Diagnose Steering Linkage - Video - Jeep Wrangler Forum
Jeep Wrangler Forum

Go Back   Jeep Wrangler Forum > JK Jeep Wrangler Forum > JK Tech Forum

Join Wrangler Forum Today


Reply
 
Thread Tools

Please support our sponsors and let them know you heard about them on WranglerForum.com
Old 12-08-2019, 05:48 PM
Thread Starter
  #1
Jeeper
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: FL
Posts: 139
Diagnose Steering Linkage - Video

Hello - I am hoping some of you kind folks may be able to help me out with some steering (maybe suspension?) issues.

Issue/Symptoms

At parking lot speed, when I combine a sharp (90 degree) turn and braking I get either a clunking/knocking sound (when turning right) or an unusual feeling when turning left. The best way I can describe the left turn symptom is it feels like the Jeep is being tripped. The weight/momentum of the body feels like it's going forward/over the front axle. Neither of these symptoms occur 100% of the time in the above driving scenario, and it seems that it's very difficult to replicate either symptom at a very slow speed - but - occasionally, they do occur.

2013 JKU, ~70k miles, stock suspension/steering (aside from 3/4" front spacer).

Diagnosis

I check the steering linkage and front suspension for anything obviously loose. Nothing seemed loose, but I did not check every bolt to ensure all was properly torqued. I then lifted the front end and moved the wheels up and down to check for issues with the ball joints. They all seemed fine; no up/down movement.

I then checked the drag link ends and tie rod ends. This is where I may have an issue. The video below shows what appears to be some very slight up/down movement at the pitman arm/drag link end. This same up/down movement seems much more apparent at the drag link knuckle end. The driver side tie rod knuckle also appears to have up/down travel.


[Video -->]

Questions/Next Steps

Firstly, after watching the video, does it seem like I should take action with the drag link and tie rod? I assume I should first check the bolts to ensure they are properly torqued. Next, if the issue persists, I assume I just need to get a new drag link and tie rod. If so, can I just replace the ends, or should I just get all new components?

Second, with the symptoms listed above, would it make sense that a bad drag link/tie rod could contribute to those issues? The whole body feeling like it's moving forward over the axle had me thinking maybe it's a suspension thing, but I just don't know. I'm really doubting this is possible, but could the spring not be seated properly on the spacer? I've had the spacer for years, so I don't know why all of the sudden that could be an issue.

I really appreciate any insight or thoughts!

harrisonrmatt is offline   Quote
Old 12-11-2019, 12:29 PM
Thread Starter
  #2
Jeeper
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: FL
Posts: 139
Anyone?

harrisonrmatt is offline   Quote
Old 12-11-2019, 12:38 PM   #3
Moderator

5-Year WF Supporting Member
::WF Moderator::
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: Clear Spring, Md
Posts: 4,130
Quote:
Originally Posted by harrisonrmatt View Post
Anyone?
That up and down movement looks wrong. Is that your issue? I don't know. But it could be. I would replace the drag link. Easier than replacing the end, and if that end is bad odds are the other end is bad or not far behind.
GuzziMoto is online now   Quote
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Old 12-11-2019, 01:07 PM
Thread Starter
  #4
Jeeper
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: FL
Posts: 139
Quote:
Originally Posted by GuzziMoto View Post
That up and down movement looks wrong. Is that your issue? I don't know. But it could be. I would replace the drag link. Easier than replacing the end, and if that end is bad odds are the other end is bad or not far behind.
Thanks Guzzi! I figured I may as well do the drag link and tie rod, since it appears the TRE's are going as well.

I suppose the next question is what to replace it with. After some reading, it seems SteerSmarts, Synergy, and MetalCloak are all providers of well-reviewed steering linkage components. They are all around the $600-800 price range, whereas the Crown Automotive replacement kit is $250 or so. I don't play in the rocks, and don't plan to lift any more than 0-2.5" or go with anything larger than a 35" tire (currently at 33), but I can appreciate quality parts that translate into a better drivability.

That said, will I see much value in spending more than twice the cost of the Crown replacement parts by going with one of the HD setups listed above?
harrisonrmatt is offline   Quote
Old 12-11-2019, 01:21 PM   #5
Moderator

5-Year WF Supporting Member
::WF Moderator::
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: Clear Spring, Md
Posts: 4,130
Quote:
Originally Posted by harrisonrmatt View Post
Thanks Guzzi! I figured I may as well do the drag link and tie rod, since it appears the TRE's are going as well.

