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Steering issues


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My Mj is a struggle to steer. It wonders and sometimes just takes off in one direction. There seems to be a vibration in the wheel as well. It has new hubs, bearings, u- joints in the front, new track bar bushing, adjusted the steering box to remove excess play, and had it aligned.

 

Thinking possibly ball joints or tie rods? Can't get it in the lift until next week, so just looking for suggestions.

 

 

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I would start at the steering wheel and move down.  While it rarely fails, check the tulip joint on the steering shaft.  Turn the wheel with the vehicle off and watch to see if the two sides of the steering shaft seem to move independently.  The joins on the shaft could have play as well.  Steering shaft failures are much more common when you've been offroading.  Also make sure the steering box spacer and the frame where the box is bolted to do not have any cracks or damage.  Look for play in the steering box afterwards, then the ball joints on the drag link. 

 

When you say it's wandering, do you mean the steering wheel is just getting forced around, or that the vehicle wanders without any steering feedback?  The former doesn't rule out suspension issues.

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The simplest thing to check is jack up the front and grab the tire and try to push the top and bottom in and out as well as try to turn the tire by hand.  If anything is wrong with the ball joints or anything on the axle it should be obvious, the wheels shouldn't move by hand.

 

Beyond that you definitely should check for damage around the steering box.

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Might look at this:

The Cure! for Jeep (CJ, YJ, TJ & XJ) (ruffstuffspecialties.com)

 

 Also, you can adjust the steering gear box. Look at Kevin's Off Road. Basically, loosen the lock nut for the sector shaft (on top of the gear box), turn the adjuster screw with an Allen wrench till just tight. Then turn back 1/4 turn. Tighten top lock nut wit I think 75 ft-lbs , with out moving the adjuster screw. Yes, use the Allen wrench to keep the screw in place.  

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5 hours ago, Rotten Ralphy said:

I have tightened it to the point of over tightening, then backed it back off 1/4 turn.


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That's a good way to trash the steering box. And if you backed off a quarter of a turn, it's no wonder the steering is wandering.

 

Get the FSM and adjust the steering box correctly, and it should make a big difference. Just keep in mind that it's a recirculating ball steering box -- it will NEVER be as tight as rack-and-pinion.

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1 hour ago, Rotten Ralphy said:

Let me clarify my previous post:

I took it in 1/8 turn increments and test drove it each time. Once I felt the steering a bit too snug, I backed it off 1/4 turn.


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With the engine off and the truck parked.....

If you have excessive free play at the wheel, 1/2" in either direction with no feel of resistance, you have a problem at the box or intermediate shaft. If not, box should remain untouched. 

 

If no excessive free play......

You problem is with the steering sector- rod ends, or with the TB or TB mount, or the suspension bushings. 

 

If you still have wondering with the TB replaced......... chances are your bushings are shot. 

 

Just for fun, you can skip ahead......this is likely what your front axle is doing, to some degree. 

 

 

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The proper on-vehicle adjustment procedure is a 12-step process that involves removing the pitman arm and using an inch-pound torque wrench to verify over-center drag and worm-shaft preload. "snug" is not a measurement. "just tight" is not a measurement either. 4-18 inch pounds is a measurement, which just so happens to be the acceptable over center drag of the box. Adjusting by feel may ruin the box at best, and cause it to seize up while driving at worst.

 

You really, really need the FSM to do this right. Anyone who says otherwise is a hack. If you cannot locate it on your own, I can provide the proper procedure for you.

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Verified the steering box is too wore out. Tech said I had it adjusted the the best it's going to get. I guess I know what I am doing this weekend if the rain holds off, changing out the steering box. Yippee SKippee...


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     I did adjust a steering box by the FSM. I don't like the first adjustment to the main or axial shaft. Tighten to snug or such. Mark line between box and adjuster. Then mark 1/2 away. Turn to that mark. Tighten end flange. Then you use an Inch-lb torqure wrench. Beam or Dial. Adjust from 6 to 16 inch-lbs in a 45 degree arc  from center on both sides, so 90 degrees total. That is OK. I rebuild my MB 240D's box. The instructions were 3-7 inch-lbs for the axial. Then add 4-7 inch-lbs to that for the center. 

     I will say, I did the adjustments and then checked to position of the center at a 1/4 turn. They way the OP did it was a bit sketchy though. Adjusting till it feels tight when driving. ????

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I read the 2000 XJ FMS on this last night. Basically, you need to take the gear box out and clamp it in a vice. Turn the shaft to get the oil out. Then the main shaft needs tightened to 25 ft-lbs or is it Inch-lbs. Then as above, mark were on of the spanner holes to the out case. Measure 1/2 inch from there on the case. Turn the spanner hole to that Index mark. Torque the end nut to 80 ft-lbs.

Then you need to center the pitman shaft. Count turn clock to clock. 1/2 of that number and center. Then you need to sweep each side off center either 90 degrees or 45 degrees. See what the inch-lb read is for each side. Then average them. Add 4-7 inch-lbs to that. That is what you will need to adjust the pitman arm torque value to. Adjust, and torque the lock nut to 36 ft-lbs.  Best to read the manual. I'll have to see if there is a difference between the 98 FMS and the 2000. 

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Yes, differences between the 98 and 00 manuals. I like the 00 a bit better. The '98 didn't give a torque value for the end adjuster. So, just a since up. Then back off the 1/2". Said to center and then get readings of the pitman arm shaft in 45 degree sweep both sides. Then should be 6 to 16 inch-lbs. Adjust as needed. 

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