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-   -   Steering upgrade (http://www.wranglerforum.com/f282/steering-upgrade-46819.html)

TheTJRod 03-17-2010 10:51 AM

Steering upgrade
 
Info on rig: '03 Sport(mercades steering box :banghead:), 2.5" sky jacker lift on bilstein shocks, 33" tires, d30 front, stock original steering components. (Plan on going to 35s and upgrading the front axle to a d44)

Ok, so I have a horribly loose steering wheel, it has been getting progressively worse over a few months. I tried to do the steering box adjustment but I only striped the allen bolt, yes I submerged it in PB blaster. It was so hard to turn I had to get a deep socket to use as a small breaker bar and it started to strip it. Also found when greasing the steering components that the grease boot on my tie bar is torn.

I have had death wobble in the past, though more due to a loose trackbar. The PO didn't put in a cotter pin in the castle nut and it popped off and got instant death wobble got a replacement a few days later. I believe that messed up my alignment and tasked my steering components as I kept getting the DW back every once in a while. When I examined my tires they were unevenly worn so I replaced them with 33s :) and got an alignment.

I know I should really check to see where the play is coming from but I can't seem to get my wife out to help me. I know the steering shaft moves with the steering wheel with no play and it seems solid.

I have been allotted quite a bit of money by my wife to fix the problem as she drove it once like it is and will no drive it again till it is fixed. The problem makes if difficult to change lanes because it is hard to judge how much you need to turn the wheel before the tires respond.

I am looking at replacing everything. tie rod, drag link, track bar, and steering box. I know of the currie HD kit, I am looking at the U turn kit from O.R.O. anyone see this? Also looking at the AGR Super Box 2 how good are these to be known?

mrcarcrazy 03-17-2010 11:06 AM

Personally I'd do as you know you should (I used to do this for a living)...check it all out and find out what is wrong. fix the problem rather than just throwing parts at it.

If you are wanting an entire steering setup, I have a lot of faith in the Currie setup. I've seen it in person, and it is a very nice setup. I do not like the design of the one you posted.

On Steering box I'd just get a rebuilt OEM replacement, unless you are really hard on things. Maybe with 35's the one you posted would be advised. I'll let the Offroad Guru's comment on that.

TheTJRod 03-18-2010 09:16 AM

Ok, well I raised the front of the Jeep and nothing. I watched all steering components as the wheel was turned and the wheels moved with very little play. I am baffled, though I don't have much experience here so there maybe something I am missing.

mrcarcrazy 03-18-2010 09:30 AM

jack the front end off the ground. Grab a wheel, quickly jerk it back and forth see if there's any play in the tierods. do this on both wheels.


Do next step with weight of vehicle on or off wheels. (it doesn't matter.) just make sure you have jack stands etc under there (so you don't die)

Have someone quickly turn steering wheel back and forth (YOu have play in steering wheel right?) You're trying to turn it just enough to take up the play both directions. While this is going on you should be under the Jeep watching the pitman arm from underneath. is it moving back and forth a little? if not the play is in the box. and since you can't adjust it, get a new gear box. If the pitman arm is moving but the drag link isn't then there's the culprit.

The big thing with steering gear boxes is to not over tighten them. basically get them just tight enough so there's not any notable play. Overtightening the gear lash will kill a gear box.

ygohome 03-18-2010 01:29 PM

all good advice from the others above.

in my experience it has always been one of the following...

- track bar bushing at axle
- caster angle... should not be a problem with just 2.5" lift
- too much or little toe in. simple alignment can cure alot
- worn out ball joints (from when your trackbar wasnt secured)
-rotateing leafed/enevenly worn out front tires to the back helps alot after an alignment too.
- unit bearing
too much neutral steering feel could be from not having enough toe in.

I'd start with what has already been posted by carcrazy... start with the simple stuff before buying a buttload of parts

Jerry Bransford 03-18-2010 01:32 PM

Actually, the front end should NOT be off the ground at all for the above steering checks. That removes all of the friction the steering need to work into that would help point out sloppy joints, wallowed out trackbar mounting bolt holes, etc.

mrcarcrazy 03-18-2010 01:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jerry Bransford (Post 575090)
Actually, the front end should NOT be off the ground at all for the above steering checks. That removes all of the friction the steering need to work into that would help point out sloppy joints, wallowed out trackbar mounting bolt holes, etc.

