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Old 05-19-2012, 02:04 AM   #1
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Impulse buyer looking for opinions!!!

Hey guys.

So I'm new here (waves) and while I almost always do a ton of research prior to making purchase I goofed today.

Hail storm came through and I was handed a $3700 check for dents I would eventually have caused myself and the money was just BURNING a hole in my pocket.

Back story: I bought a 2004 TJ last august, back injury prevented me from driving it a month after i bought it, surgery mid march, now its time to get back to the Jeep. It's my first, 73k miles, 3" BB with 33x15x12.5 bald tires on it, Warn front, rear, and rock guards. Top needs replacing, and I get a hellacious DW at around 40 mph.

I had the Jeep in the shop for some other assorted things, and the mechanic replaced a part in the front and now the DW is gone (temporarily, I'm sure) but I can still feel the shimmy in the wheel when I hit 40.... kinda like a bear in a cage, fighting to get out. I know the DW is there... lol.

Oh, here is a disclaimer as well. I am very hands on, learn fast, and can do damn near anything (or could before the back surgery). Vehicles are one of the last frontiers for me, I have never taken the time to learn a sway bar from.... well, other things under the hood! I will be going to a book store tomorrow to pick up a "for dummies" manual to learn the very basics and go from there.

Anyways, back on topic, $3700 I HAD to spend. I called up 4wd.com and talked to a great guy there who really seemed to know his shit. I talked to him about the Jeep and told him I wanted new tires, new fender flares, a new soft top, and an actual lift kit to replace the 3" BB currently on the Jeep.

I was told that an actual lift kit complete with new control arms could help the DW, it makes sense to think of the current stock parts (I assume they are stock) and the extra stresses they would be under given their original purpose did not include an extra 3" to navigate.

While I learn me something about automobile and Jeep basics, I need some opinions on what I bought. The order doesnt ship till Monday, so it's not too late for me to make a panic cancellation if something is really amiss.

-----

Biggest thing, Lift kit:
RE 3.5" SuperFlex system RE7003 - TJ/LJ 3.5" SUPER-FLEX SYSTEM - Rubicon Express

Reading up on the reviews stickied to the top of the page gives me hope, most look great. Thoughts on this particular lift? I got a good deal on it, the bulk purchase gave the rep a little room to work with. I also got the matching RE monotube shocks to go with it, are these decent quality as well?

-----

Soft top:
Smittybilt soft top

I went in looking at the Bestop sail cloth tops but needed to trim down the cost so i could afford the lift kit. I needed a new top soon, and this one the rep spoke highly of. He didnt pull any punches and try to claim this was as good as the sail cloth bestop, but for $280 WITH a 5 year no-questions-asked warranty that includes tree limbs through tops while wheeling, I couldn't say no. This comes with half door skins and tinted read windows.

-----

Tires... I dont need a review here, grabbed some duratecs.

-----

Fender Flares:
Smittybilt again.

6" pocket fender flares for a great price and once again a great 5 year warranty. Happy with these, not too worried about them.

----

So mainly its the lift kit and shocks I'm looking for opinions on, as well as some feedback from you guys as to other things I need to consider, upgrades wise, to get a good feel from the steering and to eliminate the DW and the little vibrations.

Is there a damn glossary of common terms used here!? I see some terms that I have NO idea what they mean. I assume vibs = vibrations and I get that DW is death wobble but for every one I can make out there are five that make me feel like the caveman from the insurance commercials.

Thanks for the time guys and any feedback is GREATLY appreciated, I look forward to conquering the unknown world of automotives and having a blast tweaking the Jeep.

Todd

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Old 05-19-2012, 11:28 AM   #2
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Also, when spending the $$$, I budgeted $500 to have the lift kit prOfessionally installed. I'm thInkong instead I could use that $$$ to grab the jacks and tools and just knock it Out with a few of my Jeeper friends. Are they very difficult to install? What kind of tools would I need? I have very little in the way of auto tools.

C'mon Guys!

