Doesn't look that sloppy, but obviously any input that doesn't translate to output is the box and nothing to do with TREs. There is an adjustment bolt on the box that moves the sector shaft up/down which can tighten it up, but you have to be really careful because too tight and it will kill the box. The other thing to look at is your caster.
CU Boulder Aerospace Engineering
Yeah I have seen videos of steering boxes that looked worse, but so far it's the only thing I can find wrong with the steering The caster is good, it was off in the past and the jeep wandered all over the road like you were walking a dog on a leash that kept wandering left and right as you walked down the sidewalk.
The jeep drives perfectly straight now, it's just that dead spot in the wheel that makes small highway steering adjustments a terrible driving experience
I read a little about the adjustment gear but I think it's easier/possible on the YJ not the TJ?
I looked at prices and a rebuilt steering box is only like $130 locally and doesn't look too hard. I figure if it can help sharpen up the steering even a little it would be well worth it.
You might try the adjustment then, there are a couple write ups on how to do it. The adjustment should be considered a band aid and if it helps would strongly consider a new steering box in the near future.
Are you sure the excess play in the steering is from the steering box? I had similar issues, but it was the steering shaft rather than the steering box. Well to be more precise it was the joints in the steering shaft but either way... it was a pain.
I thought it might be the steering shaft, but in the video I'm moving the wheel back and forth and you can see the steering shaft is moving back and forth with no pause, hence no visible play. I think that's correct?
Update, when I started on the install today I took off the plastic jeep shroud and saw that the bolts holding the sway bar to the frame were crazy loose. I tightened then up and its already driving better. I'm still going to swap the steering box to try and get rid of that dead spot in the wheel.
I guess if your having driving issues don't assume anything is ok until you inspect every single steering component
You might try the adjustment then, there are a couple write ups on how to do it. The adjustment should be considered a band aid and if it helps would strongly consider a new steering box in the near future. Here's a write up. Steering Gearbox Adjustment Writeup - JeepForum.com
That's the article I saw in the past. It's for a YJ, I think I read Mr.Blaine saying that you can only adjust the Tjs with the steering box open??
I would give that a try but the idea of the steering getting worse while driving gives me the jeebies. I'll just swap the 170k stock one out Thanks for the reply though
I ended up replacing the entire power steering system as the old reservoir neck snapped off.
I also could not get that damn pitman arm off, it was bending the puller, and I broke a socket in the process So I got a new pitman arm and just used the bolt and lock nut from the old one.
Anyways! The sloppy dead spot is still there (I guess that's just the way a TJ drives) but the dead steering spot is smaller But more importantly the steering FEEL is so much better. It's heavier and I feel like I can feel the steering much better.
My old power steering fluid was rust colored also so it might have been the original 97 stuff
Also. I could not get the steering coupler onto the new gearbox even after using a screwdriver on the coupler to open it up, Here's how I installed it; Unbolted the lower steering shaft and sat the gear box on the ground then tapped the shaft into the gearbox and took it off about 3 times in a row, This sorta loosened up the coupler
Also you can bolt the steering box up to the frame by itself then slide the coupler into the gear box. The directions on STU offroad were great but he had to use two people to slide the coupler on THEN bolt it to the frame. You can do it by yourself if you bolt the gearbox to the frame first then slide the coupler onto it
I had that same dead space in my steering wheel, I loosened this bolt and hex screw as shown in the pic, and tightened the hex screw about an eighth to a quarter turn and it got rid of the dead zone. My steering wheel feels much tighter. I am taking it on the highway tomorrow, I'll let you know if things are better tomorrow.