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Old 05-11-2019, 12:44 AM
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How to improve lifted JK/JKU steering?

My 2012 JKU is running 37x12.5x17s using Evo stage 1 Enforcer w/ bolt on coilovers, Yeti flipped drag link, King pass through steering stabilizer, and synergy track bar and tie rod with Synergy track bar mount/sector shaft brace. The front axle is a PR44 w/ Dynatrac ball joints.

The problem I have is the Jeep has the typical road wonder that requires frequent input to keep going straight. Im used to it but the girlfriend hates it and makes her uncomfortable to drive (last time she lasted only an hour before wanting to switch back). I really would like to get her comfortable with driving the Jeep and she wants to share the driving responsibilities both on road and off. Im in the process of building Dana 60/Sterling one tons and would like to get the steering as best as possible. My JKU is a weekend toy/occasional daily but want to be able to drive to/from the trails from home. What else can be done to address the steering in my JKU? Would hydro assist or full hydro help any? Is there a way to tighten up the gearing in the steering box?

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Old 05-11-2019, 02:58 AM   #2
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Judging by the sector shaft brace I'm assuming you are on the stock steering box. I upgraded to the PSC XD2-R with no ram assist and have very minimal input needed. It is a huge improvement on drivability. I can do 5 hour drives no problem on 37s, and I daily drive my Jeep. Also, double check your toe settings. I had some wandering when my toe was out of range.
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Old 05-11-2019, 08:05 AM   #3
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IMO "wandering" is always an indication of a problem and not typical.

I've had it on my 07 because of various reasons.
1 - Insufficient caster caused by 4.5 AEV lift. Caster correction brackets still didn't provide enough caster. I corrected the caster with adjustable front control arms.

2 - Play in steering gearbox. I corrected this by adjusting the lash adjustment screw on top of the gearbox.

I'm currently running 39 KM3s and drove 2500 miles to/from Michigan to Utah with no road wander.

My advice to you is first identify the problem(s), which could be caused by numerous issues in the front end and/or steering components. Once you have identified your problems then it is time to figure out what parts and/or adjustments are required to fix them.

Also, full hydro steering is not legal in some states where a mechanical steering linkage is required.
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Old 05-11-2019, 11:58 AM   #4
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Old 05-11-2019, 12:14 PM   #5
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Wandering is not “typical” if your Jeep is set up correctly. Sounds like you might need more caster. You should have at least 4 degrees, which is stock. I’m running 5 degrees and it tracks straight with hands off the wheel.
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Old 05-11-2019, 12:28 PM   #6
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Agree with above posts - wandering is usually an indication of something not quite tuned right. Perhaps caster is off - maybe time for another alignment?

I'm also on 37x13.5x17's and decided to upgrade the stock steering box with the heftier tires. I had heard of some people having issues when wheeling on the bigger tires and stock steering box with the sector shaft failing.

When I replaced the steering box, I decided to go all in and replaced the entire power steering system with new hoses, pump and cooler - all PSC equipment. I had also heard of the stock hose failing due to heat and melting the inner lining when wheeling.

While this may not necessarily fix the wandering issue, it will improve the steering considerably. I can easily turn the 37's with a single finger and the steering wheel always comes back to center. It's a nice upgrade.

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Old 05-11-2019, 11:56 PM   #7
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I agree. Could be a caster problem.
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Old 05-12-2019, 03:06 AM
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I guess by wander I should clarify, if driving down the fwy with no grooves the Jeep will tach straight. If the fwy is grooved/rutted or if a semi drives by the Jeep will buffet or follow the grooves. To react to these sudden road changes, you almost have to overreact to counter what the Jeep is wanting to do.

I have maybe half an inch to an inch of play in turning the steering wheel before I feel the Jeep starting to respond. It’s that little bit of play I’m looking to get rid of... I don’t even know if it’s possible.

I’ve done x5 alignments (x2 computer, x3 tape measure) on the Jeep and the caster and toe are both where they should be. Maybe I should look at upgrading the steering box and running hydro assist with the SD upgrade
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Old 05-12-2019, 07:22 AM   #9
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What you describe sounds like play in the steering gearbox. You can check it by having someone help by turning the steering wheel back and forth with the engine off. Look at the steering input shaft and pitman arm. If there is a lot of movement in the input shaft before the pitman arm moves then the box has excessive play. I removed the play in mine by adjusting the screw on top of the box. A lot of people say never touch the screw on top of the box, but I figured it was that or a new box, so I tried it and it worked fine.

How I did it:
(All of this 1-5 was does with the engine off and steering wheel unlocked.)

