Steering box replacement - documented (1 Viewer)

Joined
Nov 23, 2018
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88
Location
Nashville, TN
Okay boys,

I've recently worked through changing out my power steering box and I wanted to post the process here. I can say that this swap made an incredible difference in eliminating slop in the steering wheel for my rig. It went from being genuinely terrifying at highway speeds to feeling like a brand new car.

[Now with Pics!]

First, below are the tools you'll need to make this happen:
  • Five feet or more of clear >=3/8" inner diameter (ID) plastic tubing (to help draining without a terrible mess) - I used 1/2" ID hose as that is what I had lying around
  • Plastic tubing coupler 3/8" (ID of PS drain hose) to X" (ID of your hose - 1/2" in my case)
  • Assorted sockets and socket wrench
  • Long socket extension
  • 17mm crow foot adapter (for getting PS hoses off and on the steering box)
  • Breaker bar (for getting steering box bolts loosened)
  • Tie rod end puller (for disconnecting drag link from pitman arm)
  • 1 Gallon Automatic Transmission Fluid (I didn't need a full gallon but I got it just in case)
  • 1 German aircraft mechanic's jump suit - best $25 I've spent on keeping me and my clothes clean on these projects!

Step 1 - Prep the truck
  • Jack up front end on Jack stands (don't trust your life to an O-ring by just using a jack!) and chock the rear tires.
  • Center the front wheels with the steering wheel
  • Lock steering wheel by turning off ignition and removing key
  • Remove the left wheel to gain access to the box and pitman arm
Step 2 - Drain the power steering system
(may not be necessary but I did to minimize the mess)
  • From within the engine bay remove the hose clamp and disconnect the return line (it's the smaller line on the side that attaches to the downward facing bent, metal tube - not the large one on the bottom of the reservoir) from the power steering reservoir and allow reservoir to drain into cup. I also set some towels down underneath the catch the inevitable overflow.
  • Attach your drain line hose (1/2" ID in my case) to the plastic coupler and then to the return line (3/8" ID). Place other end of drain hose in bucket or whatever you want to catch fluid in.
  • With the key turned to the on position but the truck not running begin turning the wheel fully left and right. This will force the PS fluid out of the system, down your drain line and into the bucket
  • Once system is drained, you can move on to removing the gear box
Step 3 - Remove old gear box

  • From the top of the engine looking down at the gear box (just beneath and behind battery on right side of bay), you'll see a small black cover held in place by (2) 12mm bolts. Remove these and the metal cover. This will expose the universal joint that connects the steering shaft to the gear box.
  • There are (2) 12mm bolts on the universal joint that need to be loosened and removed (just loosening is not enough). Note that you will need a rather long socket extension to get to these bolts.
  • After removing the two bolts, work the universal joint up the steering shaft toward the firewall, disconnecting it from the gear box. You may want to hit it with a little penetrating oil to help this process go a bit more smoothly.
  • Next, using the socket extension and crow foot adapter, loosen and remove the two PS lines running into the top of the gear box. Make sure to fully remove the lines as they set fairly deeply into the box.
  • From the underside of the gearbox, remove the cotter pin and castle nut that hold the drag link to the pitman arm.
  • Using the tie rod end puller, disconnect the drag link from the pitman arm
  • At this point, it you need to remove the pitman arm from the box, you will want to loosen the retaining nut prior to removing the box from the frame. This will likely require a breaker bar.
  • Next, using a socket wrench or breaker bar, loosen all 4 nuts attaching steering box to the frame - note that there are bolt heads on the opposite side of the frame member that you will need to hold with an open faced wrench in order to fully loosen the bolts
  • At this point, CAREFULLY remove the VERY HEAVY steering box from the frame. I don't recommend doing this while lying down under the truck. The box would do some serious f'ing rearranging of your face if it falls on you. Also, as mentioned above, make sure that the PS lines are fully removed at the top before pulling the box. They set down into the box fairly deep and will catch if not fully removed.
So, at this point you may need to disconnect the pitman from the box. Fortunately for me, my new box came with a new arm already centered (though not tightened) and I didn't have to mess with that little bundle of joy.
If you need to remove the pitman arm, you should be able to do so with a tie rod end puller. If you need more instructions, there are several posts here on the forum that provide guidance on that portion and the manual seems to indicate that there are alignment marks for centering the arm to the box on re-installation. You can also use your old box as a guide for how the arm needs to be aligned.

The arm should be tightened to 130 ft lb.

