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Unread 07-19-2014, 10:31 PM   #1
Uniblurb
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Play in steering column/shaft into gear box.

I've noticed there's about a 1/4" up movement in my 96 4.0 steering wheel/column and the steering shaft going into the steering box has a little up/down & side-to-side play in it. I have no power steering fluid leaks but hear some kind of knocking type noise with a little binding when turning corners. This is probably a whole separate problem than my steering column/shaft.

Today I removed the bottom dash panel and made sure the nuts holding the column up were tight as well as the nuts holding a column toe plate to the inside firewall. I do have quite a bit of rust from road salt in the cone area on the outside of the firewall where the shaft comes through. Also checked the steering box and it's tight to the frame.

Does anybody know if there's any bushings in the column or do I just have a steering box which is getting worn out internally with 205K miles? I read through the whole section on steering in the FSM and couldn't see where there's any type of outside box adjustment to make the shaft tighter?

I wanted to check the steering linkage too so got my wife to turn steering back/forth while I watched from underneath. Seems like there was just a little play in the ball joint on the drag link on the right side and a little bit on the tie rod end link on the driver's side. But there was about 1/8"-3/16" of play where the tie rod end connects to the pitman arm so would assume it's bad?

I also jacked it up higher, put a long 2x4 under the tire, and had my wife lift it up down. She loved that..cough! Saw only about 1/16" of play in both upper ball joints and no play in the lower ones. It should be noted I grease all the fittings at 5K-6K miles so they're well lubed but the boots leak some grease.

Will say everything under there is super rusted including the u-joints on both my front axles which are OE. Maybe have only about 1/16" of play in them but would assume the grease is long gone and may need replaced?

I know with 205K miles some would say replace the whole front end but I'm not quite ready for that and would just like to replace what's bad.

Even with these problems my ZJ tracks down the road straight as an arrow and the steering feels real good when up to speed. Thanks for any help/input!

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96 4.0 ZJ Laredo, 2004 4.7L WJ Limited, 93 4.0 XJ (spare), 96 4.0 XJ (son's)

-Stalling ZJ? 12 things to check before replacing a sensor; the Dirty Dozen
-Crankshaft position sensor multimeter test. & video of testing.
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Unread 07-19-2014, 10:39 PM   #2
PolkaPower
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uniblurb View Post
I've noticed there's about a 1/4" up movement in my 96 4.0 steering wheel/column and the steering shaft going into the steering box has a little up/down & side-to-side play in it. I have no power steering fluid leaks but hear some kind of knocking type noise with a little binding when turning corners. This is probably a whole separate problem than my steering column/shaft.

Today I removed the bottom dash panel and made sure the nuts holding the column up were tight as well as the nuts holding a column toe plate to the inside firewall. I do have quite a bit of rust from road salt in the cone area on the outside of the firewall where the shaft comes through. Also checked the steering box and it's tight to the frame.

Does anybody know if there's any bushings in the column or do I just have a steering box which is getting worn out internally with 205K miles? I read through the whole section on steering in the FSM and couldn't see where there's any type of outside box adjustment to make the shaft tighter?

I wanted to check the steering linkage too so got my wife to turn steering back/forth while I watched from underneath. Seems like there was just a little play in the ball joint on the drag link on the right side and a little bit on the tie rod end link on the driver's side. But there was about 1/8"-3/16" of play where the tie rod end connects to the pitman arm so would assume it's bad?

I also jacked it up higher, put a long 2x4 under the tire, and had my wife lift it up down. She loved that..cough! Saw only about 1/16" of play in both upper ball joints and no play in the lower ones. It should be noted I grease all the fittings at 5K-6K miles so they're well lubed but the boots leak some grease.

Will say everything under there is super rusted including the u-joints on both my front axles which are OE. Maybe have only about 1/16" of play in them but would assume the grease is long gone and may need replaced?

I know with 205K miles some would say replace the whole front end but I'm not quite ready for that and would just like to replace what's bad.

