What Happens If You Over Tighten Steering Box- Look What Experts Say!

The answer to the question of what happens if you over tighten steering box is vague to most people. As a result, most people need clarification about it.

Setting the steering too tight can cause premature wear to the gears inside the steering box much faster. In the worst-case scenario, the steering can bind at an inopportune moment, leading to loss of control of the vehicle and causing an accident.

So why should you be careful when tightening your steering box? If you want a clear idea about the right amount of tightening the steering box for your vehicle, you have come to the right place. By reading this article thoroughly, you will be able to know the proper way to tighten the steering box with the correct amount of tightness.

Brief Guide On What Happens If You Over Tighten Steering Box

You may experience several bad signs if you tighten up the steering box too much. It can cause the steering shaft to bind, resulting in vibrations and steering wheel jerks or kickbacks.

Several factors can lead to looseness in the steering. A loose steering box will not transfer your input to the steering wheel directly to the front wheels. It can be due to wear to the gears inside the box, which happens over time.

Before deciding that your steering box needs adjustment, we suggest you check the tie rod ends, ball joints, control arm bushings, drag links, pitman arms, and rag joints for looseness.

Let’s check out all the effects we got in our hands after going through some practical user experiences.

Complete Loss over the Steering

You might experience a partial or complete loss of control over the steering and there may be noise and vibration when turning. Thus, it can affect its handling. It will also cause the steering box to become “locked up” and unable to turn, leading to a dangerous situation and potentially an accident.

Damage the Gear Box & Gear Oil

Over-tightening the steering box will damage the worm gear and contaminate the steering gear oil. Additionally, it may also ruin your power steering pump.

How Much Turn Is Okay To Go?

A small amount of play on your steering wheel is normal; the maximum play of a steering box is 75mm for non-rack and pinion vehicles. If you see 80mm as the play amount of your steering wheel, it needs proper adjustment.

Now, let’s come to the right amount of tightness for the steering wheels. Generally, there is no specific amount, but we recommend you go for a small amount for the right tightness because it’s susceptible.

We also recommend taking some tests after the steering wheel adjustment is done. Re-adjust the steering box adjustment screw until you feel confident and smooth with your steering wheel.

Basic Ways To Steering Box Adjustment

Before the adjustment, first, we need to find out the steering box location. The location can differ depending on the different vehicles.

Generally, the steering box is located underneath the battery or near the engine firewall. In some vehicles, it can also be located on the floor, near the pedals.

A user from S10 Forum shares the basic instruction for the steering box adjustment as given below.

The steering box isn’t hard to adjust. to get it back to stock spec, all you need to do is loosen the nut, and then use an Allen wrench to snug up the steering gear. it isn’t meant to be cranked over REALLY tight, but it shouldn’t be able to turn anymore, either. all you want is just to get it turned as far as it will go, without using excessive force. then, retighten the nut. I did that to mine a few months ago-made all the difference in the world.

Pro Tips:

  1. Clean up the steering adjustment screw with the wire brush before attempting any adjustments.
  2. Don’t forget to mark the current position of the adjustment screw.
  3. Since it’s a sensitive adjustment, we suggest you use a small amount of turning the screw.
  4. Tighten the locknut properly once the adjustment is done.
  5. Take some test drives until you feel better and secure.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What does tightening a steering box do?

Tightening the steering box can help to reduce the amount of play or slack in the system, which can cause the steering wheel to feel loose or unresponsive. This process involves adjusting the tension on the steering box and its components, such as the tie rods, pitman arm, and drag link, to ensure the system works properly and efficiently. When these components are tightened as necessary, the vehicle’s steering system will respond more quickly and accurately to the driver’s commands, resulting in better control and handling of the vehicle.

What are the signs of a steering box going out?

Some common signs you may experience can let you know your steering box is going out. Generally, you will notice the steering becoming more difficult or stiff and vibrations while turning or while driving at high speeds. You may also experience a loss of power steering that feels loose or has a lot of play. You may also hear a clunking or thumping sound from the steering box when you turn the wheel.

How much play should a steering box have?

A steering box should have a certain amount of play for proper operation. According to the UK Gov, there should be no more than 13mm of play in the rack and pinion steering or 48mm if there are a few joints between the rack and steering wheel. On the other hand, the amount of free play will be at most 75mm for non-rack and pinion steering wheels. Too much play in the steering box can cause the steering to be sloppy, resulting in difficulty controlling the vehicle.


So, finally, we have come to the conclusion section, and we have tried a lot to guide you to know what happens if you over tighten steering box.

Regarding the steering box adjustment, you must remember that this adjustment is very sensitive since the steering box is an essential component of a vehicle’s steering system.

Again, we have learned the right amount of tightness of the steering box in the article, including some relevant answers and basic ways of adjustment. After reading the article, if you are still confused, we suggest you ask for support from the experts for professional guidance in this problem.

You Can Also Read: