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Thread: Steering woes on an 83 4wd

  1. #1

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    1983 Dodge Power Ram 50
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    Steering woes on an 83 4wd

    My idler arm bushings are shot after less than a year and 6k of use. A little bad-roading but mostly tarmac. Why are they so fragile? At 7 bucks for the pair and 20 minutes to change, I'm not exactly throwing a sh-tfit, but it'd be nice to throw something longer-lasting in there. I can't find anything other than Beck Arnley, unless I want to buy a whole idler arm assembly... for $90 and up.

    Also, my power steering is all kinds of strange. It's notchy, intermittently stiff, mostly when turning right but also left. It has no leaks I can find, but the fluid was normal a few months ago and really low last week. It was a golden color like motor oil, but the FSM calls for Dextron, which is usually red. I did no maintenance to the system for the last two years and it only started having problems recently. As an aside, the previous owner has long been confirmed to be a clueless idiot. I added some fluid and nothing's changed. Belt is new and on the tight side of normal; no squealing. Sounds like internal seals not working somewhere, right? How do I tell if it's the pump or the box? Or at 30 years old, should I just install seal kits for both while I'm at it?

  2. #2

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    You answered your own question. At $7 that's the problem. Buy the higher quality parts you can get. Aftermarket suspension components do NOT last long unless you get the MOOG or RANCHOs. Napa brand stuff lasts a year if ur lucky. They're band-aids. Correct me if I'm wrong these are the bushings that go between the idler and frame correct? to isolate suspension from body.

    Also the FSM lists a way to check pump PSI but the special Mitsu tools to check it are long since gone. If it was me, I'd flush it with the correct fluid. (since I've got the equipment to do so) but if you don't have a way to suck out fluid you can take the return line off and drain it out, add the correct fluid, run the truck and continue to do that til most of it is gone. If it's got honda fluid (brown stuff) it's most likely ruined the system. Mixing the 2 isn't good. Kinda like putting green coolant in your DEXCOOL GM. It'll gel up. You can try to flush it out but you may end up needing to rebuild the pump and gear box, pretty much changing out the seals and put red (dex) back in. Dexron isn't expensive and the whole system may use 1/2-3/4 qt.

  3. #3

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    There are two bushings that fit over each end of the idler arm shaft. I disassembled mine, and it turns out they're not worn, they're too big (ID). Could this have happened with age? What other brands are available?

    The steerbox needs a rebuild, it seems. It's leaking inside and out.

  4. #4



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    The problem may have been the bushings were made for a different idler arm - some bushings are for either the factory or aftermarket, but not both. Look on ebay and rockauto - that idler should not cost 90+, but even if it does, it will at least last for a long time and not trash your tires. A steering stabilizer will also help with bushing wear, especially if you are running oversize or wider tires than stock.
    Pennyman1
    The best Dodge that Dodge never made
    Living the D-50 lifestyle since 1980

  5. #5

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    With the age it may not be a bad idea to replace it. Also pennyman when are you gona get me some pics of that 2wd diesel engine bay and suspension? :p

  6. #6



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    Look in your build thread for the link to the Pics.
    Pennyman1
    The best Dodge that Dodge never made
    Living the D-50 lifestyle since 1980

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