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Old 02-01-2012, 10:45 AM   #1
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steering knocked off center (Jerry B)

Yesterday I did an all day trip through Box Canyon and Martinez Cabin in Florence AZ. The trails are challenging, according to some sites 4.5-5.0. I think thats an optomistic rating, but they are rocky tough trails nonetheless.

At any rate my steering wheel is off center 15 degrees to the left now. The rest of the Jeep feels fine.

Searches indicate this is a relatively common occurance, and that I should adjust and retighten the drag link.

I just want to ping the experienced jeepers and see whether I'm on the right path to fixing my rig.

FWIW, this was my shakedown run to establish a baseline and assess any weak spots, so I probably won't push this hard too often.

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Old 02-01-2012, 10:59 AM   #2
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Had this happen on Black Bear, just had it realigned. jj

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Old 02-01-2012, 11:46 AM   #3
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There are only two realistic reasons for your steering wheel to no longer be centered. The most likely is your tie rod is bent. The second, slightly less likely, reason is the drag link is bent.

I would replace the tie rod if it is bent, which is the most likely thing that happened, don't try to straighten it. It is hollow and will just bend more readily in the future.

Trails that tough require stronger tie rods and once you have that, a stronger drag link. Currie has an excellent bolt-in kit containing both which will make your steering nearly bulletproof on such trails.
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Old 02-02-2012, 12:16 PM   #4
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Good to know. Sorry for the delay, I was inspecting front-end parts versus replying.

I put the jeep on jackstands and pushed & prodded the front-end suspension components and tires. I can't see anything loose or bent, and I have a pretty good eye. There is no evidence of an impact (scrapes, etc). I'm thinking you're right, a small non-discernable bend could probably translate into the steering wheel being out of center. Perhaps I "bowed" the tie rod without actually striking it on a rock? Aside from pulling the tie rod and rolling it across the workbench, I won't see any bend.


If I'm going to pull it, then I'll probably replace/upgrade it.



Jerry or anyone else have an upgraded tie rod brand recommendation?

I'm pretty competent mechanically, but still coming up to speed on the Wrangler specific things.


P.S. Gracias.
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Old 02-02-2012, 12:23 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaisyCutter View Post
Jerry or anyone else have an upgraded tie rod brand recommendation?
What, you didn't like my first brand recommendation already given above?

Or you can do this... http://www.stu-offroad.com/steering/zjtie/tierod-1.htm
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Old 02-02-2012, 12:44 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaisyCutter View Post
Yesterday I did an all day trip through Box Canyon and Martinez Cabin in Florence AZ. The trails are challenging, according to some sites 4.5-5.0. I think thats an optomistic rating, but they are rocky tough trails nonetheless.

At any rate my steering wheel is off center 15 degrees to the left now. The rest of the Jeep feels fine.

Searches indicate this is a relatively common occurance, and that I should adjust and retighten the drag link.

I just want to ping the experienced jeepers and see whether I'm on the right path to fixing my rig.

FWIW, this was my shakedown run to establish a baseline and assess any weak spots, so I probably won't push this hard too often.
If your steering wheel is off to the left, you either bent the draglink or the trackbar. Bent as in flattened out the bend the draglink currently has.

In other words, if you flattened the draglink bend out somewhat, that would make the draglink longer and push the wheels to the right hand side which means you would have to turn the steering wheel slightly left to compensate.

If you added some bend to the trackbar, it would be shorter and pull the axle to the left which would push the tires to the right and you would have to turn the steering wheel slightly to the left to compensate.

In either event, both changes are hard to spot without actually comparing them to known good parts although the draglink is easier because it will usually conflict with the axle side trackbar bolt and the Tie Rod TRE when you turn full lock to the right. That will tell you that it's flattened out.

That usually happens when you're trying to turn hard left with the tires in a bind and bump the draglink into something tougher than it is. Flattens the bend right out.

The trackbar if it's of the stock style is very easy to bend by sliding off of something and smacking the right side tire pretty hard.

Adjusting the draglink to recenter the steering wheel is only a bandaid that covers up the real issue. Find it and fix it.
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Old 02-02-2012, 03:24 PM   #7
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There is always something like this if you just want to cheaply replace everything. And it is somewhat of an upgrade as far as strength...

HDSTRGCR2, Crown Heavy Duty Steering Upgrade (91-01 XJ, 97-06 TJ) - HDSTRGCR2

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