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tfs2403 11-27-2011 08:49 PM

96 ram steering help
Hi all,
Well we got the 96 Ram 5.2 4x4 we were looking at. Runs strong, I love the room in the cab! several little things to take care of...Only thing that scares me is the steering, VERY sloppy and all over the place when driving.

The steering wheel is tight, the front end is "not bad" tie rod ends are decent. Is this going to be a steering gear box issue? I do have an oil leak dripping from the pitman arm. I have not been able to track the exact origin of the leak. Are the factory units adjustable to take some of the slop out?

If this one is shot, how hard are they to replace? I am mechanically inclined and have the place to do it.

Oh yeah,,and the 4x4 light stays on all the time. even when we shift out of 4x4 into 2wd. I am assuming a switch on the transfer/tranny.
THanks for any and all help.

erm 11-27-2011 10:13 PM

Hey Robb...welcome to the forum.

The front track bar is a notoriously weak link in the front steering/suspension system. Check both ends pretty closely.

I do not know if the stock steering box is adjustable but here's what the Service Manual says as possible areas to inspect for excessive play:

1. Worn or loose suspension or steering components (Track bar).
2. Worn or loose wheel bearings.
3. Steering gear mounts are loose.
4. Gear out of adjustment.
5. Worn or loose steering coupler.

In reading the manual further, I found the following corrections recommended for each of those items:

1. Inspect and replace as necessary.
2. Inspect and repair or adjust as necessary.
3. Tight gear mounting bolts to specification.
4. Adjust gear to specification.
5. Inspect and replace as necessary.

So, it appears that the steering gear box is adjustable! The service manual has two or three pages of how this is done and it looks like a bench job, not a job you will do with the gearbox on the truck.

The steering coupler is a joint pretty near the top of the steering shaft just outside of the firewall.

Warlock III 11-27-2011 10:37 PM

If it's the Saginaw box, yes it is "adjustable". The problem is that anytime myself or anyone I've ever known "adjusts" it it just makes it harder to steer.

What I mean is it just tightens up the ability to turn the wheel and that just makes it harder to steer when it's going all over the place. Effectively making the whole process worse and more dangerous to drive.

To answer the question if it's easy to change, without a doubt. Takes maybe an hour if you have a beverage in the other hand. The lower seal is pretty notorious for leaking on a bad box.

The 4x4 light is probably as you suspect. Anyone that's driven one in inclement weather and parked it in 4wd has most likely ran across a bad or sticky switch the next day until it's warmed up.

tfs2403 11-28-2011 07:34 PM

THanks for the response guys....I am replacing the gear box now the tracking bar seems tight, as does the rest of the front end. Old gear box had a pretty good leak from the lower seal.
Got new lines and box, hopefully the pump is still good!!


tfs2403 01-08-2012 10:45 PM

Ended up replacing gear box, lines, and pump. Now hopfully the steering system is GTG!

Took care of the play in the system, much better now!

THanks for the help!


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