GM Astro/Safari 1985-1996 Repair Guide

Manual Steering Gear

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

ADJUSTMENTS



See Figures 1 and 2



Click image to see an enlarged view

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



Click image to see an enlarged view

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.
  2.  
  3. Raise and support the front of the vehicle safely using jackstands.
  4.  

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).
  2.  
  3. Separate the pitman arm from the pitman shaft using J-29107, or an equivalent pitman arm removal tool.
  4.  

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.
  2.  
  3. Remove the horn cap or cover from the steering wheel for access to the shaft nut.
  4.  
  5. Gently, turn the steering wheel (in 1 direction) to the stop; then, turn it back 1 / 2 turn.
  6.  

When the steering linkage is disconnected from the steering gear, DO NOT turn the steering wheel hard against the stops or damage to the ball guides may result.

  1. Position a 0-50 inch lbs. (0-5.5 Nm) torque wrench onto the steering wheel nut, then measure and record the bearing drag. To measure the bearing drag, use the torque wrench to rotate the steering wheel 90°.
  2.  
  3. Have an assistant tighten the adjuster plug slowly as the steering wheel is being turned using the torque wrench.
  4.  

The plug should be tightened to a point where the torque wrench shows a worm bearing preload of 5-8 inch lbs. (0.6-1.0 Nm). After the thrust bearing preload is obtained, torque the adjuster plug locknut to 25 ft. lbs. (34 Nm).

If the steering gear feels lumpy (after adjustment), suspect damage to the bearings, probably due to the improper adjustment or severe impact.

  1. After the worm bearing pre-load is properly set, adjust the overcenter preload as follows:
    1. Loosen the adjuster screw/bolt jam nut.
    2.  
    3. Turn the steering wheel, from 1 stop all the way to the other stop, counting the number of turns. Turn the steering wheel back exactly 1 / 2 way to the center position.
    4.  
    5. Turn the overcenter adjusting screw clockwise, until the lash is removed between the ball nut and the pitman shaft sector teeth, then tighten the locknut to 25 ft. lbs. (34 Nm).
    6.  
    7. Use a 0-50 inch lbs. (0-5.5 Nm) torque wrench to check the highest force necessary to turn the steering wheel through the center position. Proper adjustment will yield a preload of 4-10 inch lbs. (0.5-1.2 Nm) over center.
    8.  
    9. If necessary, loosen the locknut and readjust the overcenter adjusting screw to obtain the proper torque. Retorque the locknut to 25 ft. lbs. (34 Nm) and recheck the steering wheel torque through the center of travel.
    10.  

  2.  

If the maximum is too high, turn the overcenter adjuster screw counterclockwise, then tighten the adjuster locknut in the clockwise motion to achieve the proper torque.

  1. Install the horn cap or cover.
  2.  
  3. Align the pitman arm-to-pitman shaft matchmark, then install the washer along with a prevailing torque nut. Tighten the pitman arm-to-pitman shaft nut to 185 ft. lbs. (250 Nm).
  4.  
  5. Remove the jackstands and carefully lower the vehicle, then connect the negative battery cable.
  6.  

REMOVAL & INSTALLATION



See Figure 3



Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 3: Exploded view of the manual steering gear mounting

The following procedure requires the use the GM Pitman Arm Remover tool No. J-29107 or equivalent.

  1. Disconnect the negative battery cable for safety.
  2.  
  3. Raise and support the front of the vehicle safely using jackstands. Place the front wheels in the straight-ahead position.
  4.  
  5. Remove the intermediate shaft-to-steering gear pinch bolt.
  6.  
  7. 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).
  8.  
  9. Separate the pitman arm from the pitman shaft using J-29107, or an equivalent pitman arm removal tool.
  10.  

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

  1. Remove the steering gear-to-frame bolts, then carefully lower the gear from the vehicle.
  2.  

When installing the steering gear, be sure the intermediate shaft bottoms on the worm shaft, so the pinch bolt passes through the undercut on the worm shaft. Check and/or adjust the alignment of the pitman arm-to-pitman shaft.

To install:
  1. Align and install the steering gear, then tighten the steering gear-to-frame bolts to 70 ft. lbs. (95 Nm).
  2.  
  3. Align the pitman arm-to-pitman shaft matchmark, then install the washer along with a prevailing torque nut. Tighten the pitman arm-to-pitman shaft nut to 185 ft. lbs. (250 Nm).
  4.  
  5. Install the intermediate shaft and torque the bolt to 30 ft. lbs. (41 Nm).
  6.  
  7. Remove the jackstands and carefully lower the vehicle.
  8.  
  9. Connect the negative battery cable.
  10.  

 
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