Upgrading a Dodge Box
Sloppy steering on your 4x4 leaves a lot to be desired. Sure, you can drive your ride like you’re herding sheep down the road, but it’s a lot nicer to have that precise on-center feel while maxing out the speed limit. And if you tow a lot, then you know how scary that wandering feeling is with 10,000 pounds of off-road ride behind you pushing the truck toward the outside of a curve. As our fleet ages, the steering on the tow rig just isn’t what it used to be, but until we hop into something new we don’t realize that we were just used to the worn-out junk we drive.
Our ’99 Dodge 2500 has been a trooper for well over 100,000 miles. We’ve tested and torn up more than a few sets of tires with it. But with a massive leak developing from the power steering pump, we felt that a complete steering upgrade was in order. Since the box had seen better days and had way too much play and a small leak of its own, we decided that the whole shebang better be replaced, including flushing the cooler and swapping in new hoses and fluid. It’s far better to do the whole job right the first time than to repeat your efforts a couple of months down the road.
Borgeson offers a new line of Delphi steering boxes for many vehicles, and they aren’t just a rebuilt version of the old Saginaw style. These modern units are the same recirculating-ball design but have all of the modern strengths and upgrades that Delphi has developed for the new style of boxes. Borgeson converts this unit to a bolt-on Dodge application for trouble-free steering and a much better road feel. The downshaft from the steering column is also replaced so that the slop of the factory joint is eliminated, and the entire setup costs far less than taking it to the dealer for the same old, same old.
Although we did this afternoon swap on a Dodge truck, Borgeson specializes in complete steering systems and has replacement units and parts for nearly anything you drive. Check out the simple swap we did. It was well worth it to get us steered straight.
Bleeding the Box
Power steering systems operate on fluid moved by a hydraulic pump. When anything in the system gets replaced, air gets introduced and the system must be bled. Since we replaced the hoses, box, and pump as well as flushing the cooler, there was plenty of air to eliminate.
After the whole system is sealed and full, jack up the front of your 4x4 so the steering can easily be turned. With the engine off, turn the steering wheel lock-to-lock a few times to draw as much fluid into the system as possible. After filling the reservoir again, run the engine for a minute and then turn it off and let it sit. The pump will aerate the fluid; it is whipping the fluid with air into a froth. After a few minutes, check the fluid level. Lots of the air should have dissipated.
Repeat a few times. With luck, most of the air will be eliminated, but check now and then to make sure the level is correct and the froth is gone as well.