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Old 03-25-2013, 11:00 AM   #1
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New lifted Jeep drives like &^%#$

I bought a used 2007 Jeep Wrangler X about a month ago. It only has 61,000 miles on it, and is in very nice shape. Here are my concerns:

The Jeep has a Rough Country 4" lift, and Rough Country 2.2 shocks and dual steering stabilizers. It appears to be a nicely done lift and has nice shocks on it. It also has Rockstar XD 18" wheels and 35" Nitto Trail Grappler M/T on it. It steers like a yacht. I have a hard time keeping a lane with it on the interstate. The steering feels awful. I dont know if there is a part that is missing or broke, or something I need to add to make it better.

Also, the blasted ESP light comes on randomly, and when it does, the brake pedal gets spongy and I can feel a rough grind when I apply the brakes (this only happens SOME of the time, only when the light is on, but not always when the light is on, if that makes sense).

Please help. I love the Jeep, but I want to fix it.

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Old 03-25-2013, 11:03 AM   #2
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Did it drive like this when you test drove it before you bought it??

Either way, first thing I would do is ditch that dual SS setup you've got going on.

From my experience, when something like an ABS sensor goes out, you will experience symptoms like you noted with the brakes feeling like they are grinding. Goes away once the sensor is replaced. Not sure if this goes hand in hand with that ESP light though.

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Old 03-25-2013, 11:12 AM   #3
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I'm no expert, It could be a lot of things.. From what you have mentioned, it could be steering stabilizer, wheel alignment, tire pressure, etc. most likely it sounds like your problem is with the dual steering stabilizer. ESP should be turned off if you have a lift.
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Old 03-25-2013, 11:33 AM   #4
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So you think I should take the stabilizers off all together? No stabilizer then? I do turn the trac control off, but the ESP light still comes on from time to time
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Old 03-25-2013, 11:43 AM   #5
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So you think I should take the stabilizers off all together? No stabilizer then? I do turn the trac control off, but the ESP light still comes on from time to time
Yeah I would get rid of the dual stabilizer setup. The ESP light comes on earlier if you have an lift, suspension, etc. You can disable it,(there are threads that help explain how to disable it). Hope that helps good luck.
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Old 03-25-2013, 06:12 PM   #6
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I thought stabilizers were on there to make it steer better? What is their function and how is taking them off supposed to help? I am not being a jerk, just want to learn as much as I can.
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Old 03-25-2013, 06:15 PM   #7
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I thought stabilizers were on there to make it steer better? What is their function and how is taking them off supposed to help? I am not being a jerk, just want to learn as much as I can.
IDK a lot about the JK as the OP has, generally the TJs only need ONE stabilizer...usually 2 means someone is trying to fix another problem they don't know how to find.

Have heard it said that if everything is "right" you shouldn't need any stabilizer....think they are mostly for on road use....
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Old 03-25-2013, 06:36 PM   #8
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Does the lift have adjustable control arms? If steering is sketchy at speed, incorrect caster angle and/or toe-in may be the culprit. Sounds like the seller slapped on a 4" lift on the cheap and didn't do it right. (just check how many posts on this forum are asking how to lift as cheaply as possible). I'd recommend taking it in to a 4x4 shop for a full alignment. They'll be able to pinpoint the issue. Also, if your steering wheel wasn't recentered after the lift, that can cause abs and other problems (the computer thinks you're in a slide).
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Old 03-25-2013, 06:37 PM   #9
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Well, I drove it to the store a little while ago, and I think I discovered how to describe it. My wife has a Nissan Juke and it has electronic steering. Turning the steering wheel sends a signal to a motor that turns the wheels. No direct connection. That is kind of the way the Jeep feels. It is almost like what I put in with the steering wheel is not directly linked to what the wheels are doing. Severe understeer. I see a "high steer kit" on quadratec but am not sure if I have that or not.