1 - Mark the current position of the adjuster screw.
2 - Gently move the steering wheel back and forth so you get a good feel for the amount of play in it before any resistance is felt.
3 - Loosen the adjuster lock nut on top of the gearbox without moving the adjusting screw.
4 - ALL ADJUSTMENTS TO THE SCREW MUST BE DONE IN SMALL INCREMENTS. Turn the adjusting screw clockwise 1/8 of a turn. (If you feel any resistance when turning the screw you've gone too far and must back it off.
5 - Repeat step 2.
6 - When you've got to the point where there is just a very small amount of play in the steering tighten the lock nut in that position and test drive the Jeep.

If you tighten the adjuster screw too much the steering will bind and will not return to center properly. You may have to repeat the above steps several times until you find the sweet spot where there' just enough play without binding. If you have to turn the screw more than 1/2 turn then I'd consider replacing the box.
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Old 05-14-2019, 03:39 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Carbon6 View Post
I guess by wander I should clarify, if driving down the fwy with no grooves the Jeep will tach straight. If the fwy is grooved/rutted or if a semi drives by the Jeep will buffet or follow the grooves. To react to these sudden road changes, you almost have to overreact to counter what the Jeep is wanting to do.

I have maybe half an inch to an inch of play in turning the steering wheel before I feel the Jeep starting to respond. Itís that little bit of play Iím looking to get rid of... I donít even know if itís possible.

Iíve done x5 alignments (x2 computer, x3 tape measure) on the Jeep and the caster and toe are both where they should be. Maybe I should look at upgrading the steering box and running hydro assist with the SD upgrade
I had exactly what you describe- we called it Death Drift. LOL. Even down to the play in the steering wheel. I had shops tell me it was just typical Jeep steering. To me- it was different than how it drove before. And that wasn't acceptable. And may not be for your GF. If I didn't drive the Jeep for a couple of weeks I'd get back in it and wonder how I drove on the freeway without dying.

My stock steering box was out of whack from whacking into a wee boulder. We did the PSC box and pump to start. (Don't be tempted by the Redneck Ram guys; mine is in the trash.) It did help with the wandering. I added the hydro later for crawling. Pretty sure we used the same method Moab described to check the steering box. Been awhile...
I do notice you have a Synergy tie rod and track bar. Have you checked the tie rod ends? I had to replace mine at least once. If you have the same brace I did and it's welded in you might have issues fitting in a Ram. But if its not I wouldn't worry about it. The pic attached is right at install. After a few hard trail runs it started to rub. It's not so purty anymore.
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Old 05-14-2019, 06:21 PM
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Thanks for that, will give the steering box adjustment a try
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Old 05-14-2019, 11:30 PM   #12
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Thanks for that, will give the steering box adjustment a try
Lots of great info above. You might want to just replace the steering box, order the Synergy correction kit to get your tie rod and drag link parallel (flip it) and replace bushings on the axle... something everyone overlooks when doing uca’s / lca’s.
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Old 05-15-2019, 12:14 AM   #13
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check your ball joints too!!
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Old 05-16-2019, 01:53 AM
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Lots of great info above. You might want to just replace the steering box, order the Synergy correction kit to get your tie rod and drag link parallel (flip it) and replace bushings on the axle... something everyone overlooks when doing uca’s / lca’s.
I already have the drag link flipped using steer smarts yeti DL and the track bar is relocated with the Synergy bracket/sector shaft brace. The suspension has been looked over by evo and all the joints on their lca are good as well as the Currie uca. I’ve attached a pic of my steering setup so you can see if there’s anything obviously wrong. Forgot to mention that I took off my front Currie AR for the rubicon sway w/ Evo’s on demand air setup.



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check your ball joints too!!
Ball joints are dynatrac’s and they’re good, had them inspected by dynatrac when they installed their progrip 2 BBK.
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Old 05-16-2019, 06:23 AM   #15
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I had exactly what you describe- we called it Death Drift. LOL. Even down to the play in the steering wheel. I had shops tell me it was just typical Jeep steering. To me- it was different than how it drove before. And that wasn't acceptable. And may not be for your GF. If I didn't drive the Jeep for a couple of weeks I'd get back in it and wonder how I drove on the freeway without dying.

My stock steering box was out of whack from whacking into a wee boulder. We did the PSC box and pump to start. (Don't be tempted by the Redneck Ram guys; mine is in the trash.) It did help with the wandering. I added the hydro later for crawling. Pretty sure we used the same method Moab described to check the steering box. Been awhile...
I do notice you have a Synergy tie rod and track bar. Have you checked the tie rod ends? I had to replace mine at least once. If you have the same brace I did and it's welded in you might have issues fitting in a Ram. But if its not I wouldn't worry about it. The pic attached is right at install. After a few hard trail runs it started to rub. It's not so purty anymore.
It looks like your drag link is contacting the frame in that pic??????
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Old 05-16-2019, 12:36 PM   #16
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It looks like your drag link is contacting the frame in that pic??????
You're right- it does. Probably just the angle but I am also max flexed out on an articulation ramp in this photo; trying to see of the Ram would hit the tie rod. Might've touched a smidge. But I never flex out that much. (Don't look at my profile pic.)
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Old 05-16-2019, 01:26 PM   #17
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I guess by wander I should clarify, if driving down the fwy with no grooves the Jeep will tach straight. If the fwy is grooved/rutted or if a semi drives by the Jeep will buffet or follow the grooves. To react to these sudden road changes, you almost have to overreact to counter what the Jeep is wanting to do.
I had the same issue. My Jeep was all sorted out, drives straight, it was just impacted more than I like when getting in grooves or ruts or buffeted by semi's. My Toyo MT 37 x 13.5's were not helping the situation.

