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Old 04-23-2014, 03:37 PM   #1
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Steering Issues

First off, I've been doing a lot of reading throughout the forum, but I just needed some clarification for my own benefit and peace of mind.

The steering on the front end of my 2002 TJ (manual/I6/stock-no lift) has been getting squirrelly (for lack of a better word) over the last few weeks. I have noticed that the ride has been getting a bit rougher and bouncier.

So far I've narrowed the work needed to be done to the following:

Angry sparrows have started up, change the CV joint and U-joints in front axle and rear axle
New shocks all around (haven't been changed in quite some time, over 70,000 miles)
Possibly change the ball joints, even though they're not that bad
Change steering damper (just because it's shot too)
Alignment/road-force balancing

My concern boils down to what would be the most necessary work performed first? I could go get the tires balanced, but with 122,000 miles on my Jeep I know that the rest of the items on the list will need to be completed, even if that does fix the steering issue.

I'm not getting DW, I'm just getting the usual bumpiness that you would expect from improperly balanced tires (e.g. rough ride from about 61 mph to 64 mph then smoothes out again), I just would like some kind of a game plan because I am on a budget and I only have small windows of time to work on the Jeep during the week.

I appreciate any advice and help and if you guys need any clarification on this let me know, thanks.

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Old 04-23-2014, 04:41 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaba04 View Post
First off, I've been doing a lot of reading throughout the forum, but I just needed some clarification for my own benefit and peace of mind.

The steering on the front end of my 2002 TJ (manual/I6/stock-no lift) has been getting squirrelly (for lack of a better word) over the last few weeks. I have noticed that the ride has been getting a bit rougher and bouncier.

So far I've narrowed the work needed to be done to the following:

Angry sparrows have started up, change the CV joint and U-joints in front axle and rear axle
New shocks all around (haven't been changed in quite some time, over 70,000 miles)
Possibly change the ball joints, even though they're not that bad
Change steering damper (just because it's shot too)
Alignment/road-force balancing

My concern boils down to what would be the most necessary work performed first? I could go get the tires balanced, but with 122,000 miles on my Jeep I know that the rest of the items on the list will need to be completed, even if that does fix the steering issue.

I'm not getting DW, I'm just getting the usual bumpiness that you would expect from improperly balanced tires (e.g. rough ride from about 61 mph to 64 mph then smoothes out again), I just would like some kind of a game plan because I am on a budget and I only have small windows of time to work on the Jeep during the week.

I appreciate any advice and help and if you guys need any clarification on this let me know, thanks.
I would replace any bad u-joints first. Letting those go can take out other stuff, especially if there is a catastrophic failure.

Then do the shocks and get the tires balanced. The only alignment spec that you're really going to have to worry about is toe-in, and that is easy to check yourself... Basic Jeep Front End Alignment

Don't change the ball joints if they're not bad. Lastly do the steering stabilizer.

I do suggest you do a dry steering test to uncover any additional issues.

Dry Steering Test

Do a dry steering test by having someone sit in your Jeep (with the tires on the ground) and continuously turn the steering wheel back and forth from about the 11 to 1 position while you lay under the front end and watch and feel for any lateral play in any steering or suspension joints. Check both track bar ends, the tie rod and drag link ends.
Although rotational movement in the tie rod and drag link is normal and necessary, there should be no end movement at all in the joints. There also should be no movement in the track bar ends.

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Old 04-23-2014, 05:19 PM   #3
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Thanks for the help. I'll make sure to do a dry test first to check it out. This might be a dumb question too but what should I look for as well to make sure that my ball joints are still good? There doesn't seem to be any real play in them but I want to have all my bases covered. I know that if multiple things are wrong that once you start fixing things that it then opens up the door to find other issues. Thanks again.
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Old 04-23-2014, 06:39 PM   #4
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To check ball joints, just jack up one front wheel at a time so the tire is just slightly off the ground, and use a shovel as a lever (or something similar) under the tire to see if there is any movement like this |/
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Old 04-24-2014, 04:20 PM   #5
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Thanks for the tip. I'll be taking a look at it this weekend and make sure to check for all of that.
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Old 04-24-2014, 05:36 PM   #6
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Check all your tie rod ends too
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Old 04-25-2014, 10:00 PM   #7
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Believe me I'll be checking those as well. I have a feeling I'll be replacing a lot over the next couple weeks just as a matter of caution. With 122k on the odometer better to be safe than sorry.
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Old 04-26-2014, 01:17 AM   #8
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No expert- but I bought my first 2004 TJ with 42k miles past Sept. It was driving pretty great. Looking at the tire tread I decided to rotate the tires.... Almost instant front end vibrations/DW at 50-60mph. Considered replacing all sorts of stuff from control arms to steering damper to balancing the tires- finally came across a thread that suggested starting with the least expensive solution first- $20 wheel balance and no more wobble vibration or anything all the way up to 70mph.
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Old 04-27-2014, 06:24 PM   #9
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So got things checked out this weekend; turns out not only are the tires out of balance but two of the four tie rod ends are starting to go. I went ahead and just ordered all the parts to replace both the tie rod and drag link. Also went with the ZJ upgrade as well and a new steering dampener. I have to admit that getting it all through rock auto it ended up being a lot cheaper then I thought it would be. Scares me to think how much it would've been if I took it to the shop. So plan is this week to get things swapped out and lined up. Any tips from anyone that's done this that I need to be wary of before I get elbow deep? Thanks again for all the tips and help so far.

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