How I got rid of my steering slop on the cheap (OBS)

Jul 26, 2009
1,381
0
36
London ON
#1
Hey guys, I'm in the process of modding/overhauling my truck and in the process making it negotiate corners a little (LOT) better. I keep seeing posts about people trying to get rid of steering slop and either giving up or spending a bunch of money on a new box. Here's what I did, grand total was about $20.

First thing I did was get rid of the slop in the intermediate shaft caused by the old, worn out rag joint. After reading on some G-body forums, my buddy found out that the intermediate shaft from a mid 90's Jeep Cherokee (and some Grand Cherokees) will fit directly into his Cutlass. These shafts have a universal at each end, rather than a universal and a rag joint. We went to the junkyard and picked one up to put in his car but before he put it in, I test fit it in my truck. It fit almost perfectly. The only modification required was to shave a little (like a couple millimeters) from the steering column end to clear the retaining bolt for the intermediate shaft. After a couple km's we decided the shaft was in sub par condition and went back to get another pair (one for each of us). Over the course of the day, we pulled about 4 shafts and kept 2, so make sure the universals are good before you buy the shaft.

The shaft can be a little hard to remove as sometimes you have to heat them to get them to compress if they've been sitting. We found the easiest way to remove the shaft is to unbolt each end, then remove the steering column (2 15mm bolts) and just throttle it (the steering column) until it (the steering shaft) disconnects at the top, then just slide the bottom off. Alternative method would be to drop the steering box and get it off that way. It helps to be able to steer the vehicle so you can access the retaining bolts, luckily these vehicles weren't exactly hard to defeat should you not have a key.

Here's some pics of the shaft in my truck.



The next thing I did to tighten my steering was adjust the steering box back to it's original condition. First step of this is to remove the steering box from the truck. A ball joint removal tool really helps to remove the centre link, but it's not totally necessary if you're proficient with a pickle fork. Be careful when removing the lines as you really don't want to strip them.
Once you have the box out, drain all of the fluid.

Setting Bearing Preload: Remove the retaining ring from the back of the box using a hammer and chisel in the indents to unscrew it. (ring with 3 notches can be seen below)

Once that is removed, use a spanner (or needle nose pliers like I did) to tighten the adjustment plug to snug. Then back it off 3/16" to 1/4" at the perimeter of the disk. (mark the housing to measure this if you have to)


Overcentre Position: For overcentre adjustment, you must first locate the centred position of your gearbox. Count the number of turns lock to lock, then go back half that amount from lock to centre the box.
Once the box is centred, loosen the retaining nut on the top of the box, while holding the adjustment screw with an Allen wrench. Tighten the Allen screw to snug, then tighten the retaining screw. Now rotate the steering shaft using an in-lbs torque wrench and measure the amount of torque required to pass through the centre sweep of the gear box. This reading should not exceed 14 in-lbs at a constant rate (gear box will be stiffer at centre than close to locks).


So that's what I did, cost of this was minimal and was completely worth it. This was also in conjunction with making sure the tie rods were tight, balljoints good, no play in idler/pitman arms etc.

Here's some places where I found info, there's one more I would like to ad but need to find the source.
MonteCarloSS.com Intermediate Shaft info
Monte Carlo Mailing List

Just a disclaimer that I'm not responsible for what YOU do to YOUR truck, this is just an overview, do some reading and confer with other sources to make sure you know what you're doing.

Questions/Comments/Discussion welcome!

UPDATE 14/02/12: Adding information from later in the thread so people don't need to dig too much... Thanks to mc87ss for the info (quotes are paraphrased)

These shafts make a great upgrade over the old rag joint setup.
Tightens up the steering and gives more clearance along with a cleaner look.
These (referring to the steering shafts he has/the ones shown below) are compressed, cleaned, painted, greased and ready to install.
I spend a lot of time getting them prepped and make sure the finished product is as good as they can be. Mine are separated, cleaned, sanded and painted along with little extras like spreading them so they slide right on, cleaning the bolt threads, greasing them, etc....


There seems to be some conflicting opinions on whether the "D" shaped part of the column needs to be notched or not.
Here is what I discovered about the upper "D" shaped section.

1st there are 2 different types of shafts, I assume it has to do with the year or model.
The set on the right has Cast Ends and the set on the left are Bent Steel. Both sets work exactly the same. The ones with the Cast Ends have a smaller diameter where the rubber isolator is. This could prove beneficial for those with large primary tube headers.



The upper "D" shaft on our cars have a "Top" & "Bottom". These have 2 flats on the sides but the rounded sides are different also. The "Top" is rounded but the "Bottom" has a flat spot for the bolt.



I originally thought the shafts did not require a notch if you align the bolt with the flat spot on the top section. However after a few tests I realized a notch is required. The notch is also a good idea to prevent the coupling from sliding down off the shaft. If you notch the flat side, a smaller grove is required.


Here is how mc87ss notches his steering shafts: (I used a file to make a flat spot on one of mine, it can be done on the truck but is a PITA.

