Tips On Upgrading The Steering Box on a Jeep TJ

You may be thinking that since your Jeep TJ is starting to get older, you might prefer to upgrade the steering box rather than wait until something goes wrong with the steering system in the vehicle.

This kind of preventive thinking lets you plan for the cost and the inconvenience that having a Jeep out of commission causes.

When upgrading the steering box on a Jeep TJ, you might consider replacing it with one from a Jeep YJ or even one from a Dodge Durango.

How to Upgrade Steering Box on Jeep TJ (Step By Step Guide)

Steering Box

The biggest concerns of upgrading your Jeep TJ steering box are cost and ease of installation.

Replacement Costs

If you decide that you want to, or need to, upgrade your steering box in your Jeep TJ you could be looking at spending $1000 or more on parts and labor.

The typical steering box replacement parts will cost you $500 and 1000 dollars. The price will depend on the replacement part you choose, whether it is rebuilt or remanufactured, and what part of the country you live in.

If you are lucky enough to have a salvage yard close to you with a steering box from a Jeep TJ, Jeep YJ, or even a Dodge Durango, then the replacement part will be less than if you order a remanufactured or rebuilt one.

The beauty of a rebuilt steering box is that it has been gone through with a fine-tooth comb by certified technicians. Everything has been cleaned up, and each moving part has been replaced and tuned to perfection.

The technicians will also do upgrades on the steering box to include the latest technology developed for these specific parts.

Steering Box Replacement and Installation

What you need

  • Assorted socket wrenches
  • Assorted screwdrivers
  • Possible pliers
  • Adjustable wrench
  • 18 mm open-end wrench
  • 13 mm open-end wrench
  • Pitman arm puller
  • Jack to lift the vehicle
  • Jack standards to hold the vehicle while you work
  • Pan to catch power steering fluid in
  • New power steering fluid 

Step 1

Jack the vehicle up and secure it on jack stands so it cannot fall or roll away while you are working. Ensure the area you are working is level and free of rocks and debris that could hurt you while crawling under the vehicle.

Step 2

If you have a skid plate covering your steering box, you will need to remove it before proceeding. These are usually secured in place with about three bolts. Be sure to put the bolts in a container to avoid getting lost if you plan to put the skid plate back in place.

Step 3

You will need to remove your sway bar on the driver’s side, if you have one, before gaining access to the steering box mounting bolts.

Step 4

You will need the adjustable wrench to remove the pitman arm retaining nut. Be sure to keep up with this nut.

Step 5

Use a pitman arm puller to remove the pitman’s arm. This can be a reasonably complex task. Remain patient and focused.

Step 6

Place the pan to catch the power steering fluid that drains from the reservoir and power steering pump.

Step 7

Remove the pressure lines connected to the steering box. It is easiest to access these lines from the top of the box. I suggest an 18mm open-end wrench to accomplish this.

Step 8

Detach the steering column from the steering box. It is held in place with a splined coupler secured with a bolt.

Step 9

Use a 13 mm socket to unfasten the three mounting bolts on the steering box.

Step 10

Take the old steering box and place it in the pan you used to catch the power steering fluid.

Step 11

Secure the mounting bolts of the new steering box in place.

Now work in reverse order and reconnect and bolt down all of the components you took loose.

When everything is back in place, it will be time to put the new power steering fluid into the vehicle. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the amount and type of liquid.

What Makes The Steering Box on The Jeep YJ Better?

The Jeep TJ and the Jeep YJ are different by very little. Most people cannot look at one of these vehicles as it passes them on the road and knows which model it is.

The steering box in the Jeep YJ is one of the items that set these two vehicles apart.

On the Jeep YJ, the steering box is considered to be stronger because of the placement of a fourth bolt.


Can I Upgrade My Jeep TJ Steering Box to A YJ Steering Box?

You absolutely can swap the steering box on a Jeep TJ for a steering box designed for the Jeep YJ. Use the spacer from the YJ and drill the fourth hole for the fourth bolt on the YJ steering box.

When Should You Replace Your Steering Box?

When your steering is no longer responding to your commands, and you hear grinding and popping noises, it is time to have a certified technician evaluate your steering system.

Can a Steering Box Be Repaired?

There is a possibility that whatever is wrong with your steering box can just be repaired, and you will not have to replace the entire package.

Final Thoughts

Replacing or upgrading your steering box on your Jeep TJ will be expensive. It may also take time for your technician to get to your vehicle, so you may be without using the car for an extended amount of time. The only way to avoid these complications is to do regular maintenance on your steering box and car, so you can see the signs of wear and tear sooner rather than later.

About Brendan Burnett

Leave a Comment