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Old 09-18-2019, 02:33 PM
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Help! Steering Problems

I need some advice. First of all, let me start out by saying I am NOT a mechanic and those that I have been going to make me wonder if they are?

I own a 2010 Jeep JK and have had it since new. I had a 4 " lift installed several years ago. Running 35" nitto trail grapplers and have ran it this way for years with no issues! Recently (April 2019) my front drive shaft went bad. I had one transmission shop quote me over $1500 for an oem install. Upon researching I purchased an aftermarket and installed myself (because no shop wanted to do it) I did something wrong "seating" the yoke causing a small leak.. After some online research I found a recommendation of a "jeep guy" that worked on Jeep's. Took it to him, and he fixed the driveshaft issue no problem. I told him that while it was there to see if everything in the front end looked okay. I didn't have ANY issues, but I wanted some preventative maintenance done to avoid any issues. He said ball joints were still in specifications, but he would recommend those due to big heavy tires I was running. I said sure, go ahead. He also replace the bushings on the control arm bushings. He installed hd upper and lower ball joints and had allignment done.

$1200 paid, and when I left his business, I could not keep the Jeep between the lines. I got home called him and asked if he drove it because it was extremely dangerous! He said no, he didn't drive it. Keep in mind, I had zero steering issues before he replaced bushings or hd ball joints. He told me to bring it back for another re allignment. So I did and nothing, still all over the road. He said I needed new front and rear shocks to fix the sway.. okay I said, whatever it takes because it is not drive worthy and dangerous. He also put on a new front track bar. 4 shocks, front track bar, and another allignment and still no avail. He said he dove it and did not see an issue with it. I said huh? My traction control is now kicking in at 65-70 mph because there is so much sway, and I can barely keep between the lines. His response? You need a rear track bar! Needless to say I was done with this guy and off to get my Jeep back to driving normal!

I purchased and installed the rear track bar.. and still having sway and steering return to center issues along with the traction control activating when the sway happens, (lane changes, curves, reacting to a wind gust,etc)

Since all of the above started in 5/2019. I have taken it to 4 different shops and received several different answers.
1) it's the ball joints. They are pinching and too tight $1200 to replace them (dealership recommend while I was there for clockspring recall)
2) next shop drove it and said.. wow, this Jeep is dangerous. I will grease everything and found a front rt drive axle ujoint was bad and replaced that. $350, problem still there.
3) this shop drove it, and said ball joints pinching. You might want to consider changing them, but I can not guarantee thats the problem. That advice was free!
4) just got back from another shop. He said he disconnected everything and my steering gear box is bad!! $750 to replace

Shop # 2 up there told me my steering box was fine because he checked it out by.. something to do with pitman arm??

None of this makes sense to me because there was nothing wrong with the steering when this all started. I am at my wit's end with this thing and want to get it fixed properly without spending money on wrong diagnostics!

It still has the "sway" and the return to center steering is still not right, and traction control kicking in at 70mph is no fun!

If anyone is still reading at this point, thanks for listening.. it continues to be a frustrated process, and I'm reaching out for advice. I do not have the tools or know-how to do my own diagnostics... Any suggestions??

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Old 09-18-2019, 05:53 PM   #2
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What ball joints? My understanding is that some brands need a break in period and then are fine after that.


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Old 09-18-2019, 06:30 PM
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Upper and lowers,

https://rugged-parts.com/rugged-part...uspension.html

https://rugged-parts.com/rugged-part...uspension.html

I have about 2000 miles on them.

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What ball joints? My understanding is that some brands need a break in period and then are fine after that.



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Old 09-18-2019, 06:56 PM   #4
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Without knowing everything each "mechanic" that has touched has done, I offer the following (questions):

To your knowledge;

(1) did anyone, or everyone, torque these replacements/upgrades while the vehicle is in the air?
(2) what is your tire pressure and has someone changed that to way more than it should be (start at 28 PSI)?
(3) what are the alignment specs for caster from your last alignment?
(4) does rotating the tires change the handling (were they rotated during this process at all)?
(5) is the steering wheel straight?
(6) what was the reasoning, if any, to replace the ball joints with knurled pieces? Those are only for worn out inner "C"s.

Information: The 2 dr JK prefers to be around 5 deg positive caster. If you are running a 4" lift on factory arms, you are out of spec. Maybe the worn ball joints were masking this fact. Maybe the "mechanic" torqued the control arms in the air instead of under the vehicles own weight causing bushing bind. Same could be true for the other pieces; i.e. track bar.

Have a blessed and prosperous evening.

