• Welcome to the new NAXJA Forum! If your password does not work, please use "Forgot your password?" link on the log-in page. Please feel free to reach out to [email protected] if we can provide any assistance.

Pull to the right... power steering box?


NAXJA Forum User
Wenatchee, WA
A little info first. '87 XJ, waggy d44's front and rear, RE brackets on the front axle, 5.13's spooled rear lockright front, clayton longarms with 5.5" springs up front and RE 4.5" springs out back (really about 6" right now, ha).

Alright... seems like forever my rig has been pulling to the right. It did it with the D30 in it and stock XJ steering, and it still does it with the D44 and stock wagoneer steering. It wears the front left tire something fierce if I don't keep them rotated. It's been doing this for quite a while... but I can't pinpoint when it first started.

Anyway, I had it aligned when it still had the D30 in it. Toe was set at 0 and steering wheel was centered. This was with the stock XJ steering and D30. So, I figured maybe one of my stock control arms was bent, (and they indeed were very tweaked) since it did not go away with a complete change of the steering and a driveway toe adjustment. Toe is still at pretty much 0, it handles very good other than this issue.

Finally changed out all the control arms for the Clayton kit, the crossmember is centered and sets of lowers and uppers are set at the same length, my mounts and straight and true on my housing, and the axle is centered under the rig, toe is still set at 0, steering wheel centered, and it still pulls to the right driving down the road.

Could this possibly be the power steering box? I've exhausted most of the other ideas, and someone I know suggested this as a possibility... they had a bad power steering box in some rig that had a leaky seal or something and caused the rig to constantly pull to the left. I'm not familiar with the innards of the XJ power steering box, so I can't visualize what would cause that inside, but maybe some of you guys who've had it apart could shed some light? It's not too big of an issue as I don't drive the rig daily anymore, but it's kind of annoying on long trips and I really want to tack down any tire wear issues now that I have the Iroks on.

If the power steering box is not the culprit, any ideas what else could cause this? My only other idea would be the rear axle being off center causing the rig to crab walk, but I've checked and double checked the measurements back there and it's all good. I plan on rebuilding the box soon anyway and tapping for Hydro assist, but it's not on my immediate list of stuff to do... unless somone could verify that this could possibly be the culprit.

Any ideas?
If you want to check for a power steering box pull. All you have to do is turn the engine off while you are driving and see if it still pulls. With the engine off, the power steering box has no pressure to cause any pull.
Hmm... good idea. I'll have to try that tomorrow.

One thing I just remembered... I think I posted a thread here about this a while back, and someone suggested chocking the rear wheels and jacking the rig up in the front and starting the engine and just letting it run for a few with the front wheels off the ground... if it's the power steering box, the steering should slowly cycle right with no input. Might be a safer way to test than shutting the engine off on the road. :)
Stop and think a minute. Yes the steering box could make it pull, but how would it cause the tire wear?

Steering boxes are rarely the problem. Crowing of the road surface routinely causes a slight pull to the right on most roads. This is normal. A busted or slipped belt in a tire can cause the problem as well.

A tape measure is your best tool. Get a buddy and measure the distance between the left front tire and the left rear tire. Repeat the process on the right side. Then measure diagonally from the right front to the left rear and vice versa. Most likely your axles are not sitting square. The distances on both sides should be equal and the cross distances should be equal. If the front to rear distances are fine but the cross distances are off, then you have an axle tracking problem. This is very common on lifted rigs. That is why adjustable track bars were developed. I've seen too many alignment shops ignore these conditions because it is a PIA to adjust and they are lazy or they simply don't know enough to figure out how to adjust it. They just blow it off and you get screwed.

If those are fine, then measure the toe in. Again have your buddy help measure the distance between the rear edges of the front tires and the front edges of the front tires. In other words, toe in. Ideally they should be the same or .125 closer together at the front. But having said that, toe in will not cause wear on one tire only. Surprisingly enough, I've seen rear axles that had bent housings that had toe in/out problems.

If the axle measurements are fine, then you most likely have either a bent front axle or shot ball joints. If the wear is cupping, it could be a bad shock.

People laugh a the tape measure alignment, but I have been doing it for years and it is as reliable as anything else out there.
old_man: I know you're trying to help, but did you even read my post?

