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Old 03-31-2016, 09:34 AM
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Death trap steering

I installed a lift on my '97 SE Tuesday (superlift 4" front springs, Caprice rear springs, rear track bar bracket, Skyjacker Hydro 7000 shocks). I haven't redrilled the front track bar bracket yet to recenter the axle. I also have new extended sway bar links on the way. The odd part is I drove it fine yesterday on my old wheels and 31's since I hadn't gotten the tires mounted on my new wheels yet. Absolutely no problems, aside from a slight vibration. Yesterday all I changed was mounting the new wheels and doing a t-case skid drop (3/4"). Today the vibration was pretty well gone, but I just about crapped myself several times on the way to work. From about 35-40 I have a horrible jerking to one side. It's not constant, but goes in and out. There was no correlation to bumps that I could tell, so I don't think it's bump steer. It seemed to get better when sped up a hair, but I didn't want to press my luck. If I dropped to just under 35 all was well. The confusing part is that with the only changes being the t-case drop and wheels (from 31x10.5-15 to 285/75-16) this started.

I will be looking up in under today for anything loose, but I checked it over pretty well when doing the springs and everything appeared in good working order.

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Old 03-31-2016, 09:47 AM   #2
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Did you install a dropped pitman arm? If so, go back to the stock one. They aren't needed on TJ's.

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Old 03-31-2016, 10:13 AM   #3
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From all that I have read on this forum, speed related issues tend to be tire related. Maybe get them re balanced. Cheap easy fix hopefully.
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Old 03-31-2016, 10:13 AM   #4
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X2 on the pitman arm.

ANother thing to look at is your caster. My 97 was darting left and right when traveling down the highway, needed two hands to drive. I went back and adjusted my caster to 6 degrees and now it drives straight.
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Old 03-31-2016, 10:25 AM
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I'm running the stock Pitman. I didn't notice, but the stock arms aren't fitted with cam bolts to adjust caster are they? Have to upgrade to aftermarket arms is the only way?
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Old 03-31-2016, 10:47 AM   #6
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I strongly recommend getting an adjustable track bar. I went with JKS. very good product.
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Old 03-31-2016, 10:53 AM   #7
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I'm running the stock Pitman. I didn't notice, but the stock arms aren't fitted with cam bolts to adjust caster are they? Have to upgrade to aftermarket arms is the only way?
Early MY97 TJ's had cam bolts from the factory. Late MY97 and all other model year TJ's did not. But they're available for $30.

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Old 03-31-2016, 11:57 AM   #8
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The cam bolts used to adjust the caster angle were there until around mid-99 or so.

However, this problem is not caused by insufficient caster angle.
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Old 03-31-2016, 12:49 PM
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The cam bolts used to adjust the caster angle were there until around mid-99 or so.

However, this problem is not caused by insufficient caster angle.
I didn't believe so either, but would be nice to adjust to acceptable degrees if not already there. What would you tend to lean toward with symptoms like this? I don't believe tires would be an issue, as I've never felt jerking related to balancing, only vibrations. The only things changed since before were wheels/tires and t-case drop. I don't see how either would cause this. Only thing I can think of is the larger tire amplified a pre-existing condition. Symptoms seem consistent with a bad bushing or loose track bar?
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Old 03-31-2016, 12:58 PM   #10
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I just don't know what is the most likely to be causing that steering to be jerking to the side, especially with you running the stock Pitman arm. I'd really have to drive it first. Grabby brake caliper?
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Old 03-31-2016, 01:19 PM
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I just don't know what is the most likely to be causing that steering to be jerking to the side, especially with you running the stock Pitman arm. I'd really have to drive it first. Grabby brake caliper?
Brakes are good. It's not a steady pull. It feels almost like the pull you get from hitting a large water puddle. At it's worst it feels like the butt end tries to sway hard to the opposite side when correcting it.
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Old 03-31-2016, 01:29 PM   #12
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Is the driver's side of the front track bar bolted to the factory track bar mounting bracket? Or does it bolt to a drop bracket that bolts to the factory mounting bracket?
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Old 03-31-2016, 01:48 PM
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Is the driver's side of the front track bar bolted to the factory track bar mounting bracket? Or does it bolt to a drop bracket that bolts to the factory mounting bracket?

