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Old 09-22-2010, 05:32 PM   #1
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Another steering wheel play question

So I've done a ton of searches and have not found where anyone mentions what the acceptable amount of "free turn" is expected on a TJ steering wheel. I have determined that my "play" is in the steering box and I have roughly 1" of free turn in the steering wheel before the tires start to move with the motor running and off. Is this normal or too much? I've tried tightening down the adjuster on the top of the steering box and it does not seem to make a difference.

For reference I bought the Jeep used with 42k miles and it has 35" tires on it.

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Old 09-23-2010, 08:22 AM   #2
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I'm also concerned that I may damage the steering box from the adjustments I made yesterday. The wheels seem to turn fine with no binding and it returns to center when driving, is there a good way to tell if I have tightened it too much?

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Old 09-23-2010, 10:23 AM   #3
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Its a delicate dance to get the lash adjusted in a gear box. a very slight amount of play is normal.

Not all steering wheel play comes from the gear box. it can be in the shaft itself, or in the tie rod ends/draglink.

all of these should be inspected for play BEFORE you adjust the box. and with the box, you want to adjust it the least amount possible to get the desired results.
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Old 09-23-2010, 11:36 AM   #4
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1" at the center of travel is fine. It may even be too tight by a little - it may feel "too sensitive" when driving it. The freeplay is there to help isolate you from the tiny road bumps and wiggles. Drive it and see.

Also -
Jack up both front wheels so they are both off the ground.
Run the steering wheel lock to lock. If the lash is too tight you'll feel it bind toward the ends of the travel. Loosen till the binding stops.

Notice the freeplay is less toward the ends of travel, that's designed into it.
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Old 09-23-2010, 03:50 PM   #5
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Ok thanks guys. The play is defiantly in the steering box as everything else under the jeep is tight and I can grab the steering rod as it enters the steering box and rotate the rod from side to side a little. The Jeep is driving fine today and there does not seem to be any binding from the adjustments I made yesterday, but I will jack up the front to see how it feels with the tires off the ground to be safe.
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