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Upgrade Steering Box on Jeep YJ: Cost and Step-by-Step Guide

To enhance the steering feel of your Jeep YJ, you don’t need a costly aftermarket sub-frame or rack-and-pinion system. All you need is the correct steering wheel.

We use two basic methods to communicate with our Jeep YJs. The throttle is one way, while the steering wheel is another. The throttle side of the equation receives a lot of thinking and effort. After all, it’s enjoyable to travel quickly.

However, if the steering side is neglected, the consequence may be a fast automobile that feels sloppy and slow to respond to driver input. As you speed down the highway, it’s a situation that might almost seem unsafe. So, today I will guide you through the upgrade of the steering box.

Can You Upgrade Steering Box On Jeep YJ?

Yes, you may upgrade the steering box on your Jeep Wrangler. Today, replacing the classic steering box with a rack-and-pinion system is a popular alternative. The difficulty is that converting takes a lot of labor and maybe rather costly.

If done poorly, switching to a rack and pinion on a factory sub-frame can result in fitting concerns and unwanted alterations to the car’s suspension geometry. Replacement gearboxes may give your Jeep YJ the sensation of a new automobile.

The exchange is very simple, and you won’t have to sell any family artifacts to make it happen. The recirculating ball steering box was the industry standard in steering technology from around 1950 until the mid-’80s.

Several heavy-duty vehicle applications still employ it. The ratios in gearboxes determine how many times you must spin the steering wheel to rotate the front wheels a particular amount of degrees.

When Should You Upgrade Steering Box?

Here are several indications or warning signals that indicate a potential problem with your steering rack. If your Jeep YJ has any of these issues, you should consider upgrading the steering box.

1. Stiff Steering Wheel

The power steering unit in today’s rack and pinion steering systems uses hydraulic pressure to enable smooth and rapid steering wheel handling. When the steering wheel seems tight or difficult to move, it’s usually due to excessive heat buildup in the steering rack or gearbox.

It can also happen due to a lack of hydraulic pressure from the power steering unit. In any case, it’s an issue that won’t go away and should be evaluated by an ASE-certified technician as soon as possible.

Adding extra power steering fluid or making a modest adjustment will sometimes remedy the problem and extend the life of your steering rack.

2. Steering Fluid Leaks

Low power steering fluid might cause tight steering, as previously stated. The fluid levels will not fall unless there is a leak elsewhere in the system since the steering box is hydraulically operated.

When power steering fluid begins to leak, it indicates that there is a loose-fitting, a damaged gasket, or another mechanical fault. Excessive heat will build up in the steering rack or gearbox if this is not done.

It will potentially cause gears and other components to crack, resulting in a collision. The scent of leaking steering fluid distinguishes it from other fluids. It’ll be leaking from the back area of your motor and will be red or pink in hue.

3. Grinding Noise

Lack of sufficient lubrication and servicing is the most common cause of a damaged or failed gearbox. When you turn left or right, the extra heat generates metal-on-metal contact, resulting in a loud grinding noise.

This sound is most noticeable while turning and hitting a bump at the same moment. If you hear a grinding sound when steering left or right, contact a professional immediately away so they can identify the problem and, if necessary, replace the steering gears.

How Much Does It Cost To Upgrade Steering Box On Jeep YJ?

A steering gearbox replacement for your Jeep YJ can cost anywhere from $600 to $800. The labor cost should be between $150 and $190, and the cost of parts should be between $470 and $630.

These estimates, of course, do not include taxes or mechanic’s fees, both of which might greatly raise the cost of this repair for you. The type of jeep you have has a big impact on how much you’ll pay and where your repairs will fall in the pricing range.

The sooner you remedy this problem, the less money you’ll have to spend on future repairs. It’s in your best interests to get the steering gearbox repaired as soon as possible; you’ll save money in the long run and spend less time in the shop.

You’ll also save money on power steering fluid, which leaks frequently when a steering gearbox fails. There are just a lot of complications that you can prevent by getting this problem rectified as soon as possible, which would be tough to forecast in advance.

My Top Recommendation on Jeep YJ Steering Box Upgrade

The steering rack, often known as the gearbox, is a critical component for the efficient operation of any vehicle with a rack and pinion steering system. So, here are some of our suggestions.