**I'm open to any additional information here to flesh out this section.

Step 4 - Install new box
  • Carefully install the new box onto the 4 bolts on the frame.
  • Using an open face wrench and a torque wrench, tighten the 4 bolts down to 105 ft-lb
  • Attach the drag link to the pitman arm with the castle nut and torque wrench. The book says 67 ft-lb but I just got as close as possible while making sure that the hole lined up with the nut in order to get the cotter pin inserted. At exactly 67 ft-lb the hole wasn't quite aligned. Use your best judgement here.
  • Insert and secure cotter pin
  • Install PS lines with crow foot adapter, making sure to get correct line in correct hole (it's fairly obvious but double check to be safe). Tighten to 33 ft-lb.
  • With your steering wheel centered (which it should be from beginning of this process), slide the universal joint down onto the steering box linkage.
  • Insert and finger-tighten universal joint bolts and tighten with torque wrench to 25 ft-lb. Note here that the universal joint may need to be wiggled a bit up and down the shaft to get the bolts to align. I didn't do this and tore the threads up on the bolts and had to order new ones.
  • Reinstall the universal joint cover with the (2) 12mm bolts. Not entirely sure on ft-lb here. It maybe 9 ft-lb if I'm reading manual correctly but I'm not sure on this. I just got it "tight" by hand with socket wrench.

Step 5 - Install new fluid and bleed the system

  • With the return line still connected to the drain hose via the coupler, make sure that the return tube (the downward facing tube coming from reservoir) is sealed up. I used a little rubber stopper but you could probably use a variety of things (tape, etc) - open to other suggestions here.
  • Fill the PS reservoir to the top with automatic transmission fluid (not PS fluid!)
  • With the truck in the on position but the engine NOT RUNNING, have someone turn the wheel from stop to stop as you add fluid to the reservoir. This can be done alone - but just f'ing ask someone to turn the wheel. It makes life so much easier!
  • This will pull fluid from the reservoir and ultimately out the return line. Note that I used a little suction at first on the drain line to get the fluid going (using vacuum pump) but I'm not sure that is really necessary. Turning the wheel should create enough suction to make it all happen.
  • Once you have clear (clear-red that is) ATF running into drain line you can disconnect the return line from your coupler and drain line and reconnect the return line to the return tube. This takes a little jostling as you remove the plug from the tube and reconnect the line. Some fluid is bound to spill but do your best. Make sure to reattach the hose clamp.
  • Continue bleeding the system by turning the wheel from stop to stop with the engine OFF, adding ATF as necessary.
  • Once you have things looking good, start the engine and see how it goes. The first time I started then engine, the pump made a lot of cavitation noises (squealing). I let it run for a second and then turned it off and went back to bleeding for another few minutes. The next time I started it, it ran perfectly.
  • Continue to check your PS levels and inspect system for leaks.

At this point, hopefully you have a fully-functional, new steering box. For me, it made a huge difference in the steering responsiveness.

Again, let me know if I've missed anything or if anyone has any suggestions for improvement.

Good luck!
 
Last edited:

GSTMike

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Jul 30, 2018
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Where did your source the box from? How much? Thanks for the write up too!

I'd be interested in this info as well, my current box isn't great between the PO running everything dry and now my lift so I sourced one which I have here to send out to be gone through although I'm not opposed to buying one if the pricing is reasonable.
 
Joined
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Nashville, TN
Joined
Nov 23, 2018
Messages
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Location
Nashville, TN
Here is the other box I considered. I ultimately decided that I couldn't justify the additional cost for this upgrade since I'm running stock height suspension and 33's. For those with big boy tires and lifts, something like this may be totally justified.

If other folks have additional links to steering box options, send them on and I'm happy to post here.

80 Series, Rebuilt Steering Gearbox with 105-Series Sector Shaft with Warranty, Like New
 
Joined
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Los Santos
44110-60211(#8 in diagram)

Any other parts I should order when swapping out my current steering gear with a new OEM unit? Thanks.

steering gear.png
 
Joined
Nov 23, 2018
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Nashville, TN
The only other parts I ended up needing were the bolts that connect the steering shaft to the gear box as I managed to strip mine. If yours come out ok you shouldn’t really need anything else.
 
Joined
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Los Angeles
more info. on realigning the Pittman arm? I am getting ready to pull my old box out and reinstall with a new rebuild and finishing up with all new TREs this weekend.
Thanks
 
Joined
Dec 29, 2016
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410
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Lawrence KS
Great write up.. Mine really needs to be replaced. I got caught on the highway during very heavy winds and it was a very interesting ride home, to say the least.. It makes me actually avoid driving my LC on the highway which sucks because everything else seems tip top..
 
