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View Poll Results: Adjusting the steering gearbox Yes/No
Go for it 27 79.41%
Steer clear of it (haha) 7 20.59%
Voters: 34. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
Old 11-08-2009, 04:45 PM
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BGW BGW is offline
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Steering Box Adjustment

It seems like some people say it's fine to adjust the steering gearbox while it's in the truck, while others say it's a huge no-no.

In my '91, I have 1-2 inches of play in the steering which is really annoying. The rag joint didn't look too bad, but I guess I should take a better look at it.


What do you guys think? Can I adjust it or should I just wait and rebuild it when it gets really bad?


Thanks,
-Peter
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  #2  
Old 11-08-2009, 06:38 PM
Blake Blake is offline
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I don't remember seeing anyone post on here saying NOT to adjust your steering box.

You should be careful to not adjust it too much.
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  #3  
Old 11-08-2009, 07:59 PM
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El_Diablo El_Diablo is offline
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over the life of the gear box it NEEDS to be adjusted to get the proper life out of it
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  #4  
Old 11-08-2009, 08:03 PM
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I've just seen a lot of warnings from people:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
FYI - that article tells you to do exactly what the Jeep manual tells you not to do. You have two adjustments - the bearing preload and the pitman arm mesh. The manual says you must adjust the preload (big nut that the shaft goes through) before you adjust the mesh (screw on the top). It just makes sense that you'll need to remove the bearing end slop before you push the pitman arm gear harder into the worm.

This topic has been covered before. I'd suggest you look at the old posts before you turn the mesh screw.


Yes, adjusting it will "tighten" the steering, but too much will make driving dangerous, not to mention accelerate wear on the box...

The FSM warns loudly against adjusting the gear mesh without adjusting the bearing preload first. It makes sense - the little screw pushes the gears together, and it's clear they are going to bind if the preload is too loose.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------



It seems like my steering isn't bad enough to need replacement yet, so would a little tweak be okay?
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  #5  
Old 11-08-2009, 08:14 PM
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rule of thumb is to have an inch of play before the tires move either way from center, so basically a half inch in either direction is what i like to keep it at
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  #6  
Old 11-08-2009, 08:34 PM
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You said your rag joint looks okay but make sure EVERYTHING else in the steering is good(tierod ends and whatnot). You don't want to be trying to adjust slop out of the steering box when it's actually coming from somewhere else. When you're sure that you have narrowed it down to the steering box go for it. I did it on mine and it worked great. Just make sure you do very small adjustments before you find the sweet spot and remember there's supposed to be a little bit of slop in there.
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  #7  
Old 11-09-2009, 08:26 AM
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If:
A) all of the tie rods and connecting hardware are in good shape, and
B) there is no slop from ball joints, and
C) you have 2 in of play
I would recommend putting in a rebuilt gear unit. It is possible to adjust the gear you have, but adjusting the pre-load is not easilly done for most people and if it is worn that bad, it would likely be a band-aid fix.
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Actually, now that I think about it, that could be either awesome or really terrible.


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  #8  
Old 11-09-2009, 11:51 AM
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As everyone else has mentioned...check EVERYTHING involved in your steering before you point at the gearbox as responsible. Check all your steering linkage, ball joints, suspension, etc. Also be sure to check your spring bushings. The steering box has a LOT of leverage on your axle, so if your spring bushings are sloppy it will actually be moving the frame in relation to the axle instead of turning the tires.


aa
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  #9  
Old 11-09-2009, 12:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 710 Burner
If:
A) all of the tie rods and connecting hardware are in good shape, and
B) there is no slop from ball joints, and
C) you have 2 in of play
I would recommend putting in a rebuilt gear unit. It is possible to adjust the gear you have, but adjusting the pre-load is not easilly done for most people and if it is worn that bad, it would likely be a band-aid fix.

I kind of don't get this thought. I know you can seriously damage a steering box if you over adjust, but if your plan is to just completely replace the box if it's too worn then why not just give it a try? Just carefully adjust it and take a slow ride through your neighborhood or yard or something to make sure nothing fails on you.

