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  • Old truck; Safety issue questions.......

    My second vehicle is 1997 F150 which I drive to work, which is about 5 miles one way. Odometer broke a few years ago at 134K miles. Engine runs good without using oil and has been serviced regularly. Body and upholstery a little rough. I went to have tires rotated and alignment and was told could not do alignment due to play in front end steering components. I don't want to put a lot of dough in a vehicle worth less than $1000. Yet I don't want a catastrophe failure like a tie rod disengagement. I prefer not to trade until prices of new or used vehicles stabilize.
    My question for the shade tree mechanics here is what is the minimal fix to make the truck safe to drive for another year or two.

  • #2
    Replacing the tie rod ends aren't necessarily difficult to replace but you've got to have the right tools. Like with most things, you're going to be paying a lot for labor. You can buy both inner/outer tie rods from Rock Auto for about $50. I don't know where you're at or the going rate for labor but I wouldn't be surprised if they wanted $400-$500 to do everything. These are maintenance issues so it's always smart to do them (well to the point before a shop says they won't do an alignment because of them). As far as other maintenance things, it depends what's been done and what hasn't. For safety, just make sure you're up to date on steering/brake maintenance as well as decent tires. If you have engine and transmission issues won't pose an actual safety issues like tires, steering, and brakes.

    How to Replace Front Inner Tie Rods 97-03 Ford F-150 - YouTube

    How to Replace Front Outer Tie Rods 97-03 Ford F-150 - YouTube
    Last edited by CordMcNally; 04-15-2022, 06:50 AM.

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    • #3
      Mechanically safe and structurally safe are two different things, a 1997 F150 would probably buckle in a collision with a 2010+ Prius. Theres no way I'd be in something like that ever.

      Lots of people talk down on safety advances but they are not small, especially for what you have, even pre 2010s are poor in comparison. Less difference after that. You cant control if/when/how these things occur, and though unlikely, its a simple tail risk to hedge.

      I wouldnt have any risk of mechanical failure either though, just dont see the point of that?

      This particular vintage is actually well known for poor crash performance.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by CordMcNally View Post
        Replacing the tie rod ends aren't necessarily difficult to replace but you've got to have the right tools. Like with most things, you're going to be paying a lot for labor. You can buy both inner/outer tie rods from Rock Auto for about $50. I don't know where you're at or the going rate for labor but I wouldn't be surprised if they wanted $400-$500 to do everything. These are maintenance issues so it's always smart to do them (well to the point before a shop says they won't do an alignment because of them). As far as other maintenance things, it depends what's been done and what hasn't. For safety, just make sure you're up to date on steering/brake maintenance as well as decent tires. If you have engine and transmission issues won't pose an actual safety issues like tires, steering, and brakes.

        How to Replace Front Inner Tie Rods 97-03 Ford F-150 - YouTube

        How to Replace Front Outer Tie Rods 97-03 Ford F-150 - YouTube
        Well I’ve replaced/ rebuilt the front and rear brakes myself. Tires are good. Looks like replacing the tie rods might be more than I can physically handle with having to use ball pin hammer while the truck on a Jack stand. So I may get a local shop to do that. Thanks

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        • #5
          For an old truck like that with only a 5 mile commute, if you break down , you could always leave it there and walk home. So I don't think that would be catastrophic, just some good forced exercise.

          A safety issue is different though.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Ykcor View Post

            Well I’ve replaced/ rebuilt the front and rear brakes myself. Tires are good. Looks like replacing the tie rods might be more than I can physically handle with having to use ball pin hammer while the truck on a Jack stand. So I may get a local shop to do that. Thanks
            If you replaced/rebuilt the brakes then this is well within your skills but definitely don’t do anything you aren’t comfortable with. I typically will leave the vehicle on the jack and then use a jack stand.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Random1 View Post
              For an old truck like that with only a 5 mile commute, if you break down , you could always leave it there and walk home. So I don't think that would be catastrophic, just some good forced exercise.

              A safety issue is different though.
              Valid points. If your tie rods are giving out, the front suspension is probably suspect too. What happens when the suspension fails? The front end drops to the pavement. Likely one side. How do I know?
              Not a truck, but a 1998 Lincoln with more miles. I had a “free mechanic” replace the whole front end in the shop on a Sunday. About $500 of parts. Labor by the book would have been about another $2500.
              I would find a mechanic I trust to check out the whole front end. Front ends tend to age together.
              In the video, you noticed the cotter pin was missing. Rust and the possibility of the bolt coming off or rust breaking it off. Probably not isolated to one component.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Tim View Post
                Valid points. If your tie rods are giving out, the front suspension is probably suspect too. What happens when the suspension fails? The front end drops to the pavement. Likely one side. How do I know?
                Not a truck, but a 1998 Lincoln with more miles. I had a “free mechanic” replace the whole front end in the shop on a Sunday. About $500 of parts. Labor by the book would have been about another $2500.
                I would find a mechanic I trust to check out the whole front end. Front ends tend to age together.
                In the video, you noticed the cotter pin was missing. Rust and the possibility of the bolt coming off or rust breaking it off. Probably not isolated to one component.
                Good point. I’m hoping the rapid evolution of electric trucks (price and range) will someday allow my next truck to be one.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by CordMcNally View Post

                  If you replaced/rebuilt the brakes then this is well within your skills but definitely don’t do anything you aren’t comfortable with. I typically will leave the vehicle on the jack and then use a jack stand.
                  I wish I was handy, but it seems like every DIY car repair ends up with either a professional re-do or me worrying about something falling off while on the highway.

                  I have a the local community college course catalog dog-eared for when I have time to correct my lack of knowledge/confidence.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by G View Post

                    I wish I was handy, but it seems like every DIY car repair ends up with either a professional re-do or me worrying about something falling off while on the highway.

                    I have a the local community college course catalog dog-eared for when I have time to correct my lack of knowledge/confidence.
                    Lol agreed. So I try to buy vehicles that hopefully won't have problems. Modern cars are a PITA to work on anyway compared to years back (though more reliable).

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Ykcor View Post
                      My second vehicle is 1997 F150 which I drive to work, which is about 5 miles one way. Odometer broke a few years ago at 134K miles. Engine runs good without using oil and has been serviced regularly. Body and upholstery a little rough. I went to have tires rotated and alignment and was told could not do alignment due to play in front end steering components. I don't want to put a lot of dough in a vehicle worth less than $1000. Yet I don't want a catastrophe failure like a tie rod disengagement. I prefer not to trade until prices of new or used vehicles stabilize.
                      My question for the shade tree mechanics here is what is the minimal fix to make the truck safe to drive for another year or two.
                      I’ll give u $500 cash for this truck right now!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Ykcor View Post

                        Good point. I’m hoping the rapid evolution of electric trucks (price and range) will someday allow my next truck to be one.
                        you're in luck, Ford Lightning coming in a jiffy!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I attached a screenshot from the iihs website. This era of F150 is a death trap. Abandon the vehicle.

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                          • #14
                            Lots of electric options coming, you should probably preorder one now if you want it in the next 2-3 years

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Bjornsleeper View Post
                              I attached a screenshot from the iihs website. This era of F150 is a death trap. Abandon the vehicle.
                              YIKES!!! I won't sleep tonite.

                              Comment

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