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Old 09-21-2008, 10:08 AM   #1
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Steering Wheel Shows To The Left After Wheeling

Hello.

After I was wheeling my steering wheel shows to the left when I drive straight on.
I checked the mount of the steering box and it looks ok. I also checked the drag-link and it looks ok. The pitman arm is centered at the steering box when the steering wheel is centered.
Then i saw that the left front tire sticks out about 1/2" more than before. The axle is more uncentered than before with 4-4.5" of lift (I still have the stock front TB).
I think my front TB is bent and itīs time to by a new adj. TB.
Could there be anouther reason for the uncentered steering wheel after a wheeling trip?

Thanks.
nicolas-eric



When I drive straight on my steering wheel looks like this:


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Old 09-21-2008, 11:02 AM   #2
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Looks like a possible bent tie rod. Do your wheels look straight or are they pointing in or out when looking staright at them.

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Old 09-21-2008, 11:08 AM   #3
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The wheels look straight and it handles like before.
I have a Big Daddy HD tie rod, donīt think that itīs bent.
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Old 09-21-2008, 11:28 AM   #4
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Your steering wheel turned to the left while driving straight usually means the drag link is too long. If this happened after you went wheeling, either the drag link got stressed so it bent, making it longer (due to the factory bends in the drag link, it can be made longer if a bend is reduced due to getting hit) or perhaps a control arm bracket is partially torn off where it is welded to the axle or chassis. I had a control arm bracket torn partially off the axle years ago which by allowing the axle to shift caused the same symptom.

All this because you say the tie rod, which is the more common cause of this symptom, is straight. But be aware that even VERY heavy-duty tie rods can be bent so don't dismiss that possibility just because you have a Big Daddy tie rod. Currie's tie rod is about the strongest tie rod available and I've bent mine four times now. I even carry a spare Currie tie rod with me because there's no way I could straighten one on the trail.
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Old 09-21-2008, 11:50 AM   #5
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Couldnīt it be a bent rack bar?
We talked on saturday morning about installng an adj. TB because the axle sticks out about 1/2 - 3/4" to the left. Now the axle sticks out about 1"-1 1/4".
A buddy checked the CAs and said therīre ok (my TJ is in his garage). But heīll take a look at them again tomorrow on his servce lift.
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Old 09-21-2008, 11:55 AM   #6
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Anything bent can cause that problem, a bent trackbar could cause it too. Bent trackbars are just less common.
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Old 09-21-2008, 12:04 PM   #7
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Does the TJ handle different with a torn off CA bracket? It handles like before. I tried it with a fast driven slalom in a parking lot.
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Old 09-21-2008, 12:09 PM   #8
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I dunno, I never drive my Jeep fast enough when I have any steering issues to know the answer to that question. Until I figure out why my steering wheel is off, I am always very easy on the gas.
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Old 09-21-2008, 05:33 PM   #9
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you need to get an alignment...
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Old 09-21-2008, 05:38 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ol' Red View Post
you need to get an alignment...
A bad alignment doesn't cause an axle to be pushed over to one side, neither should an alignment be used to compensate for damage.
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Old 09-21-2008, 06:04 PM   #11
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Seems like two different issues to me . . . I'd take a look at the drag link for the steering wheel issue if nothing else has changed and you are still tracking straight . . . could be bent like someone mentioned, but couldn't it also just have gotten knocked outta whack and just need to be adjusted? It's just a couple of bolts on that sleeve I think . . . there's plenty of write ups online. For the axle sticking out issue, seems like with a 4"+ lift, you'd need an adjustable trackbar to compensate and to center the axle.
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Old 09-21-2008, 06:39 PM   #12
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If the axle's lateral position changes, the steering wheel will be affected - it'll throw it off center. The problem is WHY the axle shifted.

Something's obviously changed/moved since the axle is in a different position than before. It may be unsafe to drive until you find out why.

The trackbar holds the axle in position side to side - check the trackbar for a new bend in it (may be hard to see) - but more importantly - look very closely at where it mounts to the tower on the left frame rail. That tower has a reputation of breaking off!

Sometimes the welds pull loose, sometimes the tower itself cracks. I've repaired 5 or 6 of them so far.
Conceivably the entire tower could bend to one side or the other - but I've never seen it - yet.
LOOK CLOSELY, maybe even compare it with another TJ.

Drag links, tie rods, knuckles, even LCA's - none of those things hold the AXLE in lateral position - it's ALL done by the trackbar and it's mounts.
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Old 09-21-2008, 08:07 PM   #13
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I vote you bent the track bar.

Here is why,
If your front wheels are shifted to the left this means that the axle is now half an inch to the left which would put your tires pointing a bit to the right which is why you have to steer left a bit to keep it going straight.
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Old 09-23-2008, 12:09 AM   #14
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Sorry guys, I just read the first couple sentences and did not even realize he mentioned the axle was off-center. my bad. all i saw was steering wheel is to the left and i saw the picture...
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Old 09-23-2008, 10:45 AM   #15
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Today I was at teh Jeep dealer and bought some parts. He looked at my steering linkage and said, that i need an alignment. He said thatīs normal that new tie rod ends "settle" a bit after running in.
That sounds weird to me, but now after the FREE alignment everything works fine again.
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Old 09-23-2008, 10:48 AM   #16
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How did the alignment re-center your axle?
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Old 09-23-2008, 10:59 AM   #17
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I hope my tie-rod bar doesn't "settle in".... that's total BS. The ball joints will wear and provide some extra slop but a threaded joint? Not going ot happen.
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Old 09-23-2008, 11:07 AM   #18
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I agree with MOz, that "settling in" business is total BS.
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Old 09-23-2008, 11:30 AM   #19
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IMO thatīs BS too.
But now the TJ handles like before. The steering wheel isnīt that nervous anymore.
Fact is that before both front wheels were parallel. Today the right wheel was a few degrees to the right when the left wheel was straight on.
Perhaps the drag link bent just a bit like Jerry said before. We were not sure.

They had the TJ on a service lift and we checked the CA mounts, the TB mounts and the steering box. Everything was ok. Only the right UCA bushing at the frame mount is worn out. That causes the metal knocking sound that I have sometimes.

I also ordered a RE adj. front TB. Then the axle is re-centered and many other problems will be gone.

I donīt really know if the axle was more uncentered after the weekend. We only compared old pics with the TJ. Perhaps yes, perhaps not..

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Old 09-23-2008, 11:52 AM   #20
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Settle in? In my 30+ years of doing, and teaching, wheel alignments and wheel service I've never heard that one. I guess I missed out - I always thought it had to be done right the first time, not just let it "settle in."

"""""Fact is that before both front wheels were parallel. Today the right wheel was a few degrees to the right when the left wheel was straight on."""""

When pointing straight ahead with the left wheel, the right wheel should look to be parallel. In reality it should be pointing inward just slightly, but you can't really see that.
Measure between the front tires - inside at the front and compare to inside at the rear of the tires. But - if the wheels are slightly turned to one side or the other, it'll throw off your measurements.

I think I'm going to "settle in" my shop right now to finish a project.
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Old 09-28-2008, 01:08 AM   #21
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My steering wheel has done that a few times after wheeling. Everything is fine underneath so i redo my toe in and recenter the wheel. My steering is as tight as the day i bought it.

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