Joined
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Colorado
Bump!

Thanks for the write up. I'm getting ready to do this ahead of a camping trip (bent sector shaft 👎 ) and want to make sure I don't disable my truck and ruin the trip before it even starts.

For those who have done this, about how many hours would you expect? How many :banana: ? Seems like there are really pretty few steps to this process, but I tend to screw things up and run into roadblocks whenever I get into anything.
 
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Also, for those of you in the know ( @NLXTACY ) I should probably refresh all my hose clamps for the low pressure hoses--I bought a set of new hoses from Joey but only installed the broken/leaking one. I'd love to use the factory type/size hose clamp.
 
Joined
Nov 23, 2018
Messages
88
Location
Nashville, TN
Bump!

Thanks for the write up. I'm getting ready to do this ahead of a camping trip (bent sector shaft 👎 ) and want to make sure I don't disable my truck and ruin the trip before it even starts.

For those who have done this, about how many hours would you expect? How many :banana: ? Seems like there are really pretty few steps to this process, but I tend to screw things up and run into roadblocks whenever I get into anything.

It’s really not very complicated and if you have the right tools (especially the crow foot) everything is fairly easy to knock out. It took me maybe 2-3 hours in total but I was being very deliberate. I’m sure I could do it much faster the second time around.
 
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For those who have done this, about how many hours would you expect? How many :banana: ? Seems like there are really pretty few steps to this process, but I tend to screw things up and run into roadblocks whenever I get into anything.
I've had the box on and off a few times during my debacle with West Texas Offroad. Nothing is difficult or time consuming with the notable exception of the removal of the pitman arm from the sector shaft.
If you are replacing the box and have a new sector shaft and pitman arm, it's cake. If you're replacing the sector shaft in your existing box, things can take a while. On mine, just removing the pitman arm from the old sector shaft was a 2 hour process using assorted pullers and colorful language.

Hint: With the vehicle positioned with the wheels straight, tie off the steering wheel with a bungee cord before starting. When you knock the slip yolk off the box, the wheel will want to rotate and you'll loose wheel center.
I used a catch basin under the front of the truck and pulled the low and high pressure lines off the box. A little extra rust proofing never hurts.
On mine, the slip yolk splines for the steering shaft were very corroded, so it took some time to knock things loose. Again, not difficult, just time consuming.
The bolts for the slip yolk must be removed, not just loosened.

I have removed and replaced every part of my power steering system, and have never had any issues bleeding. This business of trying to bleed with the engine off makes no sense to me. Once everything is back together, fill the reservoir. Start the engine ONLY for a second or 2. Yes, the pump will cavitate and not sound good. Shut down, fill the reservoir. Lather, rinse, repeat until the system is full. Yes, there will be some residual air trapped in the system which will self bleed. After the first drive, top off the reservoir and you're done.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Aug 5, 2010
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Colorado
Thanks! Looks like my new steering box does not have a pitman arm, so I have that to look forward to. I wonder if having a twisted sector shaft will make it harder to pull the pitman arm off my old box.

As far as pullers, I've got this type, it's a combo 2/3 jaw puller

71UTZL-M5sL._AC_SL1500_.jpg


I've also got this type which works awesome on ball joints, but I'm guessing wont fit over the pitman arm:

image_12294.jpg


Will these be enough to get the job done?
 
Joined
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Will these be enough to get the job done?
I don't think a 3 jaw will fit on the pitman arm, but it's worth a shot.
My LX450 is an Arizona truck and I soaked the joint for 2 days prior. I used a 2 jaw puller, a 20" breaker bar, and another 3' of pipe before it broke free. I was pretty close to breaking out my cut off wheel. When it popped, it scared the crap out of the neighbors.
Follow the torque specs in the FSM for reassembly.
 
Joined
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Hmm, maybe buying a spare pitman arm would be the key to getting this over with and minimizing drama. After 335k miles and a twisted sector shaft, might be hard to get the old one off.
 
Joined
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Bend, Oregon
Hmm, maybe buying a spare pitman arm would be the key to getting this over with and minimizing drama. After 335k miles and a twisted sector shaft, might be hard to get the old one off.

Are you looking for old style or new? I’ve got an old one sitting on my old box I took off...I could try to pull it off (was off not too long ago so maybe not too stuck? ) and send your way. Lmk if you want me to give it a shot
 

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