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Old 06-20-2013, 10:34 AM   #1
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Drag link maxed, steering still off.

I bought my jeep with a cobbled together lift from what it seems. RE 3.5" springs, DPA, unknown adjustable front trackbar and rear trackbar relocation bracket. From suggestions of forum members and reading around I didn't need a DPA so I sought to replace it. Ordered OEM from quadratech. And also wanted to replace my tie rod with the ever popular V8 XJ.

Replaced the DPA first. When I put the new one on it was clocked off a little bit from the other but not much I could do about it because of the way it is keyed/splined. Swapped out the tie rod and set my toe in to 1/8". Went to adjust drag link and go all the way till the two rod ends are touching inside the sleve and the steering wheel is clocked about 30* left when going striaght. Try to adjust drag link ends out and when I get the steering wheel straight again I have like a half turn left before steering is maxed and right I have full travel.

Is there something I am missing, is the steering shaft splined anywhere that I can take apart and turn it a few teeth to help align it up?

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Old 06-20-2013, 10:41 AM   #2
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A few pictures to help.







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Old 06-20-2013, 10:45 AM   #3
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Have you thought about turning it the other way?
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Old 06-20-2013, 10:52 AM   #4
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Yes when I turned it all the way the other way to where the steering wheel was centered I had almost no left turn travel. Like a half turn of the steering whee left and full travel right. So I know where it's at is center because I have full left and right travel, 1 1/2 turns or so of the wheel each way.

Those pictures are taken with wheels straight and steering wheel off left 30*.
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Old 06-20-2013, 10:58 AM   #5
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Interesting. I'm not sure to be honest. I'm pretty sure the gear for the pitman arm can only be put in one way.
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Old 06-20-2013, 11:01 AM   #6
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Sounds to me like something is off with the pitman arm.
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Old 06-20-2013, 11:04 AM   #7
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Sounds to me like something is off with the pitman arm.
That's the only thing I can come up with too. But I've read (never done it myself so take this for what it's worth) that the steering box gears are made so that they can only be put in one way. But maybe the pitman arm can be put on more than one way
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Old 06-20-2013, 11:09 AM   #8
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That's the only thing I can come up with too. But I've read (never done it myself so take this for what it's worth) that the steering box gears are made so that they can only be put in one way. But maybe the pitman arm can be put on more than one way
I'm pretty sure its just splined. I helped a friend install a drop pitman arm but I can't remember lol
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Old 06-20-2013, 11:18 AM   #9
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The pitman arm is splined, but at the 12,3,6,9 o'clock position there are thicker teeth so it can only go on at those positions. Those thicker teeth match up with the spline on the steering box.
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Old 06-20-2013, 11:46 AM   #10
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Thinking a shorter adjuster sleeve, anyone? And realized above I put XJ tierod, it is the ZJ.
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Old 06-20-2013, 11:52 AM   #11
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When you can't get the steering wheel straight via the drag link's adjustment sleeve, that is normally a sure sign something is bent. Track bar, drag link, or tie rod. It's hard to know what bends are supposed to be there by looking since that tie rod has more bends in it than I would like, but my $$$ is at least one of those bends is more than it was installed with.
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Old 06-20-2013, 12:35 PM   #12
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I got the complete tie rod new from parts store.m
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Old 06-20-2013, 12:59 PM   #13
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From what I can see everything looks straight. Anyone else with similar setup where is your adjustment at on your drag link with stock pitman arm?
The axle is as close to centered as I can tell just measuring off the tire and fender.

I am thinking since the drag link ends are bottoming out on each other inside the sleeve my only other option would be cut off say 1/4" off each and see if I have enough threads left on either side of the sleeve to bring within spec. If not. Grind a small amount off the side of the sleeve where the threads would bottom out.
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Old 06-20-2013, 01:11 PM   #14
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There should be no reason to start cutting, the problem has to lie elsewhere. If you start cutting things your going to end up screwing yourself when you do find the real problem.
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Old 06-20-2013, 01:12 PM   #15
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Ok I have another idea. When I installed tie rod ends and sleeve together. They are about even. Maybe a little more threaded in on the drivers side small rod end. If I take it apart and thread more of the sleve onto the long tierod end and little less into the smaller drivers side that would pull the drag link to the left some and might make up some of that adjustment. Re-adjust the toe in and drag link. Whatcha think?
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Old 06-20-2013, 03:34 PM   #16
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Ok I have another idea. When I installed tie rod ends and sleeve together. They are about even. Maybe a little more threaded in on the drivers side small rod end. If I take it apart and thread more of the sleve onto the long tierod end and little less into the smaller drivers side that would pull the drag link to the left some and might make up some of that adjustment. Re-adjust the toe in and drag link. Whatcha think?
I've also got an XJ tie rod...no issues. here's a couple of pictures. #1 Tie rod end drivers side, #2 pitman arm from front with wheel centered, #3 drag link adjustment. Hope it helps Excuse the farm country bugs...haven't washed it yet..
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Old 06-20-2013, 04:11 PM   #17
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Try this, with the steering wheel centered go up front and look at your pitman arm it should be almost parallel with the frame rail and inline with the steering input shaft. If it's not you have the wrong pitman arm or possible twisted splines on the sector shaft.
If it is aligned as noted above lock your wheel down and set your right front wheel using the adjustor on the rod attached to the pitman arm ( you can run a string down the right rear tire to the front tire to align it, the string should touch both sidewalls of the rear tire and both sidewalls of the front tire, that's dead ahead ) if you can do that keeping the wheel centered and not using up all your adjustment sleeve every things good so far. Now without moving the wheel or the right front adjust the toe on your right front using the sleeve on the draglink. If you can't get that one set you have a bent drag link or incorrect part.
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Old 06-20-2013, 04:15 PM   #18
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BTW I'm also running the V-8 ZJ tie rod and mine has a gradual curve right in front of the diff cover not the S bend yours has in your pic. Sure your parts are correct?
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Old 06-20-2013, 06:45 PM   #19
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I got all my part numbers from
ZJ Tie Rod Conversion

