Could a bad steering box cause a Jeep to pull to one side?
OK, so I realize there are all kinds of posts on here discussing Jeeps pulling one way or the other and I've looked through most of them, but can't seem to find an answer to why my Jeep pulls hard to the right (passenger side).
While driving straight (in the middle of the road to account for any crowning of the road), I can take my hands of the steering wheel and the wheel will "re-center" itself to about two o'clock rather than stay at 12 o'clock as it should be. Two o'clock is also where the steering wheel re-centers after a turn if I take my hands off the wheel and let it do its business uninhibited. As this happens, the Jeep obviously veers to the right (it's not an issue with my drag link needing adjusted…I drive nice and straight when I manually center and hold the steering wheel). I've also had an alignment done, I know my steering linkage components (Currie) are all nice and tight as I've checked them many times and it’s not an issue with tire pressure.
I've been living with this for a few years now, but the pull seems to be getting worse lately, even to the point that keeping the steering wheel straight while driving down the road is a bit fatiguing on longer highway drives.
On to my main point, I was recently in to Les Schwab having the tires balanced and I mentioned this pull to them. They took a look at all my steering components while I turned the wheel back and forth and as I expected, said the linkage all looked good. They did see, however, that the shaft come out of the steering box that the pitman arm connects to has play and moves side to side as the wheel is turned. The guy said he would consider my steering box worn out and needing replaced (he wasn't trying to sell me on anything as I already told him I would be doing the work myself if the box needed replaced).
Now, to me, the steering box should have nothing to do with a pull, but this guy said a bad box could have a problem called "memory steer" and that could cause a pull. So, what say you? Does this sound legit or is my problem somewhere else? Will replacing the steering box help in this case?
Thanks for any insight you can offer.
Old: 2000 Jeep Wrangler Sport
New: 2004 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon (see profile for details)