1996 Ford Contour Steering Problem

Hey everyone, 1996 Ford Contour GL 4cyl 2.0L Automatic 215000kms
I have noticed recently, that there is some "play" with the steering wheel.
What i mean is i am driving down the road, and can wiggle the steering wheel, oh a good 2 inches or so, either way with no reaction from the wheels.
Also, the car sometimes seems to drift side to side abit....just about enough that would seem logical is in relation to the excessive play in the steering.
And thirdly, when i turn the wheel fast, or all the way, i hear the power steering pump groaning. I am assuming i need to replace the pump. But before i go and buy one and do the work, id like to know if there is anything else it could be. Fluid level is normal and never drops (no leaks)
thanks, ken
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wheel.
Something in your steering system is worn out. It needs to be replaced.
This could be from worn ball sockets, worn idler arm or too much clearance in the steering gearbox.
http://www.tpub.com/basae/222.htm

You may need a realignment after the necessary parts are replaced.

before
else
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wrote:

No idler arm or gearbox - it has rack and pinion steering. Suggest you check the rack mounting points.

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Ken opined in

both the same... if you have no other noises.. such as ball-joint groan at little to no speed turns. I concur with the idea that the problem is in the rack, either loose or worn mounting.. or worn tie rods OR in the transitional joints in the steering shaft.

Ford pumps are not the quietest... you dont say whether this started during your ownership, or you just got the car or what?
cavitation noise in the pump, and all hydraulic pumps do this, some are just louder than others... exercise it a lot in the driveway.. then open filler. Foam? flush the PS fluid and replace it. Maybe synthetic would cure it, make it quieter.
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Ken wrote:

go to www.contour.org and get all the info you need on a contour... very informative web page.....
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