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Wandering steering

1995 Jeep Grand Cherokee steering problem. Play in steering wheel allows vehicle to wander left and right on a straight road. Left front tire worn on outside. Tightened steering gearbox Allen-wrench adjustment. Steering wheel is stiffer but no change in symptoms.

The wife drives a 91. And I’ve replaced just about every steering/suspension component in this vehicle since she’s owned it. And you need to have the steering/suspension inspected, as this could be dangerous.


If a steering gear box is shot, adjusting it will do what you described - increase resistance but not remove freeplay.

Normally, if you have someone jiggle the steering wheel while you watch from beneath the front end, you can spot where the ‘play’ is in the steering linkage.

If one front wheel is worn on the outside, that suggests a camber problem on that side. Does the vehicle pull toward that side as you drive?

If you grab the tops of the front tires and jerk in and out, can you feel any loosness in the wheel bearings?

How did you adjust the steering box? Because there is a definite procedure for it, you can’t just crank down on it and expect it to be good. In fact, you can cause a lot of pre-mature wear to the steering box if you don’t follow the procedure (which is usually something like “raise the front end off of the ground, center the wheels, loosen a lock nut, tighten allen adjuster, tighten lock nut, test” but that’s a fairly generic description and a service manual should be used).

Wheel bearings seem tight , tested them when we jacked the front end up to do the gearbox adjustment. Will drift to both sides equally, will not hold straight even on flat smooth road. When steering is moved enough to engage pitman arm the following tie rods appear to stay in sync. Are their any other methods for testing the gear box, parts orders up here are usually delayed a few weeks this time of year. Am using a Haynes manual for reference,

Incorrect tire pressure, alignment being off, worn suspension parts, or irregularly worn tires can cause it to wander.
Since you state the LF tire is worn on the outside this could point to a toe problem or something bent in the suspension.

My feeling is that the problem is not in the steering box.

If I understand you, you really don’t see any looseness in the front end linkage?

The next place to look is the rear end bushings. If the rear end is floating around in worn-out bushings, it will steer you from the rear end and make the car wander.