Actually checking the tie rods is much easier with weight off the wheels. If your using the above mentioned method...grab wheels and turn back forth quickly.

but hey what do I know I've never done this before:rolleyes:

We haven't even gotten to the trackbar yet, as I think the issue lies in the gear box. But yes, the resistance of the wheels on ground will help IF the issue is in the trackbar. not so much if its in a tierod or gearbox.

I have a method and I stick to it. others have methods and they work just fine. I for one don't try to force mine on others, but if they ask I'll tell them how Its been done for a few decades in a small shop I used to work at. (still done the same way.)

to poster above balljoints wear out...not only b/c of trackbar issues. they wear out on their own too.

If you want to check the balljoints I know a way, PM me if you want it. Tired of defending proven ways to check front end components.

Sorry if this post is offensive/defensive. I'm just tired of being told "actually I do it this way, so its better". I was once told "there's more than one way to skin a chicken"...some crazy old hack said it IIRC :D

TheTJRod 03-18-2010 06:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jerry Bransford (Post 575090)
Actually, the front end should NOT be off the ground at all for the above steering checks. That removes all of the friction the steering need to work into that would help point out sloppy joints, wallowed out trackbar mounting bolt holes, etc.


I had a feeling that I should do it with the weight on it for that exact reason. As nothing has the friction to make it flex/give. Darn in-laws keeping me from fixing the Jeep. Will be going to a pick-a-part tomorrow to look around at axles. Isn't it a WJ's tie rod and drag link that is supposedly beefier? Will be looking for the Dakota alternator and maybe a Taurus electric fan too.

TheTJRod 03-18-2010 06:26 PM

Oh and I did the check of the wheel bearings too. Where you grab the top and bottom of the tire and try to move it. The left one was solid... though the right one moved ever so slightly and squeaked. Isn't that the sign that it is going bad and would that even play a part of my loose steering?

terrible2 03-21-2010 02:39 AM

Im interested in how this thread turns out as my steering is also loose, but I also found a broken U Joint, steering stabilizer shock broke, a rubber bushing busted and my steering alignment off = ) Seriously threads get lost on this forum because so many people post the same questions up day after day. I was just looking through to try and find an old thread I wrote in about a week ago but I have to sort through so much clutter.

TheTJRod 03-25-2010 01:53 PM

ok. So I went with the Crown HD steering kit. Which is basically the ZJ upgrade though for just a little more I got a new drag link as well. The removal of the old hardware was simple. A tie rod end puller and a BFH did the job quite nicely. Though the install couldn't have gone worse.

Pic of the kit. I know it is put together wrong here, just go with me.
http://i574.photobucket.com/albums/s...0324101852.jpg

The grease fittings on the two tie rod ends I got were different than the rest of them, figured ok it should be fine. Until I tried to torque down the nuts to 55 ft-lbs. the cotter pin hole ends up above the entire castle nut....
http://www.wranglerforum.com/%3Ca%20...lbu...0013.jpghttp://i574.photobucket.com/albums/s...0325100013.jpg

Here is a pick of the other type of grease boot. On the driver side. No problem with the torque setting.
http://i574.photobucket.com/albums/s...325100014b.jpg

Also this measurement should be 25 3/8" the adjusting sleeve is maxed out and I can't shorten it anymore. My steering wheel is upside down.
http://i574.photobucket.com/albums/s...0325100014.jpg


Sadly it was the same thing with the tie rod. I have a toe out of more than a half an inch that I can't do anything about. I believe they have the wrong type of tie rod ends on here. Oh and one more pic, the drag link pitman arm side. The same type of grease fitting causes the same torque problems.
http://i574.photobucket.com/albums/s...0325100012.jpg


