How can you tell when your torsion bars are shot? - Ranger-Forums - The Ultimate Ford Ranger Resource


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Old 03-29-2010
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Icon5 How can you tell when your torsion bars are shot?

My truck has been taking sharp turns horribly as of late -the weight distribution feels off when I take a sharp turn at speeds of 15+mph. Something also feels weird when I hit bumps in the road, it hits the bump and seems loose or off balance for a split second.

I have had the truck to two different places who have checked out the front end. I have been told that the ball joints and the tie rods are fine, the wheel bearing/hub assemblies were just replaced, so I'm thinking it would be either related to the shocks or the torsion bars.

I am eventually going to dismount the shocks and see if they still have any dampening to them, but I'd like to know if there's any way to check out the torsion bars as well.
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Old 03-30-2010
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Let it also be known that when I hit consecutive small bumps, it feels/sounds as if I've got loose lug nuts, which is scary... I've checked and they're all on tight.
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Old 03-30-2010
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wow that sucks, i would think they are like leaf springs they sag and take bumps weird
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Old 03-30-2010
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thats what im thinking did you happen to break a swap bar end link
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Old 03-30-2010
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or could be just the rubber bushing on the end links too
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Old 03-30-2010
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also like you said above your shocks could be completely gone.
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Old 03-30-2010
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if the shocks r shot there should be oil coming out of them, & u can also do the bounce test to check the shocks too. i'd look @ them 1st but they prob r shot 2 the stock shocks usually dont last long n e way
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Old 03-30-2010
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The sway bars look fine, they're in tact and they don't budge when I pull on them. What happens to the bushings on them, do they dry rot? I suppose I could check that out.

My shocks aren't stock, they're Rancho RSX shocks, but they've been on the truck now for 4+ years and through a bit of rough wheeling. What exactly is the bounce test?
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Old 03-30-2010
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when you bounce it by hand hard it should not hardly bounce much, did you look for oil or wetness @ the top of the shock where the chrome rod goes down into
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Old 03-30-2010
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and the bushings dry rot of crack
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Old 03-30-2010
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like everyone else said, i would think it would be your shocks, or swaybar... the bounce test is easy, put all of your weight on the fender, fast, to try to compress that corner of the truck, then right as it gets to the bottom of where it's going to go, jump off, and see how many bounces it gets, a good shock, shouldn't bounce at all, it should come back up to ride height and stop, but most shocks are somewhat worn... if it bounces once or twice, it's not a big deal... it's when you can go for dinner, and your truck is still bouncing, that it's an issue... if you want to, you can always make it bounce a few times, when compressing it, to give it a higher bounce, to recover from... so push down 2-3 times then see how long it takes to stop...
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Old 03-30-2010
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id do it from the bumpers dont wana dent body panels
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Old 03-30-2010
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The bumpers don't have much give at all. I'm starting to wonder if it's something to do within my steering set up. My tires don't look off on their alignment... is there anything I can check other than that? As I said earlier, ball joints and tie rods are supposedly fine.
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Old 03-30-2010
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I had the same thing.Check the small bars on either side that connect the sway bar to main steering.My passenger side rusted out on the bottom.It looked like it was still connected.It would make noise like ball joints and have really lousy handling.
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Old 03-31-2010
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or your lower control arms ball joints are ready to fail
( on the ground , every part looked good , until i started to jack up the driver side control arm, the wheel moved a way it was not supposed to )
the ball joint was ready to pop out
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Old 03-31-2010
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Torsion bars don't just get 'shot'. They'll still keep working as they should for on and on and on......Good way to know they're on their way to 'crappy' condition is you're bars are maxed out and you've got a massive rake because they've sagged so much. You could be dragster raked and they'll still be doing their job.

I'm leaning more towards those 4 year old shocks or the above mentioned lower BJ's. I just swapped out my Superlifts that I installed brand new about 25-30k ago...they were shot and mushy with no rebound. No seal breakage....I assume they just turned into foam inside. But back to BJ's....Are they originals? Do you have more than 75k on the truck? If so, I'd say they're toast or close to toast anyway. Even if the truck is on the ground, you can't check condition of them. Truck's gotta be in the air and suspension at droop. When I did my BJ's at 80k or so, all were still pretty good and fairly tight. But my goodness the results of new BJ's was amazing. Rule of thumb on these 98+ SLA trucks, by 100k, you should have new BJ's in it IMO.
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Old 03-31-2010
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Shane, I'm at 115k with the original ball joints. Two different places told me that the ball joints were fine, but I see what you're saying there. How difficult was it to change out the ball joints yourself?

Saturday if I have the time, I'm going to pull off the shocks and see if they've got any compression left to them.
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Old 03-31-2010
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It's not that bad. The biggest pain is knocking the knuckle off the lower joint, which isn't that hard with a big enough hammer. I think Justin (Toreador4x4) made a how-to on it. I do mine like he does his.....floor jack and a piece of exhaust tubing. lol.
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