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Old 12-05-2019, 10:34 AM
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Options for better steering/handling - tie rods, drag links, track bars

Hey guys,

2012 JKU 127k. Below are pics from both sides of my current setup. This is how I bought it. Overall, handles pretty well, better at higher speeds (60+) than lower (40-60). When in the 40-60 MPH range, get a bit of steering wheel shaking, nothing crazy. Tires are at 34 PSI (35/12.5/20).

4" Pro Comp with stabilizer.

Just looking to start upgrading suspension parts as I go, so here are my questions:

1. What gives the most results to start, Tie rod, drag link, or track bar?

2. Should I replace entire TR, or just beef up the ends?

3. Recommended brands/material/diameters?

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Old 12-05-2019, 10:48 AM
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To add, currently have a bit of play in my TR. If I grab the rod with my hand, it does seem loose at the joints. I can shift it (almost like a spin motion) about 1/4-1/2 inch in either direction. So that I know is probably causing some sort of shimmy in my wheel.

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Old 12-05-2019, 10:52 AM   #3
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It's likely what you're experiencing is the beginning of death wobble. Also likely the stabilizer is masking some issues.

IMO inspect everything and make your decisions based on the results of that inspection. At 127k there may be quite a bit that needs replaced (track bar, ball joints, TR, DL, unit bearings, etc)

Also drop your PSI to around 28.

Planman did a couple of great videos on how to check everything:



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Old 12-05-2019, 10:57 AM
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Also drop your PSI to around 28.
I have LT tires. Really don't know if that matter, but a friend of mine at a tire shop said don't go that low on LTs, whereas RTs can.

Is he full of it?

This is my daily driver, mostly on the main road, going about 45-65 as a commute.
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Old 12-05-2019, 11:04 AM   #5
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I have LT tires. Really don't know if that matter, but a friend of mine at a tire shop said don't go that low on LTs, whereas RTs can.

Is he full of it?

This is my daily driver, mostly on the main road, going about 45-65 as a commute.

What load range are they?
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Old 12-05-2019, 11:07 AM
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What load range are they?
"LOAD RANGE E Max Load 1450 kg (3195 lbs) at 450 KPg (65 PSI) GOLD"
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Old 12-05-2019, 11:15 AM   #7
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"LOAD RANGE E Max Load 1450 kg (3195 lbs) at 450 KPg (65 PSI) GOLD"
E rated you might even drop it down to 26. Around 26-28 will be the sweet spot.
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Old 12-05-2019, 11:33 AM   #8
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Speed related wobbles are usually tire issues. Or they can be wheel or brake related, usually they are from something spinning that isn't balanced.
As to the play in the tie rod you describe, the tie rod ends should freely rotate. They just should have no movement in the side to side direction. But rotating forwards and backwards on the joints is normal.
For a wobble that comes in at 40 and goes away above 60 I would have the tires balanced first, preferable with a road force balancer.
As mentioned, load range E tires are overkill for a JK / JKU and you will likely want lower pressures with them than you would normally expect. The stock tires are load range C, and smaller. Your tires are bigger (which needs less pressure) and heavier duty (which also needs less pressure).

That said, I would replace the entire tie rod with a stronger one vs just replacing the ends. Same for the drag link. And you may want to check your ball joints. As with the others, if they are going I would replace them with heavier duty aftermarket ones. At that mileage I am sure things are starting to wear out.
I like the aluminum tie rod and drag link from Fusion 4x4, and for ball joints you can go with TeraFlex, or if you want to go with the best perhaps DynaTrac. I also like Rare Parts ball joints, but some have had issues with them.
You may also want new shocks.
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Old 12-05-2019, 11:42 AM
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Appreciate the input guys. I had the tires down to 31 a month ago, and it just looked a bit low so I went back to 34.

I will drop to 28, chalk test, and drive for a day or two and see if that's good to go.

As for the TR, GuzziMoto, yes it "spins" but does not move side to side. So that is normal-ish, I guess. Thanks for clarifying. I am going to be replacing all of those components anyways over the next two months.
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Old 12-05-2019, 01:38 PM   #10
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I agree E rated tires are a bit of overkill for a JK. Some who are heavy into off road trips around rocks prefer them for the thicker sidewalls. On passenger car and pickup tires there are two series (LT - Light Truck or P - Passenger car). The LTs have a thicker tread depth generally while the P series tire (usually left off in the tire listings) ride smoother.

For example a tire listed as 255/75R17 in the tire listing will be a P series and generally show a load range of SL, sometimes they will show the P in the details. The LT255/75R17 tires will be found, depending on the manufacturer as C, D or E. Sometimes you only have one LR choice in a tire, sometimes two. I recall seeing one with all three, but don't remember the brand or size of tire.