Don't worry there was no way I was going to drive this around. Luckily I have a 3rd car.
http://i574.photobucket.com/albu...0012.jpg

jerryj 03-25-2010 02:16 PM

I got the Currie set up,I threw it on out in the desert real quick,its a very nice heavy set up,easy to install.I had the play in the wheel too mine was the pitman arm on the shaft coming out of the box when you moved the wheels from side to side in short strokes the pitman arm was rocking on the shaft but wouldnt tighten any more,not bad in the dirt but look out when u hit the highway,involuntary lane changes!!:eek:

TheTJRod 03-25-2010 02:25 PM

I don't really need the strength of the Currie setup, Just a little beefier and fresh new joints. And for less that half the cost of the Currie the Crown kit sounded good. I have emailed the company this morning and still haven't gotten a word out of them yet.

Just noticed that I said the grease fittings on the tie rod ends are different than the rest. I meant the grease boots, the tie rod ends have these ridges on them and the rest are smooth like the originals.

Jerry Bransford 03-25-2010 03:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jerryj (Post 581748)
I got the Currie set up,I threw it on out in the desert real quick,its a very nice heavy set up,easy to install.I had the play in the wheel too mine was the pitman arm on the shaft coming out of the box when you moved the wheels from side to side in short strokes the pitman arm was rocking on the shaft but wouldnt tighten any more,not bad in the dirt but look out when u hit the highway,involuntary lane changes!!:eek:

I wouldn't drive it with a Pitman arm that is loose enough to do that.

TheTJRod 03-26-2010 02:05 PM

Well got a message back from Rompalicious.com and I couldn't be happier. They said it was probably stocked with wrong part at the manufacturer and just sent me a new kit today and will schedule a pickup of the old kit for free. I got to give them a recommendation because of their good service. Also it was the cheapest price I could find for the kit and very reasonable shipping for solid steel rods.

TheTJRod 03-30-2010 11:19 AM

Well put back on the orignal tie rod and drag link, and have a horible death wobble... I did notice that my front track bar bushings are bad, also I have a lift and the original track bar, so I for see a JKS track bar in my future. I wish I could add adjustable control arms to the order but, maybe later. Who am I kidding it isn't a question of 'if' it is a question of 'when'.

TheTJRod 04-05-2010 03:23 PM

Replaced the bad bushing the next day and the death wobble was held at bay, and as an unknown bonus my steering seemed not as loose. I also noticed that the frame side of the track bar was looking very ragged. The grease boot is torn off.
Pic of how bad my bushing was compared to a new one
http://i574.photobucket.com/albums/s...0401101235.jpg

Well since I didn't update this in a few days a few other things went wrong. They did send me a new kit, but it had the same tie rod ends(TRE). Furiously I drove to the nearest auto store and asked them to pull out a TRE that fits on the drag link(same size the new kit should be using on both ends). I took some comparative shots and sent that to them plus the part numbers.
http://i574.photobucket.com/albums/s...0331100844.jpg

Of course I was right and they said they would send me new TRE's by Friday.
Lucky for them, I had a box waiting for me when I got home from work.
http://i574.photobucket.com/albums/s...402101648a.jpg
http://i574.photobucket.com/albums/s...402101649b.jpg

I got it all installed. To get the new steering as close to the original as I could I measured from the zerk fittings the old tie rod and moved it to the new one. On my way to the alignment shop it drove well, though I don't really notice much of an improvement in the steering I can't really tell how loose it is right now. Maybe it was a combination of the steering joints and the track bar, though I still don't know how replacing a bad bushing in a track bar would improve steering response. Hmm.. we I wonder what will happen when I replace that bad bushing in my rear lower control arm(why is it that none of the joints seemed like they were greased? they are almost all bad. Damn PO)

necromancer_tat 06-05-2011 12:07 PM

I'm curious to learn how everything turned out? I'm having the same problem you described. Did the crown steering/alignment/track bar bushing cure your problem or did you have to do something else?

