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RyanM1979 03-22-2009 10:48 AM

TJ Power Steering Gear Box removal
I'm trying to replace the power steering gear box on my 2001 Jeep Wrangler due to a leak. I'm having difficulty removing the nut for the pitman arm. I have already tried a breaker bar, wd-40, and pb blaster. I've applied enough torque to strip out a ratchet. I'm thinking my next step is to heat the nut but I'm a little hesitant since I do not want to ignite the power steering fluid and/or PB Blaster (I'm getting mixed info as far as the flammability of power steering fluid). I don't want to cut the nut because I would like to reuse and also don't want to risk damaging threads on the gear box. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Jerry Bransford 03-22-2009 11:04 AM

First, welcome to WF. Next, and don't get insulted over this as you may be an experienced mechanic for all I know, that nut is upside-down and some people will, without realizing it, try to turn it the wrong way. If you're doing it from the top, try laying on your back to make sure you're doing the old righty-tighty lefty-loosey thing. Plenty of Jeepers snap the hinge stud off by trying to remove the nut the wrong way because it's also upside down.

With a breaker bar, that nut should be off by now. Try an extension on the breaker bar to give yourself more leverage. Good luck, I've had mine on and off probably a dozen times over the years and that first time wasn't all that easy.

RyanM1979 03-22-2009 11:29 AM

Thanks for the welcome and the response. I'm definitely loosening in the correct direction. I even checked the threads to make sure it wasn't a reverse thread. I'm keeping an eye on an Ebay auction that includes the pitman arm so I'm hoping I might be able to avoid the removal. Any advice regarding taking a torch to the nut? I can understand if no one wants to touch that questions since incorrect advice = fire.

Also, 3' length of steel square stock was slipped over ratchet handle with only result being stripped ratchet.

Jerry Bransford 03-22-2009 11:42 AM

Holy crap, I've never heard of one being that tight. At this point, I'd run the Jeep up to your local 4x4 shop and just have one of the mechanics use an impact wrench to loosen it for you and then just snug it down enough so you can drive back home safely and then remove it with your ratchet wrench. Plus, that will be less likely to damage the steering box as continuing to beat on it as you've been forced to do. I had to do that once or twice before I finally got my air tools. :)

markhuntsville 03-23-2009 03:04 PM

Yes - I've had to use an impact gun on most every pitman nut I've ever removed...PB Blaster soaking for a day prior is also crucial. It also take a serious impact gun and a good quality socket.

Heat is something you MUST be careful of.... I tried heating my pitman arm to remove it (after breaking a pitman arm puller). I kept heating it more and more, and eventually melted the seal and had to replace the box completely...which, on a '97, would have been a matter of time anyway. Also, it meant I didn't have to get the old pitman arm off, I just left it on the core. (I installed a dropped pitman arm for a lift)

Jerry Bransford 03-23-2009 03:21 PM


Originally Posted by markhuntsville (Post 342851)
I installed a dropped pitman arm for a lift...

What trackbar are you running? If it's an RE, is it the standard RE-1600 or the heavy-duty RE-1610 that mounts to the RE-1611 dropped mount?

jdhallissey 03-23-2009 03:57 PM

for the breaker bar. Go find about a 4 foot piece of inch and a half pvc that will give you enough leverage. If you can't find one then I would grab my mapp gas torch and heat it up, put the socket on it with the breaker bar and hit the back end ofthe breaker bar with a mallet to give it the same effect as a impact gun. That should break it loose.

OR you could eat your "WHEATIES" and "MAN UP" Weclome to the new family!! :)

BSing 03-23-2009 05:07 PM

pvc? that doesnt sound like a strong breaker bar.

jdhallissey 03-23-2009 05:16 PM

pvc does wonders in adding leverage to a breaker bar done it numerous times.

RyanM1979 03-23-2009 06:49 PM

I went out and bought a new impact gun. Impact gun and PB blaster did it. I'm glad I didn't have to heat it. I've had a compressor for a few years but primarily used it around the house with nail guns. I have a feeling the new toy will save a lot of frustration. Thank you everyone for the help. Hopefully I can return the favor.:)

Jerry Bransford 03-23-2009 06:52 PM

That's awesome, good job Ryan. Nothing like that first impact wrench to get your garage up to that next step! Next it'll be more impact wrenches, then you'll start asking about a welder. Ask me how I know this. :p

WTS 09-09-2009 11:45 AM

How difficult of a job was the steering gear box replacement? My jeep is leaking and I am thinking of doing it myself.

I would need to buy the gearbox and the pitman arm puller and the rachet head that fits the pitman arm...but I would come out ahead of having the shop do it.

