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Unread 03-29-2013, 11:31 AM   #1
capcyclone
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Steering gear box

I do some projects on my ZJ, but I still use a local shop for repairs I'm uncomfortable tackling myself (for the times I lack the skills, time or confidence).

So I had it in to replace the motor mounts and my mechanic commented that I should have my steering gear box replaced "soon". Now, I trust him - I have taken all my vehicles to him for years so he isn't messing with me...but....I haven't noticed any issues with my steering. Is there something I can do to do my own evaluation? Is there anything else I should consider having done if I do swap out the steering gear box?

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Unread 03-29-2013, 11:35 AM   #2
riot1987
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Does your steering feel loose? Not to discredit your mechanic but if there doesnt feel like something is off I wouldnt replace it. Ive heard of those steering boxes wearing a "flat spot" at center. Maybe that is part of the issue. There are a couple adjustments on the gear box itself that you can mess with too.
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Unread 03-29-2013, 11:39 AM   #3
zjosh93
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Just check it for binding, grinding, excessive play, and leaks. If it's smooth, can keep the fluid in, and the Jeep straight it's good. If it is loose you should try tightening up the adjuster where the steering shaft enters. Should be able to find that write up here somewhere. Then try adjusting the screw on top tighter in 1/8 turn increments. Should be a write up here for that too if you search for it.

Seals aren't hard to replace but I have a lifetime warranty so I just swap it out.

If you swap out the gear be aware that the pinion nut torque spec is around 180 lbft so you'll need a hefty torque wrench or a range doubler for a regular one. Also, you will probably have to adjust the drag link to get your steering wheel back to straight. The adjuster is right by the pitman arm and is usually within a couple turns of being correct. It will probably take a half dozen test drives to get it perfect though.
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Unread 03-29-2013, 11:40 AM   #4
bananaslug
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First, you are capable of doing the steering box. Second, dont take 'soon' as some foreboding warning. When they go bad they get sloppy, its not like its going to shatter into pieces while you drive down the highway.
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Unread 03-29-2013, 06:02 PM   #5
BeDifferent
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and also "SOON" and "IMPERATIVE" the words 2 mechanics used, the "box is leaking and is loose, see how the steering wheel is not straight with the wheels?"

I checked the front end myself, the tie rod ends - both wheels and the drag link, were -not sloppy loose, but loose enough to move easily by hand.

first I cleaned off the grime and oil from the bottom of the engine and around the PS pump and box.
added Lucas power steering stop leak,

I replaced the 3 tie rod ends, drag link, and track bar. and with a proper alignment the wheel and wheels are in line.

now there is no leak at all (obviously was not a leak, but just a seeping) the steering is 'tight' and it is obvious now that the steering box is in good shape.

The Point is: check all the steps between the steering wheel and tires, replace what is obvious, then recheck. No bad intened twords your mech, but sometimes they just seem to look at the wrong things and make errant evaluations.
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Unread 03-29-2013, 06:07 PM   #6
BeDifferent
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zjosh93 View Post
. If it is loose you should try tightening up the adjuster where the steering shaft enters. Should be able to find that write up here somewhere. Then try adjusting the screw on top tighter in 1/8 turn increments. Should be a write up here for that too if you search for it. .
I read that / one of those threads; the "pro" said to NOT adjust the screw, not before you first adjust the (?) tension nut on the end of the shaft (?) THEN the adjust screw as a final adjustment.

something about adjusting the screw only causes some premature wear ...

best to find that thread for the accurate details...
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Unread 03-29-2013, 06:26 PM   #7
Jerbear0612
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^ you are correct in the sense that only adjusting one of the adjustments will cause it to only wear faster, you have to adjust both adjustments at the same time, but usually when you have to make these adjustments the box is near the end of its life. Doing the adjustments is easiest if the box is removed from the jeep
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Unread 03-29-2013, 09:17 PM   #8
zjosh93
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Yes, you should check the nut where the steering shaft enters first. Then you can start playing with the other one. I had a rebuilt gear I bought loosen up after a couple months so I adjusted the top nut, then read about the other one. After I adjusted that one the box got really tight and before I got around to loosening the top nut the pitman shaft seal started leaking. I'm pretty sure that tightening the shaft nut made the other way too tight and caused the leak. Shrug. Lifetime warranty so I swapped it.
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