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Old 12-03-2010, 11:56 PM   #1
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How I tightened up my steering

So, after installing my 4 inch RC lift I ran into a lot of steering problem. It took me awhile to narrow down what was going on, but after looking around I've figured it out.

Pitman arm:

I found a small amount of play in my in my pitman arm. The bolt was speced to torque, but it was loose on the sector shaft. My fix for this was a new lock washer. I went to lowes and bought a 7/8 lock washer that was slightly thicker than the original one. I also added another flat washer between the lock washer and the steering box. This made the pitman arm tighter.

Steering box:

I adjusted my steering box. The adjustment is fairly easy. On each side of the Plastic jeep plate between your bumber and grill, there are two 3/8(i think) bolts on each side. Unscrew all of those. Take of the plastic plate off, and you will see a black metal strip that goes from one side of your frame to the other. This metal strip holds your black line. On each side, there is a bolt. Unscrew these (same size as the plastic plate.) You can't just yank this strip off. There are plastic clips that hold the brake line to the metal strip. Gently take the clips off. Once you take this off you will see the top of the steering box. There is a nut with an allen nut in the center. Take a 5/8 wrench/socket and loosen it up just a little bit(1 turn should do it) After that, take a 5/8 wrench and put it on the nut. Take an standard allen key(don't remember size) and adjust the allen nut. Only turn the allen key in 1/8 turn increments. I ended up turning mine about a 1/4 turn by the end of it. If you adjust it to to much, you will ruin your steering box. Move very slowly in your adjustments.


There are a lot of things that can mess with your steering. Any slight play will lead to a lot more in your steering wheel. If you are having problems, check the things I did. Also, your tie rod ends, ball joints, and steering stabilizer can be the problem.

I can add some pictures of how to adjust your steering box if anyone needs them.

Rock on guys !

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Old 12-03-2010, 11:59 PM   #2
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This should be stickied this is a good one ill probably end up doing this this weekend while im working on the old heep.

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Old 12-04-2010, 12:02 AM   #3
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so by adjusting the steering box you can make steering tighter or looser? Is that the purpose of adjusting it?
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Old 12-04-2010, 12:22 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jgwalt View Post
so by adjusting the steering box you can make steering tighter or looser? Is that the purpose of adjusting it?
Yes. It changes the mesh between the gears. Moving the allen key clockwise will tighten your steering, counter clockwise will loosen it.

If the slop in your steering is not caused by the other things mentions (tie rod ends and ball joints), the steering box is a good thing to adjust.
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Old 12-06-2010, 04:09 PM   #5
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My steerings tight enough but really seems to be skiterish. I have a 93 yj and it seems like the steering ratio is to fast. It has a tendency to dart around a little when you hit a bump.
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Old 12-06-2010, 05:27 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jims YJ View Post
My steerings tight enough but really seems to be skiterish. I have a 93 yj and it seems like the steering ratio is to fast. It has a tendency to dart around a little when you hit a bump.
I wouldn't say that's completely abnormal. You have to keep in mind that you're riding on a vehicle that is on leaf springs. It's going to handle differently then any other car. Also, are you running a lift?


As an announcement for this thread, it has found it's home on The YJ Guide sticky for future reference.
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Old 12-10-2010, 09:36 AM   #7
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THANKS MIKE! That helped tremendously! My steering is nice and tight once more. WF STRIKES AGAIN!
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Old 12-11-2010, 03:07 AM   #8
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been there done that, thanks for posting it though!
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Old 02-04-2011, 06:19 PM   #9
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I just found this my steering is odd. its manual steering, wen i do a u turn i end up having to spin the wheel way too many times then have to over correct. i found the allen screw adjustment screw, i tightend it all the way down didnt do my research first to find out i can ruin it good thing is i have not drivin it much since i have done this. just down the road, after i adjusted it, it didnt make too much of a difference. finally my question is how can i turn that screw back to save my box and if it doesnt help should i change the stabalizer or?
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Old 04-21-2011, 12:08 PM   #10
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so I'm hoping that when I get a garage again I can sit down and try this...but I want to make sure that this would be an appropriate fix.

