Things To Know About Upgrading the Steering Box on a Jeep YJ

Most people never give their steering box a second thought. They simply turn their steering wheel and trust that their vehicle is going to respond appropriately to the command.

For the most part, their confidence in the steering box on their Jeep YJ is supported by a dependable steering system. 

However, there are times when things go wrong and you have to replace, repair or upgrade the steering box on the Jeep YJ.

The upgrading of this part of the steering system is usually done after the steering box gets busted or it wears out.

Replacing the steering box with a rack and pinion system is one of the most common upgrades done on the Jeep YJ.

How to Upgrade Steering Box on Jeep YJ 

It is possible to upgrade the steering box on a Jeep YJ, but one of the biggest questions we hear is why would you want to do this?

Reasons to Upgrade your Steering Box

Steering Box on Jeep YJ 

There are a number of reasons why Jeep YJ owners consider replacing or upgrading their steering boxes.

Reason #1

The Steering becomes too stiff

When you notice that your steering wheel is becoming more difficult to turn you know that it is time to upgrade your steering box in your Jeep YJ.

Your steering wheel is the controller that tells every part of the steering system what to do and when to do it. If yours becomes stiff and difficult to turn you may not be able to send complete messages to your control arms and wheels so that you can avoid obstacles.

On a normal drive you may adjust your steering wheel every few seconds, and once every few minutes the adjustment may keep you from running over an obstacle or into another vehicle.

Your safety and the safety of everyone on the road lies in your steering system working like a well-oiled machine.

Newer vehicles have incorporated hydraulic pressure into their steering systems. The hydraulic pressure makes them turn smoothly and respond quickly. 

Over time the hydraulics of the system can start to age and you will lose a great deal of the smoothness and response that you have grown accustomed to when operating your Jeep YJ.

These systems are greatly affected by heat, but other things like driving down dusty roads, fording water that is deep, and extremely cold conditions can cause the hydraulics to become less responsive.

Reason #2

Worn Bearings and Grinding Noises

A grinding noise is an obvious sign that something has gone wrong. Most of the time the grinding noises you hear are a symptom of something else being wrong within your steering system.

Bearings can become worn in your steering box, just like ball bearings and other bearings throughout your vehicle do. 

Age and frequent use is the most common reason for a bearing to go out. When the bearing does go out the result is a grinding noise when you are driving. The noise may be much worse when you try to turn the wheel.

Leaking power steering fluid leaves metal components unlubricated and when the components mesh together to execute a steering command the result is a grinding noise. It may sound a lot like your brakes are rubbing and needing to be changed.

Do not ignore a grinding noise, even if it happens only occasionally. That noise is a warning that something is not right.

By finding the source of the grinding nose you may save yourself a lot of money and aggravation. Fixing a small problem is a lot less expensive than replacing an entire steering box.

Reason #3

Uncontrollable Fluid Leaks

A large number of conditions pertaining to the steering box can cause your power steering fluid to leak out.

The power steering fluid keeps the metal parts that are housed inside the steering box lubricated so they can mesh together and work fluidly. When the fluid leaks out the lubrication is no longer sufficient to keep these metal parts working properly.

Steering system specialists recommend that people having issues with leaks like this visit a certified auto technician and let them evaluate the problem.

These leaks can be caused by worn gaskets, a bad fitment of components, or possibly mechanical failure of one or more of the components. Getting the vehicle evaluated by a licensed technician will let you learn if the steering box can be repaired, or if it is going to need you to upgrade or replace this part of your steering system.

The longer you wait to get the vehicle evaluated the greater the damage and the seriousness of the problem is going to become.

Reason #4

You Will Be Safer when Driving

Jeep Yj

This is listed as the fourth reason for upgrading your steering box in your Jeep Yj but I say it should be the first reason.

When your old steering box gets worn or busted your vehicle does not respond appropriately to the commands you give it when you turn the steering wheel. The vehicle may be slow to respond or it may simply travel on the path of its own choosing.

If you need to avoid a possible accident, or you are driving on offroad terrains and need to avoid an obstacle, or keep from driving off a cliff, then you need your steering system to work perfectly. In the case of a worn steering box the steering wheel is often difficult to turn or too loose and it does not respond the way you need it to.

Upgrading a worn steering box, or even simply replacing the worn one with an identical one, will make the difference in the safety you and the passengers in your vehicle have. Doing this replacement will also make a difference in the amount of safety everyone who drives on the roadways with you has.

If your steering is showing any signs of extreme wear and tear make getting it evaluated and repaired one of your top priorities.


How Much Does A Steering Box Cost for A Jeep YJ?

On average the replacement or upgrade of a steering box on a Jeep YJ will cost somewhere between $700 and $1200 dollars. Broken down the labor cost is usually less than $200 but the parts can cost as much as $1000.

What is Making My Steering Feel Loose on My Jeep YJ?

Your change in steering on your Jeep could be as minor as a tire with low pressure. Before you assume the worst about the vehicle check the pressure in all four tires.

Can I Drive A Jeep That Has A Steering Box Issue?

This will depend on the cause of the steering box failure. If you have leaking fluid you might be able to drive for a short time until the fluid level gets too low.

Final Thoughts

If you think about it the steering box in your vehicle is a major component. Your ability to command the vehicle on where to go is dependent on that steering box and how it responds to your commands. Upgrading a worn steering box on a Jeep YJ will improve your offroad and on pavement driving experiences. This upgrade will improve your safety and confidence in your vehicle.

About Brendan Burnett

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