Heather wants to switch her '85 Ford Ranger from power steering to manual. Is she nuts?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Dec 01, 2006

Dear Tom and Ray:

My name is Heather, and I'm a 20-year-old automotive technical-college student. My pride and joy is a 1985 Ford Ranger that is clinging to the last pathetic shreds of life. I love my truck dearly, and I plan on keeping her well past her reasonable life expectancy. However, I want to convert her power steering to manual steering. My dad, who is on your evil-genius intelligence level, thinks I'm insane for wanting manual steering. My old truck (1994 Isuzu Pickup) had manual steering, and I loved it. So, what I want to know is, how crazy am I? Am I completely alone in my love for manual steering? -- Heather

TOM: Are you alone in loving manual steering, Heather? Well, we knew a guy once in East Treetrunk who also liked it. So there are at least two of you in the country.

RAY: You certainly can do this, Heather. I believe the 1985 Ranger was available with optional manual steering, so the parts should all exist. What you need to do is compare the two parts lists.

TOM: If you don't have access to the lists, just go to a parts store and ask to see the lists of steering components for the '85 Ranger with and without power steering. Then compare the part numbers, and that'll tell you which parts are the same and which you will have to change.

RAY: You'll have to change the steering box and, at the very least, remove the power-steering pump's belt. In fact, that's better than actually removing the pump itself. That way, when you come to your senses in a few weeks, the power steering will be much easier to reconnect.

TOM: You'll probably find that the tie rods, center link and pitman arms are all different, too. And you might even need to change the steering column.

RAY: But you'll find all that stuff at a junkyard, and you can swap it out in an afternoon. And voila! Your truck instantly will be impossible to parallel park!

TOM: The good news is that the manual steering will really build up your arm strength, Heather. And if you're planning to make a career as a mechanic, that'll come in handy when you're trying to keep transmissions from falling on your chest.

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