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Old 11-10-2019, 02:07 PM
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Steering Wandering

Hello all, ive been in a pickle for quite a while after one bad install has put me through the works and left me without really any idea of where to go. It started about 6 months ago where I changed my stock TB for an adjustable one. Drove it off my driveway and got an instant deathwobble. I had a mechanic take a look at it and they recommended new TR, flipped DL, and Ball joints (since they all had some play), we used the same TB. After this the Deathwobble was gone but my steering has been flightly ever since, it doesnt track straight and needs constant correction. So during the past 6 months ive tried several things to no avail, ive replaced the TB with a new one from Rough Country, replaced the BJ with new ones from Teraflex, replaced the steering gear box, added control arm brackets to correct the caster (running around 5.2 degrees), have removed steering stabilizer to see if there was any difference, have aligned the car around 5-6 times each normally after one of the installs above. Along with this ive also UNflipped my DL and lowered by TB back to where it is stock to see if it helped which it hasnt. So im really lost as to what could be failing in my car since virtually everything has been replaced any help in the right direction would be appreciated. (Tire psi is also around 30-33psi)

Current symptoms: Wheel not returning to center, i can make a full turn (either direction) and it will come back about 90-95% of the way before needing manual correction. Random lane wandering (either direction) which requires constant correction. Very briefly i feel a grinding sensation on my gas/brake pedal when car begins to wander (but my brakes seem fine with no premature wear).

Specs:
Rough Country 2.5" spring lift kit
Quadratec Nitro 8.0 Shocks
Rough Country TB
OEM DL (used to be steersmart yeti HD no drill DL until i Unflipped it)
OEM Tierod
Stock control arms with drop brackets in the 3" lift area (since there wasnt one for 2.5")
Old Man Emu Steering Stabilizer


Again any help is much appreciated thanks for taking the time to read!

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Old 11-10-2019, 05:24 PM   #2
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Old 11-10-2019, 07:15 PM   #3
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Have you measured from the shock tower to tire distance on both side (front) to be sure you front diff is centered in the frame rails?
If steering doesn’t fully return something is still out. Also check that your back diff is entered.


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Old 11-10-2019, 09:14 PM   #4
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What brand ball joints did you use?
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Old 11-10-2019, 11:22 PM   #5
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When you flipped your DL did you install a new track bar bracket to match the new angle of the DL. (DL and TB must remain parallel to each other)
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Old 11-11-2019, 02:55 AM   #6
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At only 2.5 inches you really shouldn't be doing a DL flip.
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Old 11-11-2019, 08:18 AM   #7
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Yeah, I am not sure it is your issue, but running a flipped drag link is usually for 3.5" lifts and more. To run one you need to also run a raised track bar mount up front. How much bump stop did / do you have? And is / was it enough to make sure the track bar and drag link don't hit the frame? I was running a flipped drag link with around a 2.5" lift, mainly because I was running 3.5" or so of lift and added it, then dropped the lift down to 2.5" and did not feel like removing it. I had to run extra bump stop for the tires, so it was OK to leave it flipped. It did not cause any negative issues being flipped at that lower lift height.
Centering the steering is a function of caster. More caster means more centering. Not enough centering usually means it wants more caster.
The other thing that affects the steering is Toe. How much Toe do you have? Could you just post a picture of your alignment sheet?
What size tires?
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Old 11-11-2019, 02:11 PM
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So to begin answering, I appreciate the replies, yes tires to shock towers are equal on both sides (originally i got adjustable TB to correct that only for it to lead to worse )

Im aware that running a flipped DL isnt really needed for lifts lower than 3-3.5" i originally installed it because i figured i would be lifting my car to that range in the future and since I had deathwobble i decided to get it out of the way early. Ever since ive unflipped the DL i have noticed very little to no grinding from gas/brake pedal. (I did not get larger bump stops as I am still running stock ones, im not sure if this could have something to do with the grinding i was feeling (its not an audible grinding more so you just feel it on the pedals) )

I did have a bracket for the TB thrown on to keep it parallel to the DL, but thats been removed now that im unflipped.

