Replacing the steering gear box on a Jeep Cherokee XJ

I previously tried to tighten up the steering box on this Jeep. But it seems too far gone. I have decided to replace it.

I began by disconnecting the steering from the Pittman arm. I was able to get this one to separate by striking the arm with a hammer. The tie rod end dropped right out.

Next I removed the bolt that clamps the steering shaft to the splined coupler on the steering box. I used a pry bar to compress the shaft slightly to get the shaft off the splines.

I then removed the three mounting bolts that hold the box to the unibody. I was lucky on this Jeep that the aluminum spacer did not have a grip on the bolts. They came out easily.

With the box loose, I turned it so I could access the pressure and return line and disconnected those.

I then compared the new box to the old one to make sure it is a match. I got a replacement with the Pittman arm already installed so I did not have to worry with that swap. Sometimes removal of an old Pittman arm is difficult.

I slipped the splined coupler into palace and then worked the steering box and spacer into place. The box is heavy so I might be good to have help with this step. I used an under hoist stand to help work the box into place.

Once I line up the three bolts I tightened them down. I then tightened the spline coupler bolt the rest of the way. I then reinstalled the tie rod.

Next, I lowered the Jeep and removed the air box. I then reconnected the pressure and return line. It might have been easier to remove the lower radiator hose but I manged with it still in place.

I added some power steering fluid to the reservoir. I then lifted the front tires off the ground and turned the steering from lock to lock a few times to remove as much air as possible. Some big air bubbles caused some fluid to spill out. But I kept topping up the reservoir.

Next I started the engine and let he pump run. I had to add some fluid right away. I then repeated the lock to lock cycles until the pump quieted down. The fluid foamed a bit so I had to let that settle before topping up the reservoir to the correct level.

A test drive showed that the steering wheel was not centered. I pulled it back into the shop and loosened the adjuster sleeve. I put a piece of tape on the steering wheel so that it was easier to see through the windshield where center was. I turned the adjuster until the steering wheel was centered withe wheels pointing start ahead. Be sure to have the steering wheel unlocked when you do this or you will have to do it twice like I did.

This Jeep now handles like it should with much less play in the steering.