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OUG
July 13th, 2005, 06:53
I took my 98 xj in for a alignment after I put a 1" spacer over the front sprint. The guy at the shop said the gear box felt lose. He said it could be worn. I should have 3.55 gearing. Is this something that I should be worried about or just let it go until I hear a clunk. If I need to do something how difficult is it to replace and do I go to a 3.75 with 235 75 15 tires?

goodburbon
July 13th, 2005, 07:02
specify which gear box

because I dont call a diffirential a gearbox.

Kejtar
July 13th, 2005, 07:33
specify which gear box

because I dont call a diffirential a gearbox.
Good point, and also define "feels loose"

Matthew Currie
July 13th, 2005, 10:33
You'd better go back and find out what gearbox is meant, and also what is meant by "loose." If it's the steering gearbox, and it has a little play, it might be worth having it checked and adjusted, though that is best left to professionals who know what they're doing. One of the more common areas where these steering boxes develop play is in the output bearing, and that is not easy to adjust. In the meantime, it isn't a life or death issue if you don't mind the slightly loose feel. But if the steering gearbox is "loose" in the sense that it is not well attached to the frame, or if the intermediate shaft couplings are failing, etc., needless to say it should be repaired pronto because it will kill you if you lose your steering. Best find out the details now.

OUG
July 14th, 2005, 11:59
It is the stearing gear box that is loose. The shop said that I will be able to move the stearing wheel a certain amount to the left and right and the wheels will not move. they also said that when you alight a vehicle with a gear box like that as soon as I turn the wheel the alighment will be off again. He said the stearing gear box is the item that should be replaced.

When I move the stearing wheel in my 98xj I can move it an inch each way of center and the jeep keeps going strait.

Is this a gear box that can be adjusted or is this a replacement item, and how much are we talking?

Matthew Currie
July 14th, 2005, 14:40
It is the stearing gear box that is loose. The shop said that I will be able to move the stearing wheel a certain amount to the left and right and the wheels will not move. they also said that when you alight a vehicle with a gear box like that as soon as I turn the wheel the alighment will be off again. He said the stearing gear box is the item that should be replaced.

When I move the stearing wheel in my 98xj I can move it an inch each way of center and the jeep keeps going strait.

Is this a gear box that can be adjusted or is this a replacement item, and how much are we talking?

First of all, I think he's mistaken about the alignment going off, if he did it right. A loose steering box will not affect the basic alignment, and when it is either adjusted or replaced, it should not need further alignment, except for centering the steering wheel (which you can do yourself).

It would probably be quickest and most reliable just to replace the steering gear, unless you can find someone you can trust to figure out where the play is, and whom you can then trust to adjust it correctly. Most of the adjustments of a loose steering gear require that it be done on the bench, with torque gauges, etc. to get it really right. I wouldn't want to scare you or anything, but if you adjust it wrong, it can bind and kill you, and that would really spoil your day. My old 87 XJ improved after I adjusted the backlash in the gears (and it didn't kill me either because I was very careful not to overdo it), but my 95, which had a similar amount of play, turned out to have a worn bearing in the output shaft - not readily adjustable if at all, and not worth fooling with. I just threw in another box.

Sorry I don't know how much a new or rebuilt one would cost. As usual, I just "happened to have a good one lying around."

Eagle
July 14th, 2005, 19:18
A replacement steering box is going to cost you probably $350 or so.

Matthew is correct, the over-center lash adjustment should be approached with caution. Technically, you're supposed to take the box out of the vehicle and adjust the worm bearing preload before messing with the over-center adjustment. However ... if you're ready to buy a replacement box anyway, you really have nothing to lose by trying an adjustment first. Unless you're one of those drivers who churns the wheels from one side to the other when the vehicle isn't moving (which will kill a steering box AND the tie rod ends AND the drag link real quick), your box should not be too worn to adjust.

You'll need access to the top of the steering box, which means pulling the air box. Looking down at the top of the steering box, you'll see a cover plate held on with three bolts, and in the center is a stud with either a slotted end or a recessed hex drive, with a lock nut. That's the adjuster.

Procedure: First ensure that the wheels are pointed straight ahead. THIS IS CRITICAL. The box is looser off-center -- if you adjust it off-center, it'll be too tight over center and will either wear out quickly or bind up. Then shut off the engine but leave the key in the unlocked position so the steering wheel can turn.

I don't remember what size wrench fits the locknut. Use a box end wrench, not a socket. Use the hex wrench to hold the adjuster screw while you loosen the lock nut a couple of turns.

Having done that, you can grab the steering input shaft with your right hand and turn it far enough each side of center to feel where it has free play and when it starts to actually try to move the tires. Just keep moving it back and forth across the center point as you gently take up on the adjuster. You want to take almost all the free play out of it, but leave just a tiny bit to ensure that you haven't over-cooked it. Once you have adjusted out the free play, tighten up the locknut again, replace the air box, and go for a test drive.

If the adjuster bottoms out before the free play disappears, the box is toast.

Matthew Currie
July 15th, 2005, 06:27
A replacement steering box is going to cost you probably $350 or so.

Matthew is correct, the over-center lash adjustment should be approached with caution. Technically, you're supposed to take the box out of the vehicle and adjust the worm bearing preload before messing with the over-center adjustment. However ... if you're ready to buy a replacement box anyway, you really have nothing to lose by trying an adjustment first. Unless you're one of those drivers who churns the wheels from one side to the other when the vehicle isn't moving (which will kill a steering box AND the tie rod ends AND the drag link real quick), your box should not be too worn to adjust.

You'll need access to the top of the steering box, which means pulling the air box. Looking down at the top of the steering box, you'll see a cover plate held on with three bolts, and in the center is a stud with either a slotted end or a recessed hex drive, with a lock nut. That's the adjuster.

Procedure: First ensure that the wheels are pointed straight ahead. THIS IS CRITICAL. The box is looser off-center -- if you adjust it off-center, it'll be too tight over center and will either wear out quickly or bind up. Then shut off the engine but leave the key in the unlocked position so the steering wheel can turn.

I don't remember what size wrench fits the locknut. Use a box end wrench, not a socket. Use the hex wrench to hold the adjuster screw while you loosen the lock nut a couple of turns.

Having done that, you can grab the steering input shaft with your right hand and turn it far enough each side of center to feel where it has free play and when it starts to actually try to move the tires. Just keep moving it back and forth across the center point as you gently take up on the adjuster. You want to take almost all the free play out of it, but leave just a tiny bit to ensure that you haven't over-cooked it. Once you have adjusted out the free play, tighten up the locknut again, replace the air box, and go for a test drive.

If the adjuster bottoms out before the free play disappears, the box is toast.


Just adding a little note to that, the pressurized fluid will take up a little of that remaining free play once the vehicle is actually running. Even a healthy power steering box may make a little click when you're wiggling it without pressure on, so don't overdo it.