Steering: Drag Link Replacement

At about 40,000 miles, the Sportsmobile developed loose steering, with a play of about 3 inches. Having someone wiggle the steering wheel while looking underneath revealed the problem to be the joint where the drag link attaches to the right front wheel knuckle.

Sportsmobile - Steering - Loose Drag LinkSportsmobile - Steering - Loose Drag LinkSportsmobile - Steering - Loose Drag Link

It could not be tightened. Turning the nut just turned the whole bolt.

Because I've been frustrated with my mechanic lately, I decided to fix my loose steering by replacing the drag link myself.

Sportsmobile - Drag Link Replacement - Geoff

I ordered the parts from rockauto.com. For my 2004 van, Sportsmobile used for the 4x4 conversion Ford Motorcraft drag link parts from F-Series trucks (and Ford Excursion). The two halves of the drag link are parts MDOE8 and MEOE130.

Getting the old rusted hardware off turned out to be the hardest problem. To remove the nut from the drag link bolt, I first tried scoring the bolt end with my angle grinder and gripping it with vise grips or a wrench. Still, that didn't work — I applied a huge amount of force but it wouldn't give.

Sportsmobile - Drag Link ReplacementSportsmobile - Drag Link Replacement - Scored BoltSportsmobile - Drag Link Replacement - Scored Bolt with Vise GripsSportsmobile - Drag Link Replacement - Scored Bolt with Wrench

So, I finally ended up just cutting through the nut & bolt to get it off.

Sportsmobile - Drag Link Replacement - Cut Bolt & NutSportsmobile - Drag Link Replacement - Cut Bolt

The other end came off fine using a pitman arm puller.

Sportsmobile - Drag Link Replacement - Pitman Arm Puller

Here are the new & old parts. Disassembling the rusted old drag link also required a huge amount of force. I cheated, adding a long pipe to the end of my vise grip's handle — but, still it was slow work.

Sportsmobile - Drag Link Replacement - New & Old Drag Link PartsSportsmobile - Drag Link Replacement - Disassembling Old Drag LinkSportsmobile - Drag Link Replacement - Disassembling Old Drag Link

Time to put the new parts on! I realized that I was now missing a nut. The castle nut is a metric thread part not found at my local auto parts store — so off to Tacoma Screw. They have everything!

Sportsmobile - Drag Link Replacement - New Metric Nut

Finally, reassembly was easy. The middle piece of the drag link is rotated (with vise grips) to adjust the centering of the steering wheel.

Sportsmobile - Drag Link ReplacementSportsmobile - Drag Link Replacement