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Old 12-23-2009, 03:10 AM   #1
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dumping power steering fluid

this is my third winter with my TJ. I noticed when it got cold this year that my power steering unit begun to whine and has been going through fluid at a rate of about a qt every 2 weeks. I'm not seeing any fluid puddles on the ground when i park, and i was just wondering if there are any common power steering leak points and how difficult are the repairs.

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Old 12-23-2009, 03:52 AM   #2
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In my old TJ it was only leaking when I drove it. When I turned off the engine it stopped leaking. The leak was somewhere at the steering box.

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Old 12-28-2009, 12:09 PM   #3
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Yeah the steering box. I had mine replaced. It's not something you can do yourself unless you really know what you're doing because it's complicated to deal with the steering fluid. You can't have any bubbles in there.
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Old 12-28-2009, 12:48 PM   #4
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Probably the pitman arm seal,bottom of steering box.Somewhere in here is a thread about changing box with one from a durango,lots easier than replacing the seal in original by far.Try some lucas pwr steering sealant,might seal it up for you.
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Old 12-29-2009, 12:08 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by woods453 View Post
Yeah the steering box. I had mine replaced. It's not something you can do yourself unless you really know what you're doing because it's complicated to deal with the steering fluid. You can't have any bubbles in there.
Greetings from a new forum victim...err.. member? Yeah. We'll go with member.

This past week I replaced the steering gearbox in my '99 TJ. I'm a light shade tree mechanic, nothing serious. It wasn't a hard job at all once I figured out the correct sized socket to get that monster of a nut of the pittman arm. (1 5/16s).

A remanufactured one runs about $125-130 at any autoparts store, 1 quart of power steering fluid, and a can of PB Blaster to hit all the bolts before you do the job.

Use their loan-a-tool program for a good pittman puller.

I skimmed the haynes manual and it looked pretty complicated. It was actually easier than the manual made it look.

Put the seat belt through the steering wheel and lock it to keep the wheel from turning.

The pittman nut is torqued at 185lb ft (have a breaker bark and at least a 1/2" ratchet (Prefer a 3/4") and ONLY USE A 6point socket or it WILL round the nut!) Soak it in PB Blaster for an hour or so before you do the job then take off the nut (don't lose the lock washer).

Use the pittman pullar (screw type, not the wedge type) and pop it loose. No need to remove it from the rest of the linkage, just the box itself.

That done pop the 3 bolts on the right side of the frame rail (very obvious where they are). This will allow the unit to lower (GENTLY!) to rest on the front of the axle/steering arm. From here just use a wrench to carefully free the power steering hoses. Make sure you have an oil catch pan underneath to get all the mess. I'd highly recommend using disposable gloves and be sure to keep this stuff off your paint! I'm not sure it's as caustic as brake fluid but I didn't take any chances.

Once the two power steering lines are off there is one last bolt that runs across a v-grooved part of the shaft at the top. The bolt is obvious and looks like it just pinches the top together to hold it on. It actually goes all the way through the side and has to come out before the unit will slide free. Careful, it's heavy! (as you will know by the new one).

The pittman arm and steering gear are notched in ways that make it obvious how they go on though we marked ours on the way out for good measure.

Slide the new unit onto the steering shaft, (really helps to have a 2nd person, this is the hardest part of the entire job only because it's heavy and awkward) and secure the bolt back through. This will hold it in place.

Replace the power steering lines

Bolt it back up into place.

Re-attach the pitman arm (loosely). Pop the seat belt and rotate the steering lock to lock to make sure that center is center (the one I got was a bit off, popped and adjusted the pittman and no problem).

Remember that 185lb-ft? Get to it... make sure you don't forget the lock washer.

Refill the power steering reservoir, put the cap on, and start the truck. let it idle for a few moments (lots of wierd noise will ensue), shut down quickly. refil until you hit the cold mark. Do it again as it will suck the fluid in quickly.

The TJ's have a self-bleeding power steering system. Once it has a base amount of fluid in there simply turn it from side to side slowly (though not all the way to lock per Haynes) and let it work the bubbles out. Check and refill the fluid as you go.

Total time was about 2 hours if you don't count running all over town trying to find the right sized 6-point socket for the pittman.

For reference, stock TJ, no lift, no need to put it up on stands or anything. Basic hand tools plus the breaker bar. Why pay someone else $250 to do it when you can learn more about the truck and have fun at the same time?

If you are anywhere near Knoxville, TN I'll be happy to help.
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Old 01-17-2011, 12:31 PM   #6
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Oh-oh. You may have just inspired me to try it myself....I thought I had read something about some sort of a crush-sleeve involved? I have a 97 TJ 4.0, and I think it's the same as the 99 p/s gearbox.....

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