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play in steering wheel

2640 Views 11 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  mukluk
My TJ has developed some play in the steering wheel. Not a lot, but enough to where it's becoming a concern. I've noticed I have the exact same issue as the guy in the video below. I don't know if that much play, if any, is acceptable. I would think very little if any?

My question is what can I do about it? I've swapped in a durango steering box last year, but the issue was around before then to a degree. It was a reman unit so if this issue lies in the steering box maybe I got a garbage reman? Would adjusting the screw on top of the steering box help? How much play is acceptable? Is there linkage or adjustment I can't see somewhere between the steering shaft in the engine bay and the steering wheel itself that could off or something like that? Open to suggestions. Thanks!

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Slop in the steering gear like you have is set and adjusted via the worm thrust bearing which cannot be adjusted on the Mercedes type boxes without disassembling them. The adjustment screw found on the top of the box only adjusts the over-center rotating torque and is highly unlikely to fix the issue you have. Steering gearboxes commonly are tightest at the center position, where they should be when the wheels are straight forward, and looser when turned away from this center position. Tightening the over-center adjustment screw to reduce the slop in the non-centered travel will rapidly wear out the box internals as it is turned through the tighter center position. The most common cause of your issue other than a worn or poorly rebuilt box is the steering gear isn't properly turned to center when the wheels are straight ahead -- the drag link and opposite tie rod end are improperly adjusted. To check for the gear's center, turn the steering wheel all the way to one end of travel then count the number of turns to the opposite end of travel, finally turning exactly half that number back to center.
 

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Slop in the steering gear like you have is set and adjusted via the worm thrust bearing which cannot be adjusted on the Mercedes type boxes without disassembling them.
OP said he swapped in a Durango box, which can be adjusted in this way. Googling it should eventually lead you to a set of instructions (basically tightening the ring around the input shaft), but if you don't have any luck I can post some PDFs I have on my home computer later this evening. This adjustment MAY help, as long as your steering box internals aren't overly worn out, and the problem isn't actually external to the box.
 

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@JEK3
Yeah, brain fart on my part. I watched the video and figured it was the OP's Jeep we were looking at; the Durango and even the original box for the OP's 2000 would be a Saginaw unit which can be adjusted like you said.
 

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Which part number did you go with?
I just called them up and said I needed a power steering box for a98 Wrangler and they sent the correct one.
At the time, their website only showed a non power version so don't make the mistake like I did the first time.
They were good about getting me the correct one and refunding the other after I shipped it back.
 

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Slop in the steering gear like you have is set and adjusted via the worm thrust bearing which cannot be adjusted on the Mercedes type boxes without disassembling them. The adjustment screw found on the top of the box only adjusts the over-center rotating torque and is highly unlikely to fix the issue you have. Steering gearboxes commonly are tightest at the center position, where they should be when the wheels are straight forward, and looser when turned away from this center position. Tightening the over-center adjustment screw to reduce the slop in the non-centered travel will rapidly wear out the box internals as it is turned through the tighter center position. The most common cause of your issue other than a worn or poorly rebuilt box is the steering gear isn't properly turned to center when the wheels are straight ahead -- the drag link and opposite tie rod end are improperly adjusted. To check for the gear's center, turn the steering wheel all the way to one end of travel then count the number of turns to the opposite end of travel, finally turning exactly half that number back to center.
Can the saginaw worm bearing be rebuilt? I havent been able to find any info on that...

PS--the dump is closed because they're all at Alice's.
 
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