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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My 2001, 2500 has 235k and as far as I know everything is original. My steering wheel has no steering from about 10-2 like I can shake the wheel back and forth with literally almost no truck movement, and steering it is almost scary at time.

I'm no mechanic not even the shade tree type, but can generally do most work myself using YouTube and forum posts. I don't have any special tools besides basic wrenches and such. Also don't have really any understanding of how a front end works.
But at this point I'm just assuming everything is shot and needs replaced and looking for some guidance

1) how hard it it to rebuild a front end?
2) any special tools needed besides jack stands?
3) is there any good complete kits available? Did some googling and all I found was a Moog kit?
4) I read once upon a time about converting to some type of 4th gen steering, ( I think) can anyone comment on what that is and point me to it.
5) anything else I need to know?

Stock lift, running 33 tires.

Thank you


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Rock auto should have a complete kit. You will need to do it with a pencil and paper. When you unscrew the tie rod ends, count the revolutions. Putting them back on close to the same number of revolutions will keep you pretty close to where your alignment was prior to the rebuild. Or, just plan on getting an alignment. An alignment isn’t a bad idea since you’ve probably never had one and they’re only $150 or so. If you are off on your alignment and you keep driving it can eat your tires pretty quick - these trucks are heavy enough to do it in under 10k miles.

The whole rebuild should only take you half a day. It’s easiest for me to lift the whole front end and put the jack stands on the frame and take both tires off.
 

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Rock auto should have a complete kit. You will need to do it with a pencil and paper. When you unscrew the tie rod ends, count the revolutions. Putting them back on close to the same number of revolutions will keep you pretty close to where your alignment was prior to the rebuild. Or, just plan on getting an alignment. An alignment isn’t a bad idea since you’ve probably never had one and they’re only $150 or so. If you are off on your alignment and you keep driving it can eat your tires pretty quick - these trucks are heavy enough to do it in under 10k miles.

The whole rebuild should only take you half a day. It’s easiest for me to lift the whole front end and put the jack stands on the frame and take both tires off.
yup, let the front axel hang freely, tires off. Makes this work a ton easier. Use the floor jack to lift the axel a little as needed. Its not a hard job. The pitman arm can be a pain
 

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I did mine last year with all MOOG stock parts, not too difficult. My only problem was after I did all that, the steering was still loose because of the gearbox. A new Redhead box and she still drives like a truck, but she does it in a straight line.

For the alignment(counting threads didn't line up), I visually lined the driver side tire with the rear tire, then turned the joint to center the steering wheel. Then I turned the other joint to line up the passenger tires. It was close enough to get me to the shop for a real alignment.
 
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If your steering wheel has that much excessive play in it, you need to focus on replacing the gearbox first. You essentially have three choices; PSC, RedHead, BlueTop. PSC is hands down the best choice. You'll want to inspect your intermediate shaft when you replace the steering gearbox. If you're going to go through the trouble of rebuilding / upgrading the steering, you will also want to replace all four font ball joints. Answers to your questions below:

1) how hard it it to rebuild a front end? Not Hard.
2) any special tools needed besides jack stands? Yes. Ball joint press, pickle fork. Some local auto parts stores will rent these for free.
3) is there any good complete kits available? Did some googling and all I found was a Moog kit? The 4th Gen Moog kit is fine.
4) I read once upon a time about converting to some type of 4th gen steering, ( I think) can anyone comment on what that is and point me to it. You want the 4th Gen HD "T style" steering kit.
5) anything else I need to know? You will want to replace the track bar with a 3rd gen style track bar and conversion bracket. You'll probably want to add a steering brace as well, to tie the frame rails together.
 

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Special tools;
Balljoint press
Hub puller
Pitman arm puller

Disconnect your sway bar end links prior to letting the axle hang. Over extention will bend them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Rock auto should have a complete kit. You will need to do it with a pencil and paper. When you unscrew the tie rod ends, count the revolutions. Putting them back on close to the same number of revolutions will keep you pretty close to where your alignment was prior to the rebuild. Or, just plan on getting an alignment. An alignment isn’t a bad idea since you’ve probably never had one and they’re only $150 or so. If you are off on your alignment and you keep driving it can eat your tires pretty quick - these trucks are heavy enough to do it in under 10k miles.

The whole rebuild should only take you half a day. It’s easiest for me to lift the whole front end and put the jack stands on the frame and take both tires off.
Thanks

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I did mine last year with all MOOG stock parts, not too difficult. My only problem was after I did all that, the steering was still loose because of the gearbox. A new Redhead box and she still drives like a truck, but she does it in a straight line.

For the alignment(counting threads didn't line up), I visually lined the driver side tire with the rear tire, then turned the joint to center the steering wheel. Then I turned the other joint to line up the passenger tires. It was close enough to get me to the shop for a real alignment.
I'll probably just have it aligned. It's never been aligned since I've owned it in the last 5 years.