I have a 93 and driving that thing is an experience...feels like you have little to no control, steering is pretty loose and it tends to feel like it jumps and bucks randomly. I have a 4.5" lift that was put in by the last owner...

wondering if I need to make this adjustment or if this is just how my jeep drives....I've been in newer jeeps with coil over shock with much smoother/controlled rides. any advice is welcome.
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Old 06-28-2011, 07:48 AM   #11
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Thanks for the post Mike. I'll try this on my YJ and see if it cures my problem.
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Old 06-28-2011, 08:12 AM   #12
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If your YJ likes to wander you should also check and replace the sway bar link bushings and the sway bar bushings. If your like me and had a leaky steering box, that fluid will drip right onto the sway bar bushing next to that box. I had replaced everything from the steering shaft, all the way down to the hubs before finally locating the problem. Never thought it was them because lots of guys talk about removing the entire sway bar and having no problems. Now I can steer with just 1 finger instead of holding on to the wheel with a death grip.
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Old 12-05-2011, 08:47 PM   #13
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Can you throw a couple pics up please and thanks
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Old 12-06-2011, 11:15 AM   #14
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Thanks Mike good write up, but this is to get the SLACK OUT not to tighten the steering, I think some on here are misunderstanding it's just to get the slack out NOT to tighten the feel of the steering!
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Old 12-06-2011, 01:08 PM   #15
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I had the same issue about 1,000 miles after putting the 4" lift under there. I had my wife turn the wheel back and forth within the play area and I watched from under the front. It was easy to spot that pitman arm rocking back and forth and the nut would not go tighter at all. So, same deal... I pulled the nut off, added another thick washer and locked 'er back down. Been good for close to 10,000 miles now since the lift was installed.

It does get the slack out completely. Unless... you have bad tie rod ends. If your pitman arm is not pivoting and you still get play, look close at the tie rod ends. Just to avoid trouble, when I did my lift I installed a new drag bar with both ends.

After taking the slop out you can also recenter your steering wheel by loosening the nuts on both sleeve ends of the drag bar (one that hooks to the pitman arm). With those nuts loose you can turn the entire dragbar as it has threads on each end that go opposite directions of each other. As you rotate the drag bar it becomes longer or shorter and the steering wheel will turn. Have someone shout out to you "other way" or "thats good" "little more" etc... Tighten them up and take it around the block, park again with the tires straight and check your steering wheel position for center. It might take a couple tries to get it perfectly centered. Then, you also have to do this again every time you rotate your tires. That is, if your picky like I am about having my steering wheel centered.
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Old 12-29-2011, 01:26 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sevenservices
I had the same issue about 1,000 miles after putting the 4" lift under there. I had my wife turn the wheel back and forth within the play area and I watched from under the front. It was easy to spot that pitman arm rocking back and forth and the nut would not go tighter at all. So, same deal... I pulled the nut off, added another thick washer and locked 'er back down. Been good for close to 10,000 miles now since the lift was installed.

It does get the slack out completely. Unless... you have bad tie rod ends. If your pitman arm is not pivoting and you still get play, look close at the tie rod ends. Just to avoid trouble, when I did my lift I installed a new drag bar with both ends.

After taking the slop out you can also recenter your steering wheel by loosening the nuts on both sleeve ends of the drag bar (one that hooks to the pitman arm). With those nuts loose you can turn the entire dragbar as it has threads on each end that go opposite directions of each other. As you rotate the drag bar it becomes longer or shorter and the steering wheel will turn. Have someone shout out to you "other way" or "thats good" "little more" etc... Tighten them up and take it around the block, park again with the tires straight and check your steering wheel position for center. It might take a couple tries to get it perfectly centered. Then, you also have to do this again every time you rotate your tires. That is, if your picky like I am about having my steering wheel centered.
Good stuff!

Another thing others can check is the caster of your front axle. If that is off, it can adversely effect your steering. I'd suggest shims to compensate if you have that measured and you are off!

It sure has been awhile since I've looked at YJ stuff. I sold my YJ in May. I miss my leaf springs, but I sure as hell don't miss my 2.5L.

Happy jeepin!
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Old 12-29-2011, 01:59 AM   #17
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Im definitely going to try that later this week if it gets little bit warmer, i hate driving on the highway with high winds on some days with alot of play in my steering wheel pretty scary stuff sometimes.
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Old 06-27-2012, 10:26 PM   #18
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I'm so happy I found this! Thanks!
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Old 06-28-2012, 11:16 PM   #19
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Can anyone with a YJ and a lift kit please take a picture of the pitman arm and steering box link? I have a gap of about an inch of gear between the steering box and the pitman arm. I dont know if thats normal. You see, It doesn't move when I crank the wheel. In fact all my bushings and tie rod ends are fine. I still get major wobble between 30-35. I'll upload a pic tomorrow but whenever someone gets a chance can they show me what theirs looks like?
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Old 04-23-2013, 02:42 PM   #20
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Reviving an old thread, I have a 02TJ and there is slight shimmy in the steering wheel. I already checked everything else, found that I can grab the steering shaft by hand where it connects into the box ad slightly wiggle it. Will tightening the nut on top of the steering box fix this?
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Old 04-23-2013, 05:42 PM   #21
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I've often heard that to tighten up the pitman arm, add a washer. I don't understand how adding a washer would do anything unless you are running out of threads on the steering box shaft, and I think that's impossible!

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