The higher the load range the thicker the sidewall and the stiffer ride that comes with it.
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Old 12-05-2019, 01:45 PM   #11
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Take it from me, who started throwing parts at the Jeep to address steering issues. Get the tires re-balanced first.
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Old 12-05-2019, 02:14 PM
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Take it from me, who started throwing parts at the Jeep to address steering issues. Get the tires re-balanced first.
On it. Getting them done this weekend.

Also dropped tire pressure to 28-29ish, going to officially get a digital reading later, don't have a digi gauge on me. But the steering wheel movement is gone between 40-50.
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Old 12-05-2019, 06:42 PM   #13
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The 26-28 is not a problem on 35's...

Consider an aluminum 1 ton steering setup. You would use an understeer draglink. Remove the stabilizer on the passenger side and keep the one on the drivers side.

Doetsch Off-road
RPM Steering
Barnes 4x4

There are many and recently we have seen deals for $400 for the set.

At 130k, who knows the condition of ball joints, control arm bushings, track bar bushings, etc. But you should check those all out.

For me track bars affect handling the most. Check out the Core 4x4 bars available from Allen's Off-road. @AOR
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Old 12-05-2019, 06:57 PM   #14
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The 26-28 is not a problem on 35's...

Consider an aluminum 1 ton steering setup. You would use an understeer draglink. Remove the stabilizer on the passenger side and keep the one on the drivers side.

Doetsch Off-road
RPM Steering
Barnes 4x4

There are many and recently we have seen deals for $400 for the set.

At 130k, who knows the condition of ball joints, control arm bushings, track bar bushings, etc. But you should check those all out.

For me track bars affect handling the most. Check out the Core 4x4 bars available from Allen's Off-road. @AOR

i would skip the one ton aluminum setup and go straight to the 2.5 ton fusion 4x4 setup. i only say that because i have personally seen a tnt customs tie rod break at the drivers side joint where the threads are. the actual aluminum cracked and a chunk broke off, allowing the joint to fall out of the bar. granted, hydro assist was involved, but still.


as for what to do first? get a new track bar! i can see my solid 1.5" RK track bar flex a little bit when turning the tires while stopped, so just imagine how much the weak stock one must flex!
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Old 12-05-2019, 07:18 PM   #15
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^^^What he said.
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Old 12-05-2019, 08:33 PM   #16
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Quote:
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i would skip the one ton aluminum setup and go straight to the 2.5 ton fusion 4x4 setup. i only say that because i have personally seen a tnt customs tie rod break at the drivers side joint where the threads are. the actual aluminum cracked and a chunk broke off, allowing the joint to fall out of the bar. granted, hydro assist was involved, but still.


as for what to do first? get a new track bar! i can see my solid 1.5" RK track bar flex a little bit when turning the tires while stopped, so just imagine how much the weak stock one must flex!
I get it, it's the "better" setup... But we're talking about 35's on a D30. And lots more $$. And the 1 ton is a massive jump up from stock already.
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Old 12-05-2019, 08:39 PM   #17
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I get it, it's the "better" setup... But we're talking about 35's on a D30. And lots more $$. And the 1 ton is a massive jump up from stock already.

I think it’s proper planning for the new axle after the D30 expires.
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Old 12-06-2019, 07:41 AM   #18
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I agree that since it seems speed related I would start with tires or wheels. Specifically request road force balancing - not everywhere does it, and they probably wont ask you. Make sure on large tires (especially if you offroad) that they use tape weights not the clip type weights.

See if that helps before just starting to throw money at things. That money pit can get very deep lol. Start with what is definitely needing fixing, then work your way to stuff that is starting to show wear.

Bushings and ball joints like @Pressurized said would be where I would start looking. They dont last forever and can get slop as they wear.

If you really want to flush out what is going on with the front end if tires alone dont help - remove the stabilizer to help diagnose. That way you can get to what it may be hiding. You may say "track bar looks ok" but not see that the mount is oval-ed out. A Jeep should drive perfectly with ZERO stabilizer. That said, it does serve a purpose- it protects the steering from sudden hard jolts. But to temporarily remove it to diagnose it is absolutely driveable, just dont go crazy. Then put it back it once you identify the front end culprit.

Quote:
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I agree E rated tires are a bit of overkill for a JK. Some who are heavy into off road trips around rocks prefer them for the thicker sidewalls.
Actually, E is not a good tire to run when crawling. That sidewall is way too stiff and the tires dont flex as much to wrap around obstacles.
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Old 12-06-2019, 07:49 AM   #19
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Now I see in the picture there is a dual stabilizer. That means one of two things. The previous owner thought it looked cool (lol - a dual is not needed) or the previous owner was having front end issues and put it on as a bandaid to cover them up (or some uneducated shop convinced them it would solve the problem).