Allen
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Old 09-18-2019, 07:19 PM   #5
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I had a similar problem with my last 2009 JK. I replaced almost everything that you mentioned. I flipped my drag link with a high steer kit. Made it more horizontal. It improved some. My issue was the cheap 4” ProComp lift. For some reason it did not come with adjustable CAs. I added them later but still could not figure it out. IMO ditch the 4” and install a 2.5”. Less parts to worry about maintaining.
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Old 09-18-2019, 07:25 PM   #6
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Would anyone agree to try some CA drop brackets?
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Old 09-18-2019, 08:39 PM   #7
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I had a similar problem with my last 2009 JK. I replaced almost everything that you mentioned. I flipped my drag link with a high steer kit. Made it more horizontal. It improved some. My issue was the cheap 4” ProComp lift. For some reason it did not come with adjustable CAs. I added them later but still could not figure it out. IMO ditch the 4” and install a 2.5”. Less parts to worry about maintaining.
Didn't even think about the DL flip. I assumed (we know how that goes) that the OP had one already in the kit.

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Would anyone agree to try some CA drop brackets?
Control arm brackets, such as this one from Rancho, would help and give the OP caster correction and better surface street ride. Even though you can get good results with this one, and they have an option for 4" lift, you get the static result from their design. Adjustable front LCAs from Core 4x4 are affordable at the Tier Two level in black or charcoal.

As far as the DL flip goes, if you do not have one, this one from Steer Smarts is beefy and no drilling is required. Add to cart for all pricing.

The other concern is that: this issue came on after this "mechanic" originally put the work into it. No other issues reported prior to this happening. Other than the front DS mentioned.

Namaste,

Allen
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Old 09-18-2019, 10:02 PM   #8
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In two different posts he mentioned "sway". Are the sway bar links connected?
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Old 09-18-2019, 10:20 PM   #9
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In two different posts he mentioned "sway". Are the sway bar links connected?
One man's sway is another man's swerve. Not bustin' your chops, just saying. Maybe the OP could be more clarifying.
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Old 09-18-2019, 10:49 PM
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A few additional details.

Since the issue started, I have had 2 or 3 allignments and most recent caster print out is 2.5' before and after (both the same number).

I do not have adjustable control arms. I'm thinking this is my next purchase. Front uppers to adjust the caster??

Return to center steering! This is a Big problem. It does not have that steering "snap" back when you flick the steering wheel left or right. Steering is very straight and stiff. So for example, when doing a lane change on the highway it may cause over correcting and then that will trigger the traction control /esc to engage.

Everything has been greased.

Tire pressure has been at 28 and up to 35 the lower offered the less fatigue when driving, but still requires 2 hands on wheel at all times and zero distraction allowed.

Sway bar/links are connected and straight.

Would anyone agree that the allignment number (caster) looks off? If so would you also agree to try the adjustable control arms?

Nitto trail grapplers are new, and almost due for first rotation.

Thanks again for everything!
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Old 09-18-2019, 10:55 PM
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Hmm, I missed the rancho control arm bracket.
That looks promising. Maybee that is the manic answer? Which way do I throw my money first? lol
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Old 09-18-2019, 10:56 PM
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Tires are all new. Will do first rotation next oil change which is soon.
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Old 09-18-2019, 11:01 PM   #13
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I would almost bet my left arm you have 2 issues.

First, your ball joints are very tight and this is leading to a very darty feeling steering. Return to center is drastically affected and just driving straight down the road feels nearly impossible. The fix for that? Break the ball joints in or swap in a stock set. I had a set of Teraflex ball joints that did exactly this and after about 3500 miles I took my Jeep off road and hammered the front end through the rocks. All of a sudden? Night and day difference driving home after wheeling.

Second: you probably are really low on caster for the 4” lift. I like to dial in 5.5 - 5.8 degrees of caster on 3.5 - 4.5” lifts. Makes a huge difference when blasting along at highway speeds. Someone who doesn’t work with a lot of lifted Jeeps will set it to 4 - 4.2 degrees as factory specifies and this just isn’t enough.
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Old 09-18-2019, 11:07 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vankemp View Post
A few additional details.

Since the issue started, I have had 2 or 3 allignments and most recent caster print out is 2.5' before and after (both the same)

I do not have adjustable control arms. I'm thinking this is my next purchase. Front uppers to adjust the caster??

Return to center steering! Big problem. It does not have that steering s ap back when you click the steering wheel left or right. Steering is very straight and stuff. So for example, when doing a lane change on highway may cause over correcting and then causes traction control /esc to engage.

Everything has been greased.

Tire pressure has been at 28 and up to 35 the lower offered the less fatigue when driving, but still requires 2 hands on wheel at all times and zero distraction allowed.

Sway bar/links are connected and straight.

Would anyone agree that the allignment number (caster) looks off? If so would you also agree to try the adjustable control arms?

Thanks again for everything!
Wow.. just read this. 2.5 degrees is extremely low! I can’t believe that the Jeep ever drove well. Adjustable control arms or caster correction brackets are a must.

And I still say that the ball joints are very tight which is Amplifying the lack of caster. You still will need to break those bad boys in!
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Old 09-18-2019, 11:19 PM
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Alright! I feel like I'm getting somewhere. I had no idea what those allignment numbers meant until I did some reading. I'm glad to hear that I may have identified one of the issues. I have been reading that all other caster numbers were much higher than mine.

