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Old 09-16-2009, 07:19 AM   #1
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Smile sloppy steering

98 4.0 5spd 4in.lift 31-12.5bfgA/T's. My steering has gotten worse over the past couple of months. It now wanders enough to cause me concern. I have not lost any PS fluid, or changed anything steering wise. I have wheeled pretty hard lately so I am starting to think gear mesh in the box. This weekend I will check the front end parts for loose\worn componants as well as allignment. My little brain keeps coming back to the box because it seems that there is just too much play in the steering wheel. It will turn about 70-90deg. before the wheels turn and my steering wheel has slowly rotated to the right ( makes the turn signal not cancel sometimes) I will have someone turn the wheel so I can watch the box,pitman arm,drag link,etc. this weekend, but I guess my big question is can I adjust the gear lash in the box? Thanks All.

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Old 09-16-2009, 07:26 AM   #2
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Yes gear lash is adjustable. Just make sure you don't overtighten it. Or you'll damage it more.

Look at gearbox from top. Should be a nut with a shaft coming out of the center. Shaft will usually have a notch for a flat head screwdriver or a spot for Allen key in it.

Be careful

EDIT: I just looked. It's an Allen key hole. (remove plastic cover over swqybar to access. )

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Old 09-16-2009, 10:56 AM   #3
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Are you certain you don't have a bent tie rod or drag link and that your wander isn't a result of a possibly excessive toe-in from a bent tie rod?
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Old 09-16-2009, 01:31 PM   #4
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can you post some pics of you jeep? i want to see what it looks like with a 4" lift and 31's, i may have to run the same for awhile before i can afford 33's

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Old 09-16-2009, 02:16 PM   #5
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Mr. B, I will look at the tie-rod and drag link to be sure they are not bent but I keep going back to box or tie-rod ends because it has gotten worse over time. My thinking is parts wear. does my train of thought make sense? Mud. I'll get some pics up soon. the only ones I have are when I picked it up from the PO. I have done some work to it since then. (33's are next for me cause the 31's just look too small in the wheelwells.)
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Old 09-16-2009, 02:32 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mrmikeypoo View Post
Mr. B, I will look at the tie-rod and drag link to be sure they are not bent but I keep going back to box or tie-rod ends because it has gotten worse over time. My thinking is parts wear. does my train of thought make sense? Mud. I'll get some pics up soon. the only ones I have are when I picked it up from the PO. I have done some work to it since then. (33's are next for me cause the 31's just look too small in the wheelwells.)
You know how to check all these parts correct?

-just a side note - I used to do this for a living.

Your logic makes some sense.(parts do wear). Everything from the gear box, to the pitman arm, to the tie rods/draglink/ball joints/tire pressure/etc can have effects on driving characteristics. If you have any doubt, just take it to a front end shop. We used to charge 18 bucks to pull it on the rack and check it out (unless we were feeling friendly, then it was free.)

If you turn the wheel and the pitman arm doesn't move, its the gearbox...easy to adjust, its fairly uncommon for normal use for a gearbox to need replacing, but I have seen it. Oh and don't over tighten. But depending on mileage etc its likely you'll have some other parts with some wear(slack) in them.

Alignments should be done yearly. You not only prevent massive problems, but you'll keep tires longer.
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Old 09-16-2009, 03:04 PM   #7
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mud. I'll get a pic up soon
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Old 09-16-2009, 03:17 PM   #8
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I guess this would ba a "before" pic. I'll get better ones up later
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Old 09-16-2009, 06:13 PM   #9
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i had a problem like this check the lower steering shaft were it goes into the box for wear i have to replace mine but for now i tig welded more material to it and machined it to proper size so no more slop. i only did this cuz its cheeper then a new one anyware and i do mean anyware $300++++ most places
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Old 09-19-2009, 03:25 PM   #10
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I checked the front end parts and I found play at the pitman arm where it bolts to the box and at the drag link end. Also at the lower track bar bracket. the track bar was no problem but the pitman arm is in trouble. I guess it is time to find a durango box,pitman arm and drag link end. If I can find XJ tie rod and drag link I may stick those in while I'm there.
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Old 09-19-2009, 04:22 PM   #11
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I'm ignorant on this stuff, but would the steering stableizer have anything to do with it? What exactly does the steering stabelizer do?
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Old 09-19-2009, 05:29 PM   #12
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The Pitman Arm is loose on the box's shaft?
Is it the original Pitman Arm, untouched? Has it even been taken off?

Look at the box's shaft - it has 4 wide spots on the splines. Some cheapie aftermarket Pitman Arms don't have those wide spots, or sometimes they get put on wrong where those wide spots aren't mated with the box's properly. The result can be the arm gets loose on the shaft, or worse yet, the Pitman arm breaks! (Not a fun thing to lose all steering.)

70-90 degrees is an awful lot for a box to wear. If the slop is from inside, something's self destructing inside. I doubt you'll be able to adjust that much slop out of it. Even if you did, how long will it last? And would you trust your life, and other's lives to it?
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Old 09-20-2009, 06:18 PM   #13
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rrich, yes the pitman arm has slop at the box. I am going to swap in a reman durango box and new pitman arm. I will replace the one worn drag link end. I priced the grand cherokee tie rod/drag link and I don't have the cash now to get them. Those upgrades will have to wait till I "find" the right rock(if ya know what I mean)
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Old 09-21-2009, 09:45 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mrmikeypoo View Post
rrich, yes the pitman arm has slop at the box. I am going to swap in a reman durango box and new pitman arm. I will replace the one worn drag link end. I priced the grand cherokee tie rod/drag link and I don't have the cash now to get them. Those upgrades will have to wait till I "find" the right rock(if ya know what I mean)
Glad you got that situated. make sure to align after all this. Sounds like someone has tried something shady at some point for the Pitman to have play at the gearbox, since that's not supposed to be a part that "wears".

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