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kndrewa
June 6th, 2010, 00:36
i upgraded my laggy and strained steering gear with a unit out of a 99 dodge durango.
its a direct swap and only requires a few special tools:
1.) a pitman arm puller
2.) a torque wrench that can be dialed to 185 ft/lbs.
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WORK AREA
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http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_A0ZMvJ9IYrc/TAsmwbDFDwI/AAAAAAAABxw/r66TWS3aJ_I/s400/IMG_2649.jpg
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_A0ZMvJ9IYrc/TAsmv0_k68I/AAAAAAAABxo/CqP4qCptWZE/s400/IMG_2650.jpg
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_A0ZMvJ9IYrc/TAsn0zw5jdI/AAAAAAAAByQ/kfjKMMfL2bk/s400/IMG_2651.jpg
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_A0ZMvJ9IYrc/TAsn0ZpIZqI/AAAAAAAAByI/pNLGmmZLwtA/s400/IMG_2652.jpg
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_A0ZMvJ9IYrc/TAsnzxj318I/AAAAAAAAByA/QQ8dYCOF5og/s400/IMG_2653.jpg
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_A0ZMvJ9IYrc/TAstl51xR_I/AAAAAAAAByo/MSF0VDPL-D4/s400/IMG_2654.jpg
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_A0ZMvJ9IYrc/TAstlUi9UnI/AAAAAAAAByg/3cP6qqqu8n4/s400/IMG_2655.jpg
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_A0ZMvJ9IYrc/TAstkxtfiaI/AAAAAAAAByY/ydMnkSyJfks/s400/IMG_2656.jpg
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_A0ZMvJ9IYrc/TAsvRLqsBnI/AAAAAAAABzA/rfjIT8mER-0/s400/IMG_2657.jpg
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_A0ZMvJ9IYrc/TAsvQlbkCUI/AAAAAAAABy4/t48bhdND2HQ/s400/IMG_2660.jpg

kndrewa
June 6th, 2010, 00:36
my steering had a lot of play in it.
a few inches of movement in either direction with the steering wheel.
THEN the vehicle would start to respond.

it was not good.
it had seen a blown hi-pressure line from the power steering pump.
it was in need of new o-rings, seeping fluid from several seals.

anytime a part fails on my Jeep, i research possible upgrades.
this helps to increase the durability and reliability of my vehicle.

a failed part must be replaced, so its a good time to upgrade.
upgraded parts exist to address the causes of common failures.
this will help to prevent future failure of the same part.

kndrewa
June 6th, 2010, 00:36
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DURANGO STEERING GEAR ACQUISITION
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the 1999 Dodge Durango uses a very similar steering gear to my 1997 Jeep Cherokee.
it is stronger and results in firmer, more solid steering.
it mounts exactly the same and all of the fittings are identical.
however, it has a slightly larger worm gear.
this makes for a stronger unit.

this is a Durango in the salvage yard with the steering gear removed.
it mounts with the same 3 bolts as on the jeep cherokee's frame.
somebody beat me to this one!
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_A0ZMvJ9IYrc/TAs83wrhDaI/AAAAAAAAB04/q1aOiev0lz0/s400/IMG_2583.jpg

a salvage yard find may have problems.
its hard to verify its condition.
the accident could have tweaked it.
it could have water inside and need rebuilt.

i got my Durango steering gear as a re-manufactured unit from NAPA.
the extra cost was worth the peace of mind for me.

kndrewa
June 6th, 2010, 00:37
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GAIN ACCESS TO STEERING GEAR
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in order to access the steering gear, i needed to remove my front skid plate.
a few nuts and bolts hold it in place.
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_A0ZMvJ9IYrc/TAscZKKFO2I/AAAAAAAABwA/v6v28c4fKTI/s400/IMG_2593.jpg

with the skidplate removed you can see the engines oilpan and crank pulley.
notice the greasy mess on the steering components.
road grime and dirt accumulated on the seeping power steering fluid.
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_A0ZMvJ9IYrc/TAscYRwvhAI/AAAAAAAABv4/03PWGzXwETs/s400/IMG_2594.jpg

here is the steering gear.
it is a mess!
you can see the pitman arm which controls the steering linkages.
the pitman arm is the 'flat S' shaped linkage.
it will need to be removed using a puller.
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_A0ZMvJ9IYrc/TAseSdjW1wI/AAAAAAAABwY/kH6i1YIqrR4/s400/IMG_2598.jpg

here is a view from the engine compartment looking down.
the steering gear has an 'I' shape cast into it in the center of this photo.
to the right of the 'I' are the two silver high pressure lines in an 'X' shape.
further to the right is a pitchfork-shaped linkage, the column coupler shaft, which goes to the steering wheel.
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_A0ZMvJ9IYrc/TAseRjcTkNI/AAAAAAAABwQ/fImEwABUqB8/s400/IMG_2602.jpg