And flash at the end of your description do you mean to adjust the toe in using the tie rod sleeve not the drag link?
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Old 06-20-2013, 07:04 PM   #20
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I got all my part numbers from
ZJ Tie Rod Conversion
Those are the same part #'s I used on mine, and it works fine. Has your steering box ever been replaced?
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Old 06-20-2013, 07:38 PM   #21
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I'm not positive but I think it its possible for your Pitman arm to be installed 90 degrees off. Since the wider grooves are just in the 3,6,9,&12 positions you might try removing the Pitman arm turning your wheel a quarter turn back to center and readjusting your drag link until it matches the Pitman arm in its new position. Good luck.
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Old 06-20-2013, 08:01 PM   #22
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I got all my part numbers from
ZJ Tie Rod Conversion

And flash at the end of your description do you mean to adjust the toe in using the tie rod sleeve not the drag link?
Yes the Tie rod sleeve, sorry I was trying to get things closed up and outta the shop at the time
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Old 06-20-2013, 08:09 PM   #23
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I would center your wheels.
remove the drag link tie rod.
mark where your pitman arm is in relation to your gear box.
remove the pitman arm from the steering gear box.
then center your steering wheel.
put your pitman arm back on,
there are 4 keyways between the splines. make the arm go to the next available keyway towards the direction you need.
adjust your drag link coupling to connect with your pitman arm.
This should put you back on center.
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Old 06-20-2013, 08:18 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by AdamLC View Post
I bought my jeep with a cobbled together lift from what it seems. RE 3.5" springs, DPA, unknown adjustable front trackbar and rear trackbar relocation bracket. From suggestions of forum members and reading around I didn't need a DPA so I sought to replace it. Ordered OEM from quadratech. And also wanted to replace my tie rod with the ever popular V8 XJ.

Replaced the DPA first. When I put the new one on it was clocked off a little bit from the other but not much I could do about it because of the way it is keyed/splined. Swapped out the tie rod and set my toe in to 1/8". Went to adjust drag link and go all the way till the two rod ends are touching inside the sleve and the steering wheel is clocked about 30* left when going striaght. Try to adjust drag link ends out and when I get the steering wheel straight again I have like a half turn left before steering is maxed and right I have full travel.

Is there something I am missing, is the steering shaft splined anywhere that I can take apart and turn it a few teeth to help align it up?
How did you center the front axle?
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Old 06-20-2013, 08:27 PM   #25
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How did you center the front axle?
BMB is onto something here. I helped a friend install a lift on his Jeep and they sent the wrong length adjustable trackbar with the kit. We installed a 3" lift and the trackbar was for a 5"+. To finish up, we put it (not knowing at the time it was the wrong size). Shortened all the way, we still couldn't get the axle centered and he couldn't make a sharp left hand turn. No matter what we did we couldn't get it worked out. It wasn't until we looked up the part numbers and figured out the problem. If we didn't booger up the stocker taking it off we could have thrown it back on. He ended up having to re-order a replacement with the correct size.

Point is, make sure your axle is centered prior to adjusting steering wheel or alignment.
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Old 06-20-2013, 11:38 PM   #26
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I havent messed with axle center it is the same it came feom the previous owner. It might not be the most ideal way to measure the axle center but I put a atraight edge up the outside center of my tire and measured in from that to the fender line it was 7 1/8" on both sides.
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Old 06-21-2013, 12:16 AM   #27
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How does this bend in the drag link look? Normal?
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Old 06-21-2013, 07:41 AM   #28
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I'm not positive but I think it its possible for your Pitman arm to be installed 90 degrees off. Since the wider grooves are just in the 3,6,9,&12 positions you might try removing the Pitman arm turning your wheel a quarter turn back to center and readjusting your drag link until it matches the Pitman arm in its new position. Good luck.

I'm 99.999% certain it is NOT possible to move the pitman to one of the other spots due to the steering gear only having about 90° of swing.
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Old 06-21-2013, 08:16 AM   #29
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I'm 99.999% certain it is NOT possible to move the pitman to one of the other spots due to the steering gear only having about 90° of swing.
I'll call you on that 99.999% and raise to 100%.

BMB did mention the axle centering did you check that? Most reliable way is to measure from the outside of the frame rail to a line perpendicular with your upper ball-joint. Just a small amount will play havoc with your steering geometry.
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Old 06-21-2013, 09:30 AM   #30
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I measure axle center as best i could off the frame. dropped a string with nut on it down off the outside frame at the same place both sides and it showed right side frame to balljoiunt at 8 5/16 and left at 8 7/16. If this is enough to make a difference ill fix it. Opinions?

Also I'm starting to suspect pitman arm. It is not exactly pointed straight back. Pointed Off to the right a little. And it's off to the right some from the mark I made on the gearbox spline before I removed the other pitman arm.

If I did center the wheel and try to adjust the right tire in like flash suggested it won't work because I'm already out of drag link adjustment.

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