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Old 10-19-2009, 01:48 AM   #1
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Steering Wheel Alignment after Bump Steer Fix

I recently purchased a 1998 Sahara with a 4" lift (previously owned a 94 XJ and an 83 CJ7). It had terrible bump steer caused by a dropped pitman arm. I replaced the PA with an OEM, and the bump steer went away; however, my steering wheel is now completely upside down. I tried adjusting the drag link, but the adjustment is just too far, and I end up not being able to turn all the way to one side. I was surprised that changing out the PA would change the position of the steering by so much.

Also, while working on this, I noticed that if I turn the steering wheel to the right, the front end lifts up several inches, and if I turn the wheel to the left (starting with wheels straight) the front in drops a few inches. This doesn't seem normal.

Any ideas on how to fix these two problems?

As a side note, the front track bar was relocated about 9/16 of an inch to the right of its original position. No mount was used, just drilled a new hole. I assume the same was done for the back. Should I be concerned? Should I swap it out for an adjustable one?

Thanks for the help!

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Old 10-19-2009, 04:03 AM   #2
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After doing another Google search, I have found that everyone is saying to adjust the drag link. The problem I am running into, is that I can't get the drag link short enough to center the PA and the steering wheel. The two ends in the drag link sleeve end up butting together, and the steering wheel is still not centered. I am obviously doing something wrong, but I cannot figure out what.

Thanks.

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Old 10-19-2009, 06:11 AM   #3
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The pitman arm is keyed if I remember correctly,but could it have been installed off centered somehow?like put on the steering shaft splines 90deg off?
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Old 10-19-2009, 08:20 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by willysmb View Post
The pitman arm is keyed if I remember correctly,but could it have been installed off centered somehow?like put on the steering shaft splines 90deg off?
I thought the same thing, but I marked the PA prior to removing it, plus PA only moves about 45 degrees total from center, so I don't think it can even go on a different way.
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Old 10-19-2009, 11:03 AM   #5
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Has it been offroaded enough so perhaps the drag link or tie rod is bent?
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Old 10-19-2009, 02:04 PM   #6
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When in doubt Take pics and post em up. There's enough guys on here that have bent just about every part to be able to ID it. Was the steering wheel centered before?

And re ck that Pitman arm. sounds like it was put on off center. but I'm not certain on the keying of the Jeep as its been many moons since I removed a pitman arm on a Jeep.

Perhaps the wheel wasn't locked when you removed the pitman arm, and it rotated...seen it before (see above note on the keying).
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Old 10-19-2009, 05:01 PM   #7
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My wife said that the bumper travelled a total of about 1/2 in from wheels being straight to wheels all the way to the stops. She did notice that the body shifted from side to side as the wheels were moving...Is is safe to say that the axle is not centered under the body?

I took several photos of the rear and front axle, to see if anything jumps out at anyone. I do not know the manufacturere of the lift kit.

Again, thanks for the help
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Old 10-19-2009, 05:05 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by mrcarcrazy View Post
When in doubt Take pics and post em up. There's enough guys on here that have bent just about every part to be able to ID it. Was the steering wheel centered before?

And re ck that Pitman arm. sounds like it was put on off center. but I'm not certain on the keying of the Jeep as its been many moons since I removed a pitman arm on a Jeep.

Perhaps the wheel wasn't locked when you removed the pitman arm, and it rotated...seen it before (see above note on the keying).
The steering wheel was centered before. It changed completely after I removed the DPA. I haven't had it off road yet (only have had it about at month). The steering gear is keyed so that it can only go in in 90 degree increments. It would take a lot to put it on wrong.
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Old 10-19-2009, 06:18 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by skpuppy2 View Post
My wife said that the bumper travelled a total of about 1/2 in from wheels being straight to wheels all the way to the stops. She did notice that the body shifted from side to side as the wheels were moving...Is is safe to say that the axle is not centered under the body?
The body shifting side-to-side as you steer is indicative of a loose track bar. The trackbar is supposed to rigidly position the axle left-to-right and centered underneath the frame. The trackbar provides the link between the axle on the passenger-side and the frame on the driver's side.

Something on the trackbar or its mounts is loose... either a mounting bolt is loose or a bushing is bad... most likely on the passenger side. Or the trackbar mount on the axle is tearing away from where it is welded to the axle on the passenger side.

Here's a photo showing the trackbar's location...

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Old 10-20-2009, 01:02 AM   #10
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The body shifting side-to-side as you steer is indicative of a loose track bar. The trackbar is supposed to rigidly position the axle left-to-right and centered underneath the frame. The trackbar provides the link between the axle on the passenger-side and the frame on the driver's side.

Something on the trackbar or its mounts is loose... either a mounting bolt is loose or a bushing is bad... most likely on the passenger side. Or the trackbar mount on the axle is tearing away from where it is welded to the axle on the passenger side.