I believe the dual stabilizers were part of the lift kit, because it is a nice kit, with a skid plate on the axel where it connects, and has 2.2 cut out of it, and it has 2.2 shocks on it. I am not against taking it off and driving it to see if that helps, and can always put it back on if it doesnt help. If I cant figure it out soon, that is exactly what I will do.
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Old 03-25-2013, 06:38 PM   #10
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Does the lift have adjustable control arms? If steering is sketchy at speed, incorrect caster angle and/or toe-in may be the culprit. Sounds like the seller slapped on a 4" lift on the cheap and didn't do it right. (just check how many posts on this forum are asking how to lift as cheaply as possible). I'd recommend taking it in to a 4x4 shop for a full alignment. They'll be able to pinpoint the issue. Also, if your steering wheel wasn't recentered after the lift, that can cause abs and other problems (the computer thinks you're in a slide).
I am not sure about the control arms, but I will go look in just a minute. I do not think it was lifted cheaply though because it has new shocks all around and skid plates (despite the fact that it doesnt look like it was ever taken off road at all). I hope it is an alignment problem, as that would be easy to fix. I can tell you for a fact that the steering wheel is not centered.
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Old 03-25-2013, 07:46 PM   #11
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Does not seem to have adjustable control arms.. And we just drove to get dinner. When we backed out of the garage, the steering wheel was off center, to the right. Then on the way back I noticed the steering wheel was off center to the left. It almost feels like something is broken or worn out, like I said earlier. The steering doesnt feel proportional to the amount the wheel actually turn. It is hard to describe
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Old 03-25-2013, 07:47 PM   #12
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Well, you need to get rid of one stabilizer, check all torque on steering components, check for worn or play in joints and bushings, then check toe in and caster.

Take a few pics and post them, guys here will spot any issues.
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Old 03-25-2013, 08:32 PM   #13
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And if the steering wheel is off center one side then the other, you probably should stop driving it until you fix it. Unsafe!
Check connections from shaft into power steering box, and check connections from Pitman arm to tie rod (drag link).
Also what are you running for tire pressure?
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Old 03-25-2013, 08:38 PM   #14
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I have 32# in each, which is what the tire says to run
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Old 03-25-2013, 08:47 PM   #15
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And if the steering wheel is off center one side then the other, you probably should stop driving it until you fix it. Unsafe!
Check connections from shaft into power steering box, and check connections from Pitman arm to tie rod (drag link).
Also what are you running for tire pressure?
X2 it is not like your wife's Juke (drive by wire) if it is not off the same way all the time something is sliding moving around......
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Old 03-25-2013, 09:01 PM   #16
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I have 32# in each, which is what the tire says to run
That is too high for 35" tires. Try 25-28psi....
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Old 03-25-2013, 09:16 PM   #17
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Ok, I will let some pressure out of the tires, and that might help. I just took one stabilizer off and am about to go drive it a little. After closer inspection, I dont believe there is a lift on it at all... I didnt think 35s would clear so easily without a lift, but I cannot see any added brackets or anything that would have lifted it at all. I dont even see any coil spring spacers or anything, but I will take some pics when I get back and post them up on here. This is baffling me to be honest. There appears to be a little play in the pitman arm, as I had my wife sit in the drivers seat, center the wheel and move it back and forth so I could see the play. The play appears to be the shaft into the top of the pitman arm because I can see the shaft moving around inside the pitman arm before the pitman arm engages and starts to move the wheels.
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Old 03-25-2013, 09:33 PM   #18
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Do not drive it.

The nut on the Pitman arm should be 185 foot-pounds of torque or around there. There are splines on it as well so if there is slop or play there is an issue.
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Old 03-25-2013, 09:40 PM   #19
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I got the torque on the pitman arm bolt to the correct setting. It was at roughly 135lbs and I took one stabilizer off. It made night and day difference. It got rid of most of the "floaty" feeling that it had before. I am about to go take the other off and try it then. I can put one back on or whatever, depending on how it drives. Thank you all very much for the input so far!
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Old 03-25-2013, 09:50 PM   #20
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Awesome!
Mine was wandering all over when I bought it, so I've been through allot of this troubleshooting.
But Yah, lower the air pressure and be sure to check toe in, should be 1/8" to 1/16" closer in front.
There are good sticky posts describing how to check it and adjust as needed.
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Old 03-25-2013, 09:55 PM   #21
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Well, some bad news from the home front. I have never been so scared in my life as I just was. I took both stabilizers off and tightened the pitman arm nut and took it for a spin. I was going about 30 miles an hour and noticed that it turned a lot quicker than it did with them installed. I swerved once left, once right and once left and got what I imagine is the death wobble (felt like it was bouncing from one tire to another to another to another) and it terrified me. I just knew I was gonna lose control. If that had been a crowded road, there would have been an accident. I guess the stabilizers were added to hide the wobble, which means I have bigger problems and probably worn out or broken parts that I havent even found yet....
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Old 03-25-2013, 09:57 PM   #22
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Just watched the death wobble videos on here, and that is definitely what happened... Jeez!
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Old 03-25-2013, 10:06 PM   #23
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Well, you found out why the previous owner had 2 stabilizers installed.

