73-87 Chevy/GMC Truck Steering Upgrade – Jeep Cherokee XJ Steering Shaft


Here’s the steering shaft on my 1982 GMC.
There’s a lot of sloppiness in these steering shafts. GM used a rag joint down here and
that gets loose over time. A general modification that you can do is replace these with a steering
shaft from a Jeep Cherokee – the older ones from the late 80’s to the mid 90’s. They eliminate
the rag joint and tighten up the steering. Here’s the front of the OEM steering shaft.
It just has one retaining bolt right down here. I’ve already got this one loose. It
is a 12 point, 7/16. Mine was so dirty from power steering grunge that I couldn’t tell
but it is a 12 point, 7/16. Then this just slides up off the steering box shaft pretty
easily. This is the top end of the stock steering shaft. This is a 5/8 inch nut and I’ve already
got it loosened. Pull out the bolt. After I undid the upper and lower shaft bolts I
took the two nuts off the rag joint and separated that so I could pull the two halves off. Nice
and greasy… The upper part takes a little bit of prying and wiggling but it will come
off. Snake it out of here… Here are the two steering shafts. The top one is the Chevy / GMC shaft that we just took out. The bottom one is the XJ Jeep Cherokee shaft. They do
have the same splines on both ends. It’s hard to tell here but they do fit on. This slides
on the steering box end. Works really well. The other end is sort of a “D” shaped end
that fits on the steering column and it fits on real well also. I did have to spread this
opening on the Jeep shaft just a tiny, tiny bit. That way it slides on the end of the
steering column easily. The Jeep shaft, just like the GM shaft, has two pieces. One fits
in the other one and slides in the event of a crash. In order to get the Jeep shaft in,
you need to compress the shaft – in other words slide the small end into the big end
to get it in. When you get one side hooked up then you extend it out and hook the other
side up in the truck. Here you can see that I’ve shortened the Cherokee shaft, the XJ
shaft. you can see that it’s shorter than the GM shaft now. I did this by heating the
shaft right here and towards the middle. You don’t want to heat it down here because there
are rubber components and we really don’t want to melt those. There are supposed to
be plastic inserts inside here between the two shafts to keep it tight. What we want
to do is to heat it up just enough just to make the shafts collapse but we don’t want
to totally burn that plastic out because that could cause looseness. So now we’re going
to put it in the truck and you might have to heat it up again to extend the shaft. You
can see here that the pinch bolt on the shaft sticks into the cavity. So what we have to
do is grind a little notch on top of the steering column shaft. It’s hard to see here but right
on top of the shaft I have a little black dot where I’m going to grind just a tiny little
groove and that will let the bolt pass over the top. Minor modification. Here you can
see where I ground a little channel. I used an air grinder with a abrasive stone bit.
It didn’t take much. It’s not too hard. Snake the shaft in here…. It slides on…. Bolt
goes through….
And there you go…. Nice and snug and that end is done. Here you can see the finished
product with the Jeep shaft fully installed. Goes back in just like the other one pretty
much. I did end up having to heat the shaft a little more to make it slide out and engage
the steering box. It was fairly easy. It looks a little bit better. And that’s it!

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