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  Vague Steering

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Vehicle Ultima 2.9 24V Saloon
Year 1995
Mileage 97,000
Repair Cost 1000
Repair Part(s) Steering Rack, Pump, Shock Absorbers, Radius Arms, Drop Links
Fault Finding - Vague steering - steering wander at low  speed, float at high speed
The car had been deteriorating in steering quality for a couple of thousand miles. Driving down country lanes with uneven road surfaces was distinctly unnerving and it was time for remedial action to be taken.

There was also a  problem with floating sensations over hills at high speed and awful vibration under heavy braking.

Firstly I replaced the front disks myself - 35 a pair from Halfords although I could have got them a lot cheaper at Partco as I found out later. A new set of Ferodo pads were also fitted although it almost made me cry throwing away a perfect set of almost new ones that had been fitted only a few thousand miles ago.

Stop&Steer had diagnosed a power steering rack that had wear in the straight ahead position - you could feel it bite when it was up on the ramps. So I changed the rack and as the pump was making the odd knocking noise I had that changed at the same time. Rather than get Fords to do it at 50 an hour I gave the instructions to the local Garage and they did the job at 28 an hour and I could stand there and watch them do it. Anyway the rack was 150 and the pump 140 both from Partco and 100 for the labour.

That improved matters but did not cure the problem.

So I decided that as I was keeping the car and it had 97,000 on the clock that I would bite the bullet and replace the main wearing components of the front suspension.

That meant new shock absorbers all round - they are Monroe gas shocks - 140 for the fronts and 110 for a matched pair of rears, supplied by Partco. I also replaced the front wishbones at 70 each and new wishbone rear bearings at 12 each from Fords. The wishbones are a known weak spot and they were badly worn and yet two garages failed to find this out when on the ramps - we only noticed when they were off the car.

I also replaced both drop links on the anti roll bar as one had seized - 29 each from Ford. Labour to fit the lot came to 140.

I know it all sounds expensive but using reconditioned parts and a local 'good' garage saved an absolute fortune (Ford quoted 700 for a new rack!) and now I know that she will be good for another 50k miles - at least for the steering and suspension.

The only advice with using a local garage is that they frequently do not have the detailed instructions for the car so I made sure they were aware of the special procedures for the Wishbone - torque up the retaining bolts with the vehicles weight on the wheels - not on the ramp.

I took her for a blast up the M5 today and she is so smooth and arrow straight - all the way up to 70+ and then braking down to 40 for the exit - no vibration at all - it reminded my why I bought her in the first place.



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