What are the available power steering upgrades for JL Wrangler and JT Gladiator?
There are several options available when looking at power steering upgrades for your Jeep JL Wrangler or JT Gladiator. If you didn’t already know, the JL generation (2018-Current) Wrangler uses an electric power steering pump as opposed to the traditional belt-driven pumps found in previous generations.
There are several common upgrades to consider, whether to increase the performance of the electric system, or completely replace it with a heavy duty mechanical system. Here are the most popular steering upgrades we perform, what they gain, and why you might need it!
APEX Designs Steering Boost Kit: This system includes an adjustable valve to allow increased pump pressure on your factory electric steering system. The kit includes a new valve, pressure gauge (used only for setup), a high quality power steering fluid cooler, and adapter for connecting the gauge to the pump. APEX Designs claims it works on up to 39” tires, and remedies sticky steering issues, allows for OE steering feel with larger tires, and provides up to 50% more steering power.
We’ve installed this kit several times on several Jeep builds running 35” to 39” tires with great results! At about 1/4th the cost of other options, this is a great place to start, especially if your Jeep is primarily driven on-road and moderate trails.
Heavy-Duty Steering Gearbox: Upgrading the steering gearbox to a heavy-duty version can provide increased durability and better steering control. Heavy-duty gearboxes are designed to handle the added stress of off-road driving or larger tire sizes, reducing the chances of steering system failure. Some JL models came from the factory with a cast aluminum steering gearbox housing. This can be a weak point of the steering system, especially with prolonged off-road use. Any heavy-duty steering gearbox we install has a case made of forged steel, with a larger bore and increased sector shaft size and strength. A worthwhile option when upgrading your steering gearbox is to purchase one that has the necessary ports for hydraulic cylinder assist, even if you don’t plan to add this right away.
PSC Adventure Kit: One popular major upgrade to consider is the PSC Adventure Kit. This includes a mechanical belt-driven pump, power steering fluid cooler, high capacity fluid reservoir, new hoses, and heavy duty upgraded power steering box. It can provide increased hydraulic pressure, resulting in improved steering response and reduced effort turning large tires. An added benefit of the PSC Adventure kit is that it’s ready to accept a cylinder assist kit, but does not require it.
Hydraulic Cylinder Assist Kits: Hydraulic assist steering systems, such as those offered by PSC are generally powered off of a belt-driven mechanical pump. Kits consist of a hydraulic ram or hydraulic cylinder, hydraulic hoses, and can be added to provide extra steering assist, particularly for larger tires or extreme off-road applications. The JL and JT Jeep hydraulic cylinder assist kits we have installed are from PSC and work in conjunction with the components included in the PSC Adventure Kit to power the ram when turning the tires, making steering easier and more precise, especially on the trail.
It’s important to consider your specific needs, budget, and the level of complexity you’re comfortable with when choosing power steering upgrades for your Jeep. We’re happy to discuss these options with you and provide further guidance to help you select the most suitable upgrade options for your Jeep Wrangler JL or Gladiator JT.
by Jon Tirrell
Mount Zion Offroad Staff Writer