I've got it bolted in stock location. Was going to redrill the stock bracket to relocate the bar and weld up the stock bolt hole when I get off work.
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Old 03-31-2016, 02:01 PM   #14
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Since you're already welding up the stock hole, I'd weld a small piece of 1/8" scrap over the front of the bracket to further reinforce it and drill through both layers for the new bolt hole.
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Old 03-31-2016, 02:43 PM   #15
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Very interesting problem to say the least. You went from 31's to 32's...not that big of a jump at all. I'm guessing all new tires/wheels were balanced at the time of the swap. Your other tires/wheels/ may have been out of whack so everything may have appeared normal with them....just thinking out loud...

I lean towards checking balance again since that was the only change other than the t-case drop. Check your rear track bar too since you said it feels like it wants to kick a little.
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Old 03-31-2016, 02:46 PM
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Very interesting problem to say the least. You went from 31's to 32's...not that big of a jump at all. I'm guessing all new tires/wheels were balanced at the time of the swap. Your other tires/wheels/ may have been out of whack so everything may have appeared normal with them....just thinking out loud...

I lean towards checking balance again since that was the only change other than the t-case drop. Check your rear track bar too since you said it feels like it wants to kick a little.
Not that it would make a ton of difference, but new tires are 33s. I'm really leaning toward the rear track bar bracket. I think it may have worked loose.

I may weld the bracket to be safe since I could still use the stock hole with the bracket installed.
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Old 03-31-2016, 03:23 PM   #17
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What is your air pressure on the tires?
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Old 03-31-2016, 06:21 PM
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I haven't checked the air pressure. Is currently at what the tire shop put them at. They're usually very good. I know crap happens though, so I do need to double check that. The track bar bracket did seem to have loosened up a hair. I retightened it and went ahead and welded the bracket up to the stock piece. I looked over and didn't see anything loose. I wasn't able to mess with the front any yet though.
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Old 03-31-2016, 06:38 PM   #19
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I bought new Tires today. They had 40lbs in them till I asked they changed to 28. Might help....
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Old 03-31-2016, 06:39 PM   #20
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I bought new tires today and the shop put 40 in them till I asked to have 28
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Old 03-31-2016, 08:05 PM   #21
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You definitely should consider an adjustable track bar for the front rather than redrilling that hole in a weaker part of the axle bracket...Metalcloak makes a great one for around $180. If you are still using your stock front lower control arms, they are too short for a 4" lift. Caster is probably non-existant and cam bolts are not going to do enough to help significantly. You need a pair of adjustable lower ca's.

Did you reset your toe-in after the lift?
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Old 03-31-2016, 09:44 PM
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I feel very dumb now. I'm used to a crossover steering system. When installing the lift I didn't even notice it was a V-link. Was pretty confused when everyone kept mentioning the toe, thinking a lift shouldn't change the toe. I just did an alignment and had 1.75" toe in. I adjusted it to just shy of 1/8" toe in. Also recentered the steering. We shall see how she goes tomorrow.
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Old 03-31-2016, 10:52 PM   #23
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I feel very dumb now. I'm used to a crossover steering system. When installing the lift I didn't even notice it was a V-link. Was pretty confused when everyone kept mentioning the toe, thinking a lift shouldn't change the toe. I just did an alignment and had 1.75" toe in. I adjusted it to just shy of 1/8" toe in. Also recentered the steering. We shall see how she goes tomorrow.
Wow....well there's a good place to start lol.
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Old 04-01-2016, 01:58 PM
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Didn't have any jerking this morning, but had increased vibes. Going to put another few turns of toe in and see how that does.
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Old 04-01-2016, 02:00 PM   #25
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I'd stay strictly with 1/16" to 1/8" of toe-in.
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Old 04-01-2016, 03:14 PM
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That's what I've been seeing. It's at about 1/16" now. The vibes started after the toe adjustment. I'll set it to 1/8" and hopefully get rid of the vibration.
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Old 04-01-2016, 06:08 PM   #27
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That's what I've been seeing. It's at about 1/16" now. The vibes started after the toe adjustment. I'll set it to 1/8" and hopefully get rid of the vibration.
You have another issue. A 1/16" difference in toe-in won't make a difference. Could be a tire balance issue. 35's have to be dead on as far as balancing goes.

My guess is that you have drive line vibes. You said you had 4" springs with presumably stock (too short) control arms, and a 3/4" t-case drop. To run a 4" suspension lift with correct length (longer) lower CA's it takes 1.5" T-case drop at minimum to get rid of drive line vibes. Everything you have said points to the fact that the vibes you are experiencing are most likely from your drive shaft angle.
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Old 04-01-2016, 06:54 PM   #28
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Are you feeling the vibrations from the steering or from your seat?

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