The recirculating ball type manual steering gear found on most of vehicles covered by this guide is manufactured by Saginaw and is equipped with a mechanical ratio of 24:1.
See Figures 1, 2 and 3
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 of a steering linkage puller tool such as J-6632-01 or equivalent, and a 0-50 inch lbs. torque wrench.
- Disconnect the negative battery cable.
- Raise and support the front frame 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.
- Matchmark and separate the Pitman arm from the Pitman shaft. For details, please refer to the appropriate steps of the Pitman arm replacement procedure located earlier in this section. On some vehicles it may be necessary to pivot the gear for access to the Pitman arm, if so either temporarily reinstall the gear once the arm is removed, or remove the gear completely from the vehicle and adjust while measuring preload directly at the gear's input shaft.
- Loosen the locknut for the steering gear adjuster plug, then back-off the adjuster plug 1 / 4 turn.
- Remove the horn cap or cover from the steering wheel for access to the shaft nut.
- Gently, turn the steering wheel (in one direction) to the stop; then, turn it back 1 / 2 turn.
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.
- Position a 0-50 inch lbs. (0-6 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°.
- Have an assistant tighten the adjuster plug slowly as the steering wheel is being turned using the torque wrench.
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 85 ft. lbs. (115 Nm).
If the steering gear feels lumpy (after adjustment), suspect damage to the bearings, probably due to the improper adjustment or severe impact.
After the worm bearing pre-load is properly set, adjust the overcenter preload on vehicles as follows:
- Loosen the adjuster screw/bolt jam nut.
- Turn the steering wheel, from one 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.
- 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 22 ft. lbs. (30 Nm).
- Use a 0-50 inch lbs. (0-6 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.
- If necessary, loosen the locknut and readjust the overcenter adjusting screw to obtain the proper torque. Retorque the locknut to 22 ft. lbs. (30 Nm) and recheck the steering wheel torque through the center of travel.If the maximum is too high, turn the overcenter adjuster screw counterclockwise, then torque the adjuster locknut in the clockwise motion to achieve the proper torque.
- Install the horn cap or cover.
- Align and install the Pitman arm to the shaft, then secure. Refer to the procedure earlier in this section for details.
- Remove the jackstands and carefully lower the vehicle, then connect the negative battery cable.
REMOVAL & INSTALLATION
See Figure 4
- Disconnect the negative battery cable.
- Raise and safely support the front of the vehicle using jackstands under the frame. Turn the wheels so they are facing in the straight ahead position.
- On late model vehicles (or as equipped), remove the retainers and the shield from the base of the intermediate shaft.
- Matchmark the intermediate shaft-to-steering gear connection in order to assure proper installation.
- Remove the intermediate shaft-to-steering gear pinch bolt.
- Matchmark and remove the Pitman arm from the Pitman shaft. For details, please refer to the procedure located earlier in this section. On some late model vehicles it may be easier to save this step for later as access to the Pitman arm/shaft may be difficult unless the gear is loosened or removed.
When separating the Pitman arm from the shaft, DO NOT use a hammer or apply heat to the arm.
- Remove the steering gear-to-frame mounting bolts and washers, then remove the gear from the vehicle.
- If not done already on late model vehicles and, if necessary, remove the Pitman shaft from the gear at this time.
- If necessary on late model vehicles, align and install the Pitman shaft to the gear.
- Position the steering gear to the frame and secure by threading the retaining bolts. On some late model vehicles, if not done already, it will be necessary to align and install the Pitman arm to the shaft at this time.
- Install the gear retaining bolts and tighten to 60 ft. lbs. (81 Nm).
When installing the steering gear, be sure that the intermediate shaft bottoms on the worm shaft, so that the pinch bolt passes through the undercut on the worm shaft. Check and/or adjust the alignment of the Pitman arm-to-Pitman shaft.
- Align and install the intermediate shaft coupling using the pinch bolt. Tighten the bolt to 30 ft. lbs. (41 Nm).
- If not done already, align and install the Pitman arm to the shaft. Refer to the procedure earlier in this section for details.
- If applicable, install the coupling shield over the intermediate shaft-to-gear coupling.
- Remove the jackstands and carefully lower the vehicle.
- Connect the negative battery cable.