As I mentioned in my last update, my steering box leaked all over my garage floor. The good news is I have now fixed the leak by replacing the seal that sits on the output shaft. You can find an output shaft seal kit from any landrover dealer, the code is STC2848 – I used this one.
If you have a leaking steering box, it may or may not be coming from the output shaft – other possible leaking areas would be the input shaft where the steering coloumn is connected to, or the pipes which come from the fluid resevoir and the pump.
Here is a write up of the process, which was fairly straightforward, albeit a little messy!
The general idea is to remove the steering box from the chassis, and remove/replace the output shaft seal on the workbench. Whilst it would technically be possible to replace the output shaft seal with the steering box fitted, it would prove harder as you would be doing nearly all the work above your head and as some bits are a little fiddly; this will prove tiresome.
Getting access to the steering box
Unless you have a set of ramps, you’ll need to remove the offside front wheel and jack the taxi up to access the track rod ends which attach to the drop arm of the steering box.
Turn the steering to full right lock for better access.
Removing the steering box from the chassis
1. Remove the split pins from the track rod ends and use a 22mm socket or spanner to remove the castellated nuts.
Use a ball joint seperator to remove the track rod ends from the drop arm.
2. Open the bonnet and locate the two pipes (circled red) which connect into the top of the steering box.
The higher pipe brings fluid from the pump and the lower from the fluid reservoir – remove using 15mm and 14mm spanners respectively. You do not need to remove the third pipe which simply rejoins to the bottom of the steering box.
Block off the ports to stop any debris entering the steering box. In my case, I didn’t get too much fluid pouring out of the pipes as it had already leaked onto my garage floor, however you may find it handy to have a container ready to catch any fluid; especially from the reservoir.
3. Using two 13mm spanners, loosen the pinch bolt which holds the steering column universal joint onto the input shaft of the steering box. This joint will be seperated in the next step after the steering box is unbolted from the chassis.
4. The steering box is held onto the chassis with 4 bolts. Remove these with a 19mm socket, you will need an extension bar to reach the upper most bolt which sits fairly tight to the radiator. I also needed a breaker bar for two of these bolts as they were siezed.
5. Now the steering box is free, seperate the steering column universal joint from the input shaft. You may need to completely remove the pinch bolt and use a screwdriver or pry bar in order to free the joint up.
You will find a small chamfer/slot in the input shaft, this is where the pinch bolt sits – you can use this for reference when connecting back up the steering box later.
6. The steering box is now free to be dropped down and out of the engine bay. You may need to flex the metal panel from the wheel arch out of the way for the removal, however it didn’t cause me much hassle.
Removing the drop arm
Now your steering box is removed, set it up on a workbench in a vice. The drop arm needs to be removed, this step proved fairly tricky and in the end I only managed to do it by ordering and using the correct seperator tool specific to this steering box.
1. Hammer the locking washer flat
2. Remove the nut using a 1-7/16″ imperial spanner. As I didn’t have one, I got away with using an adjustable spanner. A 37mm socket may work if you have one. It’ll probably need a bit of persuasion… I had to use some heat and a few hits with a mallet.
3. The drop arm is a bit of pig to remove with anything other the proper tool. I tried crowbars, pry bars, leverage of all kinds and conventional gear pullers, but nothing would budge the drop arm. In the end I dropped £56 on a Sealey PS970 Drop Arm Puller which made light work of the job.
This puller is also used for the Landrover Defender and the Discovery (the steering box is the same) so it may not be impossible to find a local mechanic who has one of these in their arsenal.
I would be a bit careful tightening up the bolt too tight as I feel that it could possibly shear. I tightened it up as much as I could with a ratchet and then started hitting the side of the drop arm with a mallet. This eventually released the drop arm from the shaft.
Make a note of the position of the steering arm, it is worth putting into full lock and therefore you know what to aim for when you reinstall it later on. The shaft has 4 larger splines which aids with the refitting, but you may be 90°, 180° or 270° off if you the shaft is turned during the next few stages and not put back into full lock later on.
Remove the old shaft seal
1. Use a pair of circlip pliers to remove the circlip. I went 10 years without a set of good circlip pliers, instead battling away with an array of pokers, screwdrivers everytime I was faced with a circlip – if you haven’t got a set, get one! It’s a gamechanger.
2. Next up (or down!) is the washer which is made of metal with a rubber coating. I tried various different ways of fishing this out, however in the end the only method that worked was to drill a small hole and screw into it and then use pliers to extract. The seal kit includes a new washer so it will be replaced.
3. Once the washer is removed you will finally be able to see the state of your shaft seal. This is a hydraulic seal and should be stout, firm and able to withstand the high pressure of the fluid from within the box. It was some relief to see how chewed up mine was, I could immediately tell it was way past it’s sell by date and was the reason for the leak.
It didn’t put up any fight and was removed easily using a hook. If yours is still in good condition then you could put a self tapper into it and extract in a similar way to the washer.
Reinstall the new seal, washer and dust cap
As mentioned in more detail at the top of this page, you’ll need to find a replacement seal kit for the output shaft. The code is STC2848 and can be found on most Landrover sites.
1. Clean out the area around the shaft with an air compressor or similar. Use insulation tape to cover the splines of the shaft, this will protect the new seals from any damage during the next few steps.
2. Use some red rubber grease on the new shaft seal to aid with fitting. Sit the seal over the shaft and tease the edges into the housing using a screwdriver whilst pressing down.
3. In order to push the seal down into it’s seated position, you can use a small cutoff section of 40mm waste pipe – it works perfectly! You may get away with pushing it down with another implement, but I didn’t want to damage the seal.
4. Follow this up with the new washer, circlip and dust cover. If you bothered to cover the splines with insulation tape, now is the time to remove it.
Reinstall the drop arm and steering box
Hopefully you put your steering box into full lock and made a note of the position of your drop arm before removing it earlier on!
1. Reinstall it to the same position and refit the locking washer and nut. Hammer the locking washer back into place.
2. Refitting the steering box to the chassis maybe the hardest part of the whole operation as you need to reconnect the steering coloumn universal joint whilst holding up the box. Get another pair of hands if you possibly can! Remember to connect the steering column universal joint in the correct position so the pinch bolt sits over the chamfer/slot in the input shaft of the steering box.
3. Bolt the steering box back onto the chassis.
4. Reconnect the two pipes into the top of the steering box. They only fit into their respective holes, so cannot be mixed up.
5. Reconnect the track rods onto the drop arm.
Bleeding the steering box
You’ll need about 2 litres of Dexron III to refill the steering fluid reservoir. There will be some air in the system now and you’ll need to bleed this out to ensure proper operation.
1. Open the bleed valve on the steering box and attach a small hose for drainage.
2. Use a funnel to fill up the reservoir as high as it will go. You probably won’t see any leakage from the bleed valve at this point.
3. Once the reservoir is full, refit the lid and turn on the engine to let the pump push out any air from the system.
4. Leave the engine running and you will find the reservoir needs topping up again as the air escapes through the bleed valve. Remove the reservoir lid and keep topping up until fluid leaves the bleed valve and the fluid level in the reservoir sits between the min and max lines.