I suppose the next question is what to replace it with. After some reading, it seems SteerSmarts, Synergy, and MetalCloak are all providers of well-reviewed steering linkage components. They are all around the $600-800 price range, whereas the Crown Automotive replacement kit is $250 or so. I don't play in the rocks, and don't plan to lift any more than 0-2.5" or go with anything larger than a 35" tire (currently at 33), but I can appreciate quality parts that translate into a better drivability.

That said, will I see much value in spending more than twice the cost of the Crown replacement parts by going with one of the HD setups listed above?
A common option is to upgrade to either one ton ends or two and a half ton ends. If you don't off road hard one ton ends would be a nice upgrade. My logic is, if it wore out I want to replace it with something better.
I am not a fan of SteerSmart, but they do have a number of happy customers. If you don't want to step up to one ton ends, I would consider Synergy TeraFlex, or MetalCloak. Or SteerSmart if you must...
GuzziMoto is online now   Quote
Old 12-11-2019, 02:01 PM   #6
Jeeper
 
sbsyncro's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Santa Barbara, CA
Posts: 454
Have you looked at the track bar? From what I understand slop in the bolt holes can cause symptoms similar to what you're describing. I would clamp a GoPro camera under the suspension and drive around slowly trying to reproduce the symptom. Take a variety of shots that show the tie rod ends, the drag link, and the track bar mounts.

Using this method I recently diagnosed a problem with my trackbar - although it was caused by a jam nut coming loose on my Rock Krawler unit and introducing slop into the track bar and front end.

As to selections of parts, I did a lot of research on the options you listed. I currently have all Rock Krawler parts under my Jeep and am in the process of gradually replacing everything with Synergy stuff to get rid of the jam nuts. I looked at the Yeti stuff but it seemed too heavy and bulky, which could potentially cause its own problems. I also liked the idea of the track bar brace and steering sector shaft brace from Synergy and ordered those as well.

Like you, I'm not into rock crawling (unless it is required to get to a destination) - I run a 2.5/3" lift and 35" tires.
__________________
2017 JKUR | 6-spd Manual | Rock Krawler 2.5" Flex | Bilstein 5100s | MCE Flares | G2 4.88 Gears | Fox 2.0 ATS Stabilizer | Smittybilt Atlas F & R bumpers | Smittybilt X20 Winch | ARB Diff Covers | BesTop Sunrider | Synergy Steering & LCAs| Tom Woods F & R shafts | Magnaflow axle-back | ARB CKMA12 | Q-tec Hardrock wheels w/ 315/70 BFG KO2s
sbsyncro is offline   Quote
Old 12-11-2019, 03:33 PM
Thread Starter
  #7
Jeeper
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: FL
Posts: 139
Quote:
Originally Posted by GuzziMoto View Post
A common option is to upgrade to either one ton ends or two and a half ton ends. If you don't off road hard one ton ends would be a nice upgrade. My logic is, if it wore out I want to replace it with something better.
I am not a fan of SteerSmart, but they do have a number of happy customers. If you don't want to step up to one ton ends, I would consider Synergy TeraFlex, or MetalCloak. Or SteerSmart if you must...
Quote:
Originally Posted by sbsyncro View Post
Have you looked at the track bar? From what I understand slop in the bolt holes can cause symptoms similar to what you're describing. I would clamp a GoPro camera under the suspension and drive around slowly trying to reproduce the symptom. Take a variety of shots that show the tie rod ends, the drag link, and the track bar mounts.

Using this method I recently diagnosed a problem with my trackbar - although it was caused by a jam nut coming loose on my Rock Krawler unit and introducing slop into the track bar and front end.

As to selections of parts, I did a lot of research on the options you listed. I currently have all Rock Krawler parts under my Jeep and am in the process of gradually replacing everything with Synergy stuff to get rid of the jam nuts. I looked at the Yeti stuff but it seemed too heavy and bulky, which could potentially cause its own problems. I also liked the idea of the track bar brace and steering sector shaft brace from Synergy and ordered those as well.

Like you, I'm not into rock crawling (unless it is required to get to a destination) - I run a 2.5/3" lift and 35" tires.
Thank you each for your replies. I still need to investigate the track bar and sway bar (links), as those could be in need of replacement or tightening.

As for the DL and TR, which seem like they need replacing no matter what else may or may not be wrong... there doesn't seem to be much consensus on what to go with.