I did it to mine and drive it on the street and offroad with no side effect that I can tell. All I know is mine steers worlds better than it did before.
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  #10  
Old 11-09-2009, 12:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cecil14
As everyone else has mentioned...check EVERYTHING involved in your steering before you point at the gearbox as responsible. Check all your steering linkage, ball joints, suspension, etc. Also be sure to check your spring bushings. The steering box has a LOT of leverage on your axle, so if your spring bushings are sloppy it will actually be moving the frame in relation to the axle instead of turning the tires.


aa

On that note the shackle bushings as well, that is one I overlooked when going through my front end.
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  #11  
Old 11-09-2009, 01:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmelo
On that note the shackle bushings as well, that is one I overlooked when going through my front end.

Absolutely...I assumed that with spring bushings but should have spelled it out.

I put poly bushings in my springs but had to wait for the right size bushings for my shackles. It was definitely way better with the new spring bushings, but it was night and day after I got the shackles done as well. No comparison at all.


aa
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  #12  
Old 11-10-2009, 07:40 AM
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IIRC, adjusting the bearing preload involves removing the big nut and adjusting the number of shims underneath to obtain the proper clearance. Adjusting the pitman arm mesh is easilly done, but typically does not improve play much.
My thought here is why fix it twice?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GrandWag&Prix
Actually, now that I think about it, that could be either awesome or really terrible.


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  #13  
Old 11-10-2009, 10:00 AM
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This is wrong. It is a simple screw adjustment. Per the service manual, you are supposed to do the adjustments on the bench. And I would recommend doing it that way the first time so you can get a feel for what you are doing.

Anyway, pull the box and drain the fluid it out of it. Cycle the box stop to stop several times to get it all out. Even at that, expect it to squirt out the ports. Now loosen the nut on the top of the box, and back out the screw. Now loosen the the stamped steel nut around the input shaft. A hammer and chisel, or a large pipe wrench work well. The piece that the nut is threaded to is the bearing adjustment. There are two holes in its face to use a spanner wrench on, but again the hammer and chisel will work in a pinch. Snug up the nut and cycle the box stop to stop. You are feeling for any tightness or binding. If it is free, tighten it up a bit more and cycle again. Keep on doing this until you feel it tighten or bind up. Then back it out a touch, and tighten the stamped steel nut. Now you can adjust the gear mesh doing the same basic procedure, tighten and cycle, etc.

As an FYI, when I got my Cherokee, the wheel had nearly a half turn of play. After adjusting it, it was less than an inch. It went another 25k miles before I pulled the truck apart again...
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  #14  
Old 09-11-2018, 09:36 PM
440sixpack 440sixpack is offline
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If it's your box, and it probably is at least part of the problem you can adjust it but you're probably not going to get a huge improvement. you're going to need a rebuilt one and if you do get it from Redhead. the parts store ones are crap .
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  #15  
Old 09-16-2018, 01:28 AM
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Power steering gearboxes seldom wear out unless their fluid is seriously neglected. The constant flow of fluid keeps them lubricated. Manual steering gearboxes are more prone to getting sloppy.

You can adjust them on the car if you disconnect the steering linkage and column from the gearbox....which is basically removing the gearbox.

Don't adjust it without disconnecting at least the Pittman arm.
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  #16  
Old 09-17-2018, 09:06 AM
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  #17  
Old 09-20-2018, 08:35 PM
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Yeah but it's a useful one. It inspired me to finally do mine, 74 J20, 215,000 miles on box. It wasn't bad but it had lost it's feel, I marked bearing adjustment before adjusting, it ended up about an inch tighter. The centering drag adjustment took about 2/3 of a turn to get that right. I'd like to know what kind of inch pound torque wrench goes down far enough to be useful, mine goes down to 25 inch pounds and that's not low enough.?
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  #18  
Old 09-20-2018, 09:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bufurd
I'd like to know what kind of inch pound torque wrench goes down far enough to be useful, mine goes down to 25 inch pounds and that's not low enough.?




I need to do mine. Its getting to the top of the priority list now.


For my car, which is a manual box but adjustment method, I used a spring loaded hanging scale and marked 12" out on ratchet wrench.

I may have looked for an 1/8 drive in-lb torque wrench and they didn't go low enough or were too $$$ for the few times I'd use. I can't recall if it was both or one or the other. (Gosh and it was only 2015 !)

However I just saw an inch - lb limiting screwdriver that might be in the correct range. Price much lower than a specialty torque wrench, like 35 and comes with a varietyt of bits. It was in the Highland Woodworking catalog. (They're in Georgia).
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Old 09-20-2018, 09:52 PM
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Amazon has 0-80 in-oz beam wrenches for $25.

For this you want a beam or dial.
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