Read the death wobble stickies and go through the list, you'll find the issue.

If the Pitman arm nut was loose, i bet you may find other stuff not torqued correctly.
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Old 03-26-2013, 08:54 AM   #24
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Ty.. looks like the previous owner never really did his homework when modding the jeep. Probably wanted it more for looks then functionality, definitely read through the Death Wobble sticky thread to find your problem.
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Old 03-26-2013, 12:57 PM   #25
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Does it still have the original front trackbar? If the trackbar is loose at all it will feel like the steering is not responsive and you need to have one steering stabaliser on. If you have the stock trackbar on you may wanna upgrade to a adjustable trackbar such as JKS or Currie.
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Old 03-26-2013, 01:47 PM   #26
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I am not sure about the control arms, but I will go look in just a minute. I do not think it was lifted cheaply though because it has new shocks all around and skid plates (despite the fact that it doesnt look like it was ever taken off road at all). I hope it is an alignment problem, as that would be easy to fix. I can tell you for a fact that the steering wheel is not centered.
I don't want to rain on your parade...but Rough Country is a cheap lift. It sounds like the previous owner did not set it up correctly and tried to bandaid the problem with a 2nd steering stabilizer.

Aside from taking it into to have the suspension/steering professionally gone through, you could download the install instructions and make sure it was installed correctly. Then take it in for a proper alignment. But even then you will likely continue to fuss with the lift (replacing bushings occasionally and stiff stocks) in a matter of time.
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Old 03-26-2013, 08:38 PM   #27
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It still has the factory track bar, with a drop down bracket. I went through the Death Wobble checklist today, and basically took every component off, one at a time, looking for loose or broken parts. The inner tie rod end (that connects to the pitman arm) was trash. Everything else was nice and tight, no wobble or play in any components, no broken welds, no ovaled mount holes, no bound up bushings, etc. I put 9/16 bolts back in the track bar, like the checklist recommends. I havent driven it since I did all of this because I know it needs an alignment and I cannot get one until next friday. Also, there was no play in the ball joints or anything. There is some slop in the steering still, but I am not about to take the steering box off or fool with it, as the play in the steering wheel isnt that bad.

You didnt rain on my parade, man. Rough Country being a cheap lift does not bother me. It is not a rock crawling suspension, it is a mall crawling suspension, and that is fine with me at this point. I do not plan on doing any hardcore wheeling in it. It has new(ish) shocks all around though, and does not ride too incredibly rough. I will let you all know when I get it back out this weekend and take it for a test drive and let you know if any of this made a difference.
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Old 03-26-2013, 08:42 PM   #28
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I am glad you are making progress and actually understand that while what is said on here may not be what you want to hear, it is said in the interest of trying to make you and your Jeep safe and more enjoyable to drive.. GL figuring out where the rest of any issues are....
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Old 03-27-2013, 04:46 PM   #29
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I forgot to mention that while I had the Jeep wheels and tires off (also checked the brakes, lines, rotors, etc) that I noticed the tires sounded like they were full of beads or sand. I did some research because I have never heard of that. My F150 also has 35s on it, although not as aggressive, and they did not require filler to balance. My Jeep wheels have no weight on the outside. I am not a fan of this method of balancing. What are your thoughts? Could I have a tire that is so badly out of balance (due to bad balancing, rotation of tires, etc) that is causing the resonance and DW? That is the last thing I can think of. I am going to replace the shocks, plan on ordering some in the next day or so and see if that helps at all.
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Old 03-27-2013, 07:41 PM   #30
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Nice work tracking down possible causes and finding the worn inner tie rod. I just recently learned about the BB's in the tires trick to balance them. Pirate 4x4 has some threads detailing how many ounces to use in each tire, regular BB's vs ceramic. I just have regular wheel weights. But to answer your question, yes- out of balance wheels can contribute to DW.

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