here is a better view of the column coupler shaft.
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_A0ZMvJ9IYrc/TAseRIktiMI/AAAAAAAABwI/0hFEgEx7t8o/s400/IMG_2605.jpg

kndrewa
June 6th, 2010, 00:37
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DISCONNECT HIGH PRESSURE LINES
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the high pressure lines are held in place with an 18mm collar.
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_A0ZMvJ9IYrc/TAsf7G2leCI/AAAAAAAABww/Ep3ydm48LaQ/s400/IMG_2606.jpg

even though the lines are different thread diameters, i marked them.
i put a tag for the closest to 'Frame Side' for easy installation.
then, i secured the high pressure lines out of the way.
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_A0ZMvJ9IYrc/TAsf6w3ZFqI/AAAAAAAABwo/gISqTZNIlrs/s400/IMG_2611.jpg

kndrewa
June 6th, 2010, 00:38
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DISCONNECT COLUMN COUPLER SHAFT
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here is a view of the steering column coupler shaft.
a 13mm bolt holds it to the steering gear input shaft.
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_A0ZMvJ9IYrc/TAsf6Yo6V0I/AAAAAAAABwg/Kxe-hclRuuQ/s400/IMG_2616.jpg

kndrewa
June 6th, 2010, 00:38
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REMOVE PITMAN ARM
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this step required two new tools for me.
a 32mm socket and a pitman arm puller.
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_A0ZMvJ9IYrc/TAshuTiH3ZI/AAAAAAAABxI/J20ca6QG6lE/s400/IMG_2618.jpg

i couldn't get the socket to seat because the swaybar was in the way.
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_A0ZMvJ9IYrc/TAshtyQkhHI/AAAAAAAABxA/AcnNwlnXnT8/s400/IMG_2622.jpg

i removed the two bolts that hold the swaybar to the frame on this side.
now the swaybar could be pulled out of the way of the pitman arm nut.
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_A0ZMvJ9IYrc/TAshtSKpdgI/AAAAAAAABw4/H_UMAz-0UUE/s400/IMG_2627.jpg

after the nut is off, its time to use the pitman arm puller.
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_A0ZMvJ9IYrc/TAsjQXeS7EI/AAAAAAAABxg/alrWH2A6ZaQ/s400/IMG_2629.jpg

the puller remains centered in the pitman shaft divot.
the puller screw is tightened until the pitman arm is freed.
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_A0ZMvJ9IYrc/TAsjP7l5G0I/AAAAAAAABxY/kcQ3XN4MN34/s400/IMG_2630.jpg

the pitman arm removal requires only a ratchet, 32mm socket and the puller.
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_A0ZMvJ9IYrc/TAsjPWhnaeI/AAAAAAAABxQ/FK1RF83Wd18/s400/IMG_2636.jpg

the pitman arm is removed from the steering gear.
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_A0ZMvJ9IYrc/TAsmw-fRfsI/AAAAAAAABx4/jBQLsZ-z9Ms/s400/IMG_2640.jpg

kndrewa
June 6th, 2010, 00:39
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REMOVE STEERING GEAR FROM JEEP
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all thats left to do is unbolt the steering gear from the frame.
i used a ratchet strap to support the steering gear, its heavy.
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_A0ZMvJ9IYrc/TAsvQdd6jWI/AAAAAAAAByw/GNBhn8oh0Ys/s400/IMG_2667.jpg

the 3 bolts holding it in place are to the right of the red vertical support.
the mounting location is integrated through my bumper mounting plate.
this increases the rigidity and distribution of force.
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_A0ZMvJ9IYrc/TAsxBeTQohI/AAAAAAAABzY/nGR6GU-yUnM/s400/IMG_2673.jpg

here is my inner frame reinforcement plate.
this came from c-rok with my bumper to sandwich the frame.
it replaces the inferior cast stock unit.
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_A0ZMvJ9IYrc/TAs0c4afYRI/AAAAAAAABz4/hotoRLuQR0o/s400/IMG_2686.jpg

kndrewa
June 6th, 2010, 00:39
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COMPARISON IMAGES
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OLD jeep steering gear on top.
NEW durango steering gear on bottom.
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_A0ZMvJ9IYrc/TAsxA4ErNoI/AAAAAAAABzQ/u43tVoWow80/s400/IMG_2674.jpg
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_A0ZMvJ9IYrc/TAsxAYeckEI/AAAAAAAABzI/Wb7bOebg-c0/s400/IMG_2675.jpg
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_A0ZMvJ9IYrc/TAs0eM8T37I/AAAAAAAAB0I/ThtIAuXUAJ8/s400/IMG_2677.jpg


