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So I just replaced my power steering gear box (04 Nissan Xterra). However, now my steering wheel is off-center when the truck is driving straight!? Not a lot, maybe 40-45deg, if that. At a loss of what I did wrong!??

The power steering gear box input shaft is splined; however, there seems to be only one correct way to attach the steering shaft lower joint to it -> the input shaft has a flat notch cut into it, which is where the mounting bolt faces. The same is true on the other end of the steering shaft lower joint -> it also has a spines with a notch on the end facing the steering wheel. From Nissan FSM:

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Here is a pic of my truck:

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This is how the alignment looks with the wheels facing straight: enter image description here

I have a hunch the two spline pinch bolts should be facing vertically, when the wheels are straight -> you can see that mine are rotated towards the passenger by about 45deg. Maybe?

I'm certain I installed the pitman arm correctly - the splined output (sector shaft) also has notches in it, spaced at 90deg intervals - so you really can't install the pitman arm wrong, otherwise it won't connect to the centerlink!

So what gives???

I can think of only two places where I could adjust:

  1. Unscrew the steering wheel and move it over (I believe the steering wheel mount is splined but doesn't have any cut out notch, so can install anywhere)
  2. OR, don't touch the steering wheel, but turn it straight and now the wheels are offset - then move the wheels back by adjusting the tie rods (unscrew one side and screw in the other side)

I just had a professional alignment done (after replacing my tie rod ends), and from what I can tell the thread count on the tie rods on both sides is even... so feels like my only option is the steering wheel? Just so odd, b/c I didn't touch it in any of this work!??

  • Is the knuckle where it attaches ti the input shaft on the box adjustable (splines)? – Moab May 1 at 19:07
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    Did you manually center the gearbox before installing? If not, it must be centered before attaching to the linkage. If you did, then just get it aligned. Actually it required an alignment anyway – user9181 May 2 at 0:18
  • there are spines but there is a cut out notch on one spot of the splined stub, so there is really only one way to attach the steering shaft lower link to it. Same goes for the pitman arm (sector) shaft -> cut out notches so can only install arm at 90deg intervals... so really the only room I have to play/adjust is the tie rods and steering wheel I guess... – wild coast May 2 at 21:25
  • @user9181 what do you mean by 'manually center the gear box' -> I got it so it turns the same amount left and right from the 'middle' of it's range, it's just that this middle of range aligns 30deg off with the steering input shaft, hence the sideways steering wheel! – wild coast May 2 at 21:26
  • before installing the gear you manually crank it to one side. Then turn back and count the turns. Then manually center the gear halfway between and install it. Attach the steering column and the steering linkage. If it's off at that point, get it aligned. – user9181 May 2 at 22:05

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