MetalCloak = features anti-flop, a reasonable end replacement option, but uses jam nuts.
Synergy = a reasonable end replacement option, doesn't use jam nuts, but does not feature anti-flop.
SteerSmarts = features anti-flop, doesn't use jam nuts, but is the most expensive when it comes to replacing the ends.

I have also come across people having issues with the boots on the Synergy TRE's, but it seems those issues have been addressed.

I'll report back what I find with the TB and Sway. If there are any other thoughts or opinions regarding the DL and TR replacement options, I'm all ears.
harrisonrmatt is offline   Quote
Old 12-11-2019, 03:44 PM   #8
Moderator

5-Year WF Supporting Member
::WF Moderator::
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: Clear Spring, Md
Posts: 4,130
As I understand it, Synergy does offer "anti-flop", only they call it "low mis-alignment dust boots". And they sell for $20 a pair. They are for the Synergy Tie Rod Ends used on their Tie Rod.
I am running an aluminum tie rod from Fusion4x4, but it is a 2.5 ton unit. For something less extreme I would look at an aluminum 1 ton, like in this thread
https://www.wranglerforum.com/f274/d...l-2373437.html
GuzziMoto is online now   Quote
Old 12-11-2019, 09:15 PM
Thread Starter
  #9
Jeeper
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: FL
Posts: 139
Quote:
Originally Posted by GuzziMoto View Post
As I understand it, Synergy does offer "anti-flop", only they call it "low mis-alignment dust boots". And they sell for $20 a pair. They are for the Synergy Tie Rod Ends used on their Tie Rod.
I am running an aluminum tie rod from Fusion4x4, but it is a 2.5 ton unit. For something less extreme I would look at an aluminum 1 ton, like in this thread
https://www.wranglerforum.com/f274/d...l-2373437.html
Thanks Guzzi. I am really liking the simple aluminum options (Doetsch, Barnes4x4, etc.). I like the savings in weight and that the ends can be replaced for a measly $30, and are likely to be found at any auto parts store. Not to mentioned these options generally cost around $500 for the set, as compared to $700+ for some of the others I mentioned previously. Question regarding the jam nut... do you use a thread locker (blue) to ensure they don't come loose?
harrisonrmatt is offline   Quote
Old 12-11-2019, 10:36 PM   #10
Jeeper
 
H8SPVMT's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Summerville, SC
Posts: 2,852
May very well be chipped spider gears in the front differential. Mine would actually lock up as if I hit a small object.
__________________

2015 Firecracker Red JK Hard Rock with Bushwacker Flat Fenders
Trans American Trail (TAT) Completed Jul/Aug 17,
Smoky Mtn. 500 2018
Smoky Mtn 1000 & Georgia Traverse 2019
H8SPVMT is offline   Quote
Old 12-12-2019, 06:52 AM   #11
Moderator

5-Year WF Supporting Member
::WF Moderator::
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: Clear Spring, Md
Posts: 4,130
Quote:
Originally Posted by harrisonrmatt View Post
Thanks Guzzi. I am really liking the simple aluminum options (Doetsch, Barnes4x4, etc.). I like the savings in weight and that the ends can be replaced for a measly $30, and are likely to be found at any auto parts store. Not to mentioned these options generally cost around $500 for the set, as compared to $700+ for some of the others I mentioned previously. Question regarding the jam nut... do you use a thread locker (blue) to ensure they don't come loose?
On our aluminum tie rod we use blue thread locker on the jam nut. It may not be required, but I do it. It is something of a pain to use thread locker on the jam nut, because you need to use anti-seize on the threads that go into the aluminum rod. The steel threads into the aluminum bar will seize if you don't use something to stop it. And you need to clean that off if there is any on the threads before you use the thread locker.
We don't have one of the aluminum drag links, just the tie rod. The one potential issue with the aluminum drag link is they tend to be a straight bar of aluminum where as the stock steel drag link has a bend at one end for better clearance. Make sure you can use a straight drag link if you are going to run an aluminum drag link. Not saying not to, just saying make sure you have the clearance.
GuzziMoto is online now   Quote
Old 12-12-2019, 10:54 AM
Thread Starter
  #12
Jeeper
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: FL
Posts: 139
Quote:
Originally Posted by H8SPVMT View Post
May very well be chipped spider gears in the front differential. Mine would actually lock up as if I hit a small object.
Interesting, I appreciate that feedback. I think I will inspect/replace what's needed up front to see if that solves the problem. If not, perhaps this is my next place to look. Thanks again for sharing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GuzziMoto View Post
On our aluminum tie rod we use blue thread locker on the jam nut. It may not be required, but I do it. It is something of a pain to use thread locker on the jam nut, because you need to use anti-seize on the threads that go into the aluminum rod. The steel threads into the aluminum bar will seize if you don't use something to stop it. And you need to clean that off if there is any on the threads before you use the thread locker.
We don't have one of the aluminum drag links, just the tie rod. The one potential issue with the aluminum drag link is they tend to be a straight bar of aluminum where as the stock steel drag link has a bend at one end for better clearance. Make sure you can use a straight drag link if you are going to run an aluminum drag link. Not saying not to, just saying make sure you have the clearance.
Thanks Guzzi. After more poking around I agree with going for a DL that has the bend. I have settled on the following options:
  • Local OEM take off from a new JK Recon = $40 (for both the DL and tie rod)
  • Moog drag link replacement = $100
  • Synergy drag link = $225
  • Spohn drag link = $200

