My '84 Laredo with stock height and 31" tires has worn out one steering box and I'm worried about the used one I have on now. I get this clunk noise when I turn the wheel from one side to the other - I thought it was just the ball joints on the pitman or steering arm knocking, but I'm afraid I don't have the bearing preload set right in the boxes and that's why I'm wearing them out. Is this a normal noise? I've had the Jeep 5 years and it's done it as long as I can remember but for what those boxes cost and the difficulty changing them, I don't want to find out too late. Thanks in advance.
Sully, get someone to turn the steering wheel while you look at all the components, the clunk noise might be your springs sliding on the spring bolts, also jack the front wheels off the ground onto jack stands and manualy move each tire looking for any loose parts, Ball joint, Tie rod ends, Wheel bearings, etc..... You'll be supprised at what you might find.
That's the thing... I've checked the knuckles, ball joints and the linkage and it seems fine. I find that my steering wheel alignment seems to wander when I am rough on it (going up curbs at an angle, logs, etc.) but this is probably just the tie rod ends getting pushed over. Does anybody have a suggestion on checking the bearing preload for the steering box or is it better to not mess with it? Thanks.
From what i have read you need to take the box out and put it in a vise and turn the input shaft with an inch pound torque wrench while adjusting the pre load on the worm gear. But if you have a rebuilder in the area he would probley check it out and set it if needed for almost nothing as compared to the cost of a new box. I had a friend just tighten up the adjuster on his truck said he new what he was doing and within a week the brass worm gear was shot and we replaced the box the next weekend and the guy at our rebuilding shop said people adjusting there own preload make him a lot of money. just my $.02 good luck