Durango Steering Box Swap in a TJ

 

After 8 years of service, my TJ steering box died just like the other ones, leaving a huge oil spot in my driveway.  Fortunately for me, I came across some information stating that a Durango steering box was a direct bolt on swap.  I grab the phone and found one at a local junkyard.

 

Hydraulic hoses might be tough to removed since the fittings might be seize with the tube.  I was able to remove them but I did not take any chance and decided to replace them the next week end.

 

What you need

Durango / Dakota Steering box 98-99

2 hoses

1 cotter pin

Power Steering Fluid

18mm wrench

3/4" wrench

13mm socket

5/8" socket

1-5/16" socket

Ratchet

Torq wrench

10" extension

Pitman arm puller

Tie rod end puller

1- Start by unbolting the first hose on the steering box using an 18mm wrench

2- Unbolt the top fitting using an 5/8" wrench.  Don't ask why one is metric and the other one is standard, I don't know.

3- Remove the hose

4- Next, unbolt the second hose on the steering box using an 18mm wrench

 

5- The top portion is retained by a collar, you will need a pair of pliers to slide it down on the hose to be able to remove it.  Keep the collar since it's not coming with the new hose.  Remove the hose like shown in step 3.

 

6- By going trough the front grill, you will be able to unbolt the steering shaft using a 13mm socket and a 10" ratchet extension.  This bolt might be accessible from underneath the JEEP.

7- Time to remove the tie rod end from the pitman arm.  Start by removing the cotter pin.  Then remove the castle nut using a 3/4" wrench.

 

8- Using your pit man arm puller or your tie rod end puller (both works), remove the tie rod end loose from the pitman arm.  A pickle fork work also, but the tend to ruin the both of the tie rod so this is why I don't use that tool.

 

9- Now it's time to remove the steering box from the frame.  Use a 5/8" wrench or socket to loosen and remove the 3 bolts on the side of the frame.  Those are torque at 70 ft/pd so you might need to use some force to loosen them.

 

 

IMPORTANT NOTE:

NOW THAT THE STEERING SHAFT IS DISCONNECTED FROM THE STEERING BOX, DO NOT SPIN THE STEERING WHEEL AS IT WILL BREAK THE CLOCK SPRING IN THE STEERING COLUMN.  THIS THING PROVIDE THE ELECTRICAL CURRENT TO THE HORN, AIR BAGS AND CRUISE CONTROL.

 

 

10- You can do this step while the steering box is on the frame but I decided to do it in my bench vice.  So it's time to remove the pitman arm from the steering box.  You will need a 1-5/16" socket to accomplish this.  The nut is toque at 185 ft/pd of torque.  Some PB Blaster might be usefull.

11- Using a pitman arm puller, remove the pitman arm.  I have kept the nut just in case the pitman arm had decided to break loose and fly away.

 

12- As you can see, the Durango box on the right is much bigger that the TJ one on the left.

 

13- Here's a side view, the bolt pattern is the same.

 

14- On the top view, you can see that the hoses bolt also at the same place.  They also use the same threats/fittings.

 

15- Slide in the steering box in the steering shaft.  Then, by holding the steering box in one hand, screw in 1 bolt to secure it in place then the other 2.  The box is pretty heavy.  a friend might be helpful.  Torque the 3 x 5/8" bolt at 70 ft/pd.

 

16- Install the pitman arm to the new steering box and torque the nut to 185ft/pd

17- Tight back the steering shaft.  Re-install the drag link.  Torque the castle nut to 50ft/pd and put a NEW cotter pin.  Always use new cutter pin.  Personally I use stainless ones because they don't rust and get stuck in the tiny tie rod hole.

18- The fittings tend to rust weld with the tube making the removal of the hoses nearly impossible without breaking them.  To solve this, I just slide back the fitting and I have applied a coat of anti seize (the copper paste).

19- On the return hose, re-use you old collar since it's NOT supplied with the new hose.  Slide it back in place.

 

20- Bolt back the return line first. (view from underneath)

 

21- Insert the other hose

22- bolt it back to the pump and to the steering box

23- Open the oil reservoir and fill it with power steering fluid.  Test the system for any leaks.  Add more fluid as needed.

   

Congratulations, you now have a Durango Steering on on your TJ.  The steps would be the same if you only replace your steering box for another TJ one.

   

 

   

Written by: TJ Frank