With all 4 options all of the ends can be replaced for around $50 (or less). It could just be the product marketing language, but the Spohn TRE's sound like the most robust. I also wouldn't be surprised if all of the 1 ton ends are coming from the same factory and are all comparable. I will likely start with the OEM take off and see how that pans out. If I move on from that I will likely go with the Spohn DL.

Since there was a lot more play in my DL than TR, I am going to just start with replacing the DL. If/when I do the TR, I will go for one of the aluminum bar 1 ton kits that are available. Guzzi, thanks for your note regarding the threading procedure for your tie rod.
harrisonrmatt is offline   Quote
Old 12-12-2019, 11:20 AM   #13
Moderator

5-Year WF Supporting Member
::WF Moderator::
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: Clear Spring, Md
Posts: 4,130
I am not a fan of the tie rods that have the bend in the rod. Once you bend the rod it is not as strong. I would rather have one that uses a straight rod and bent or offset ends that are forged like that.
If you are going to use a tie rod (or a drag link) that has a bend in it I would want that rod to be forged with that bend.
Perhaps it is worrying about something that just won't matter, but that is me and my opinion.
The take off deal sounds good, the stock drag link isn't bad and you can always upgrade the tie rod later.
I would not pay $100 for a Moog replacement. I probably wouldn't use that even if it was free, not worth the effort to install.
GuzziMoto is online now   Quote
Old 12-12-2019, 12:05 PM
Thread Starter
  #14
Jeeper
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: FL
Posts: 139
Quote:
Originally Posted by GuzziMoto View Post
I am not a fan of the tie rods that have the bend in the rod. Once you bend the rod it is not as strong. I would rather have one that uses a straight rod and bent or offset ends that are forged like that.
If you are going to use a tie rod (or a drag link) that has a bend in it I would want that rod to be forged with that bend.
Perhaps it is worrying about something that just won't matter, but that is me and my opinion.
The take off deal sounds good, the stock drag link isn't bad and you can always upgrade the tie rod later.
I would not pay $100 for a Moog replacement. I probably wouldn't use that even if it was free, not worth the effort to install.
Thanks - agreed on the Moog. For a hundred bucks more I'd just go with something heavier duty. I'll swap in the new OEM's, inspect the track bar bolt holes for slop, and ensure everything up front is properly torqued. I'll report back my findings.

Thanks again the help!
harrisonrmatt is offline   Quote
Old 12-12-2019, 05:01 PM
Thread Starter
  #15
Jeeper
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: FL
Posts: 139
I'll keep updating this thread in case someone else comes across it.

Just finished torquing the track bar bolts, sway bar end links, and I rechecked everything up front for anything loose. The TB bolts were very slightly under torque - so slightly that I wouldn't anticipate that being the culprit, but what do I know. Also, those are a pain to torque.

I'll do some tests to try and recreate the issue this weekend - if the issue has ceased, then we can likely attribute it to slightly under torqued TB bolts. I will also plan to install the new OE drag link and tie rod after initial testing. If that cures the problem, then we can probably attribute it to the DL. If it persists, well, then we'll see.

harrisonrmatt is offline   Quote
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off






All times are GMT -5. The time now is 04:03 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.6.1
User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging v3.1.0 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2020 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2020 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.

Jeep®, Wrangler, Liberty, Wagoneer, Cherokee, Gladiator, Mopar and Grand Cherokee are copyrighted and trademarked to FCA US LLC.
Wranglerforum.com is not in any way associated with FCA US LLC.