Removing Play In Steering Box
How we adjusted our steering box to remove some slop in our loose steering. This will work on most cars with a worm gear type steering system. It won’t make your 20 plus year old ride drive like a dream, but it may just help keep you on the road. The pristine, like-new drive may require some replacement parts. You can also see the video below where we go over all this.
Warning: Over tightening the steering box could cause damage!
How To Find Your Steering Box
So one of the first things you have to do is find your steering box. On most cars, trucks, and Jeeps, it will be under the hood at the end of the steering rod coming from your wheel. On our YJ Jeep it was between the bumper and grill. Then you will have to find on the steering box the adjustment point for the worm drive gear. Most will be adjusted with a wrench and an allen wrench or screwdriver.
Getting Jacked For Steering Box Adjustment
Now you are going to have to lift the front tires off the ground from the axel so you can freely turn the wheel. We do this because while adjusting your steering box you will need to be able to turn the wheel without the assistance of the power steering pump. Don’t want to break anything. We lift from the axle to remove suspension movement so we can look for other steering issues.
Looking Deeper For Steering Issues
With the wheels off the ground you can first check for bearings and ball joints quickly for play. Issues found here would need to be addressed for future steering improvements. For the wheel bearing you would lift the wheel up and down. If you feel or hear movements these could be signs of a worn wheel bearing. To check the upper and low ball joints, rock the wheel from top to bottom. If it moves these ball joints may need replacing. To check the steering ball, you will need to rock the wheel side to side. This will have an effect on steering play if worn.
Now that your list is growing for things you need to repair, let’s go over the steering box adjustment. First you are going to have to break loose the snugger bolt while holding the adjustment screw. For ours this required a bit of force even after we sprayed it down with break free oil.
Adjusting The Steering Box
With everything loosened you will now want another person in the car to turn the wheel while adjusting. Start with a 1/4 turn clockwise and then have the have the person at the steering wheel check for play, then turn the wheel left and right to check for binding. If you have binding back off on the adjustment, and this is why we don’t use power steering while adjusting. You can do this solo, it will just take more time because you will have to snug the locking bolt after each adjustment to test.
Once adjusted and you like how everything feels, take it for a test drive and see how much play was removed. If you have other issues with the steering there may be little improvement noticed.
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Tools We Love:
- Milwaukee 18-Volt Drill and Impact Driver Kit: https://amzn.to/366BwxM
- Husky Mechanics Tool Set: https://amzn.to/3kuGUzD
- Angle Grinder https://amzn.to/36FaC09
- Forney Easy Weld Welder https://amzn.to/3romDR1
- Welding Helmet https://amzn.to/3wOq58z
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