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Old 05-19-2012, 11:51 AM   #3
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Pretty easy to install, you need a jack, jack stands, socket set, pitman arm puller, (you can rent one cheap) and a pry bar is handy
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Old 05-19-2012, 01:03 PM   #4
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That 3.5" kit runs tall. You are most likely going to need a CV drive shaft and SYE, slip yoke eliminator kit, which will run you just under a grand. If I were you I would cancel the order and do your homework first so you know exactly what you are getting into. Sorry about the back as I feel your pain. I have had two spinal surgeries and am working on a 3rd in the near future.
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Old 05-19-2012, 01:12 PM   #5
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I also looked into the RE 3.5" lift and was told it was great but the shocks are very stiff and do not make for a comfortable ride. (Just looking out for your back)

I actually decided myself to buy currie control arms and just get the coil spring sets from RE but I was going to go with other shocks. Not just the whole RE kit together.

Just my opinion and I've been looking for a new suspension about 6 months so I've done a bit of looking around and asking questions.
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Old 05-19-2012, 01:48 PM   #6
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A suspension lift (in itself) won't resolve Death Wobble. There are many things that contribute to DW, including worn control arm bushings, worn track bar bushings, worn tie-rod ends, and crappy/old/out-of-balance tires. Broken/worn-out mounts could also play a factor. If you search this forum, you should find some more comprehensive info on DW.

Here's a picture that might help you see where all your components are located:

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Old 05-19-2012, 02:29 PM   #7
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The shimmy at 40 mph is probably a tire out of balance. That wouldn't cause the DW, but it could be the trigger that set it off.
If you still have those bald tires on the jeep, replacing them will eat a big hole in your $3700!
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Old 05-19-2012, 08:46 PM   #8
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Thank EVERYONE for the comments, I hear ya!

Border Dave, that picture really is worth a thousand words. It's going to become a staple, I'd imagine.

Shoe, I have four new tires coming to replace the old worn out ones, here is hoping that it helps!

Moody, thanks for the heads up about the stiff ride. Have any suggestions for smoother shocks?

Doc, I was afraid of that. What height can I get away with without those parts, and what issues am I looking at if I put on the kit and dont have them?

Keep em coming guys, I'm listening!
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Old 05-19-2012, 09:20 PM   #9
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You may be able to get away with something as simple as a 1" transfer case drop or if it is bad you may not be able to drive the Jeep over 45 mph. Unfortunately each Jeep is different and some get away with it and some do not. It is impossible to know which category you will be in.
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Old 05-19-2012, 10:27 PM   #10
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Ah, got it. The fact that I seem to be ok minus a small vib with a 3" BB doesn't give any indication that the 3.5" (more like four from what I have gathered) would be tolerated I take it? Is 3" or 3.5" the max you can get away with without the SYE and CV driveshaft? What is the max, or does it vary by the jeep?

Another noob question, so I can do more research. What does "CV" drive shaft stand for? Ill need to figure out what it does, as well as the SYE, and why it's needed.

I did go out and buy "auto repair for dummies" today. Seems to have basic figures and definitions that define how the suspension and drivetrain works among other things. Should get me to the basics!

I'll be calling tomorrow and canceling the lift kit, I imagine. I simply can't afford a SYE and CV driveshaft right now. I budgeted for the lift kit and either to have it professionally done or enough to buy all the tools I would need, not enough left for the other parts. Damn, I already chose to cut the winch out of the order as well as the full size spare and new soft 8s for all five tires just so I could get the lift! Oh well, mechanical upgrades and fixes come before toys and aesthetics (except for the fender flares, I could save $260ish by canceling those and just paint them black again). That still doesn't allow for enough for the parts :/

It looks like the bushings you spoke of are fairly inexpensive, replacing them might be a good idea just to know exactly how old they are in addition to trying to prevent the DW from coming back. Anyone with experience replacing them have any advice/tips?

Keep it coming! Any thoughts on the BB I have on the Jeep? Are they bad for the jeep, do they cause increased wear in any specific parts?

I'm listening and appreciate any and all input!!!!
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Old 05-20-2012, 12:44 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Todd_ View Post
The fact that I seem to be ok minus a small vib with a 3" BB doesn't give any indication that the 3.5" (more like four from what I have gathered) would be tolerated I take it? Is 3" or 3.5" the max you can get away with without the SYE and CV driveshaft? What is the max, or does it vary by the jeep?
It does vary by jeep. Some jeeps, like mine, would develop driveline vibrations if you even said the word "lift" near it. Three inches is about the max before most start having trouble.

