GM Astro/Safari 1985-1996 Repair Guide

Manual Steering Gear


The recirculating ball type manual steering gear is manufactured by Saginaw and is equipped with a mechanical ratio of 24:1.


See Figures 1 and 2

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Fig. Fig. 1: Using an inch lbs. torque wrench, measure the bearing drag (force necessary to turn the steering wheel)

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Fig. Fig. 2: Manual steering gear and adjuster components

Steering gear adjustments are made only as corrections and NOT as periodic adjustments. Before adjusting the gear, check the remainder of the steering linkage and front suspension for wear or damage and repair/replace components, as necessary. Adjustment takes place in 2 major steps. First the worm bearing preload adjustment is made using the adjuster plug, then the overcenter preload is adjusted using the adjuster screw/bolt and jam nut.

The following procedure requires the use the GM Pitman Arm Remover tool No. J-29107 or equivalent, and a 0-50 inch lbs. (0-5.5 Nm) torque wrench.

  1. Disconnect the negative battery cable for safety.
  3. Raise and support the front of the vehicle safely using jackstands.

Before adjustments are made to the steering gear, be sure to check the front end alignment, the shock absorbers, the wheel balance and the tire pressure.

  1. Remove the pitman arm-to-pitman shaft nut and washer, then matchmark the relationship of the arm to the shaft (this will permit proper alignment during assembly).
  3. Separate the pitman arm from the pitman shaft using J-29107, or an equivalent pitman arm removal tool.

When separating the pitman arm from the shaft, DO NOT use a hammer or apply heat to the arm.

  1. Loosen the locknut for the steering gear adjuster plug, then back-off the adjuster plug 1 / 4 turn.
  3. Remove the horn cap or cover from the steering wheel for access to the shaft nut.