Secondly, I am off work this week at an offroad area that I can do some hammering! I will get those control arms on order tomorrow. Hopefully one step closer to getting this resolved. A big lesson learned. Going forward I will diagnose and research my problem versus going to a "mechanic" and asking if he can diagnose the issue.
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Old 09-19-2019, 06:19 AM   #16
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#1 What you are describing with the stiff touchy steering with poor return to center is exactly what you will get if you over-tighten the lash adjusting stud on the top of the steering gearbox. I'll bet someone messed with it.

#2 Your caster is too low and needs to be increased. I prefer adjustable lower control arms for this. Positive caster is what causes the tires to want to return to center and track straight ahead.

I see you live in Michigan. I am in Farmington Hills. If you'd like a sanity check I'd be happy to look at it for you.
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Old 09-19-2019, 11:10 AM
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You might be on to something. With not a lot to loose, I decided to gently adjust the lash adjustment your talking about. I counter clockwise turned the adjustment so slightly at a time and the stiffness and return to center did get a lot better! I will also try to air up as I believe I am running around 27#s. Next will be to order up the adjustable control arms. I would like to only purchase the set that will adjust the caster. I'm getting conflicting information. Do I need to order the upper or lower for the caster adjustment? I talked (online chat) with rough country and he said I needed the uppers for the caster adjustment, others say lower. And yes, I live about 50 minutes North of you. If the control arms do not fix the issue, I will set something up with you. Thanks again!


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#1 What you are describing with the stiff touchy steering with poor return to center is exactly what you will get if you over-tighten the lash adjusting stud on the top of the steering gearbox. I'll bet someone messed with it.

#2 Your caster is too low and needs to be increased. I prefer adjustable lower control arms for this. Positive caster is what causes the tires to want to return to center and track straight ahead.

I see you live in Michigan. I am in Farmington Hills. If you'd like a sanity check I'd be happy to look at it for you.
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Old 09-19-2019, 11:26 AM   #18
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MoabCarl

You might be on to something. With not a lot to loose, I decided to gently adjust the lash adjustment your talking about. I counter clockwise turned the adjustment so slightly at a time and the stiffness and return to center did get a lot better! I will also try to air up as I believe I am running around 27#s. Next will be to order up the adjustable control arms. I would like to only purchase the set that will adjust the caster. I'm getting conflicting information. Do I need to order the upper or lower for the caster adjustment? I talked (online chat) with rough country and he said I needed the uppers for the caster adjustment, others say lower. And yes, I live about 50 minutes North of you. If the control arms do not fix the issue, I will set something up with you. Thanks again!


Quote:
Originally Posted by MoabCarl View Post
#1 What you are describing with the stiff touchy steering with poor return to center is exactly what you will get if you over-tighten the lash adjusting stud on the top of the steering gearbox. I'll bet someone messed with it.

#2 Your caster is too low and needs to be increased. I prefer adjustable lower control arms for this. Positive caster is what causes the tires to want to return to center and track straight ahead.

I see you live in Michigan. I am in Farmington Hills. If you'd like a sanity check I'd be happy to look at it for you.
Normally lowers are all you need to adjust the caster.
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Old 09-19-2019, 11:44 AM   #19
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Or you could install geometry correction brackets.
And I would not buy Rough Country adjustable control arms.
If you don't want the brackets (and I think they will give you better results as they correct more than just caster, unlike the arms), I would buy a set of Core 4x4 arms from Allen (AOR) or a set of Synergy arms. Or what I did buy, Alpine arms from TF.
Standard practice if you want to adjust caster with adjustable arms is to get a set of lower front arms. You can adjust caster with a set of upper front arms, but the lower front arms are what people commonly use. To add caster with lower front arms you make them a little longer. To adjust caster with upper front arms you have to make them shorter. Most arms are more designed to go longer than shorter.
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Old 09-19-2019, 03:27 PM   #20
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Whoo hooo. I think we got you headed in the right direction now. Correction brackets will give you a better daily driver experience. Its just geometry. Basically, with the brackets, the lower control arm is more flat. This allows you more swing in the arc the arms make when traveling. Adjustable arms will let you dial it in to what you want/need and give you more ground clearance.

As mentioned, front LCAs are the way to go. As far as diagnosing in the future goes, there is lots of wisdom here, so dive right in.

Namaste,

Allen
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Old 09-19-2019, 08:00 PM
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Thanks again for everyone's help.
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Old 09-20-2019, 03:24 PM   #22
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Thanks again for everyone's help.
Don't forget the follow up details and resolution. These are important to those that put in the effort to help. Closure and all that.
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Old 09-24-2019, 10:34 PM   #23
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I just had u-joints on both front axels replaced as well as all ball joints with Teraflex heavy duties. Your prices look to be in line with installation if that gives any comfort. You should have them seen for a follow up readjustment after about 500 miles. Sounds like you need it now! Check your lugs too after 100 miles!

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