Even with these problems my ZJ tracks down the road straight as an arrow and the steering feels real good when up to speed. Thanks for any help/input!
I think you pretty much answered your own question with stating that you have 205k on some original parts. That is we past due and well worth money spent there.
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Unread 07-20-2014, 10:13 AM   #3
Uniblurb
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PolkaPower View Post
I think you pretty much answered your own question with stating that you have 205k on some original parts. That is we past due and well worth money spent there.
While the miles are high they're all highway miles but know a lot of those parts are due to be replaced. It might be "well worth money spent" to replace all of them except for the fact my ZJ is rusted up real good from the road salt except for the body.

I take one look at the front knuckles and wonder can I really get those badly rusted/corroded things apart or are they going to need replaced too? I bought new Spicer upper/low ball joints for it but not sure I can even get the old ones out? And know darn well I'll destroy the both front hub bearing assemblies at $80/each through heating them to try and remove the 3 bolts which are rust-welded in. Also wonder if I'll be able to remove the front axle u-joints they're so rusted in?

If nothing else I'd appreciate some input on the play in the steering column and the shaft going into the steering gear box? Any type of bushings in the column or adjustment on the box to tighten up the shaft play? Thanks!
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96 4.0 ZJ Laredo, 2004 4.7L WJ Limited, 93 4.0 XJ (spare), 96 4.0 XJ (son's)

-Stalling ZJ? 12 things to check before replacing a sensor; the Dirty Dozen
-Crankshaft position sensor multimeter test. & video of testing.
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Unread 07-20-2014, 11:46 AM   #4
PolkaPower
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uniblurb View Post

While the miles are high they're all highway miles but know a lot of those parts are due to be replaced. It might be "well worth money spent" to replace all of them except for the fact my ZJ is rusted up real good from the road salt except for the body.

I take one look at the front knuckles and wonder can I really get those badly rusted/corroded things apart or are they going to need replaced too? I bought new Spicer upper/low ball joints for it but not sure I can even get the old ones out? And know darn well I'll destroy the both front hub bearing assemblies at $80/each through heating them to try and remove the 3 bolts which are rust-welded in. Also wonder if I'll be able to remove the front axle u-joints they're so rusted in?

If nothing else I'd appreciate some input on the play in the steering column and the shaft going into the steering gear box? Any type of bushings in the column or adjustment on the box to tighten up the shaft play? Thanks!
You can try this http://www.jeepforum.com/forum/f13/h...-gear-1287958/
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Unread 07-20-2014, 12:31 PM   #5
Uniblurb
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PolkaPower View Post
Thanks Polka, great write-up, and that guy really knows what he's doing. I have been looking at the pre-load adjustment on top of the box as it sits as can be seen in the below 4th photo w/explanation.

http://www.jeepforum.com/forum/f13/h.../#post12484255

Wondered if I dare try adjusting it a little tighter to remove the up/down play in the steering shaft/column or am I asking for damaging the internal parts themselves?
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-Stalling ZJ? 12 things to check before replacing a sensor; the Dirty Dozen
-Crankshaft position sensor multimeter test. & video of testing.
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Unread 07-20-2014, 02:02 PM   #6
PolkaPower
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uniblurb View Post

Thanks Polka, great write-up, and that guy really knows what he's doing. I have been looking at the pre-load adjustment on top of the box as it sits as can be seen in the below 4th photo w/explanation.