Power Steering Gearbox

  • There is a three-year warranty with unlimited mileage.
  • No core deposit or return is required. Premium ISO/TS 16949 quality!
  • Exact Fit is guaranteed for Ease of Installation.
  • This is a factory-style replacement steering gearbox that has the same steering ratio as the original.
  • Fits all 2007-2018 Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited 4-doors with left-hand drive. No 2-door, 2018 JL, or right-hand-drive cars are compatible.

Detroit Axle

  • Factory refurbished in Detroit, Michigan, USA – Lifetime Warranty.
  • Assembly of the Power Steering Gearbox in Its Entirety.
  • To guarantee quality performance, new oil and lip seals have been fitted.
  • Integrated by-pass for both high and low pressure.
  • Tie rod loads hydraulically pressure certified, highway simulated for optimal performance.

South-West Speed Power Steering Conversion Kit

  • Manufactured with a 20:1 Gear Ratio, 13/16″-36 Input Shaft, and 1 1/8″-32 Spline Output Shaft is included in this Southwest Speed Steering Gear Box Kit.
  • Engineered to last a long time.
  • O-Ring Ports, Industrial Strength Gears, 20:1 Gear Ratio, 13/16″-36 Feedback Shaft, 1 1/8″-32 Spline Output Shaft, 2.750″ Regular Piston Diameter, 18mm O-Ring Compression Fitting, and 16mm O-Ring Return Fitting are included.

How to Upgrade Steering Box on Jeep YJ?

Only a little engine knowledge, maintenance expertise, and confidence are required. Let’s see if we can get it done in an hour or less. This is a step-by-step instruction on how to upgrade your Jeep YJ’s steering box:

  • Unless you have access to a formal inspection pit, the safest method to accomplish this is to drive onto a set of ramps. If you must use ramps, make sure they are level and precisely underneath the wheels.
  • Apply a hard handbrake, chock the back wheels, and shift a rear-wheel-drive vehicle into gear (‘park’ for an automatic). When inspecting the remainder of the steering system, look for leaks and wear in the steering box.
  • You must identify a coupler that connects the engine to the steering box and shaft beneath the engine. The box is held in place by three bolts that may be readily removed using a 13mm socket.
  • The steering gearbox might be difficult to remove after years of installation. To remove it, you may need to use a metal rod and some effort. For best results, pry against the steering box.
  • The brackets that are in the path of the gearbox must then be removed. Using basic tools, you may quickly release the bumper and fence brackets.
  • Some bolts can be seen keeping the bumper bracket and fence bracket in place. They can be handled using common tools in your garage.
  • Then, with extreme caution, remove the steering box, since losing pieces can be quite dangerous. I’d like you to pay special attention to the aluminum spacer.
  • It’s ready to implement the freshly acquired part once you’ve successfully removed the old one.
  • The installation of the spacer, which serves as a link between the unit body and the gearbox, is the first step in this procedure. The whole steering mechanism of your Jeep ZJ is held in place by three bolts.
  • Afterward, gently separate the steering box from the mainframe, being cautious not to get struck by any loose pieces. Keep an eye out for the metal spacer, which might suddenly fall off.
  • Now is the time to replace your Jeep TJ’s steering box with a new, more efficient aftermarket unit. Position the aluminum or steel spacer in its place to do this.
  • Keep the spacer in place with the bolts, but don’t tighten them yet. Place the new box in the appropriate spot.
  • Finally, add a little amount of blue Loctite to each bolt before tightening it for a firm fit. In any circumstance, the Loctite prevents them from turning.

Expert mechanics recommend using a steel spacer instead of the conventional aluminum one. Because the bolts are composed of steel, the aluminum spacer may experience galvanic corrosion over time. Steel spacers, on the other hand, have no such issue.

Even after learning everything, there is to know about the replacement procedure, one may still lack confidence, which is quite normal.


That’s all there is to it when it comes to upgrading the steering on a Jeep YJ. I hope you’ve figured out when it’s time to upgrade and how to do it correctly.

Those guidelines are designed to help you save money on labor and reduce the cost of replacement as much as feasible. If you have any more inquiries, please contact the nearest dealer.

Because when it comes to smooth handling, tuning and little tweaks are crucial. As a result, if you have no prior experience, you should avoid it.

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