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Old 01-03-2020, 02:21 AM
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1997 TJ Steering Upgrade

Looking at upgrading the steering on my '97 TJ. It has a 4" lift, dropped Pitman with HPD30 and 35" tires with 17" wheels and 1.5" spacers. Vehicle is solid and stable at all speeds...I just want to beef up the steering, or at least the tie rod for offroading.

I have read many posts on steering upgrades but no comparative analysis between the kits. Everyone seems to say Currie, but it is $600, and I can't find any comparative analysis supporting why one should spend that much when there are other systems that seem at least as beefed up but sell for $300. As a value buyer, that matters. What makes Currie $300 better than another supplier with 1.5" x 0.25" DOM steel, or other 1.25" steel stock? Then there is the ZJ swap on the tie rod, but some say that really isn't much of an upgrade, yet with tie rod ends and the adjusting sleeve, you're at $280 with taxes.

Similarly, how important is maintaining the original geometry, or is it even necessary? I have seen several systems referred to as crossover systems that include a tie rod between the knuckles and the drag link connecting to the Pitman arm. Others like Currie keep the Haltenberger geometry but connect the tie rod on the outside of the outside of the drag link, because that provides better clearance. Seem to have strong opinions on both sides, and suppliers sell both original design and the crossover design, but don't explain why one is better than the other, if one is. Then there is Synergy which wants $590 and Rusty's and a bunch of others for $285. Similar geometry, so what's the difference? I am looking for the right solution (geometry and construction) at the best value. Maybe Currie is the best but is there another comparable brand for a better price?

Any guidance on both questions (crossover vs. Haltenberger, and DOM vs. solid steel and much higher cost) would be much appreciated. The more empirical data the better and factual reasoning the better. Thanks

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Old 01-03-2020, 07:31 AM   #2
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if you value the handling in your jeep, stick to the OEM designed inverted Y. the other steering designs have their uses, but the TJ generally isnt one of them.

currie is able to get the price they charge as they retain the OEM inverted T while beefing up everything else. they are able to charge and get the price they ask as there the only ones that have accomplished this so far with many happy owners as proof.

personally, I went to the ZJ tie rod, which cost me ~$150 IIRC. the TJ draglink isnt the weak spot in the steering, its the tie rod. i'll likely upgrade to the currie setup if i bend the ZJ, but its served me well for many years. I'd like to hear the logic behind the ZJ tie rod not being an upgrade over stock. I taco'ed my OEM tie rod with in the first 10 min off wheeling with 35's.

step 1 in any choice you make is to ditch the drop pitman arm and go back to OEM. same with any type of drop track bar mount you may have. the steering on TJ's is directly linked to the suspension so when the axles move up and down, the steering also moves up and down. it works harmoniously when the drag link and track bar end points are parallel. when they are moved (drop pitman arm or track bar) they are no longer parallel and when the suspension is cycled they move on a different arc causing what is known as bump steer.
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Old 01-06-2020, 11:38 AM   #3
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Ill vote for currie. It is a solid design, bolt-in, easy to adjust, and strong as hell. Shop around, Amazon has it listed at $500 I believe.
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Old 01-07-2020, 01:47 PM
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Happy New Year. Will check for Currie on Amazon. The dropped Pitman arm issue is interesting. The geometry on the front end is correct with the control arm and drag link being parallel, and I don't have any steering issues, so I am a bit puzzled on the need to get rid of the dropped arm, but regardless, it appears these upgraded systems assume a stock arm with a 4" lift, so I'll see about finding one of those. Anyone know of anyone who has tried the Synergy Mfg solution? I like that one and it is $100 less....absent an Amazon deal....just curious.

Thanks for the help.
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Old 01-07-2020, 02:26 PM   #5
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you may have a drop track bar bracket as well, which can correct the issue made by the DPA, but both are unnecessary.

post a pic of your front end and we can help guide you
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Old 01-07-2020, 10:05 PM   #6
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Another vote for the ZJ tie-rod. I bought one as well, and as Jed said, it's a major upgrade of the stock tie-rod.

Yes, get rid of the extra attachments on the track bar.
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Old 01-08-2020, 09:11 AM   #7
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There is a ZJ HD kit that includes the DL and TR from Crown. It's a huge upgrade from the stock setup. It's still quite a bit less beef than the Currie.

If you plan to build big, all of the big builds around here use crossover steering, but that's stretched TJ's/LJ's on ton's and 38's or 40's...
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Old 01-09-2020, 04:03 PM
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I have looked at the crossover steering at Rugged Ridge and another place. Much less cost ($350) but people say, again, it causes steering problems. Any insight there? Also, would that be used with a dropped Pitman arm or do I need to just get rid of that, no matter what I choose to do? Thanks
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Old 01-09-2020, 04:09 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by TJChed View Post
I have looked at the crossover steering at Rugged Ridge and another place. Much less cost ($350) but people say, again, it causes steering problems. Any insight there? Also, would that be used with a dropped Pitman arm or do I need to just get rid of that, no matter what I choose to do? Thanks
The longer drag link adds a bump steer component to the geometry... I wouldn't do the crossover steering unless it was a big build. Or at the very least a primarily off road driven rig.