http://www.jeepforum.com/forum/f13/h.../#post12484255

Wondered if I dare try adjusting it a little tighter to remove the up/down play in the steering shaft/column or am I asking for damaging the internal parts themselves?
You can try but try small increments. It might help a little. It's not the best way but it's the easiest.
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Unread 07-20-2014, 07:59 PM   #7
coralman
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My pitman seal just started leaking. I'll be following Smokey's thread, and there are some decent you tube videos also. I have a spare box that I'll rebuild that isn't leaking. If you decide to go that course I'll look up the source for one of the main bearings. The other is still available from mopar. The flat race needle bearings look like they might be a bear to source but I haven't really tried yet. Sorry I'm not using the correct names but I'm too tired to look them up. The adjustments can be done in the jeep, buts its better from what I've read to do them with the box pulled. I don't think its recommended to do just the one adjustment.
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Unread 07-20-2014, 08:14 PM   #8
merc07
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in my 2nd gen ram it was a common problem to have column play, there was a company that made new bushings for it, so im sure you could find replacements for a zj
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Unread 07-21-2014, 12:27 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coralman View Post
My pitman seal just started leaking. I'll be following Smokey's thread, and there are some decent you tube videos also. I have a spare box that I'll rebuild that isn't leaking. If you decide to go that course I'll look up the source for one of the main bearings. The other is still available from mopar. The flat race needle bearings look like they might be a bear to source but I haven't really tried yet. Sorry I'm not using the correct names but I'm too tired to look them up. The adjustments can be done in the jeep, buts its better from what I've read to do them with the box pulled. I don't think its recommended to do just the one adjustment.
Thanks for the input! To tell you the truth coralman even if you used the correct names they'd still be Greek to me! Lol, but the truth! I only see the one adjustment on top of the box for preload with it still installed and when I look at Smokey1r's explanation below I just don't understand it. While this is the spec for new parts I'm not sure what the inch lb spec would be for used parts? While this is a great write-up maybe I should watch a video to see what this adjustment does on a used unit?

"Turn the preload adjuster screw in one turn (CLOCKWISE) and start with the over Center adjustment. This adjustment is VERY critical to proper operation, on a used steering gear over 400 miles the adjustment should be 4 to 5 inch pounds MORE then the thrust bearing preload and never exceed a combined 18 inch pounds or excessive wear will occur and you will soon have a loose steering gear once again.
To achieve this measurement center the rotational travel of the steering gear (1 1/2 turns), (To confirm the center of rotational travel turn the stub shaft clockwise till it stops and then turn it counterclockwise 1 1/2 turns), Then place the torque wrench in the vertical position on the stub shaft. Rotate the wrench 45 degrees each side of the center and record the highest rotational torque on center. I set mine to a total of 10 inch pounds of maximum rotational torque. once set tighten the adjuster nut to 20 to 35 foot pounds (choose your preference) while securing the adjuster screw from moving."

Is it typical for when the internal parts start wearing out the whole steering wheel will move up/down because there's play in the shaft? I still don't like the look of the cone going in on the firewall where the salt accumulated with shaft coming out through the middle. I shot it with some fluidfilm last year but still doesn't look good with rust/corrosion.
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-Stalling ZJ? 12 things to check before replacing a sensor; the Dirty Dozen
-Crankshaft position sensor multimeter test. & video of testing.
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Unread 07-21-2014, 12:40 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by merc07 View Post
in my 2nd gen ram it was a common problem to have column play, there was a company that made new bushings for it, so im sure you could find replacements for a zj
Thanks merc07 and guess you're saying there are actual bushings somewhere in the column itself causing this play. I'll have to search around and see If I can find anything like that.

My ZJ seems pretty tight all around until I let my wife drive it for a few months last year driving 60 miles round-trip to/from work everyday. Heck, I've always kept my door hinges/pins coated with white grease and now the driver's door hangs 1/4" further down from slamming it too darn hard or whatever she did to it. And I've seen her back up here where it's kinda tight parking and she likes to hit the steering on full stop where you can hear it hissing instead of moving a little while turning. Oh well, at least she's working! Lol.
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-Stalling ZJ? 12 things to check before replacing a sensor; the Dirty Dozen
-Crankshaft position sensor multimeter test. & video of testing.
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Unread 07-21-2014, 05:11 PM   #11
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I did a good bit of searching last night for steering column bushings or bearings for a ZJ. Could find them for cj,tj,yj, even newer jeeps. Thought I had found them but it was a reference only that went to 94-95. They looked to be nylon encased roller bearings. Once you hit our years there were no references to the bearings at all. Only,"replace the whole steering column". Mine most likely needs changing because I busted the wheel lock changing a tire. I'd look at the ujoints in the steering shaft also and see if there is any play. You can get new steering shafts. The box rebuild doesn't seem to be too bad. Only reservation I have on that is there is hardly ANY reference for hard parts. Kinda like saginaw is sagi none. A couple of places like smokey said may sell if asked too but he wasn't sure. If you aren't leaking fluid it probably isn't the box anyway.