Quote:
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What does "CV" drive shaft stand for? Ill need to figure out what it does, as well as the SYE, and why it's needed.
CV=Constant Velocity. Some people call it a CV driveshaft, but what they mean is actually a "Double Cardan" driveshaft. It's basically has two universal joints together in a coupler and the "slip yoke" is on the driveshaft itself, instead of on the tail end of the transfer case.

This might help (courtesy of Tom Wood's Custom Drive Shafts):

With a conventional two joint drive shaft you need to keep the out-put of the transfer case & the pinion parallel within 1 degree, and in relationship to either the drive shaft should be running at absolutely no greater than 15 degrees (this is a pushed limit).

If you cannot fall within this parameter, then you will want to pitch the differential so that the pinion points directly at the out-put of the transfer case (maintaining 3 degrees or less joint angle at the differential end) & run a double cardan (C.V.) drive shaft.

Please refer to this link to aid in determining your slopes/angles.

Installing a CV drive shaft will usually require changing the out-put yoke on the transfer case to one that is compatible with both the t-case & of course the drive shaft. Or, a slip yoke eliminator (SYE) kit.

We will some dimensional information to build the drive shaft. Please refer to this link for some basic measuring instructions.

If you have any other questions please do not hesitate to call us toll free @ 1-877-497-4238.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Todd_ View Post
It looks like the bushings you spoke of are fairly inexpensive, replacing them might be a good idea just to know exactly how old they are in addition to trying to prevent the DW from coming back. Anyone with experience replacing them have any advice/tips?
One way to check for worn components is to have someone turn the steering wheel back and forth while you're underneath the front end looking for play in the steering and suspension.

Also, you can jack up the front axle and try to "wobble" (maybe not the right word) the wheels back and forth by hand to check the ball joints and the unit bearings.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Todd_ View Post
Any thoughts on the BB I have on the Jeep? Are they bad for the jeep, do they cause increased wear in any specific parts?
I don't think they cause any increased wear. The downside to budget boosts is that they don't give you any more suspension travel than stock.
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Old 05-20-2012, 02:22 AM   #12
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OK, well that certainly muddied things up real nice!

Just kidding, I think I'm starting to understand a lot of this. If it's true and a BB isnt "bad" for the Jeep and that it just doesn't give any extra travel in the suspension then I'm all of a sudden not very sure that I should go with a new lift!

In time, you bet, but for now there are other things I need to do, such as dive in to the root of the DW I have. If any new lift kit wouldnt resolve that issue or help the wear and abuse on the current parts in the front end.... well, I can definitely use the money elsewhere (Such as checking/replacing bushings, tie rod ends, and other various things).

As far as a smoother ride, the current setup IS really rough. I understand a new lift would drastically help improve the ride quality, but assuming I don't go that route, would a new set of shocks help at all? Everyone seems to be raving about these Bilstein 5100s, if I go with a set now that accommodates the 3" BB I could even keep them when I do eventually wind up with a proper lift.

The savings, if I decide to postpone the lift kit all together for now, would open up roughly $1500 in the budget that i had previously allocated. That allows for a new full size spare, new wheels like I really wanted, and more :-D

Thoughts on postponing the actual lift kit and focusing on finding the root of the DW? Would new shocks help the ride at all? Any ideas on how to spend the extra money (winch, lights, interior)?

Yet again, thank you
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Old 05-20-2012, 02:37 AM   #13
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Another thing to consider is that you don't necessarily NEED a SYE (Slip Yoke Eliminator) and driveshaft. You can get by just fine with a transfer case drop kit. I have a 4" lift kit and a transfer case drop, and I have no driveline vibrations at all. Transfer case drop kits are cheap too! Of course, a SYE is a much better way to go, as you don't lose the ground clearance like you do with a transfer case drop, but the SYE is something you can save up for and buy later. That's what I'm doing, eventually.

So if I were you, I'd keep the lift kit coming and get rid of the Budget Boost. The lift kit you ordered includes new control arms, which will eliminate the need to replace the bushings in your stock control arms. Like Border Dave said, the BB doesn't give you any more suspension travel or articulation, it just gives you room for bigger tires and a little more ground clearance.

