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Old 06-02-2010, 02:49 PM   #1
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Loose steering wheel.....

Hello guys, i am back again. After last weekend's wheeling, my brotherss 1997 TJ steering wheel is really loose.
1. When we came back from wheeling, his steering wheel was upside down with straight tires - it was ok before we left. would anyone know what the problem would be?
2. Also, when you turn the steering wheel, it takes about half the turn in order for the wheels turn a bit. Anything on this?
It's 4' lifted with 33 BAJA MTs.
Thank you

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Old 06-02-2010, 06:29 PM   #2
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It may be the adjustment for the pitman arm has come loose which is how you align the steering wheel when you do a wheel alignment. If this whole thing is loose it can affect the steering. Make sure all the tie rods are tight as well.

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Old 06-02-2010, 06:43 PM   #3
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Coming back with the steering wheel out of position like that after a wheeling trip is guaranteed sure-fire evidence that your brother either bent the tie rod or (less likely) the drag link. Bending either one will cause the steering wheel to rotate way out of position.

If the tie rod is bent, that also means his toe-in is way off which will ruin the front tires in short order. If the tie rod is not bent, that means the drag link is bent.

Once whichever part that got bent is replaced (you can't simply straighten either part when they are the OE factory part), the steering wheel is straightened by adjusting the short length-adjustment link located on the drag link. Make sure the toe-in is set correctly first.

Is your brother up for setting his own toe-in which is not difficult or technically challenging? The toe-in will have to be set once the bent part is replaced and before straightening the steering wheel.
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Old 06-02-2010, 06:47 PM   #4
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may have bent tierod/drag link. as far as loose feeling, check rod ends, at tires and pitman arm. while jeep is parked have someone turn wheel back and forth while you look at linkage. see what has play in it.
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Old 06-02-2010, 11:30 PM   #5
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Hello guys. Thanks for responding and giving me an idea of what could it be. Wont probably be able to see until the weekend, unless he takes a picture of it and I'll post it, so we could see what the problem is. Also, he told when drove a day or two ago it got out of control - death wobble. I guess i'll have to see if everything is straight and then take it from there.
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Old 06-12-2010, 12:49 PM   #6
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Hello guys,
Finally was able to look under my jeep and possibly find out what could be the problem. The track bar is loose. It is not stable - with a bit of hand force, it goes up and down. I posted pictures where it is loose. Do you think this could be the problem? Also, when I turn the wheel, it seems like the whole jeep body moves too.
Thnx
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Old 06-12-2010, 12:56 PM   #7
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That's a common issue caused by either a bad/worn-out track bar bushing or a wallowed out mounting bolt hole. Are you saying the track bar is moving at both ends? It more commonly only moves around at its passenger side from one of those two reasons I mentioned.
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Old 06-12-2010, 01:49 PM   #8
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Yes, it moves at both ends. But seems what causes it to move at both ends is the bad/worn-out bushing, as it seems like its really bad - passanger side. So do you think this could be the issue I have with my jeep? - the loose steering wheel.
Thnx again JB
:-)
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Old 06-12-2010, 02:16 PM   #9
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Yes, a loose track bar can definitely cause the steering to feel sloppy since you have to move the steering wheel enough to overcome the trackbar's left-right slop. The track bar must be absolutely rigid, it should have no slop/movement whatsoever as you turn the steering wheel back & forth.

Have you at least tried tightening both bolts as an interim fix until you can replace what is worn? The passenger-side bolt should be tightened to 55 ft-lbs. but no tighter. The driver's side mounting bolt should be tightened to 65 ft-lbs.
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Old 06-12-2010, 02:52 PM   #10
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A little blue thread locker would not hurt either.
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Old 06-15-2010, 01:21 PM   #11
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Thanks Jerry and D. I will look into this sometime this weekend. My brother lives about 30 mins away. I will let you know once something is done.
Thank you again guys.
OC :-)
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Old 07-15-2014, 01:59 PM   #12
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I'm going to bring this one back from the grave. What if everything on the front steering linkage is tight, nothing is loose and everything is in spec? That leaves the power steering gear, and the linkage from that up to the actual steering wheel.

