involves loosening the jam nut on the preload adjustment screw and turning in the preload screw in 1/8 increments until the freeplay is removed. The other potential problem is the ragjoint. The ragjoint is rubberized fabric coupler between the steering column shaft and the steering box. As far as the indicator is concerned it may require taking off some of the plastic dashboard trim near the steering column. You should be able to notice that part of the column turns when the shifter is moved. Somewhere on that piece is a small screw with a thin wire attached. The other end of the wire moves the dash indicator. It is adjusted by moving the screw and retightening it.

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

I tested three rebuilt gearboxes from two different manufacturers. They all had extra play in them. I'm assuming that they don't replace worn components, but just repack everything and put in new seals. From my experience, I highly recommend that you bring a vise-wrench to the parts store and test the gearbox before you buy it. To perform the test, I took a vise-wrench to the input and turned it back and forth. If the pitman arm did not move when I turned the input shaft, then I knew the gear box was bad. I went to a ford dealer and ordered a oem rebuilt gearbox, and it tested fine. No play. So, at least with the Ford E-250 it's best to go OEM, even though it's more than double the cost.

I installed it in August, and it's been steering well ever since.

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