Announcement Announcement Module
No announcement yet.
Chronic steering problem Page Title Module
Move Remove Collapse
Conversation Detail Module
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Chronic steering problem

    My wife's 95 stock XJ has had a steering problem for several years now and I can't figure it out. When you hit a bump at certain speeds the front wheels go into a side to side wobble for a few seconds. It wobbles the steering wheel as well. About a year ago I replaced the stablizer realizing I was just masking the problem. It has started again and I am at a loss as to what to do. I have checked all the tie-rod ends and they seem fine. Tires are fine, in fact new in the last year. I have had alignment checked by a reputable house and they say its fine. Any input appreciated.

  • #2
    I'm presuming you have no lift of other modifications that would affect steering.

    The only thing you have not mentioned are the ball joints and track bar, but I'll presume your alignment facility checked them. Since you have indicated that you have checked all the steering linkage, the only thing that comes to mind is the Saganaw power steering box. How much play do you have in your steering wheel? The wobble you describe sounds like there could be wear in the steering box causing the problem. I've noted that a lot of alignment shops don't check this, even reputable ones.

    If you need to adjust your box (and I'm not saying you should), follow these steps.

    The top of the steering box may be awkward to access as it is under the air intake, intake manifold and other parts. You will be looking for a lock nut with an allen screw in the center on top of the steering box.

    To adjust the thing, loosen the lock nut and turn the screw in clock wise. Just a 1/8 turn at a time until you get close to 1" of play between going left and going right. One inch of on center play means you can move the steering wheel, at the rim, back and forth 1" before it goes left or right.

    To judge whether or not you are close to 1" of play, start the engine and then stand outside and turn the steering wheel back and forth through the window opening while watching the front tire for movement. When you can move your hand one inch back and forth before you see the tire move, you are in the ball park. Once you get close to 1", then turn the adjuster only 1/16 of a turn until you are at or just under 1" of free play.

    ALWAYS err on the conservative side if you are in doubt. You can damage the steering box if you get it too tight. Road test the Jeep after every adjustment. Find a nice smooth road with very little crown (crown = high spot in the center sloped toward the shoulders for water run-off) where you can drive at a steady 45-50 MPH plus so you can judge how much on center play you have.

    The Jeep Service Manual warns against adjusting the box unless you remove it and go through a big long procedure involving setting bearing pre-load and over center torque.
    When you turn the adjusting screw, you are moving the pitman shaft up in relation to the case. The shaft has a beveled gear on it and you are moving his gear closer to complete mesh with the worm shaft. Complete mesh is what you don't want to happen. There needs to be some play between the two.

    Again, I'm not suggesting you adjust this. I'm just giving you the proceedure I have used and feel comfortable using.


    • #3
      Thanks rstarch: No mods to Jeep whatsoever and I bought it new and have done all the maintenance so I know what's happened to it. I had begun to suspect the steering gear in the back of my mind but have not really looked at it. I'll look at that and track bar. Thanks for the input.


      • #4
        Chronic Steering

        When you say wobble do you mean like wandering? It sounds you are describing shimmy.If it wandering after hittinng a bump check the tie rod
        end at the pitman arm. I have gone through three in 15 years. I am getting to replace the drag link soon.
        Last edited by 88WOWJ; 12-28-2005, 06:59 PM. Reason: spelling


        • #5
          The trackbar is a pretty common problem, ive replaced several of them for people. I never had a problem with the steering box but there is a first time for everything.


          • #6
            Thanks for the input folks:

            Mikes21, it is more like a shimmy but is not constant. The front wheels oscillate side to side very rapidly - and dangerously.

            How does one know when trackbar needs work?


            • #7
              Jack it up and grab the front tires at the top and bottom and wiggle them. If there is any slop in it I would check your wheel bearings. I had a 4x4 I had the same problem with and the wheel bearings corrected it after lots of trial and error fixes. Something to check if it still is not corrected. If you have to replace use a brand name bearing like Timkin not a cheap one.


              • #8
                Also check your lower & upper control arm bushings. My stock rubber bushings on my 01 XJ were shot after about 80k on the jeep. I had the same problem you described, really bad shimmy after hitting a bump. I had bad lower control arm bushings. If your bushings are very dry and cracked they probably need replacing. Rubber bushings are cheap (probably around $5 while poly will run you a bit more.) Good luck!


                • #9
                  have you tried rotating your tires i had the same problem and someone told me to rotate my tires and it helped out a lot on mine


                  • #10
                    Tried the tire rotation and in fact replaced the tires about a year ago. Did not change the wobble. Gotta catch a Sat. with some spare time here and look at control arm/track bar bushings per above recommendations. Thanks folks.