I'm seeing that there is play coming from the steering wheel "rod" from the firewall to the joint (looks like a miniature u-joint) just before where the collar meets the power steering gear. I feel it's the ACTUAL steering system, not the front end linkage.
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Old 07-16-2014, 01:16 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Bransford View Post
Yes, a loose track bar can definitely cause the steering to feel sloppy since you have to move the steering wheel enough to overcome the trackbar's left-right slop. The track bar must be absolutely rigid, it should have no slop/movement whatsoever as you turn the steering wheel back & forth.

Have you at least tried tightening both bolts as an interim fix until you can replace what is worn? The passenger-side bolt should be tightened to 55 ft-lbs. but no tighter. The driver's side mounting bolt should be tightened to 65 ft-lbs.
What if everything up front is solid? I just replaced everything up front steering linkage wise. My steering wheel is still doing this,

1999 Jeep XJ Cherokee, 150k miles, steering wheel…: http://youtu.be/nv8wIXRH0uA

Now, while its doing this the power steering gear is NOT moving until you rotate it even further. Ever had any experience with this, Jerry?
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Old 07-17-2014, 11:01 PM   #14
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You ever find a resolution? My 02 TJ does this exact same thing.
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Old 07-17-2014, 11:15 PM   #15
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You ever find a resolution? My 02 TJ does this exact same thing.
YUP. There are u joints on the upper and lower steering shafts. There is a splined pinch coupler that goes on the steering gear. My coupler was loose and all the u joints were shot causing excess play and vibration.

I'm ordering a new Borgeson upper/lower steering shaft kit for around $580 but they're supposed to be able to handle 40" tires. We'll see.

In short, I tightened the collar which helped a ton. There's still minimal play due to the u joint play.
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Old 07-18-2014, 10:01 AM   #16
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Thanks for the info. I'll check out that coupling in mine. Not looking to spend $500 on an upgrade but if it is loose I'll be happy for it to be improved. Right now there is enough slop in it that if I have to put on the breaks and if the ground isn't completely level, I have to adjust and correct my steering or the jeep will follow. More than what would be deemed acceptable, that's for sure.
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Old 07-18-2014, 10:26 AM   #17
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Quote:
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Thanks for the info. I'll check out that coupling in mine. Not looking to spend $500 on an upgrade but if it is loose I'll be happy for it to be improved. Right now there is enough slop in it that if I have to put on the breaks and if the ground isn't completely level, I have to adjust and correct my steering or the jeep will follow. More than what would be deemed acceptable, that's for sure.
Woah wait one. Are you saying that when you apply your breaks it's turning itself? If so, that's a completely different issue. What the OP was explaining was steering wheel play, prior to tire movement.

Just needing clarification. If what you are experiencing is what I just said, you have brake issues.
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Old 07-18-2014, 11:09 AM   #18
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Yes I have the exact same slop he had when everything is off. That same amount of slop is what I have to correct when I am braking hard. If I am on completely flat level road I can brake hard and stay straight. Same with the wind. I have slop in the wheel. It's not as bad when engine is on and power steering is available but the slop is still there. I can move my steering wheel the exact amount as he shows in that video.
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Old 07-18-2014, 11:33 AM   #19
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Quote:
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Yes I have the exact same slop he had when everything is off. That same amount of slop is what I have to correct when I am braking hard. If I am on completely flat level road I can brake hard and stay straight. Same with the wind. I have slop in the wheel. It's not as bad when engine is on and power steering is available but the slop is still there. I can move my steering wheel the exact amount as he shows in that video.
Check the coupler on the steering gear. Follow that up, having someone steer it side to side in the "deadzone" and watch what your lower and upper rods are doing. Check for horizontal/vertical play in your u-joints. Once you find it you'll kick yourself. There should be a vibration damper up by the firewall - if you do find play you need to replace the whole assembly especially if you're running larger tires. The OEM steering is very weak.
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Old 07-18-2014, 11:43 AM   #20
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Will do, thanks. I have been hunting this down for a little while. Even tried steering box but followed recommendation of not to tighten more than 1/2 turn or something like that. Didn't improve any. I have 32" tires but will be going to 33" next year after re-gear. Anyway, thanks again.
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Old 07-18-2014, 12:05 PM   #21
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Will do, thanks. I have been hunting this down for a little while. Even tried steering box but followed recommendation of not to tighten more than 1/2 turn or something like that. Didn't improve any. I have 32" tires but will be going to 33" next year after re-gear. Anyway, thanks again.
Good luck brotha. Let me know how it turns out.

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