Steering wheel return

It just stopped doing it today on my 1980 Bronco. I have to physically return the wheel to center after turning, else it will hold the turn.
Two Qs guys?
1. What is it?
2. Does it NEED to be replaced, IOW, is it dangerous (I doubt it, but....)
I goggled this and saw an F-150 with outer u-joints as suspect, but his hubs were autos...
Thanks all.
Brad
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Auto hub or not, axle joints are one of the prime suspects. The other possibility is ball joints but axle joints are far more common.
As for your assessment of the danger.... this is an extremely dangerous condition. These things can sieze tight enough that you could become involved in a manouever that you cannot recover from.
Anything that affects the stability of our vehicles should be addressed at once... to neglect these types of concerns is irresponsible... if we wont think of others, we should at least think of our loved ones.
It just stopped doing it today on my 1980 Bronco. I have to physically return the wheel to center after turning, else it will hold the turn.
Two Qs guys?
1. What is it?
2. Does it NEED to be replaced, IOW, is it dangerous (I doubt it, but....)
I goggled this and saw an F-150 with outer u-joints as suspect, but his hubs were autos...
Thanks all.
Brad
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Jim...
You're a tech... since it looks like I'll be going in Monday morning, do you have a ball park on the cost for parts and time?
Thanks.
Brad

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Brad, it's been so long since I've worked on the twin I-beam set-ups I can't really remember - but the kids truck needs the front end gone through before winter.
The really bad part about these is once a tech gets into them, there are so many things to consider and they can all drive the costs up. Questions you'll need to ask yourself... do you do only the affected side and wait for the other side to go? Do you do both sides? Repack the front wheel bearings while in there? How about the brakes - are they getting close? Would the rotors need machining or replacing? The spindle bearings can take quite a beating... should we replace them or hope that cleaning and repacking will be good? The center joint (on the right side of the diff.) likes to sieze and is impossible to diagnose until you get there....it's possible to change this joint without removing the diff. but it takes a certain amount of finesse to do it in car without breaking stuff. Has mother nature been kind to the front end or is it going to be a rusty nightmare? Are the ball joints loose?
Given that the truck is 25 years old and I'm not sure if it's your pride and joy or if it's a huntin' truck beater, may colour your decision.... I can only suggest taking it to a shop that is familiar with 4X4s and getting a written estimate.... you might even want it priced out both ways....simple fix and worst case scenario...
Cost-wise, labour rates vary across Canada way too much to accurately give dollar signs....I'd expect 2 or 3 hours to do one joint... 6 hours or so for the full meal deal.
Sorry I can't be any more help than that....
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Wow. Thanks Jim. 6 hours is $600. But, you know, the truck might be 25 years old, but she still looks good and runs good, and I need her. My other car is a '93 5.0 and as you know, they are scary in the rain and are down right deadly in the snow - but sooo much fun in the summer, I could never sell her. :)
The steering is ironically a little better today, but I'm sure it'll go back to scary again. So I guess the thing to do is bit the bullet and do everything while under there. Not my first choice - yes I am typically a fix it WHEN broken guy - but I understand these 4WDs are pretty brutal to work on. Hell, I might just throw a 6" lift in there and some 35s at the time. Why not? hahaha!
Thanks again Jim, you're always a great source of info in this group.
Brad

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2. Is it dangerous? YES
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Must note here that a kingpin based steering/suspension that wont return isnt as dangerous as one that uses BALL JOINTS... on those it's a sign of imminent failure which will result in the car falling on its nose and a front wheel flopping around.
Not something you want to happen on a freeway.
Be advised they squeal when turning the steering wheel PRIOR to this.
--
Yeh, I'm a Krusty old Geezer, staving off dementia here..DEAL with it!

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