Jerry Bransford 09-09-2009 12:36 PM

It's not a difficult job at all, I swapped mine on my own without help or even referring to the FSM I have. Just bleed it of all the air afterwards that will be introduced into the system by cycling the steering back & forth 25-30 times before starting the engine. Don't start the engine until you have manually bled the air out. It's really not a difficult job at all. Three big bolts, the steering shaft u-joint connection, and two hydraulic hose fittings. :)

yjwes 09-09-2009 01:22 PM


Originally Posted by BSing (Post 342905)
pvc? that doesnt sound like a strong breaker bar.


jdhallissey 09-09-2009 07:32 PM

Make sure you get sch 40 no sch 20 lol

keyslapper 05-21-2011 07:00 PM


Everyone, thank you so much for all the info you've provided. I decided to try my own gearbox replacement, but now I'm killing myself to get the pitman arm off this gearbox. It took 3 trips to Sears to get the right size wrench (it's a 1- 5/16, for those who are wondering) and after much groaning and grunting I did get the nut off. But now the bloody pitman arm itself won't come off, even with the nut gone. I fought with it for all of 5 minutes before calling AutoZone for a puller, and for the $15 deposit, I'm happy to go that route.

However. It seems I've reached the most difficult part of this project - at least in my case. That puller is in place and tightened as much as I could manage. I've put enough tension on that sucker that I'm afraid of breaking something - and not just myself. I've even given it a few good whacks with a hammer to try to loosen things up, but all to no avail. Rust eater doesn't seem to be helping either.

I'm hoping that keeping it under high tension overnight will help things, but I'm kinda worried that I'm gonna have to bail on work Monday to get this done, or worse, get the darn thing towed to a garage to have *them* do the work for me.

Any suggestions for loosening that pitman arm?

Thank you one and all.

2003x 05-21-2011 10:26 PM

Mine was stuck as well. I tapped it with a hammer as i loosened it. You could try heating it up. Auto Zone sells small cans of map gas. I do remember I had to keep turing the pitman arm puller to the point where it was very hard, but kept turning and it will let go. A large breaker bar or pipe helps to keep turning it.
97-02 is a 32MM socket and 03-06 is 33mm socket. I got the socket over the wrench to remove the pitman arm nut. Make sure that is loose.
When it does come loose, it will make this loud bang pop. If you are under the jeep it will scare the sh** out of you the fist time you do it lol.

If you break the puller, just bring it back and they will give you another one to go at it.. ask me how I know.

C.L. 05-21-2011 10:49 PM

Whoops... nothing to see here.

fonecop1 05-21-2011 11:31 PM

I just did mine lastnight and I used a 1/2/inch impact on the puller to persuade it to come off.

Mr Smeee 05-22-2011 01:30 AM

Did mine a couple of weeks ago, the thing that finally made it give in was heat after toquing up the puller. Used my plumbing torch, focused on one spot on the arm, did not move the flame, went about three minutes, then began torqing the puller again.

keyslapper 05-22-2011 04:42 AM

Excellent suggestions guys. I think I'm gonna go borrow an electric impact wrench to try that puller. The nut isn't an issue now, so maybe a little beatdown on the puller will persuade the arm.

I'm a little nervous about using my plumbing torch, because I've covered the whole joint in rust eater, which is fairly flammable, and nobody want's to watch their Jeep go up in flames ...

Maybe I'll just keep the garden hose and an extinguisher handy if it comes to that.


keyslapper 05-22-2011 06:35 PM

No good. I even went and picked up an electric impact wrench with 220 pounds of torque, but that puller would not budge the pitman arm for nothing.

I eventually called someone I know for advice, and he said it can take anywhere from 500 to 800 pounds of torque on that puller to get the arm off. He told me to just pull the pitman arm off the drag linkage and bring it to him at his shop. He could pull it off in 2 minutes with the tools he has. Unfortunately, I was too worn down to even pull it off the drag linage, so I threw in the towel. He agree to finish the project for me, so I'm having it towed to his shop sometime in the next couple days.

There's plenty of stuff I'm fine with working on, but if I ever even think of tackling this one again, I'm going to have the pitman nut and arm off before I disconnect anything else. If it doesn't come off like butter, I'm just driving the damn thing to the shop to let them do it.

Cheers folks.

Mr Smeee 05-22-2011 08:50 PM

One option when replacing the box is to not remove the pitman, just buy a new one for the new box, think they can be had for $20 or so.

2003x 05-22-2011 10:50 PM


Originally Posted by Mr Smeee (Post 1255605)
One option when replacing the box is to not remove the pitman, just buy a new one for the new box, think they can be had for $20 or so.


ccupic 11-02-2011 09:36 AM

2008 wrangler x
I have a 08 wrangler x and am having trouble putting into 4 wheel drive. I t was working properly but all at once it got tight and wont go into 4 wheel .. :banghead:

DKarge87 11-02-2011 09:39 AM


Originally Posted by ccupic
I have a 08 wrangler x and am having trouble putting into 4 wheel drive. I t was working properly but all at once it got tight and wont go into 4 wheel .. :banghead:

Wrong forum. You need JK

Kyle.Roth 03-24-2014 08:25 PM

Wrangler Team;

Thank you for this thread, it saved me time and headache.