I have had many questions about the notching of the shaft so i thought some more instruction may be in order.
The notch required for the bolt has to be made on your steering column shaft NOT the Jeep Shaft.
To make things easier i used an extra steering column for the pictures. The area you are seeing is the part of the steering column that comes thru the firewall.
This is what it looks like once you remove your stock shaft.



Slide the Jeep shaft on as shown.



If you look thru the bolt hole you can see where the column shaft sticks out into the opening.



Mark the center of the bolt hole with a marker.





I got carried away with my die grinder so the notch is larger then it needs to be.



Now you can see the bolt hole is clear straight thru.


Bolt installed and shaft locked in from sliding off.



Hopefully this helps.
 
Last edited:
Dec 1, 2009
637
0
0
Virginia
#2
Re: How I got rid of my steering slop on the cheap (OBS)

I have a small amount of slop in my steering...this mod is on my "to do" list.

the splines match up okay?
 
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Jul 26, 2009
1,381
0
36
London ON
#3
Re: How I got rid of my steering slop on the cheap (OBS)

The splines matched up perfectly. The ONLY thing I had to do was file/grind a small flat spot onto the steering column stub for the retaining bolt to clear it. On the splined end, you have to remove the retaining bolt completely, slide it on, then put the bolt back in. There's a gap in the splines on the steering box, the bolt shank lines up with that, which is why you have to remove the bolt. (FYI, the Jeeps use a similar, possibly the same, Saginaw steering box)
 
Aug 21, 2006
6,040
0
0
Hell, Frozen Over.
#5
Re: How I got rid of my steering slop on the cheap (OBS)

Nice find, that's definitely on my list of to-do's but would that work with the 96+trucks? as they seem to be different from what i have heard. I never actually checked out for myself as to what might make them change.
 
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Tigwldr

New member
Jul 18, 2008
1,617
0
0
NC
#6
Re: How I got rid of my steering slop on the cheap (OBS)

Glad it worked out man, nice work. I wish it was that easy for me, lol.
I was going to replace my steering shafts (upper and lower) with one from Borgeson.
I had contacted Borgeson in regards to a new steering shaft. Unfortunately the 96-99 have some electrical connections for the airbags, that is why they were not interested in doing any type of replacement shaft for those year trucks. Liability thing.
 
Aug 21, 2006
6,040
0
0
Hell, Frozen Over.
#7
Re: How I got rid of my steering slop on the cheap (OBS)

Glad it worked out man, nice work. I wish it was that easy for me, lol.
I was going to replace my steering shafts (upper and lower) with one from Borgeson.
I had contacted Borgeson in regards to a new steering shaft. Unfortunately the 96-99 have some electrical connections for the airbags, that is why they were not interested in doing any type of replacement shaft for those year trucks. Liability thing.
So i guess that means there is no physical differences between the 2. If so, then i may do this to get some of the slop out of my steering.
 

dannyrds

New member
Apr 27, 2010
39
0
0
vancouver, bc, canada
#8
Re: How I got rid of my steering slop on the cheap (OBS)

i would also like to know this. my truck is a 98 and i want to get rid of as much slop and tighten up all the steering /suspension as much as possible.
 
Jul 26, 2009
1,381
0
36
London ON
#11
Re: How I got rid of my steering slop on the cheap (OBS)

There's 2 different top joints on these shafts, a big one (the right one) and a small one. The small one is noticeable different, it's a different style and noticeably smaller. AFAIK the smaller style ones only came on GRAND cherokees whereas the big ones came on all regular cherokee's. I'm not 100% sure on that but you can easily tell if it's the right one. I can't stress enough to check the universals before you but it, a lot of them are crap.
 
Jul 26, 2009
1,381
0
36
London ON
#13
Re: How I got rid of my steering slop on the cheap (OBS)

I haven't but I'm pretty sure they're not, they don't look it. I didn't look into it cause I was being cheap, there was a lot of those jeeps at the junkyard, we just kept pulling them till we got good ones.
 
Jun 23, 2007
565
0
0
La Vernia TX
#15
Re: How I got rid of my steering slop on the cheap (OBS)

...my buddy found out that the intermediate shaft from a mid 90's Jeep Cherokee (and some Grand Cherokees) will fit directly into his Cutlass. These shafts have a universal at each end, rather than a universal and a rag joint. We went to the junkyard and picked one up to put in his car but before he put it in, I test fit it in my truck. Here's some places where I found info, there's one more I would like to ad but need to find the source.
MonteCarloSS.com Intermediate Shaft info
Monte Carlo Mailing List
I heard of this before but didn't know what Jeeps they came out of. Can they be re-built with new u-joints?
 
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Aug 23, 2006
667
0
0
40
Cincinnati
#17
Re: How I got rid of my steering slop on the cheap (OBS)

Has anyone tried the Borgeson 893 shaft? I would be interested in knowing how it worked out. I imagine that it would fit just the same as the Jeep one. I just want something stronger for my steering.