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Discussion Starter #1
My 2000 Ram 1500 started pulling to the left after replacing both tie rod ends and the lower ball joint on the left side. Alignment was performed. The pull is constant and the steering wheel cocks to the left as well. When I hit the brakes, the steering wheel straightens up and the pull goes away. It will stay straight for a random amount of time (usually until I hit a bump or turn left) then suddenly it's pulling left again. It's a used vehicle I recently bought: I noticed the right brake hose was new so on a lark I replaced the left brake hose which looked original - it was probably a good idea to replace it, but it didn't help the problem. I'm considering replacing the caliper next but it strikes me as odd that the steering stays straight for a little while with no brake applied. I'd figure a bad caliper would always pull no matter what, and the steering would only straighten because of equal pressure on both rotors. Something in the steering mechanism itself perhaps? Sadly, I'm not experienced in that realm. Side note: It does make a nice bad-power-steering-hum during full turns in either direction - say, when pulling into a parking spot (especially when it's cold). I figured I'd run it by you guys before I spend next weekend replacing things and scratching a hole in my head. Thanks in advance!
 

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da! you need an alignment and brakes work. do it and quit complaining to us about you chores!
 

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if the ball joints were just looked at buy some hired help near do well they might be ok. what they dont usually do is tighten down the slack in the steer gear box. that might be the source of the play. make sure the calipers slide on the carrying bolts. check to see if the caliper pistons compress at about even pressure, compare both sides, take off the brake resivoir cap and compress the pistons w/ a c clamp. watch you dont want to over flow. this is how i test for sticky brakes. give that a try.
 

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Yah yah, spun I'm not complaining this is a labor of love :p (to the 1st post) The alignment is good and I am mostly my own help on this one. This is my project truck that I bought pretty darn cheap to haul my travel trailer so I'm working out the sniggles one by one. She's not perfect but she has potential. Still, I didn't do the alignment, but the final readout was okay (I actually had it done twice but that's a long blah blah blah story - I am not getting off that easy). Tomorrow I plan to break down both calipers, R&R, and rebuild them (along with some love to the slide pins, etc.) mainly to rule this out - she's got about 250k miles so I'm sure it could use it - in fact both calipers probably could. After some thinking and some posting on other boards I really feel the problem is elsewhere in the steering system and the gear box is definitely on my list - I just need to rule out the caliper first. There is no abnormal heat buildup on the rotors which is mostly a sign I need to look elsewhere. I'll post some results, keep your fingers crossed - I know I am.
 

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jack your truck up and spin the wheels to see if one is grabbing more then the other, then check for bad wheel bearings. While it is setting on the ground have some one turn the steering wheel back and forth while you look at all the frontend parts for play, this works best if you have it setting on rough pavement.
 

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@ dodgen - Yeah, I suspected wheel bearings myself, so I jacked her up and tested for vertical play. No play at all, and I spun them around a couple of times rechecking each time. The visible portion of the bearing is nice and shiny too which seems to back up the previous owners claim that he replaced both front wheel bearings a few thousand miles ago. There's some play in the steering which I'll investigate later today since I'll have a helper for a little while. Otherwise I found everything but the seal kit for the caliper so the boots, slide pins, etc will get some work today - this is more side work than anything as I notice the rotors are chewed a bit thin, though worn evenly, so the rotors will go and I bet the caliper pistons could use cleaning and new seals. This may help the steering problem but I'm not betting on it. Thanks a bunch, I'll post back anything I find out tonight.
 

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Is your truck 2wd or 4x4?
 