I originally had Synergy MFG ball joints installed, but do to some issues with the brands and their ball joints being too tight i was able to change them for free (who wouldve thought) for new teraflex balljoints.)

I can post an alignment sheet in the next few days as I dont have one currently on me and since I want to align car after the new BJs and unflipping of everything.

Tires are Mickey Thompson Baja ATZ tires (285/75/R16) or 33" tires for easy conversion.
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Old 11-11-2019, 06:35 PM
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So I drove a friends jeep wrangler to compare how is steering handles vs mine. Most things were fairly similar to my surprise, the only major difference i felt was that my steering wheel was much tighter like it required more force to turn it, compared to theirs which was much more free to move and responsive. Im thinking maybe it could be the steering box is too tight possibly? Any other ideas on what it could be? I figure that this tightness could be a possible culprit.
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Old 11-11-2019, 09:51 PM   #10
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A heavier steering stabilizer will also give the stiffer steering feel as well as the new HD ball joints.


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Old 11-12-2019, 08:05 PM   #11
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You have my empathy -- I've been fighting this issue for a few months now. Good luck.
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Old 11-13-2019, 12:20 PM
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Its hard to believe that new ball joints would be so stiff that itd make them fail to fully return to center though, it seems like youd lose functionality (at least in my case). I got car aligned and the mechanics failed to do a full print out but were able to get my current toe and some other angles but not all of them. Thanks for the empathy lol, its been a very long time with the situation, it started off much worse however to the point where my car would somewhat be giving an input of its own and id have to turn the wheel to fight it from wanting to take me out of my lane. But the more i drove it (imagine dealing with this for a 6k mile road trip) the better it got but never perfect, now its more of it just not wanting to stay center. Hopefully someone has an idea as to what it could be, but the issues have gone down enough for me to not be too bothered by it to the point where i dont want to keep modifying my car (heres to 35" tires in the future lol).
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Old 11-13-2019, 12:54 PM   #13
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Sadly, the key value in the alignment is caster, and that isn't on that sheet. Caster is what determines how strongly the steering wants to return to center, among other things.
Your Toe looks a little low to me, more Toe tends to make steering more stable. But that is a small detail in the scheme of things.If you can find out where your caster is, that might help.
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Old 11-15-2019, 09:42 AM
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Caster is in spec it should be in the 5-5.2 degree range since thats what ive had it at from previous alignment sheets. Last night however while I was driving i made a very slow full turn to the left and heard an audible grinding noise (didnt sound amazing) but went away right after, any ideas? I feel like its all connected to my steering issues
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Old 11-15-2019, 12:03 PM   #15
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You are in 2wd right? Just checking
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Old 11-16-2019, 02:29 AM
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yeah ive been in 2wd, no real use for 4wd down here in Miami to be honest lol. But yeah unfortunately no mechanic has been able to diagnose my issue, its a bit frustrating to think that if they cant figure it out who can. But im sticking with the ride till it dies, so hopefully an answer will come eventually. Right now the current symptoms are as follows:

-Wanders in either direction with no input required
-When I brake itll often pull in one direction
-When doing a full turn (where steering wheel wont go anymore) i get a grinding noise
-Steering wheel does not fully return to center unless help
-Steering wheel is much heavier vs stock steering wheel

Again appreciate any help I can get!
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Old 11-16-2019, 05:23 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by schmity3342 View Post
yeah ive been in 2wd, no real use for 4wd down here in Miami to be honest lol. But yeah unfortunately no mechanic has been able to diagnose my issue, its a bit frustrating to think that if they cant figure it out who can. But im sticking with the ride till it dies, so hopefully an answer will come eventually. Right now the current symptoms are as follows:

-Wanders in either direction with no input required
-When I brake itll often pull in one direction
-When doing a full turn (where steering wheel wont go anymore) i get a grinding noise
-Steering wheel does not fully return to center unless help
-Steering wheel is much heavier vs stock steering wheel

