How to Pinpoint the Culprits behind Ford F-150 Idler Arm Problems
Your Ford F-150 idler arm is an essential component that keeps your truck on the right track. It serves as a tiller or a lever that pushes your front wheels to the left, to the right, or to whatever direction you want to go. If one day you suddenly notice that your steering wheel feels stiff, then you know where to look. Check your idler arm for signs of damage that give you steering troubles.
Stiff or hard steering is caused by several things; the first one is due to worn-out bearings in the idler arm's bushings. Over time, these bearings corrode or jam inside the bearing container. This results in extreme stress and damage to every pivot joint. To verify this, you need to inspect the physical condition of the idler arm bushing. To catch a better view of the idler arm bearings, you might need to go under your truck. Locate the idler arm and find the bearing container along the pivot joints. It's best if you have a flashlight so you can see the bearings clearly. If the bearings look old and rusty, replace them immediately.
Poor steering response
Poor response is also known as steering play. It is a condition in which the tires don't react with the steering wheel. This happens when the connection between the idler arm and the tie rods is loose. Check the connections by observing the movement of the wheels. But, in order to do this, you need assistance from a friend or a relative. Ask this person to steer the wheel while you observe the idler arm under your truck. If the arm doesn't move right after your friend turn the steering wheel, the idler arm is defective. Hence, it must be replaced.
A loud, clanking noise coming from your idler arm means that it is not securely attached to the steering box and to the centerlink. The sound that you hear is produced when the idler arm wobbles and bumps with the other metal components. In this case, you need to check the mounting bolts of the idler arm. Usually, there are four bolts that hold the arm in place. When there's a missing bolt, replace it immediately.
How to Safeguard Your Ford F-150 Idler Arm in Four Easy Ways
Major steering problems can be prevented if you know how to protect your Ford F-150 idler arm. Even though there are lots of factors that could ruin its operation, the idle arm can sure pass them with the help of your caring hands. Help prolong its service life by doing these simple yet efficient maintenance tips:
Protect your idler arm from dirt.
Because of its location, the idler arm is overly exposed to dirt, mud, and soil. Keeping this component clean may entail a lot of work, but it is a must. By removing these contaminants, you can prevent corrosion even before it starts. This is the basic rule in extending the service life of your idler arm.
Protect your idler arm from corrosion.
Rust infects the pivot joints and the bearings first before it spreads on to other metal components of the idler arm. If you really want to stop corrosion, you must focus on these two parts. The most efficient way to combat corrosion is by applying lubricant such as oil and WD-40. These chemicals have excellent anti-corrosion properties that keep your idler arm rust free for as long as possible.
Prevent your idler arm from falling off.
A loosely installed idler arm can fall off easily when subjected under extreme vibration and movement of the wheels. The secret to keeping it intact and secured is through proper tensioning of the bolts. The mounting bolts should not be too tight to allow the idler arm to pivot with ease. They should also be not too loose or else the idler arm will wobble and fall off the vehicle.
Prevent your idler arm from going stiff.
Worn-out bushings can cause your idler arm to lack steering response and control. That's why it is necessary to replace these bushings regularly. How often? It depends. The truth is there is no definite time because it's really hard to determine the service life of these bushings. There are a lot of factors to consider, including your driving habits. To be sure, inspect your bushings periodically to see their real condition. Torn and damaged bushings definitely require replacement.