TheTJRod 06-05-2011 05:18 PM

The main problem was my track bar bushing. Swaping out my steering didn't make a noticeable difference in my situation. Though the problem didn't totally go away. I ended up doing a WJ knuckle swap later getting new wheel hubs and ball joints and the vibrations remained. Removed all my wheel weights and switched to ball bearing balancing and some ride improved but the main was still there. I think my problem was with the control arm bushings being very bad. Also my jeep is down right now as I am installing new axles and making my own long arm lift with adjustable rebuildable joints on both ends.

http://i574.photobucket.com/albums/s...420_002404.jpg

Arch Stanton 06-05-2011 06:57 PM

What's your overall opinion about the crown kit? For a stock Tj, is it better to replace the control arms or the bushings? I've seen some inexpensive stock control arms on ebay. Thank you.

necromancer_tat 06-05-2011 07:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TheTJRod (Post 1282668)
The main problem was my track bar bushing. Swaping out my steering didn't make a noticeable difference in my situation. Though the problem didn't totally go away. I ended up doing a WJ knuckle swap later getting new wheel hubs and ball joints and the vibrations remained. Removed all my wheel weights and switched to ball bearing balancing and some ride improved but the main was still there. I think my problem was with the control arm bushings being very bad. Also my jeep is down right now as I am installing new axles and making my own long arm lift with adjustable rebuildable joints on both ends.

http://i574.photobucket.com/albums/s...420_002404.jpg

Thanks for the input :) I bought a new Moog trackbar bushing today at an autoparts store, I'll prolly put in on next saturday. I think I have the RE trackbar but I'm not 100% because it was already installed when I bought my Jeep.

You seam to have gone down the same path I'm going down right now, do you have any sugestions for a steering kit/upgrade that I don't have to weld or fabricate that retails for less than $400?

Arch Stanton 06-05-2011 08:08 PM

I found a little bit of play in the driver's side of the stock track bar, and I'm thinking about getting a Moog Track bar from Amazon for $75. I read that the bushing are a hassle to replace. My track bar also has a bunch of black grease caked on, so maybe the boots are shot as well. If I install a modest lift, I can install a Currie track bar, which would probably be more reliable. The Crown kit seems like a good deal for the price. The lowest price I've found is on Autopartswarehouse.com. If you buy all of the Moog parts, it will cost around $260. The drag link is the most expensive part. Good luck with your upgrade!

Quote:

Originally Posted by necromancer_tat (Post 1282981)
Thanks for the input :) I bought a new Moog trackbar bushing today at an autoparts store, I'll prolly put in on next saturday. I think I have the RE trackbar but I'm not 100% because it was already installed when I bought my Jeep.

You seam to have gone down the same path I'm going down right now, do you have any sugestions for a steering kit/upgrade that I don't have to weld or fabricate that retails for less than $400?


TheTJRod 06-05-2011 09:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Arch Stanton (Post 1282896)
What's your overall opinion about the crown kit? For a stock Tj, is it better to replace the control arms or the bushings? I've seen some inexpensive stock control arms on ebay. Thank you.

I liked the Crown kit. The Crown Kit is just the ZJ V8 steering for TJ's. It was less expensive than buying the components from auto zone.

I have aftermarket lower control arms, and they're poly bushings that wear down faster than the stock rubber. The first thing I would check is the track bar bolt tightness, and the bushing at the axle end. Also, if the bolt was loose check the bolt hole for out of round. While your at it check your control arm bushings, tightness and roundness of holes.

I wouldn't buy used stock control arms, you never really know the condition of them and could be a waste of your time if your getting them shipped around and find out they are no better than yours. Buying new factory ones are not to much, $48 each at autozone.com and an awesome $23 bucks at rockauto.com(DORMAN Part # 520362, only 4 left). I have seen stock bushings rust ceased in place and unable to remove without torching out pretty much ruining the arms. If you can get them out new bushings are only like 8 bucks each at 2 per arm.

Arch Stanton 06-05-2011 10:03 PM

Thanks for the reply. I'm going to take your advice and stay away from the used parts, as well as checking the bushings, tightness of bolts, and the roundness of the holes. Also, thanks for the lead on the parts. I think that I'll go ahead and order the Crown kit. Thanks again! Have a good evening!