Are you still running an undermount draglink? At 4 inches of lift most Jeeps would benefit from a flip link to keep it parallel to trackbar.
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Old 12-06-2019, 09:34 AM
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Now I see in the picture there is a dual stabilizer. That means one of two things. The previous owner thought it looked cool (lol - a dual is not needed) or the previous owner was having front end issues and put it on as a bandaid to cover them up (or some uneducated shop convinced them it would solve the problem).

Are you still running an undermount draglink? At 4 inches of lift most Jeeps would benefit from a flip link to keep it parallel to trackbar.
TBH, I believe the previous owner was a younger chick, and was sold the whole package and probably paid more than she needed. I have a lot of mechanical knowledge, but have never dealt with suspension components, so this is a learning curve for me.

I'm not sure what stock parts for the JKU look like to see what of mine has been redone. That's why I got the pics including the main pieces.

But, the handling was never bad to begin with, like I stated earlier, just slight shimmy in the steering wheel. I do not believe it's the start of DW, is just tire related like a few other people mentioned previously. I did drop to 28 PSI, major difference. I just feel some of the components under there (TB, TR, DL) may be stock and just be a ticking time bomb to hold the load of the lift and tires.

Ball joints are good, they were replaced before. At what mileage I'm not sure.
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Old 12-06-2019, 09:53 AM
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Also, can you recommend a good flip DL? Or what material & thickness should I be looking for?

I do also want to get a better TB. Thickness & material I should go for?

It seems aluminium TR is the way to go, between 1.5"-2.5".
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Old 12-06-2019, 12:33 PM   #22
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TeraFlex Monster Trackbar, and AEV draglink Flip kit. Drives like a dream.


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Old 12-06-2019, 05:46 PM   #23
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I have more than that, but I do have the same TrraFlex track bar and AEV draglink flip. I am happy with it.
One thing about the AEV flip is it uses a stock right hand drive draglink. It’s not a super heavy duty draglink, but it does seem to work with less bumpstop than the more heavy duty options.
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Old 12-08-2019, 12:34 PM
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Thanks JTPhoto & Guzzi, Will look into the AEV flip and that TB.

Also, 27 PSI seems to be the sweet spot for a smooth ride on these tires. Thanks to all who put input on that.
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Old 12-09-2019, 08:35 AM   #25
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It's likely what you're experiencing is the beginning of death wobble. Also likely the stabilizer is masking some issues.

IMO inspect everything and make your decisions based on the results of that inspection. At 127k there may be quite a bit that needs replaced (track bar, ball joints, TR, DL, unit bearings, etc)

Also drop your PSI to around 28.

Planman did a couple of great videos on how to check everything:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uQwlmlhiF4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ii81V7XYr-k
He doesn't show it in the video but references using a large channel lock to squeeze the tie rod ends and there should be NO up-down movement when squeezing them. My TRE's were bad but passed the left right wheel move test, but failed the channel lock test bad - replaced and fixed my DW after replacing Tie rod. (already replaced track bar and drag link but still had DW until tie rod was replaced as well)
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Old 12-09-2019, 02:38 PM   #26
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As nobody directly answered...yes, the tie rod normally does rotate.
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Old 12-09-2019, 04:03 PM   #27
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He doesn't show it in the video but references using a large channel lock to squeeze the tie rod ends and there should be NO up-down movement when squeezing them. My TRE's were bad but passed the left right wheel move test, but failed the channel lock test bad - replaced and fixed my DW after replacing Tie rod. (already replaced track bar and drag link but still had DW until tie rod was replaced as well)
If you're able to take a look, does this video of mine below appear to be similar to the up and down movement you had with your tie rod? The video shows both drag link ends as well as the tie rod.


I get some weird clunking noises occasionally and am wondering if this is the culprit. I still need to check/re torque everything up front with the wheels on the ground, but I started with the above diagnosis test.

https://www.wranglerforum.com/f202/d...o-2384803.html
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Old 12-10-2019, 01:16 PM   #28
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If you're able to take a look, does this video of mine below appear to be similar to the up and down movement you had with your tie rod? The video shows both drag link ends as well as the tie rod.

https://youtu.be/UnPs_vN_9Rw

I get some weird clunking noises occasionally and am wondering if this is the culprit. I still need to check/re torque everything up front with the wheels on the ground, but I started with the above diagnosis test.

https://www.wranglerforum.com/f202/d...o-2384803.html
Yep, from what I've gathered when squeezed with the channel locks there should be ZERO up down movement like that.That was like my worn tie rod ends as well. I'm sure others will chime in if I'm incorrect
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Old 12-10-2019, 01:57 PM   #29
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Yep, from what I've gathered when squeezed with the channel locks there should be ZERO up down movement like that.That was like my worn tie rod ends as well. I'm sure others will chime in if I'm incorrect
I appreciate the feedback! Out of curiosity what drag link and tie rod did you replace the worn out ones with?

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