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Discussion Starter #1
Now that the snow has finally receded and the streets have dried up, I noticed that my '92 2WD V8 Dak does not "track" properly.

When I drive it feels like I'm in an old 40s movie car scene where the actor who is driving is continuously swinging the steering wheel to the left and then the right to keep the vehicle straight. It's not really that bad but it starting to get annoying.

I'm thinking the tie rods need adjusting ??

Your input please.
 

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My truck had gotten like this by last year, and it would have failed safety inspection, the shop said, if I didn't replace the idler and pitman arms, then align it. It's like new now.
 

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I suspect it needs more than the tie rods adjusted. There is probably wear someplace: a ball joint, a tie rod end, the steering rack, bushings. It really needs inspected carefully but there's likely to be slop somewhere.
 

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DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS!
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It isn't unheard of for leafspring parts to also wear out, exacerbating a steering problem. I had front spring eye bushings go bad on my Cordoba...
 

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Discussion Starter #5
valiant67 said:
I suspect it needs more than the tie rods adjusted. There is probably wear someplace: a ball joint, a tie rod end, the steering rack, bushings. It really needs inspected carefully but there's likely to be slop somewhere.
Well, it IS a '92 and I have no idea of the maintenance history before I got it a few years ago.

I'm thinking an inspection is in order...

Could get expensive. :(
 

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Has it been aligned recently? Could just be that. I have the original ball joints and tie rods at 197K miles, no issues.
 

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Well, for some perspective, when we rebuilt the front end on the Cordoba ourselves, which was ball joints, tie rod ends, pitman arm, idler arm, upper control arm bushings, lower control arm bushings, and strut-rod bushings, I think that it cost me about $300 in parts, and took about three days to do the work.

The rear suspension rebuild, which was just front and rear spring-eye bushings and rear shackle bushings, took a couple of hours.
 

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Having that work done, instead of doing it yourself, will easily quadruple the cost, depending on where you go. I do most of my work, but have not replaced steering components myself. It can intimidate some people; or they don't have the facilities, skills or tools to do it.
 

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I did the front end rebuild on the last 1999 Dakota I had. I spent several weekends replacing rubber bushings with Energy Suspension poly bushings, shocks, outer tie rods, sway bar end links and ball joints. I had les than $300 in parts plus the cost of an alignment.

I did not have time to do the work this time around on the "new" 1999 Dakota and paid Goodyear to do it. I spent well over $1000 before the alignment, replacing most of the same parts but using rubber bushings.

However, the 1996 and earlier Dakotas seem to have much more robust suspention bushings and ball joints than the 1997-2004 ones. I never have replaced a bushings or a ball joint on any of the pre-1997 Dakota I've owned, some with a lot of miles while the 1999s both need bushings not much over 100k miles.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Well, I bit the bullet and had my local mechanic look at it... and none too soon !!!

The bottom coupler on the bottom half of the steering column was broken !!!

Getting it replaced today !!!
 

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Yikes!
Has the starter ever been replaced? Is this 4WD? On the 4WD vehicles, factory procedure to remove the starter mounting bolts is to undo that coupler, swing the steering shaft up and out of the way, remove the shield from under the radiator, and reach with a 2-foot extension to the starter. If that was done, someone may have broken it.

I found a different way to access the starter: remove the LF wheel and the wheelwell shield, and reach up and over the frame. Better and faster.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Yikes!
Has the starter ever been replaced? Is this 4WD?
No, the starter has not been replaced since I purchased the truck about 5 years ago... and this is a 2WD.

The coupler is clearly visible and accessible from the driver's side of the engine bay.

I'm picking the truck up today so I'll post a pic of the part in question.

Cheers !!
 

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Get under the front end, and have someone turn the steering wheel left and right. Watch for "wobbly" pitman arm, idler arm and rod ends. That's how I found a bad idler arm.
 

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Wow, coupler. That's crazy...not the most likely considered component failure without a full inspection, but not unheard of. Certainly, as noted by others on this thread, it can resemble rack, inner/outer tie rod, pitman / idler arm etc wear. Failed component? Steel cast, so may have had a hairline fracture/ flaw in the steel -- you mix that with years of exposure / wear, hot and cold , corrosion etc., and I can see something like that finally snap/break. That happened to me with a stabilizer bar many many years ago -- snapped clean on the inside right near the bushing. No reason other than a flaw in the steel -- finally succumbed to exposure and use (-40 in Winnipeg can be hell).

Glad you brought it in and had it inspected.
 
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