And as far as shocks, I would recommend Bilstein 5100 series shocks. They cost a little more than other shocks, but they really are worth it. Bilsteins, along with the Duratracs you ordered, will make for a nice ride.
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Old 05-20-2012, 02:43 AM   #14
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Oh, and here's a glossary of acronyms for ya!! Acronyms etc...
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Old 05-20-2012, 03:18 AM   #15
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Hrm.... It does look like the lift kit also comes with a 1" Tcase drop kit inside. That would put me, even if the lift kit gives 4", back down to a 3" lift (What I have now with the BB and no vibs). I feel like a tug-o-war rope, back and forth, back and forth :P

I do really want to do this right and a proper lift kit seems to not only "do-it-right" but it would make me feel better knowing what I have on the suspension. As of now, I can't tell what the original owner of the Jeep has done.... the shocks are white tubes, I dont know what stock tubes look like, I assume they are aftermarket to go with the BB.... but yea, no idea what they are or if they are good/bad. Putting a whole kit on fixes that, I can keep track of what/when parts were installed.

Sad Panda, that means no room for the new wheels.... Guess I gotta keep the tire cover over the current spare. Full size, decent tread, stock rim.

Havent called yet, will be calling tomorrow, I'm taking all this info in to consideration!

Keep it coming guys, lift kit yay/nay? If I keep it coming, I'll be calling and changing out the shocks to the Bilstein 5100s, they are the same price as the mono-tube RE shocks I have otw.

Need all the opinions and thoughts I can get to make the best decision I can! I'm listening to you guys, conceding to the experts!
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Old 05-20-2012, 03:46 AM   #16
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Oh, and here's a glossary of acronyms for ya!! Acronyms etc...
THANK THE LORD!

This alone has made my night. This + google = my friend.
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Old 05-20-2012, 06:17 AM   #17
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You should consider shopping around instead of buying the parts through 4wd.com. I found a vendor on jeepforum that sells Bilsteins for $255/set. There are deals to be had, you just have to search.
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Old 05-20-2012, 06:37 AM   #18
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The 1" T-case drop would not affect your lift height at all. It only lowers the transfer case skid plate by 1", which, in turn, lowers you transfer case 1".
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Old 05-20-2012, 10:29 AM   #19
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As far as a smoother ride, the current setup IS really rough. I understand a new lift would drastically help improve the ride quality, but assuming I don't go that route, would a new set of shocks help at all? ...

The savings, if I decide to postpone the lift kit all together for now, would open up roughly $1500 in the budget that i had previously allocated. That allows for a new full size spare, new wheels like I really wanted, and more :-D

Thoughts on postponing the actual lift kit and focusing on finding the root of the DW? Would new shocks help the ride at all? Any ideas on how to spend the extra money (winch, lights, interior)?
If it were my Jeep, I'd first track down the cause of the death wobble. For me, new tires cured my Jeep's Death Wobble. That was after I threw away a bunch of money in parts, i.e. new trackbar, new tierod, etc.

I think holding off on the lift and spending some of the money on new shocks, a slip yoke eliminator and a new double cardan driveshaft is the way to go. More lift is NOT going to improve your ride; better shocks will.
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Old 05-20-2012, 12:32 PM   #20
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The 1" T-case drop would not affect your lift height at all. It only lowers the transfer case skid plate by 1", which, in turn, lowers you transfer case 1".
I understand my jeep would still be lifted to 4", but with the transfer case dropped an inch, wouldn't the angle of the driveshaft be the same as if the jeep was lifted 3" instead of four? That's what I was trying to say, my jeep right now has a 3" BB and I don't have any vibs, so if the RE lifts my jeep 4" but also drops my tcase 1", then the angle of the driveshaft or the pinion angle, whatever angle it is, should stay the same, right?

I'm sure my old, damn near threadbare tires are not helping matters. God only knows the last time they were aligned as well. Where could I find information on the proper alignment specs for my particular setup to ensure the alignment shop does it right once the new 33x12.5x15s go on?

BorderDave, you think I should skip the proper lift for the time being and grab a SYE and DC shaft instead? I can see the sense in that, my jeep IS already lifted 3", if I want to go any more later on I'll need the SYE and DC driveshaft then anyways...

Well, the lift kit will always be there, I'll be calling to cancel the lift kit and shocks. I'll do more research and shop around a bit before making another decision, and I'll still have the top/fender flares/tires coming.