Again appreciate any help I can get!
The wandering is typically your caster (not enough) and sometimes toe (again, not enough).
Pulling in one direction when braking is usually a brake caliper issue, not uncommon with these floating calipers (they need to smoothly float).
The grinding when you turn the wheel all the way is usually the tires rubbing on something, often that plastic air dam, the sway bar, the control arm, or even the chassis.
The last two issues again point to your caster not being right.
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Old 11-16-2019, 10:53 PM
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How much caster would you recommend for a jeep to have? (2.5" Lift) I feel like im in the right range on my jeep. Like when my car drove smoothly before I originally got the Deathwobble, only after were the control arm brackets added so it shouldve been even better than stock by that point. I know I went from around 2-3 degrees to the low 5s after the installation. Ill definitely check to see if there is any rubbing anywhere, normally happens on inclined surface when im fully turned so ill see if I can spot it. But still for the wandering on my vehicle, is there anything else I should look at? Im thinking U-joints maybe?
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Old 11-16-2019, 11:13 PM   #19
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When I had the teraflex ball joints installed the steering definitely felt stiff for a little bit
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Old 11-16-2019, 11:58 PM   #20
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@schmity3342 slow down and take breath. We have already given you the causes for what is wrong. In all likely hood it is just your ball joints need to break in, it can take up to 500 miles for the bearing surfaces to seat all the way.
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Old 11-19-2019, 09:34 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schmity3342 View Post
Caster is in spec it should be in the 5-5.2 degree range since thats what ive had it at from previous alignment sheets. Last night however while I was driving i made a very slow full turn to the left and heard an audible grinding noise (didnt sound amazing) but went away right after, any ideas? I feel like its all connected to my steering issues
Hi schmity3342,
We're sorry to hear about your steering concern. If you are working with your dealer, feel free to send us a PM and we would be happy to connect you with a Case Specialist to work with.
Alex
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Old 11-19-2019, 07:11 PM   #22
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Is your Jeep a Rubicon? My electric disconnect had some rotational slop in it and I was having a lot of trouble on the freeway when passing a truck or in a gusty wind with the sway bar slop giving me a small (no sway bar zone). The body roll from the wind or undulations in the road or whatever would steer the Jeep all over the place, even on city streets, although not as bad as the freeway because at speed, you cover a lot more distance in the time it takes the jeep to recover from the external roll input. I installed a solid sway bar and it got a lot better but was still a problem. I checked the sway bar link bushings, they had a little bit of slop too. I replaced them and Wow! what a difference. It's still a Jeep, you can never take your eyes off of the road, but it is pretty good now.

Guys will say that you should be able to run with no steering dampener... I say BS to that, I have struggled with death wobble and have probably gone to more troubble than most to address it. If you hit the right bump with no dampener or a marginal dampener it will wobble. Check all of your joints and bolts and install a good sized steering dampener. (I got an ICON 2.0) You will get used to the extra steering effort and when something is starting to get marginal you will feel it wanting to wobble and then the dampener will catch it within a few cycles. That's when you need to check everything again. I have also found that tire wear can make the tendency to wobble a lot worse. I was recently feeling it want to wobble and was at my wits' end trying to find the problem. My tires looked pretty good, but the outside edge was a bit rounded. I was close engouh to needing new tires that I just replaced them, holy shit! it's like a new Jeep.

I too used the TF ball joints. I adjusted them with a very small amount of drag, it made it not want to return all the way to center. Back them off one click from any drag and that problem should go away.