There was some mention of a problem where the splined shaft attached to the box and the clamp. Even new replacement shafts not grabbing correctly and having play. Hope this helps.
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Unread 07-21-2014, 09:11 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coralman View Post
I did a good bit of searching last night for steering column bushings or bearings for a ZJ. Could find them for cj,tj,yj, even newer jeeps. Thought I had found them but it was a reference only that went to 94-95. They looked to be nylon encased roller bearings. Once you hit our years there were no references to the bearings at all. Only,"replace the whole steering column". Mine most likely needs changing because I busted the wheel lock changing a tire. I'd look at the ujoints in the steering shaft also and see if there is any play. You can get new steering shafts. The box rebuild doesn't seem to be too bad. Only reservation I have on that is there is hardly ANY reference for hard parts. Kinda like saginaw is sagi none. A couple of places like smokey said may sell if asked too but he wasn't sure. If you aren't leaking fluid it probably isn't the box anyway.

There was some mention of a problem where the splined shaft attached to the box and the clamp. Even new replacement shafts not grabbing correctly and having play. Hope this helps.
Sure appreciate you trying to search out those column bushings and bearings coralman, thanks! I just looked at the column parts breakdown and you're exactly right where there is no breakdown while the whole column is just listed as one part for the 96. Great!

That's a real good point about wouldn't my box be leaking at the seal if the shaft going into had so much slop in it? I had thought the same thing and it's not leaking. How many people are anal enough to remove the plastic shaft cover near the steering box and spray white grease on the ujoints to keep the water/salt out? That would be me and my ujoints in the shaft are good tight.

I also wondered about where the bottom ujoint's clamped on the splined shaft coming out of the box. Put a socket on the clamp bolt and it was tighter than heck but there was some play there. Interesting you say there's problems with even new shafts connecting there with play or not correct since that seems like where most of my play is! Now I didn't look at the upper ujoints which must be almost clear up in the cone area on my outside firewall and I'll see if I can inspect this closer.

I also have a little play in the shaft coupling where the 2 middle shafts come together but think that's always been there.

When I lift the steering wheel up/down a 1/4" it almost seems like the whole column moves with it. Maybe I should just look at putting a couple long u-bolts, like on exhausts, on the column and bolt them to something! Lol, and that would be a terrible fix!

I'll have to do some more inspecting and maybe take some photos. Thanks again!
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-Stalling ZJ? 12 things to check before replacing a sensor; the Dirty Dozen
-Crankshaft position sensor multimeter test. & video of testing.
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Unread 07-21-2014, 09:25 PM   #13
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[QUOTE=Uniblurb;24380754]Thanks merc07 and guess you're saying there are actual bushings somewhere in the column itself causing this play. I'll have to search around and see If I can find anything like that.

indeed. on the 2nd gen rams before this company came out, you would have to replace the column either from the boneyard and run the risk of having the same problem or buy new from the $$dealer$$ then this guy came up with a great solution at www.rocksolidramtrucksteering.com im sure the zj has a similar design flaw. I know some have made there own custom machined pieces too. id be curious if anyone has dissected a zj column to see how it was designed?... just like the rams our zj can rack up the miles so im sure there is going to be some sort of wear.
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Unread 07-22-2014, 09:51 PM   #14
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[quote=merc07;24401930]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Uniblurb View Post
Thanks merc07 and guess you're saying there are actual bushings somewhere in the column itself causing this play. I'll have to search around and see If I can find anything like that.

indeed. on the 2nd gen rams before this company came out, you would have to replace the column either from the boneyard and run the risk of having the same problem or buy new from the $$dealer$$ then this guy came up with a great solution at www.rocksolidramtrucksteering.com im sure the zj has a similar design flaw. I know some have made there own custom machined pieces too. id be curious if anyone has dissected a zj column to see how it was designed?... just like the rams our zj can rack up the miles so im sure there is going to be some sort of wear.
Some real good info merc and now I know why those Dodge Ram maintenance/ranger trucks we used to drive at work had such sloppy steering! I watched that whole video in the link and would gladly pay $60 for a new bushing if it would fix my ZJ steering column slop/movement!
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-Stalling ZJ? 12 things to check before replacing a sensor; the Dirty Dozen
-Crankshaft position sensor multimeter test. & video of testing.
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Unread 10-28-2014, 02:22 AM   #15
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