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
If your steering wheel has that much excessive play in it, you need to focus on replacing the gearbox first. You essentially have three choices; PSC, RedHead, BlueTop. PSC is hands down the best choice. You'll want to inspect your intermediate shaft when you replace the steering gearbox. If you're going to go through the trouble of rebuilding / upgrading the steering, you will also want to replace all four font ball joints. Answers to your questions below:

1) how hard it it to rebuild a front end? Not Hard.
2) any special tools needed besides jack stands? Yes. Ball joint press, pickle fork. Some local auto parts stores will rent these for free.
3) is there any good complete kits available? Did some googling and all I found was a Moog kit? The 4th Gen Moog kit is fine.
4) I read once upon a time about converting to some type of 4th gen steering, ( I think) can anyone comment on what that is and point me to it. You want the 4th Gen HD "T style" steering kit.
5) anything else I need to know? You will want to replace the track bar with a 3rd gen style track bar and conversion bracket. You'll probably want to add a steering brace as well, to tie the frame rails together.
When I go into Moog it just asks me for my year and recommends a kit. Are you just saying to buy one for a fourth gen?
Thanks

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Now that I told the wife, I'm looking at putting a few grand into the truck. Maintenance and performance, she's telling me to look into a new truck with 4 doors and a auto so she can drive it... Guess I'd be looking at a 3rd gen if anything. Any thoughts on the 3rd gen vs 2nd gen. Either way I'm buying high miles and feel like I'm going to be doing this work either way, or are the front ends better on those?

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First you will have to determine if you need a steering gear or not. If good it should move the pitman arm instantly with the steering wheel turn. The steering gear and track bar are the most common place for most of the excessive play(any play is excessive) Then move on to tie rod ends and ball joints and then control arms. Do the track bar bolt when the tie rods are dropped off.
Stock rebuild steering gears are under $200 at chain stores or Rockauto Aftermarket are 4-600.
A small ball joint tool from Harbor Freight for about 60 bucks is needed for ball joints. A large pickle fork is needed, not a small one. BF hammer.
I am sure you will need the track bar and likley a steering gear.

NO need for fancy aftermarket parts. Just all good ones with no play like the old ones.

By "stock lift" I hope you mean stock, not lifted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
First you will have to determine if you need a steering gear or not. If good it should move the pitman arm instantly with the steering wheel turn. The steering gear and track bar are the most common place for most of the excessive play(any play is excessive) Then move on to tie rod ends and ball joints and then control arms. Do the track bar bolt when the tie rods are dropped off.
Stock rebuild steering gears are under $200 at chain stores or Rockauto Aftermarket are 4-600.
A small ball joint tool from Harbor Freight for about 60 bucks is needed for ball joints. A large pickle fork is needed, not a small one. BF hammer.
I am sure you will need the track bar and likley a steering gear.

NO need for fancy aftermarket parts. Just all good ones with no play like the old ones.

By "stock lift" I hope you mean stock, not lifted.
Bigfish
Honestly I don't even know what a steering gear is or a pitman arm. I'm going to have to look all this stuff up. I'm pretty mechanically inclined so I'm not too worried about doing the work. Just need to watch some videos and reading so I can understand how the steering system works. Not looking for anything fancy as far as parts go, just good value. And yes I mean stock height no lift.

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Now that I told the wife, I'm looking at putting a few grand into the truck. Maintenance and performance, she's telling me to look into a new truck with 4 doors and a auto so she can drive it... Guess I'd be looking at a 3rd gen if anything. Any thoughts on the 3rd gen vs 2nd gen. Either way I'm buying high miles and feel like I'm going to be doing this work either way, or are the front ends better on those?

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You couldn’t ask for a worse time to buy a truck. It’s all way overpriced right now.

If you have autozone in your town, you can rent every tool needed for the rebuild for free.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
You couldn’t ask for a worse time to buy a truck. It’s all way overpriced right now.
Right! That's what I am seeing too, and why I'd rather just keep my truck. Let alone take on a payment. I'm wondering if trucks are really selling at the prices I'm seeing listed? I mean if so I should post my pos for like 15k and just share my wife's car till the market falls. Just seems insane.

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I up graded my 99 front axle to a 2002 on my 3500. I purchased a used axle from a wrecking yard. I took it all apart and started to replacing parts. All new bearings in the diff and axle seals. I used EMF ball joints and 2002 T style steering linkage kit from Geno's garage with a 03 track bar kit. I used a 2001 pitman arm. While I was there I installed a Red Head steering box. I added a set of Spyntec free wheel hubs. Rebuilt calipers with new rotors and all brake lines and ABS wiring. Changing out the axle was not that bad of a job. Did it in about four hours with two floor jacks. Things to watch for is, some of your tapers on the tie rod end and knuckles are different. They change from year to year. I did have to ream out my sway bar end links from the 99 to fit the 2002 axle. Your upper and lower control arms have different size bolts so you will be changing bushings. Going from 99 to the 2002 axle I gained better brakes and bigger axle housing and shafts.
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she's telling me to look into a new truck with 4 doors and a auto so she can drive it...

