Adjusting Recirculating Ball SteeringDate: 2002, Aug 12
Author: Tad Grosvenor
This procedure only works on Isuzus with Recirculating Ball steering. Those of you with Rack & Pinion won't be able to use these instructions.
Tools Needed:Socket wrench
17mm box wrench
3' of socket extension
First of all, Troopers, Pups, and 1st generation Amigos and Rodeos have recirculating ball steering. The recirculating ball steering system is too complex for me to describe in this article, but here is a good article about it: http://www.howstuffworks.com/steering3.htm
This kind of system is very strong, and should last a long time. With this age, some wear can occur and cause some slop in the steering wheel. The first thing to check are the other steering components. Tie-rod ends, the steering idler, steering column, and the center link can all wear and cause slop in the steering. While you are there you should grab each tire and see if the wheel bearings, balljoints or bushing have any slop in them.
The steering box only has one adjustment, and that determines how much slop can be felt. Making the adjustment needs to be done in very small increments. Tightening the adjustor too much will make driving the truck VERY difficult. It won't return to center, and it will behave like the camber is out. By small, I mean like the distance from the 5 to the 10 on your watch.
The first thing that you will need is a 17mm socket on a LONG extension. I used an impact socket because it is deep walled. You may need a deep-walled socket depending on how deep your set it. The extension needs to be about 2' long. It isn't a problem to use a series of shorted extensions.
The adjustment bolt is circiled in blue in these photos. You need to loosen the jam nut that is around the adjustment bolt. Mine was "glued" to the top of the steering box with paint before I broke it free. It took a lot of force to break the paint. Mark the position of the slotted bolt before you do this.
Next put a 17mm box wrench around the jam nut and brace it against something. I'd suggest the radiator support or frame and not the hydraulic lines on the steering box. They are very tempting, but not safe to brace against
Again use the long extension, but this time at the end use the bit from the impact socket set. The largest bit in my set fit just fine. Remember, only tighten it a little bit, then go drive it. Turn the bolt clockwise to tighten it, and counterclockwise after you overtighten it. After adjusting the steering box to remove the slack, tighten the jam nut. The trick to this process is to remember (or better yet mark) the position of slot on the adjustment bolt. Move the slot a little bit each time and make sure to tighten the jam nut so that your new steering box setting won't vibrate loose.