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Free-play in steering problem

crusycrusy Posts: 1
Had a "squeak" in my 2002 Explorer Sport Trak steering column. Took it in only to find a small leak in the Rack and pinion steering. Replaced the whole system, but didn't get rid of the "squeak". Took it back...replaced valves and bushings in steering. Now have different problem: squeak is pretty much gone, but now about 1" free-play in the steering. Ford says the only thing left to change is upper, middle, and lower steering shafts. ($800) They don't know if that's the problem, but it's all that's left to replace. HATE driving my truck because of the free-play. Any ideas?
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