Good Luck!
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Old 11-20-2019, 05:47 PM
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Hi schmity3342,
We're sorry to hear about your steering concern. If you are working with your dealer, feel free to send us a PM and we would be happy to connect you with a Case Specialist to work with.
Alex
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I wish the dealer could just come in and fix it but with all the aftermarket items on it they most likely wont even touch it unfortunately.
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Old 11-20-2019, 05:53 PM
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Thanks for your post Redass 😂. My jeep is just a regular 09 Sport. Its been quite an endeavor. The only things left that I can think of changing before either "dealing with it" or just pressing hard reset and getting a new axle (probably wont do this because of the $$$, but i figure its a reset option lol), would be either new front control arms or new axle u-joints. I went under and looked at them with a mechanic, even though I dont get a clicking noise while driving when turning the passenger u-joint at certain points you can hear/feel a grind, driver u-joint had a clicking noise when tugged and pulled. Could these be the cause? Can axle u-joints be a culprit in wandering? I have a dana 30 axle, and u-joints arent too pricey at all. What steps can I take to test a u-joint? (Im figuring these were maybe damaged during my deathwobble).
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Old 11-21-2019, 12:51 AM   #25
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How are the unit bearings?
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Old 11-21-2019, 03:36 AM
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When I last checked them they seemed alright. I had one wheel of the ground and i shook the tire on 3 & 9, 6 &12 and there wasnt any budging. Im going to check it tomorrow and see if I can get a video of the ball joints too.
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Old 11-21-2019, 06:07 AM   #27
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Have you actually gotten underneath the feo t of the vehicle and looked around while someone moved the steering wheel (vehicle should be running)? You can usually find the problem that way. Take your time. Put your hand on each steering component and feel for clunking. There are a few spots that might be the culprit:

- the drag link/pitman arm tie rod. If this is stock, it's probably worn. And if you've been installing and removing the other half of the drag link with this in place, it might have been damaged. A failed joint here will cause flighty steering and a failure to return to center because it introduces major play into the steering system

- track bar movement. Check both ends and make sure the track bar isn't actually moving inside the brackets. I'm having this problem with mine now and I believe the bushings are bad. It shouldn't move more than the tiniest fraction of an inch. If it's moving you will get flighty steering because the axle is floating beneath you

- control arms. Check those joints too and make sure nothing is moving or has play when the steering wheel is turning. You might also want to loosen and retorque all bolts there in case you missed one before.

- tie rod ends between the wheels. Feel for any clunking and look for any up/down play in these ends too. If you've never replaced them, they may also be worn. They make the wheels go in the same direction and hold your toe in, so failure here can do all sorts of crazy stuff.

Big thing is, when you're looking at stuff under there take your time. Look at each component at least twice, and if you find a problem don't stop. Keep checking until you look at everything. Whoever is on that driver's seat is going to be there for a while so tell them to bring their phone.
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Old 11-21-2019, 11:18 AM
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I appreciate the guide! Tie rod ends are new with the DL install. So i jacked my car up on one side and began moving the tire back and forth while holding onto the u joint to feel for movement. I feel a very small amount of movement when I turn the wheels (I assume this is normal as I felt it in both wheels.). BUT on my passenger wheel while moving it back and forth you can clearly hear a squeaking sound from the u joint in any orientation. I can also move the piece that connects the u-jount to the steering shaft and see some movement. Overall I think my passenger u-joint has a bit of play and it definitely has some squeaking. The squeaking definitely is a sign something isnt right.... right? Ill post a link with the video so you can hear the u joint. (and maybe see, its hard to record with one hand and work)
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Old 11-21-2019, 11:30 AM
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Check them out

https://youtu.be/z049HTnqS14 (U joint movement on steering shaft clamp)

https://youtu.be/RUbShHUXxcc (The squeak from u-joint)
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Old 12-08-2019, 01:08 PM   #30
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I checked the sway bar link bushings, they had a little bit of slop too. I replaced them and Wow! what a difference. It's still a Jeep, you can never take your eyes off of the road, but it is pretty good now.
I noticed that my front sway bar links have play in them. They are the factory rear links moved to the front with the TF 3-CT Alpine lift. I replace them just so I wouldn't have any clunking noise going over bumps (I didn't hear anything yet). Anyway I drove it yesterday for the first time since the change out to the desert and I noticed that I didn't have to constantly adjust the steering. What a difference it is to just drive straight down the road and not correct, correct, correct. I also have a Rubicon with the electronic disconnect. When I replaced the links I noticed about a 1/4 inch of play from one side to the other. I don't know if this is normal or not but I am tracking straight now without constant correction.

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