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I'm going to agree with the rack conclusion. Keep in mind I can't see it for myself. If you take the load off the front wheels, you should be able to turn the steering wheel without effort. If the effort changes while turning the wheel, the only things affected would be the rack and the column. If you notice it turns ok with the engine off but not with the engine running, it could be something with the pump or one of the lines, or still something with the rack.
It could be something as simple as replacing the cap. I had the gaskests go out and had to replace the whole power steering unit itself. The first step is to figure out where the leak is coming from. Check the hoses, pump and power steering unit. and that will tell you what needs replaced or tightened.
It's a bit of a pain, but doable with simple tools.
Loosen the front lug nuts. Jack up the van and support it on the rails just behind the front tires (not the sub frame as you need to lower that a few inches). Remove the front tires. Disconnect the sway bar link pins, and the sway bar mounting bolts. Disconnect the tie rod ends from the knuckles. Support the rear ends of the sub frame, and remove the bolts mounting it to the van. Once the sub frame bolts are out, lower the rear end of the frame. I did this by using a jack, and placing the jack stands a couple of inches below the frame. Remove the sway bar from the van. You may need to drop the rack a bit more, but be careful as the steering shaft is still connected. You should be able to get at the bolt that attaches the rack stub to the steering rod by pushing up on the boot. Remove the sub shaft bolt. Disconnect the power steering lines from the rack (at the rack). Un-bolt the rack from the sub frame, there are two bolts. The rack should be able to be removed from the drivers side of the van. I replaced the tie rod ends and the sway bar bushings when I replaced mine (new link pins are easy at this time too). The installation is reverse of removal. I measured the tie rod distances when I put the new ends on. The only change I made was that I tied the steering shaft boot down onto the rack so I could install the bolt. I couldn't push the boot up high enough to get the bolt back in. Be sure to install the new power steering line seals that should come with the rack (buy new ones if it doesn't) - the lines are different sizes so you can't mix them up. Torque everything to spec when reinstalling (the cheap Hanes manuals have what you need along with these directions!). It's easiest to install the sway bar brackets when the sub frame is hanging down. Once it's together and running, check the power steering fluid. Get an alignment immediately (I set mine up before I changed the rack). One last bit of advice, buy the rack with the longer warranty, you don't want to do this twice.
1. check rack & pinion for center wear from internal fluid leaking around the rack piston. 2. look for broken or loose Steering Stabilizer Bracket. 3. Mismatched Tires or Wheels. 4. Broken or Weak Coil Springs. 5. Badly Worn or Broken Shock/Strut. Hope this helps you solve your problem. BTW, you meant Honda CR-V right?
Automobiles: 2006-2007 Ford Five Hundred 2WD & AWD, Montego
If the steering is getting a little hard to turn at low speeds, this would indicate a loss of Power Steering, and the steering is reverting to "Non-Power" steering, just like the days of the Ford Model T or Model A. Loss of power steering is usually caused by low level of PSF (Power Steering Fluid). So first on my checklist would be checking the PSF level in the reservoir. Also bleed (air) from PS (Power Steering) pump.
The Ford Five Hundred has front MacPherson struts, so check these for leakage (of the dampening fluid in the strut cylinder), or breakage of their coil springs. These springs can actually weaken over time, but this is impossible to see - you must "feel" it by bouncing the strut up & down - preferably with your hands on the top of the strut tower in the engine compartment (rather than on the exterior finish). If the MacPherson struts have weak/broken springs, these components are not separately serviceable, and the strut would have to be replaced as a unit (and preferably both left/right to maintain smooth/even ride).
The Five Hundred also has rear shock absorbers with springs - check for leaks/breakage/weakness here too.
Steering losing responsiveness/wander - checklist Priority Action Part Type Cause 1 Inspect Rack & Pinion - Center Wear From Internal Fluid Leaking Around The Rack Piston. 2 Inspect Steering Stabilizer Bracket - Loose or Broken Steering Stabilizer Bracket. 3 Inspect Front Lower Control Arm - Front Lower Control Arm loose/missing bolt(s) 4 Inspect Front Lower Ball Joints - Front Lower Ball Joint(s) Worn/Loose 5 Inspect Front Upper Ball Joints -Front Upper Ball Joint(s) Worn/Loose 6 Inspect Tire Pressure - Tire Pressure should be 35 PSI for the Five Hundred and Montego's P225/55R18 OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) tires.
Harsh ride - checklist
1 Inspect Rear Shock/Strut - Shocks/Strut failing/leaking. 2 Inspect Front Shock/Strut - Shocks/Strut failing/leaking. 3 Inspect Coil Spring - Incorrect Coil Spring Selection or Installation. 4 Inspect Coil Spring - Coil Spring broken.
Don't understand locking up - if you can't move the steering wheel at all would be a mechanism inside the steering column. is a pin that moves downward out of a plate (typically) as the ignition key is turned from lock to accessory, or start. If steering is just really stiff then could be a bad steering rack, broken Strut Spring or Strut Bearing (usually noisy when turning as well if you move wheel back and forth and a thump while doing this is a bad strut spring an easy thing to check, or perhaps bad ball-joint or dirt in the power steering system - to flush system remove the low pressure hose from the power steering unit (the one with a simple clamp - Start car while you squirt the old fluid from the system into a container continuously or simultaneously fill with new fluid as someone gently moves the steering wheel slowing back and forth being careful not to overfill or bump into the ends at the extreme ends of the turns as could damage steering rack. This flushes the system - be prepared for a mess if you don't do properly. A clear 4L container can be wedged in there if the engine is cool - then when complete put cap on and remove.
Watch out for the belts and any cooling fan that can turn on anytime if an electrical fan. Finally the steering pump itself may be the culprit. Good luck.
Mine is a 88 e350 rv theres lotsa play in the steering and does the same thing apperantly they all do it so just put up with it , get your front end checked to make shure everything is tight its all you can do .
take it to a suzuki dealer, they just need to replace a piece of spring controlling the steering pressure.. if ur xl7 is 36k miles under,, should be free under warranty.. had the same problem with mine