It's not the road surface crown, that's for sure. It's a serious pull, not just a little road surface problem. It does it if I'm driving on the left side of the road.

The axles are square, I stated in the original post that I've measured and double-checked all tire to tire measurements, the front to back front pass. to right drivers and front drivers to right pass. tire distances are the same - the axles are square.

The toe is set at 0, as I stated in the original post as well. I used two buddies and had them each hold a piece of flat/straight steel on the front tire right in the middle, then I measured the distance between each piece at the front and at the back. I meticulously adjusted the tie-rod until it was perfect. Originally it was toed in a little bit, it pulled whether it was toed in or set at 0.

Like I said in the original post, both of the axles under the rig are new (well, new to me) axles, I went over them both with a fine tooth comb when installing, and the front got new ball joints on all four corners. I can possibly see where it may be a bent housing, but here's the kicker: the rig pulled hard to the right when I had the D30 and stock D44 in the back, it pulled when I replaced the stock D44 in the rear with the waggy D44, and it still pulled when I replaced the front with the waggy D44.

Something is making it pull, but it's not worn components in the axle assembly or control arm assembly, and I highly doubt it's related to the trueness/squareness of the axles, because I have gone over ALL of the suggestions you mentioned repeatedly.

Sorry for the rant, I guess maybe I wasn't so clear about what I'd done in the original post, but what I'm saying is I'm ruling all of that out and looking for other possible causes. Maybe the frame is bent? I don't know.
you need to replace your passenger side lower ball joint with a 1 degree offset one. part is about $100, but will solve your problem. the leading tire (right) needs to be just slightly in front of the drivers side, and it will not pull. trust me, i just went through this.
If the left front tire is wearing something fierce then that tire CANNOT be rolling down the road straight and true. If it were, it wouldn't wear like that.

So, it can't just be the steering box. The steering box could create a pull that you would feel in the steering wheel, but it alone couldn't make one tire scrub and the other not.

I know you've said you've checked it, but there has to be something off in the alignment of that tire. There has to be something that is causing it to not roll down the road straight and true. I don't do my own alignments, so I can't tell you how to fix it, but I can assure you that it is not the steering box alone that is the problem.
bent unibody?
Have you looked into the rear axle yet? it seems to be the only thing you haven't changed. if a center pin is broke the axle will shift, making it pull. also if the rear springs are weak on one side the shackle will cause the the center pin to be in a slightly different location. the other thing is the spool, the cause some weird handling issues, maybe tray and remove it (if it's a mini-spool).

Just my $.02 worth

The reason I posted the long explaination is that too many people just say change x or y without explaining why. People throw parts a problems. What I posted was a process to go through. Yes you did the steps. It wasn't a slam, but more of a tutorial for others who would read the post.

The pulling issue boils down to the question of the wheels being in the correct geometry. If you measure everything and it is all square then the problem becomes one of going beyond the geometry, but first take a level and check the camber of the rims, both front and back. I then jack up the rear and put it on jack stands. I take a long piece of conduit and lay it against the tires and make sure that it points exactly forward. The distances can all be fine, but the rear housing can be bent to actually cause toe in or camber in the rear.

If this is fine, then you might even think of the rear dif causing unequal drive forces on the rear tires. Since you stated you rotated the tires, that should rule that out, but for those who have the problem and haven't rotated the tires, some tires have a built in bias in the belts (defect) that causes the tires to pull one way or the other as they roll. The quick check for that is to swap the tires side to side and see if the problem goes away. Back to your rig, does the left rear tire wear fast also? That would be an indication of uneven drive. I diagnosed an uneven drive by painting the contact surface, then letting it dry. A drive in a straight line showed that only one tire was really driving on my Detroit.

Good luck on finding the pulling. Too bad you aren't here in Colorado. We have a hardcore wheeler that is an Alignment Magician. If he can't find it, it can't be found. He is on this board. His name is JJacobs. You might BC him with questions.
Bryan C. said:
If you want to check for a power steering box pull. All you have to do is turn the engine off while you are driving and see if it still pulls. With the engine off, the power steering box has no pressure to cause any pull.

Good idea, but be sure to put it in Neutral also, as otherwise the engine will still be turning and therefore so will the PS pump.