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Don't do it, my wife said the same thing, so my first truck was an auto, she drove it.....twice.

Also, good luck finding a suitable replacement for less than fixing what you have.

If you are mechanically inclined, there is almost nothing you can't fix yourself on these trucks. Youtube has videos on almost everything and between this site and MoparMan1973 all questions are usually figured out.

Get yourself an FSM(Factory Service Manual)and have some fun with it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Don't do it, my wife said the same thing, so my first truck was an auto, she drove it.....twice.

Also, good luck finding a suitable replacement for less than fixing what you have.

If you are mechanically inclined, there is almost nothing you can't fix yourself on these trucks. Youtube has videos on almost everything and between this site and MoparMan1973 all questions are usually figured out.

Get yourself an FSM(Factory Service Manual)and have some fun with it.
Yea. I don't normally enjoy working on vehicles but generally don't mind doing work to the truck. Overall everything is pretty easy to access which doesn't make any work that bad to do.

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The finger bone is connected to the hand bone, the hand bone is connected to the wrist bone............

Your steering system goes as follows:
Steering wheel is connected to the steering column/shaft, plus joints.
Steering column is connected to the steering gear/box, mounted on frame.
Pitman arm is connected to the steering gear and moves the drag link back and forth,
which is connected to the the tie rod which moves the wheels left and right.
The the rod has an end that is adjustable for alignment toe-in.
The drag link has a length adjustment to center the steering wheel.
The ball joints are upper and lower to attach hub/spindle to the differential housing and allow the wheels to turn.

See on videos.
Pictures of most all parts are available on RockAuto when you look them up.
Stock Moog and store brand parts are usually fine for your use. Use Moog only for the track bar, it is heavier duty than OEM.
We are all here to walk you through it.
If the lower bushing on the track bar is bad it is entirely possible the steering gear is fine.

The way to check everything is to crawl under it, after you learn which parts are which, while running and have some one rock the steering wheel back and forth looking and feeling for ANY play ANYWHERE. Par particular attention to the steering gear moving the pitman arm inistantly and whether the track bar is slidding back and forth in its lower mount on the differential or poping up and down on the upper joint. Neither should have any play, or any other joint or ball joint either. Do it wheels on the ground.
 
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It sounds like you don't want to spend anymore than necessary .
Get 4th gen moog steering linkage. You will have to cut 1/2inch off both sides of the adjusting sleeve threads to make the adjustable drag link shorter to fit second gen.
Get oem 4th gen stabilizer shock from Mopar(last many many years).
Get 2nd gen moog track bar ,they last 100k(no need to spend $ for 3rd gen bracket and bar unless you have extra money)
PSC box is expensive but it is the best, worth every penny .You don't need a brace with this box because it is so beefy and there is brace in the frame inches away from the box from the factory.
You will have to get a 4th gen pitman arm for the PSC box as well.Once you see the PSC box and pitman arm next to original parts you will know you have made the right decision.
I recommend new urethane sway bar bushings at the frame and new end links.
Moog ball joints are fine unless you have extra $ to spend on those high dollar EMF units.
Also install a inline trans filter in power steering return line.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
The finger bone is connected to the hand bone, the hand bone is connected to the wrist bone............

Your steering system goes as follows:
Steering wheel is connected to the steering column/shaft, plus joints.
Steering column is connected to the steering gear/box, mounted on frame.
Pitman arm is connected to the steering gear and moves the drag link back and forth,
which is connected to the the tie rod which moves the wheels left and right.
The the rod has an end that is adjustable for alignment toe-in.
The drag link has a length adjustment to center the steering wheel.
The ball joints are upper and lower to attach hub/spindle to the differential housing and allow the wheels to turn.

See on videos.
Pictures of most all parts are available on RockAuto when you look them up.
Stock Moog and store brand parts are usually fine for your use. Use Moog only for the track bar, it is heavier duty than OEM.
We are all here to walk you through it.
If the lower bushing on the track bar is bad it is entirely possible the steering gear is fine.

The way to check everything is to crawl under it, after you learn which parts are which, while running and have some one rock the steering wheel back and forth looking and feeling for ANY play ANYWHERE. Par particular attention to the steering gear moving the pitman arm inistantly and whether the track bar is slidding back and forth in its lower mount on the differential or poping up and down on the upper joint. Neither should have any play, or any other joint or ball joint either. Do it wheels on the ground.
Bigfish
Thank you for the detailed explanation, actually makes a lot more sense. I will start with your recommendations.


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