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Old 01-10-2020, 07:25 AM   #10
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crossover steering can be done well, but it takes more than just bolting on a few new bars in OEM mounting locations. a proper knuckle to run a x-over steering setup is more than then setup that you listed
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Old 01-10-2020, 11:50 AM   #11
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Don’t forget the option of the Ultimate Currie steering kit

https://savvyoffroad.com/product/ult-kit/
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Old 01-13-2020, 01:41 PM
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Ironhead Jed,

Here are some pics of the steering set up. Dropped Pitman and probably some sort of bracket on the track bar, so I am guessing if I go back to stock with OEM Pitman and relocate the track bar bracket that everything will be okay again....considering the Synergy package, but will for sure upgrade to the ZJ tie rod and ends if I don't. Haven't had time to think it through completely. Any further input completely welcome. Thanks

https://netorgft1265695-my.sharepoin...CDxOA?e=U1XQZv
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Old 01-13-2020, 02:33 PM   #13
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looks like an OEM track bar with a drop pitman arm.

also, those are some interesting sway bar link extension/disconnects.
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Old 01-14-2020, 07:25 PM
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Those sway bar disconnects are on the list for replacement, too. Any recommended replacement?

On the track bar, any reason to replace that and the drag link (which I understand are same as ZJ) if I just purchase the ZJ tie rod and ends (assuming I go that route)? Would I still have to replace the Pitman arm to OEM and realign the track bar bracket to maintain proper geometry, or is this current config okay (again, assuming upgrading the tie rod to ZJ)?

Thanks a million....
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Old 01-14-2020, 07:37 PM   #15
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Those sway bar disconnects are on the list for replacement, too. Any recommended replacement?
..
Antirock
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Old 01-15-2020, 09:54 AM   #16
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Old 01-15-2020, 09:56 AM   #17
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On the track bar, any reason to replace that and the drag link (which I understand are same as ZJ) if I just purchase the ZJ tie rod and ends (assuming I go that route)? Would I still have to replace the Pitman arm to OEM and realign the track bar bracket to maintain proper geometry, or is this current config okay (again, assuming upgrading the tie rod to ZJ)?

Thanks a million....
negative, all you want from the ZJ is the tie rod. the ZJ drag link has the mount point for the steering stabilizer in the wrong location. it appears that your track bar is in the OEM location so all that should be necessary is the ZJ tie rod and OEM pitman arm.

probably time to look into an adj track bar up front, preferably from Currie, Metal Cloak, or JKS. 4" lift is a bit much for the OEM track bar.

as for discos, I cant justify the cost of a disco setup when a bolt can be removed in under a min with the same result. I have the AntiRock and don't want to wheel without it
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Old 01-16-2020, 10:56 AM   #18
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I just did the swap, ZJ tie rod AND drag link and everything fit fine, nice affordable upgrade, would recommend
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Old 01-16-2020, 11:03 AM   #19
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I just did the swap, ZJ tie rod AND drag link and everything fit fine, nice affordable upgrade, would recommend
Same here, we even laid the drag links side by side and found no difference using the Crown ZJ HD steering kit.

Also agree with Ironhead Jed, stock track bar is out of it's element at 4" lift height.
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Old 01-29-2020, 10:48 AM
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Thanks, Gents, for all the worthwhile input. Purchased a Rubicon Express chromoly ZJ tie rod on Amazon yesterday for $85. List is 2x that, so I think I got lucky. Will look into an adjustable track bar next. Thanks a million.
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Old 01-29-2020, 11:34 AM   #21
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are you speaking of this? https://www.amazon.com/Rubicon-Expre.../dp/B006GJLFUS

that is not the tie rod that has been recommended in this thread.

here is a write up and part numbers, you can see the ZJ tie rod is not straight like the TJ tie rod and only has separate 1 tie rod end, the other is incorporated into the tie rod



Tie Rod End

269-2788 (Napa #)
ES3096L (Moog #)

Adjusting Sleeve
269-1134 (Napa #)
ES2079S (Moog #)

Tie Rod
NCP 269-6085 (Napa #)
DS1312 (Moog #)

https://www.stu-offroad.com/steering/zjtie/tierod-1.htm
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Old 01-31-2020, 08:02 PM   #22
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I've done ZJ tie rod swap and a Currie setup on 4 different Jeeps. You can get by with the ZJ steering setup for sure if budget is an issue. Stick with the inverted Y and save up for the Currie if you can.
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Old 02-02-2020, 12:35 PM
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Well, I guess I'm sending Amazon its RE tie rod back. Just purchased the parts recommended. Actually saved myself $5 more. Thanks for keeping me straight. Off to do some wheeling today. Looking forward to the new tie rod and end next week. Again, thanks....Go Chiefs...
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Old 02-06-2020, 01:42 PM
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Just thought I'd keep you guys abreast of my ZJ steering upgrade. Got the tie rod end and the adjustment clamp from Amazon on Monday, but no tie rod. Then yesterday, I got an email from Amazon stating my order was being returned to Amazon, and that Amazon had canceled my order. Never heard of such a thing, so looked into it. In another email Amazon says my tie rod had been damaged in shipping, that it was being returned to Amazon and that my account had been credited back for the tie rod cost.

So what I want to know is just what the hell happened to the tie rod that it would have been damaged in shipping? This is a solid piece of steel stock.
What could happen to it in shipping that I ain't going to do to it on the trails? I am wondering if they saw it was bent, like it's supposed to be, and just assumed it was damaged? Just struck me as funny that the tie rod I am buying because it will take more abuse than the one I have was "damaged" in shipping.....

A little further down, Amazon said I was given a gift card for the purchase and asked if I wanted to order again. I did. The invoice says gift card. If I am reading it right, Amazon just bought me a ZJ tie rod.

Can't help but laugh. Thought I'd pass the rest of the story along....
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Old 02-06-2020, 04:04 PM   #25
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thats awesome. if the box doesnt have any additional padding the tie rod will get thrown around a good deal and maybe the TRE got damaged. it would be pretty funny if they saw the bend and thought it was fubar
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Old 02-06-2020, 05:36 PM   #26
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Donít forget the option of the Ultimate Currie steering kit

https://savvyoffroad.com/product/ult-kit/
This is what I have, have had it for a few years now. No issues at all. Highly recommend and very strong.

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