Fixing a steering issue on my 1998 Jeep Cherokee | Team-BHP

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This morning I had a quick look at the steering of my Jeep. I noticed it has some play in, despite having all the various ball joints replaced. 1998 Toyota Corolla Power Steering Pump

Fixing a steering issue on my 1998 Jeep Cherokee | Team-BHP

I looked up whether the steering box can be adjusted. My Jeep Workshop manual has a whole chapter dedicated to taking it apart and putting it back together again. But I am unsure how to adjust it, when not having it taken it apart. It does appear to have a very similar adjustment as my W123 Steering box and also the Alfa Spider original ZF box. I checked on the Jeep forum and people confirmed you could adjust it.

In all honesty, adjusting steering boxes is never a good idea. My experience is, if a Steering Box needs adjusting it is almost on its way out. It might last a bit more with a little less play, once adjusted, but it won’t last.

Very easy to get access to the adjustment bolt. I just had to take the electrical fan out. Two bolts and an electrical connector that’s all.

Next I marked the original position of the adjustment bolt/locking nut. Undid the locking nut and turned the adjustment bolt till I felt no more play.

Took the Jeep for a quick test drive. I felt the steering was a bit too tight. The steering wheel would not return back to neutral after taking a corner. So I backed off the adjustment bolt a bit. Had to do so a few times. In the end, I was reasonably happy. Still some play left, but no stiffness felt anymore.

I have contacted Rini, the guy who also overhauled my W123 steering box. He can do the Jeep box too. But I can also get a new one in the USA for only a little extra money. So I might do that. I just need to make sure I get the correct one.

I called my Jeep parts specialist Edwin and luckily he had a steering box in stock. So I quickly drove over and picked it up, including two new hoses. Also picked up some steering gear fluid, ATF.

Edwin also lend me his special pitman arm puller!

All new shiny parts and fresh ATF

First thing I did was to suck out the fluid reservoir of the hydraulic pump. Could only get about 400 ml out, the system holds about 1.2l So the rest is inside the pump, the hoses and the steering box itself. Always be careful these hydraulic oil. They are very corrosive, especially on paint!!

I had hoped to take the pitman arm and nut off, with the steering box still attached to the car. But that was not possible, unless I took off the stabiliser bar too.

Interestingly enough, according to my Jeep Workshop manual, it is a very simple job. It took me all afternoon just to get the steering box out of the Jeep and the pitman arm off!

So I disconnected the dragrod. I only installed new ball joints a few weeks ago, so it came apart real easy.

I could not get good access to the three bolts holding the steering box to the chassis. So off comes the wheel and part of inner liner as well.

It took all my might to get these bolts undone. When I say undone, I actually meant I broke two of the three bolts!!

Getting the hoses of the pump and the steering box was the next challenge. I could have just cut them, but I was not a 100% sure the new ones would fit.

In the end I did cut one and part of the pump came out as well as the hose nut had seized as well.

Bit of the pump stuck to the hose!! Easy enough to loosen once in the vise!

I had to undo the connection between the steering coupler column too. That went without too much drama.

So finally I could get it our of the Jeep and on my workbench for comparison. Look Ma, no steering box!!

But there was another problem. There is an aluminium spacer between the steering box and the chassis. The three steel mounting bolts go through this spacer. So you get a lot of corrosion. That is why the bolts were stuck and subsequently broke!

Eventually I managed to get the spacer off the old steering box. It needs replacing. You can’t get the original ones anymore. I can get them second hand on Ebay from the USA. But that will be expensive and will take a long time. I might just make my own new one.

Next was to take the pitman nut off. It was a very odd size. Just under 33mm. 32mm is to small, 34mm to large. So I put the whole thing with the nut in the vice and gave it a couple of whacks!

But there was more trouble to come. Getting the pitman arm off, was a real problem too. Even with Edwin’ special puller this thing would not budge. And believe me, I put a lot of torque on that puller. But according to the manual the pitman arm nut is tightened with 250Nm. Go figure!!

When all else fails, go violent and torch the bugger! My new toch came in very handy. With a final whack of the hammer everything popped apart!

I put the wheel back on, I dont like to leave my cars on Jack stands for too long. Just put the socket on, so I don’t forget to torque it properly. I probable take it off again in order to install the new steering box.

All in all, what in theory is a very simple and straightforward job, turned out to be quite the challenge. I have already located another guy who has three new mounting bolts. He is also searching for the spacer. I will decide tomorrow whether I will make my own or not.

Hopefully installing everything will go a bit more smoothly.

Lots of other jobs coming up. On Monday Jack and I are replacing the Fiesta AC. Coming Thursday spanner mate Peter is coming and he will bring his two Jaguar carburettors and overhaul sets. Should keep us busy for the day. On Friday I might drive the W123 to Bochhorn, Germany for the big parts events. And Berndt just called his parts for his Austin Somerset should be arriving in a week or so as well.

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Fixing a steering issue on my 1998 Jeep Cherokee | Team-BHP

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