This is turning in to a newb question marathon! My next step is to try and get an understanding as to what all the parts in that picture that was posted actually do. I believe the Pittman arm turns as you turn the steering wheel, and attaches to ? And the drag link. It looks like the drag link is what connects the wheel to the Pittman arm and would be responsible for the steering making its way to the right wheel. The tie rod looks to connect the left wheel and the right wheel, so I'm going to assume that it transfers the turning motion from the right wheel to the left wheel... Or maybe that's something else. Sway bars appear to limit flex and stabilize the wheels for higher speeds from what I have picked up, and As of now the control arms, what looks to be both sets, elude me on their purpose, as does the track bar. I'll be doing more research on this tonight when I have a PC available, right now I'm on my phone, but in the meantime does anyone have a real generic and easy to understand description of how the parts work together and their purposes?

Thanks for all the heads up, opinions, and help guys. I'm glad to have such a vast resource available to help me make the right decisions. Calling to cancel the lift kit and shocks. I also see there is a 10% off coupon for that morris4x4center website, that looks promising. Are they a nice, reputable website to order from, and does 10% off there actually amount to any savings or are there other websites with lower pricing?

One more time, thank all of you.
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Old 05-20-2012, 01:30 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Todd_
BorderDave, you think I should skip the proper lift for the time being and grab a SYE and DC shaft instead?
Yep, that's what I'm saying.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Todd_
Where could I find information on the proper alignment specs for my particular setup to ensure the alignment shop does it right once the new 33x12.5x15s go on?
There's not much to aligning the Wrangler. You can only adjust toe-in. It should be about 1/16 - 1/8 inch toed-in on the front. I don't know off-hand what that works out to be in degrees for 33 inch tires. If you were to purchase adjustable control arms for front, you could then adjust caster. If I remember correctly, caster should be set to about 5.5 to 6 degrees for 33 inch tires.

When you install a SYE and double cardan driveshaft, the rear pinion is supposed to point at the output of the transfer case as shown in the diagram I posted. In order to adjust your pinion angle in the rear, it's necessary to have a set of adjustable control arms, preferably uppers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Todd_
... and As of now the control arms, what looks to be both sets, elude me on their purpose, as does the track bar.
Control arms keep the axle from moving front to rear. The reason we have uppers and lowers is to keep the axle from twisting. The trackbar keeps the axle from moving side to side.

EDIT: I don't know whose brand of budget boost you have, but you need to be using extended bumpstops in order to keep your factory springs from over-compressing and to keep your 33 inch tires (when you get them) from hitting the fenders.

EDIT again: In case you haven't already realized it, when you change one thing on a jeep it affects many other components that also have to be changed. It's a vicious and expensive cycle. Welcome to:
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Old 05-20-2012, 01:40 PM   #22
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Bare in mind 4wp will try to sell you rubicon express, and smitty built because they are all sister companies owned by the same holding company.

I have the 3.5" kit with all 8 control arms and both front and rear track bars. I got viberation even with the 1" case drop and had to do a sye. I would really look at a savvy 3" lift before buying anything else. The re isn't an awful lift, but for the money there are better lifts out there.

I'm no fan of smitty built and have had nothing but bad luck with their products. Look for a set of stock rubicon takeoff fenders. The rubicon fender extensions are 1" wider then the stock se, sport, or x models.

Also have you looked at the bowless tops that don't use a frame. I believe the rampage top is only a couple hundred bucks. This one is good for those who already have door surrounds and a tailgate bar. The softopper is my personal favorite, but is a bit more money and comes with everything.

The guys at 4wp are salesmen who know their products, because they are trained to sell their products. The guys at savvy design and build their products. These guys aren't sales experts they are jeep experts. These guys actually use the products they sell.
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Old 05-21-2012, 10:25 AM   #23
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Called in to cancel today since they "couldn't do it yesterday" and awaiting the call back to see how much of the order actually got shipped.

On a side note, come to find out my mechanic did replace the steering dampener and the track bar to fix the wobble so far, the rest of the shimmy is from the old tires (so he tells me).

Time to really do some research! The fact that 4wd.com is affiliated with smutty and RE really rubbed me the wrong way... I want honest opinions, and I should have known better than to accept them from a salesman without consulting the end users.

Thanks for the heads up guys.
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Old 05-21-2012, 10:54 AM   #24
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On a side note, come to find out my mechanic did replace the steering dampener and the track bar to fix the wobble so far, the rest of the shimmy is from the old tires (so he tells me).
A steering dampner/stabilizer will only mask DW, not cure it. It sounds like you really need new tires.

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