Here's a photo showing the trackbar's location...

Thank you. I will have to check the bolts, to see if either are loose. I'll have my wife turn the wheels so I can see if I can tell if there is a problem with the bushings or weld. Could this be because the track bar was repositioned when the lift was put on?

Could a loose track bar also account for why it feels like the Jeep "slides" through corners. It doesn't really slide, the wheels aren't slipping, but it seems like there is a lot of movement in the body which gives the illusion of sliding. It is a very unsettling feeling.
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Old 10-20-2009, 10:40 AM   #11
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Yes, a loose or worn stock trackbar will make it feel like the jeep is sliding around a corner. I had a totally worn stock track bar when I bought my jeep. The body moved about 1 1/2 - 2 " left to right when I was turning the wheel. I have since put on a RC adjustable bar with my lift and it is a very solid feeling now. The RC track bar has 2 bushings on the ends instead of the tie rod type end that bolts to the frame. So now all I have to worry about is bushings wearing out.

My adjusting link looks like a pitbull with diamond teeth attacked it from adjusting with the pipe wrench. My steering wheel was about 90 degrees to the right ( 1/4 turn). I had to adjust the link counter clockwise if looking from the driver side about 2 1/2 turns?? to correct.

BTW I also had a big clunk sound from the steering at slow speeds with the worn track bar.
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Old 10-20-2009, 10:48 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skpuppy2 View Post
I recently purchased a 1998 Sahara with a 4" lift (previously owned a 94 XJ and an 83 CJ7). It had terrible bump steer caused by a dropped pitman arm. I replaced the PA with an OEM, and the bump steer went away; however, my steering wheel is now completely upside down. I tried adjusting the drag link, but the adjustment is just too far, and I end up not being able to turn all the way to one side. I was surprised that changing out the PA would change the position of the steering by so much.

Also, while working on this, I noticed that if I turn the steering wheel to the right, the front end lifts up several inches, and if I turn the wheel to the left (starting with wheels straight) the front in drops a few inches. This doesn't seem normal.

Any ideas on how to fix these two problems?

As a side note, the front track bar was relocated about 9/16 of an inch to the right of its original position. No mount was used, just drilled a new hole. I assume the same was done for the back. Should I be concerned? Should I swap it out for an adjustable one?

Thanks for the help!
Quote:
Originally Posted by skpuppy2 View Post
The steering wheel was centered before. It changed completely after I removed the DPA. I haven't had it off road yet (only have had it about at month). The steering gear is keyed so that it can only go in in 90 degree increments. It would take a lot to put it on wrong.
I say wheel wasn't locked when you put the pitman arm on.

fix trackbar, first, but if I had a dollar I'd bet that the wheel moved while you were doing the swap. 90 degree increments, 180 degree steering wheel off....

If there is no resistance, the steering wheel will often rotate to where it wants to. yours sounds like it wanted to be upside down. you can re mount the pitman arm with the steering wheel locked and this won't be an issue.
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Old 10-20-2009, 05:05 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Wloch248 View Post
Yes, a loose or worn stock trackbar will make it feel like the jeep is sliding around a corner. I had a totally worn stock track bar when I bought my jeep. The body moved about 1 1/2 - 2 " left to right when I was turning the wheel. I have since put on a RC adjustable bar with my lift and it is a very solid feeling now. The RC track bar has 2 bushings on the ends instead of the tie rod type end that bolts to the frame. So now all I have to worry about is bushings wearing out.

My adjusting link looks like a pitbull with diamond teeth attacked it from adjusting with the pipe wrench. My steering wheel was about 90 degrees to the right ( 1/4 turn). I had to adjust the link counter clockwise if looking from the driver side about 2 1/2 turns?? to correct.

BTW I also had a big clunk sound from the steering at slow speeds with the worn track bar.
I will order a new track bar. Did you replace the one in rear as well, or just the front? So far, I haven't had any clunking sounds, but I would like to avoid getting to that point....Thanks
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Old 10-20-2009, 05:11 PM   #14
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I say wheel wasn't locked when you put the pitman arm on.

fix trackbar, first, but if I had a dollar I'd bet that the wheel moved while you were doing the swap. 90 degree increments, 180 degree steering wheel off....

If there is no resistance, the steering wheel will often rotate to where it wants to. yours sounds like it wanted to be upside down. you can re mount the pitman arm with the steering wheel locked and this won't be an issue.
If I remember correctly, you are right. I don't think the steering wheel was locked. So, I just park with the steering wheel straight, lock it in place, remove the pitman arm (my favorite part), adjust the tires until they are straight (or close to it), put everything back together, and then I should be able to make minor adjustments to the drag link to align the wheels to the steering wheel...Sound right?

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