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@ Lee - she's a 2wd, nothing fancy. That being said, I did some exploratory poking today as well as replaced both brake's slide pins/bushings, slide pin boots, and anti-rattle clips. They came in a kit for ten bucks so what the heck. No real change in behavior though. All the nuts/bolts for the arms, gear, etc. seem to be torqued properly and I didn't find any play to indicate further problems with the ball joints (yay - in fact both uppers look new-ish, I'd almost swear they're moogs). I did find abnormal play in the power steering gearbox; however, so I think I might have found 3/4ths of my culprit right there. The other 1/4 could easily be the rotors themselves and/or the caliper pistons too. Both rotors are fairly chewed (with concurrent pad damage) - more so on the left than the right, and the left wheel IS "grabbier" than the right when free-wheeling. I think the play in the gearbox combined with the extra friction on the left side equals the behavior I'm seeing. So my next question: has anybody rebuilt a PS gearbox on one of these that might have some tips and/or point me in the right direction where I can find a manual or similar resource for a rebuild? I'd like to assess the difficulty of rebuilding before I shell out a hundred fifty bucks for what's likely a factory rebuilt gearbox anyway. The rebuild kit is only about 20 bucks. I have the time, and my stepfather's garage 24/7 with a wide variety of tools at my disposal, and I'll be R&R'ing the calipers anyway. Thanks in advance if anybody has some input!
 

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some gear boxes have center pins(flat head) and a lock down nut around that. at least my 96 does. loosen the nut- drive the flat head down(not too tight, gears must have alittle lash), reset the nut. after the lock nut sometimes the lash opens a little. check it again!
 

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why not did you compress the caliper pistons to see if they slide free? glad you got problems on the run!
 

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@ spun - sorry I just forgot to mention it in my posting - I've planned to R&R the calipers all along since it's an easy and cheap job (assuming I can find the seal kit), and IMO on a used vehicle it's nice to know where you're starting from on the various components - so it slipped my mind. Yes, I compressed the pistons and didn't feel any binding - compression was smooth and seemed even on both sets of calipers. These have dual pistons and I compressed both simultaneously, c-clamp on a block of wood with the c-clamp in the middle of the two pistons. All 4 pistons (both sides) compressed with the same amount of force applied. Additionally, the pads are about half worn - all pads are worn to the same depth, though the nasty rotors have scarred them up a bit. The sum of all of this is that I don't believe there is a caliper piston problem. I'll check out the adjustment on the gearbox - I recall now that you mentioned tightening the gearbox but it slipped my mind while I was out in the garage today. It would be nice to leave the existing gearbox in place as I have no desire to monkey around with it any more than necessary, and let's face it - this isn't a daily driving vehicle. Thanks again :)
 

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ata boy!
 

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Well I adjusted the steering box - took a little trial and error, but I got it. It's amazing to me how drastically the steering changes with just minor adjustments. Thanks for the tip - saved me a lot of elbow grease! Next weekend I'll slap some new rotors and on it for the real test and barring something like a proportioning valve problem (unlikely)I think I should be in good shape. Though I'm second guessing myself a little bit right now about my measurement of the pads - logically it makes no sense for them to be equally worn since I know I have a drag on the left side. Perhaps I measured the same pad twice, or the previous owner put a used set on it before handing it over (I haven't put enough miles on it to really use much of a pad, and I didn't measure it to micrometer degrees of accuracy)... I guess it'll all come out in the wash but I will investigate that further too if the rotors don't change things for the better. Wish I'd spun the tires without the calipers on just for the "control group" effect but it'll be on the list for next weekend as a possible next diagnostic step. Thanks again for all the help!
 

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for futures' referance, the pads w/ the squealer on the inside mating w/ the piston seem to wear 30% faster. they get thinner faster. here's a trick for the diy guy who keeps a watch on his own machine," put the worn squealer pads on the out side, oposite of the cylinders." youll get more life out of the last few months of a set. keep your eye on them.
 

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inner pads have a clip to snug into the caliper piston (for single piston) and the outer pads have two clips that hold it centered on the caliper, you'd have to remove the clips.

also you can smooth up the metal to metal contact points between the caliper and the caliper mount, and maybe apply some dry-type lubricant there.
 

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Well the brakes got lots of much-needed love and she's stopping like a champ no doubt about it, yet she still likes to wander to the left. Perhaps there's something interesting over there that she wants to check out :p Ahhh well, it was a nice sunny warm day for some mechanical work, and to share a couple of brews with friends. I'm feeling perhaps it's the control arm bushings after all, as someone suggested on another board. Have some other stuff to do tomorrow, and cash is a little tight so the bushings will have to wait a bit. All and all it was still a good day.
 

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Well just thought I'd drift by and post what fixed the problem. Control arm bushings - uppers, to be exact. Now she handles like a champ :D
 
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