Quote:

Originally Posted by TheTJRod (Post 1283372)
I liked the Crown kit. The Crown Kit is just the ZJ V8 steering for TJ's. It was less expensive than buying the components from auto zone.

Thanks for the reply. I'm going to take your advice and stay away from the used parts, as well as checking the bushings, tightness of bolts, and the roundness of the holes. Also, thanks for the lead on the parts.


I have aftermarket lower control arms, and they're poly bushings that wear down faster than the stock rubber. The first thing I would check is the track bar bolt tightness, and the bushing at the axle end. Also, if the bolt was loose check the bolt hole for out of round. While your at it check your control arm bushings, tightness and roundness of holes.

I wouldn't buy used stock control arms, you never really know the condition of them and could be a waste of your time if your getting them shipped around and find out they are no better than yours. Buying new factory ones are not to much, $48 each at autozone.com and an awesome $23 bucks at rockauto.com(DORMAN Part # 520362, only 4 left). I have seen stock bushings rust ceased in place and unable to remove without torching out pretty much ruining the arms. If you can get them out new bushings are only like 8 bucks each at 2 per arm.


Black Magic Brakes 06-05-2011 11:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mrcarcrazy (Post 575112)
Actually checking the tie rods is much easier with weight off the wheels. If your using the above mentioned method...grab wheels and turn back forth quickly.

but hey what do I know I've never done this before:rolleyes:

We haven't even gotten to the trackbar yet, as I think the issue lies in the gear box. But yes, the resistance of the wheels on ground will help IF the issue is in the trackbar. not so much if its in a tierod or gearbox.

I have a method and I stick to it. others have methods and they work just fine. I for one don't try to force mine on others, but if they ask I'll tell them how Its been done for a few decades in a small shop I used to work at. (still done the same way.)

to poster above balljoints wear out...not only b/c of trackbar issues. they wear out on their own too.

If you want to check the balljoints I know a way, PM me if you want it. Tired of defending proven ways to check front end components.

Sorry if this post is offensive/defensive. I'm just tired of being told "actually I do it this way, so its better". I was once told "there's more than one way to skin a chicken"...some crazy old hack said it IIRC :D

You're not offending me, but you may offend others. What you are forgetting with all of your experience is you have all that experience, you know how it should feel and look and that's not something you will pass along through a few posts in the internet.

Most folks will deal with these issues once or twice in the life of a vehicle whereas others like myself and you will deal with it daily.

That gives us a distinct advantage when it comes to diagnosing stuff. So, we have to tender our advice to others from a perspective that makes it easier for them to digest and use. That said, doing the dry steering test with wheels on the ground will exaggerate the forces you can feel by hand and make them much more apparent.

Plus, like the sentiment you expressed, don't knock it 'til you try it. ;)

Arch Stanton 06-06-2011 04:33 PM

I went ahead ordered the Crown kit. The salesperson at Autopartswarehouse.com stated that it was made in the U.S., so we'll see if that's true. I've found a good write up on the install, and I might give it a try on the install. Thanks for sharing your experience with the kit. Have a good day!


Quote:

Originally Posted by TheTJRod (Post 1283372)
I liked the Crown kit. The Crown Kit is just the ZJ V8 steering for TJ's. It was less expensive than buying the components from auto zone.

I have aftermarket lower control arms, and they're poly bushings that wear down faster than the stock rubber. The first thing I would check is the track bar bolt tightness, and the bushing at the axle end. Also, if the bolt was loose check the bolt hole for out of round. While your at it check your control arm bushings, tightness and roundness of holes.

I wouldn't buy used stock control arms, you never really know the condition of them and could be a waste of your time if your getting them shipped around and find out they are no better than yours. Buying new factory ones are not to much, $48 each at autozone.com and an awesome $23 bucks at rockauto.com(DORMAN Part # 520362, only 4 left). I have seen stock bushings rust ceased in place and unable to remove without torching out pretty much ruining the arms. If you can get them out new bushings are only like 8 bucks each at 2 per arm.



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