the main advantage of the dodge dakota gear is seen here.
it has a larger worm gear assembly, increasing its strength.
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_A0ZMvJ9IYrc/TAs0djvU6GI/AAAAAAAAB0A/mF3ANFd0hhM/s400/IMG_2680.jpg

kndrewa
June 6th, 2010, 00:43
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INSTALLATION
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installation is a few simple steps.
1.) bolt the new steering gear to the frame.
2.) re-connect the steering column coupler shaft.
3.) re-connect the hi-pressure lines.
4.) cycle the gear and fill the power steering fluid resevoir.
2 new o-rings for the hi-pressure lines came with the steering gear.
good thing, because the old ones (right) were pretty worn.
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_A0ZMvJ9IYrc/TAs2qLgb1yI/AAAAAAAAB0Q/juuzzEJgU3Q/s400/IMG_2693.jpg

kndrewa
June 6th, 2010, 00:44
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FINAL COMPARISON
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BEFORE: stock Jeep steering gear
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_A0ZMvJ9IYrc/TAs7-EY067I/AAAAAAAAB0w/3bc1ezPBpI4/s400/IMG_2597.jpg

AFTER: 99 Dodge Durango steering gear
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_A0ZMvJ9IYrc/TAs6F1CS6sI/AAAAAAAAB0o/KEFLqa42qVw/s400/IMG_2727.jpg

the result: firm and precise steering

JeepCherokeeGuy99
June 6th, 2010, 11:19
thank you for this write up! I will definitely be upgrading next paycheck.

MG2000XJ
June 7th, 2010, 18:12
Very nice write up, will also be using this eventually. Does the Durango box make turning bigger tires easier on the steering system or is it just done for strength purposes?

Also, when putting the pitman arm back on how do you know where/how to center it up or align it on the splined steering shaft?

kndrewa
June 7th, 2010, 19:02
the durango box made my steering feel much stronger - the response is tight and firm.
i feel a much more direct connection to the tires and road.
because its got a bigger worm gear, i am lead to believe that more fluid moves through the gear with increased hydraulic strength.
i really don't know all of the hydrodynamic details.. ..but i can tell you that the steering response is improved.

i havent been on trails or up against rocks while straining the system yet.
it feels easier to turn the tires on the street, but i'll keep you informed when i hit the dirt.

as far as pitman arm alignment, the pitman shaft is notched on 4 sides, so you could only mess it up by 90 degrees.

pitman arm notch detail:
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_A0ZMvJ9IYrc/TAsjPWhnaeI/AAAAAAAABxQ/FK1RF83Wd18/s1600/IMG_2636.jpg

MG2000XJ
June 7th, 2010, 19:41
Awesome, thanks! I know there are other threads on this but definitely let us know how it works out for you wheeling.

jakeWI
June 17th, 2010, 17:06
i will probably be ordering this with my rear disc brake stuff this coming week!

XJ89JEEP
June 17th, 2010, 17:18
I did this upgrade about a month ago and i love it. but my turning radius is a little shorter.(wont turn as sharp) but other than that i recommend it. I'm running 35's

kndrewa
June 17th, 2010, 18:10
(wont turn as sharp)

yeah, same here.
my sharp turning radius was something i bragged about before.
but the great response and solid feel and connection to the road makes up for it.

XJ89JEEP
June 17th, 2010, 19:03
yeah, same here.
my sharp turning radius was something i bragged about before.
but the great response and solid feel and connection to the road makes up for it.

Agreed.
Also i want to add - if you have your box out you might want to check out C-rok's inner and outer steering box brace. If your doing all that work, you should just do it right the 1st time.

jdsilvaca
August 22nd, 2015, 16:59
Great write-up. Thank you.:party:

ftwelder
August 24th, 2015, 03:37
Nice write up!

On mine I rebuilt the box myself. There are two "stops" inside the Durango box that limit steering. One is a ring at the bottom of the main bore and the other are lumps cast into the removable aluminum cap. once removed you get full 90 degrees of pitman arm action. Also, I found the larger body of the Durango box required a thicker spacer between the box and the frame rail. I also tapped for hydro assist during the rebuild for future upgrades.

96xj_twood
February 23rd, 2016, 20:39
So I just put one of these on my 96 xj along with a c-rok box plate. I bought the box from rockauto.

I am getting a bit of binding when making right turns < 5mph. I can still turn but it really catches you off guard because it does not happen all the time.

Initially thought it was my power steering pump but fluid levels are fine and I bled the system and got all the noise out. I was reading in my service manual about the column coupler shaft being able to bind but I don't see how I could have reinstalled it incorrectly.

Anyone else remember an issue like this and how they resolved it?