Thinking Outside The (Steering) Box
Steering slop and wander in 1994-2006 Dodge 2500 and 3500 pickups can be a sign of impending steering box failure. Shop guys we spoke with tell us that the problem is most prevalent in trucks that have been fitted with larger-than-stock tires, but they also noted that they're seeing failures on stock rigs, too. The problem can be traced partly to the sector shaft. Side play of the shaft causes premature wear on the internal components of the steering box. As the box wears, poor handling, fluid leakage, and eventual failure can result.
The solution to this problem is to add support to the sector shaft before the steering box fails. How do you do that? Well, there are a few braces available in the aftermarket for Dodge trucks. Performance Steering Components (PSC) offers two kits. One is for 1994-2002 trucks and one is for 2003-06 trucks. These kits add support to the sector shaft in the steering gear, eliminating the side play that creates premature failure of the box. As a bonus, they also tie the truck's frame horns together to help prevent frame flex.
We recently installed a PSC kit on an '03 Ram 2500 equipped with 40-inch tires. The installation went smoothly, and there was no drama during the 45-minute installation. The truck's owner reports tighter, more responsive steering, and he's resting easier knowing that the sector shaft has added support. At only $169.95 (MSRP at press time), the PSC brace is an inexpensive defense against failure. Here are the highlights of the easy install.
GM Steering Box Fix
Through the years, there have been other makes and models of four-wheel drive vehicles with steering box problems, and the aftermarket has sprung into action and offered solutions. One example is Off Road Design (www.offroaddesign.com). They offer a low-buck ($130 MSRP at press time) steering box brace kit for 1968-1991 GM solid-axle trucks. These trucks are notorious for cracking out the frame around the steering box bolts when used off-highway with a lift and larger tires.
Shown here is the 1981-and-later version of the ORD kit, which is made from 3/16-inch steel with "T"-section construction. The kit is incredibly easy to install and comes with everything needed to ensure that the steering box will stay bolted to the frame.
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