xj steering gear box adjustment???

John Fuller

XJ Fanatic!!
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Jan 3, 2015
Location
Boone NC
anyone have any experience with adjusting the pressure on the XJ steering boxes? have heard it can be done..just looking for any advise from anyone who has done it.
and would this even be related to gearbox: steering gets hard sometimes then easy (seems harder when hot than when cold) drove jeep today for while and got kinda stiff steering but then looses back up. is this why some cars have power steering coolers to keep fluid from getting too hot and thin. thanks for any input with this. I've had many many XJs do this with stock or bigger tires so i know it's not tire related for the most part.
 

Jody Treadway

Croc wearing fool
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Mar 20, 2005
Location
Hendersonville, NC
Look on top of your steering box. You'll see an aluminum cap held on by 4 bolts. Near the center of that cap you'll see a threaded rod pointing up with a jam nut around it. Insert a 3/16" Allen into the top of the threaded rod (this is how you set preload on the steering box) and hold it still. Then while holding the Allen wrench, loosen the jam nut with a 5/8" wrench about 1 turn. Now in 1/4 turn increments, turn the Allen wrench clockwise and then lock down the jam nut. Go 1/4 turn at a time and evaluate the steering feel. Don't go too much as you can wear out the steering box prematurely and also cause poor return to center of your steering wheel.
It may take a few adjustments to nail it down.

edit: Before someone says "There's a set procedure to do this correctly" Yes, there is. But unless the OP has a rotational torque wrench and pitman arm puller handy, my way is another way to do it.
 

John Fuller

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Jan 3, 2015
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Boone NC
thank you sir. i do have pitman arm puller and torque wrench but not very low torque setting. 25-250ft lbs. this sounds simple enough...also i have several extra trans coolers laying around..would i benefit to run one for the PS as some cars come stock with them for good reasons i guess?
 

strange1

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 31, 2005
Location
Elkin
The way Jody described the pre-load adjustment will work just fine for you, just be careful not to get it too tight. Just like a ring and pinion, you want a small amount of backlash in the gears or else they will wear out super fast. Adding a cooler will allow you to have a bit more fluid in the system, and have cooler fluid. When I converted my CJ from manual to power steering, I added a cooler for those reasons. I dont know if it helps; but as long as it doesnt leak, it certainly isnt hurting anything.

Also, I have been told that some pumps have a flow control (restrictor) that can be removed or modified allowing for higher fluid pressure. I dont know if that is worth googling or not in your case. I looked it up for my Tacoma because it needs some serious help, but I decided it wasnt worth it in my case because it would likely just cause more leaks in the rack and pinion.
 

John Fuller

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Jan 3, 2015
Location
Boone NC
yeah i did find a thread on drilling the small hole in the piston to increase pressure but there were good and negative reviews so am undecided...but for now i'm gonna add the cooler and maybe just one turn of this adjustment and be ok for now i reckon. thank u
 

XJsavage

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Aug 15, 2009
Location
CoWaSee Basin.
The restrictor port is located in the pump on the high pressure side, under the fitting. Takes a 7/8" socket to remove it. Factory hole size is ~ 1/8" and you drill this out larger. It'll help it flow better and improve the steering overall. When I do hydro assist setups I drill this out to 3/16". Its something you may as well experiment with, as they're easy enough to find spares for. I recommend taking small amounts out at a time though. You can always swap back. Try 5/32", 11/64, then 3/16". Anything beyond that the steering will be "to good", if that makes any sense. At high rpms it can get squirrelly.
 
Last edited:

strange1

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 31, 2005
Location
Elkin
..but for now i'm gonna add the cooler and maybe just one turn of this adjustment and be ok for now i reckon. thank u

I can't stress enough how important it is to not get that adjuster too tight. Your steering box will be trash in no time if you take out all of the slack.
 

John Fuller

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Jan 3, 2015
Location
Boone NC
well...i did the turn adjustment and went bit over 1/4 turn and def better...so then i got bottle of lucas put that in the whole system and much smoother now. Thank you for the input and steps!!!
 
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