Due to leaking upper shaft seal on my 98' Wrangler, I changed the power steering gear. I too had problems with the Pitman Arm nut and Pitman arm.

Total work time 3 hours, not including trips for more tools.

Allow me to cover tools used, the process and, problems encountered. Forgive me for being too detailed.

Tools on hand;
Floor jack
Jack stands
Wheel chalks
Air compressor
Air hammer
1/2" Impact wrench
3/8" Air ratchet
Standard and metric 1/2" and 3/8" impact sockets
3/8" ratchet
Standard and metric 3/8" sockets
1/2" torque wrench
14" pry bar
Oil change catch pan

Tools purchased;
25" x 1/2" breaker bar
33 mm impact socket
18 mm flair nut wrench (line wrench)
Propane plumber's torch
Front end puller set which included pitman arm puller (free rental when returned)

Also purchased;
Duralast power steering gear
1 qt Mopar ATF +4

Process and problems;
1) Started with the steering wheel centered (more on that later)

2) Removed bumper cover (using air ratchet)

3) Chalked the Rt rear wheel

4) Jacked up the Wrangler to the limit of the floor jack and lowered the Wrangler onto the extended jack stands

5) Turned on the ignition and rotated the steering wheel 1/2 turn to the point that the steering shaft retainer bolt was pointing down

6) Removed the steering shaft retainer bolt

7) Rotated the steering wheel back to center

8) Fed the seat belt through the steering wheel, wrapped it once, then locked the belt into the buckle

9) Put the 33 mm impact socket on the impact wrench and hammered away at the Pitman arm nut. Went to the hardware store bought the plumbers torch.

10) Applied low heat for five minutes to the Pitman arm nut (not the shaft) and hammered away at the Pitman arm nut. Went to the tool store and bought the breaker bar

11) Applied low heat for five minutes to the Pitman arm nut (not the shaft). Removed the Pitman arm nut and lock washer

12) Set the Pitman arm puller and tightened to the limit of the impact wrench. Guessing about 80 ft lbs

13) Applied low heat for five minutes to the Pitman arm (not the shaft) and finished the removal with the impact wrench. (Zero broken pullers)

14) Removed the steering shaft using the pry bar

15) Supported the Pitman arm shaft on the extended floor jack

16) Removed the lower two steering gear mounting bolts and loosened the upper mounting bolt

17) Rotated the steering gear to get access to the high and low pressure power steering hoses

18) Set oil change catch pan below the steering gear

19) Removed the high pressure hose from the steering gear using the 18 mm flair nut wrench (not from the power steering pump)

20) Removed the low pressure hose from the power steering gear (same wrench)

21) Removed the upper steering gear mounting bolt

22) Removed the steering gear leaving the jack in place

Installation was the reverse of removal with a few exceptions.

1) Removed and replaced both power steering hose O-rings (If your replacement steering gear does no have replacement O-rings get them)

2) Made sure the splines in the Pitman arm match the Pitman arm shaft

3) Torqued Pitman arm nut to 186 ft lbs

3) Made sure the splines and flat section of the upper shaft matched the splines on the steering shaft. Due to paint on the input shaft, the steering shaft would only go on about 1/2 way. To get it to seat, lightly hit the lower end of the steering shaft with the air hammer. That took about 5 seconds.

4) While the Wrangler was still on the jack stands, filled the power steering pump to the hot mark on the dip stick. Tightened to filler cap. Bled the air by rotating the steering wheel lock to lock a few times. Refilled to cold mark on the dip stick. Bled again and again until the level did not change. Started the engine. Pump squealed for about three seconds then, all was normal. Shut off the engine.

5) Checked the power steering system for leaks

6) Removed the jack stands and wheel chalks

6) Checked the fluid level again. Filled to the cold mark.

7) Road test found the steering wheel cocked 45 degrees to the left. To resolve the steering wheel alignment I used the following process;

7a) Loosened the two bolts on the drag link adjustment sleeve that holds the tie rod end attached to the Pitman arm
7b) Rotated clock wise the drag link adjustment sleeve until the steering wheel was centered
7c) Road tested again
7d) Adjusted and road tested until the steering wheel was centered
7e) Tightened to 36 ft lbs the two bolts on the drag link adjustment sleeve

NOTE: Road tested on paved on straight roads with varying degrees of left/right slope
NOTE: Definition of centered steering wheel; Top of the middle of area (97 and later Horn/Airbag package) of the steering wheel is parallel to the instrument cluster AND equal movements to the left and right start a turn

8) Returned power steering pump core and the puller set.

Kyle.Roth 03-24-2014 09:05 PM

Ok so I can't count... and I installed the steering shaft to the input shaft BEFORE installing the Pitman arm.

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