I solved my problem by installing a Falcon Nexus EF 2.2 adjustable steering stabilizer. Put it in the Medium or Stiff setting and voila! Everything feels firmed up and tight, no more active steering when encountering ruts. It was a very large and noticeable difference and it completely resolved my issues. As an added bonus, it helps to smooth out the ride on rough roads as well. One of the best, if not the best upgrades I've made.

In the Stiff setting, the only downside is 3 point turns in the driveway, it takes a bit of effort to turn the wheel, but out on the road I love it. Medium is a nice compromise though for when your girlfriend drives it. Switching the setting is a piece of cake as the adjustment knob is easily accessible.
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Old 05-16-2019, 01:35 PM   #18
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My 2012 JKU is running 37x12.5x17s using Evo stage 1 Enforcer w/ bolt on coilovers, Yeti flipped drag link, King pass through steering stabilizer, and synergy track bar and tie rod with Synergy track bar mount/sector shaft brace. The front axle is a PR44 w/ Dynatrac ball joints.

The problem I have is the Jeep has the typical road wonder that requires frequent input to keep going straight. Im used to it but the girlfriend hates it and makes her uncomfortable to drive (last time she lasted only an hour before wanting to switch back). I really would like to get her comfortable with driving the Jeep and she wants to share the driving responsibilities both on road and off. Im in the process of building Dana 60/Sterling one tons and would like to get the steering as best as possible. My JKU is a weekend toy/occasional daily but want to be able to drive to/from the trails from home. What else can be done to address the steering in my JKU? Would hydro assist or full hydro help any? Is there a way to tighten up the gearing in the steering box?
It won't solve your steering issue but might help with your better-half's perception - Let her go drive a brand new $55,000 JL it "may" wander right out of the box - and then drive home in your built rig.

On the solution side:
- Slight toe "in" (still w/i spec)
- HD track bar (adj) @Rancho makes one that is noted for solving steering issues.
- DH everything you can
- Check all suspension parts for the inevitable accelerated wear brought on by Big-Sneaks.
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Old 05-18-2019, 12:44 PM   #19
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I already have the drag link flipped using steer smarts yeti DL and the track bar is relocated with the Synergy bracket/sector shaft brace. The suspension has been looked over by evo and all the joints on their lca are good as well as the Currie uca. I’ve attached a pic of my steering setup so you can see if there’s anything obviously wrong. Forgot to mention that I took off my front Currie AR for the rubicon sway w/ Evo’s on demand air setup.




Ball joints are dynatrac’s and they’re good, had them inspected by dynatrac when they installed their progrip 2 BBK.

Double check your drag link ends. To do this correctly on yeti ends use Tongue-and-groove pliers and try and compress the joint. If it compresses at all it is done and needs to be replaced. (Even when done the yeti ends will not have noticeable movement side to side like most bad ends do, but will compress). I had this exact same issue with my Yeti flipped drag link. I was/am running Rancho knuckles and the flipped yeti with 3” bumpstops. This was not enough bumpstop for the yeti flipped unit and it resulted in it hitting the frame on flex and that took out the drag link end on the pitman side. I now run 3.7” of bumpstop up front and no longer hit. (Yes it sucks loosing up travel and I now want to notch the frame) To check if it hits, simply look at the yeti sticker on the knuckle side. If the sticker is torn/scraped off on the top of the drag link it’s making contact. (Easy visual indicator).

Hope you get this all figured out. I remember your jeep has some pretty monster flex from a run we did on cleghorn last year.
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Old 05-18-2019, 12:55 PM   #20
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Judging by the sector shaft brace I'm assuming you are on the stock steering box. I upgraded to the PSC XD2-R with no ram assist and have very minimal input needed. It is a huge improvement on drivability. I can do 5 hour drives no problem on 37s, and I daily drive my Jeep. Also, double check your toe settings. I had some wandering when my toe was out of range.


Great advice. Mine was due to my toe settings, itís hard to get my Jeep aligned correctly on 37s. I had the guy at the alignment shop ride with me twice to show him what I was feeling and we finally got it perfect. Slipped him a $20. I usually find it best to start with the obvious first then go from there.


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