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Old 08-30-2019, 11:23 PM
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TJ Ride Quality / Steering question

Hello all, new Jeep owner, and new to the forum, I'd been looking for a Jeep for a couple months, and every one I had looked at was a rust bucket. Finally I got lucky and found a solid one. A 5 speed manual 2004 2 dr Jeep Rubicon with 113K in good shape. -. Which I bought.
My question concerns ride quality: I expected it to be stiff, like a truck, which it is, but when I hit a bump in the road it seems like a severe jolt to the vehicle and my body. I am guessing I need new shocks ? I'm assuming and hoping that this jolting impact is not normal ... Anything else besides shocks that could cause this ?
Also, the steering has just a little play in it, not bad mind you, but it seems you have to turn the wheel just a bit before the wheels actually turn. I expect maybe the steering box ? Anything else that may cause this ?
I am so looking forward to riding around with the top off. I may retire my bike lol. Thanks in advance.

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Old 08-30-2019, 11:34 PM   #2
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The Steering Gear box is the last part on the list when diagnosing steering issues, you'll wan't to do a "Dry Steering Test" first. YouTube it.

For the Road Harshness, at what PSI are your tires? What Wheel/Tire combo are you running? & what kind of suspension are we talking about? Stock? Any replacements of suspension parts?

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Old 08-30-2019, 11:44 PM
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The Steering Gear box is the last part on the list when diagnosing steering issues, you'll wan't to do a "Dry Steering Test" first. YouTube it.

For the Road Harshness, at what PSI are your tires? What Wheel/Tire combo are you running? & what kind of suspension are we talking about? Stock? Any replacements of suspension parts?
Thanks for the reply. I just put the Jeep on the road yesterday. When I test drove it, the road was smooth, so I didn't notice it. I will have to look at the PSI, 16 inch wheels with Goodyear Wrangler tires, I believe the suspension is all stock, with no replacement parts. Thanks for the ideas.

I'm assuming your Jeep does not Jolt you when you hit a bump.
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Old 08-31-2019, 12:39 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Mattaeus View Post
The Steering Gear box is the last part on the list when diagnosing steering issues, you'll wan't to do a "Dry Steering Test" first. YouTube it.

For the Road Harshness, at what PSI are your tires? What Wheel/Tire combo are you running? & what kind of suspension are we talking about? Stock? Any replacements of suspension parts?
Thanks for the reply. I just put the Jeep on the road yesterday. When I test drove it, the road was smooth, so I didn't notice it. I will have to look at the PSI, 16 inch wheels with Goodyear Wrangler tires, I believe the suspension is all stock, with no replacement parts. Thanks for the ideas.

I'm assuming your Jeep does not Jolt you when you hit a bump.
Post several pics of the steering, shocks and springs. Measure the springs from top to bottom as the Jeep sits in the driveway.

Your Jeep does not need to drive like a truck.
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Old 08-31-2019, 09:16 AM   #5
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My 05 Rubicon with original stock suspension and original 05 factory shocks rides great in all conditions. Train tracks, highway expansion joints, potholes... The TJ soaks them all up really well. You get a little bounce on the bigger road defects, but nothing harsh or jarring.

Maybe somebody put some extra HD springs in there or the bump stops bottom out too soon. Photos would help identify what you have going on there.

Probably not a major contributor, but tire/wheel selection and tire pressure do play a role in ride quality. Fill us in on what you have in this department too.
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Old 08-31-2019, 10:08 AM   #6
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Tire pressure has a lot to do with the ride. Shocks will only come into play if they are stiff, the sign of worn out shocks is after you hit the bump, you get a bit of continuing bounce. The shocks don't do much on the first hit of a bump but they attenuate the continuing bounce.

You will see people jump up and down on a bumper and with good shocks, the bouncing stops rather rapidly. If the end of the vehicle continues to bounce, the shocks are shot.

Stock wheels on the Rubicon are 16" 5 spoke (wide) aluminum wheels with LT245/75R16 Goodyear Wrangler MT/R tires. You might want to run the build sheet from this link as it will tell you the equipment your Jeep left the factory with. Substitute your VIN for the one at the end (unless you want to know what my long gone '91 YJ had when it left the factory).
https://www.jeep.com/webselfservice/...FY29S5MJ110985


Another thing you might want to check when you get under there is the sway bar links. The one end has a bushing that deteriorates over time. When I have my brakes replaced (because of age, calipers, rotors, pads and some of the hoses), I noticed the bushings at the upper end of mine were completely shot and replaced them as well. That will affect how it handles in a curve.

You will notice in my avatar, mine no longer has the original wheels, but they are in the boxes the new wheels arrived in and are in storage.

Congrats on the find and welcome to the forum. I stumbled across mine 5 years ago and love it. It is also a no rust Jeep, but I did replace the right front fender when the snorkel the PO had installed was removed when I had Ruby painted last year.
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Old 08-31-2019, 10:11 AM   #7
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16" rims severely limits the tire options. if they were replaced with E-Load tires (which is very common for 16" rims) and filled up to 35 psi the jeep would ride like a fork lift

tire/tire psi and shocks have the largest effect on ride quality
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Old 08-31-2019, 12:14 PM
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Thank you all for the great comments and suggestions. My camera is not working so i can not post any pics right now. However, I checked the PSI, and they were all high at 38 or 39 PSI, I backed them down to 33 and it made a really good improvement. So good, that I think it may be good enough. I will drive it a bit and see if I feel it needs more toning down.

When I get a working camera I'll post some pics

On a side note, does anyone know how to get the radio code? I called the guy I bought it from, and he did not know it. When you change the battery, will I need it ? ( Its a 5 or 6 CD AM/FM radio) Thanks again
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Old 08-31-2019, 12:43 PM   #9
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Grats on your finding a TJ. Should fill out your profile. Also, you can enter your VIN # below to give you your TJ stock config from the factory. Then save it to your documents.

https://fcacommunity.force.com/RAM/s/equipment-listing

You have noted it appears to be stocked, but if not stock then possible dropped pitman arm had been installed, causing bump steering. If stock then possible non-maintenanced components/worned out components.

As for the steering, too many factors to point straight to the gear box. Other components, especially combined will exacerbate the issue. As noted, perform the dry steering test.

Personally, I thought my TJ (previous jeeps had been CJs) drove fine when I purchased it but I had not driven it at highway speeds around curves... oh my... My first day with the TJ heading home from work... BOTH HANDS on the wheel to keep it from wandering all over the place, made worse when hitting a dip/bump steering.

3in lift with a dropped pitman arm. After doing the dry steer testing, ended up replacing the gear box, due to initially not able to get the arm off as it had been torqued/nested further up the shaft, and the gears were worn anyhow thus went with dodge gear box. I also replaced loose track bar and tie rod with Metal Cloak. Took me 6 weeks researching, getting the parts and the time to get them all installed, reset toe-in, etc... Around the same section of the highway, just a few fingers needed. And no, I promise I do not drive like that, crap can happen

So when I see ads noting it drives like a jeep, either non-maintenanced/worn front end components, unnecessary or improperly installed components are the first things that come to mind.
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Old 08-31-2019, 02:20 PM
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Thank you for the link. It does not give me the radio code, and I'm not sure i will even need it ... guess I will find out when I do a new battery in the future.

I have read about the "death wobble", mine does not have it. Drives pretty nicely actually, just a very slight touch of wheel play. Now that I have the tires at 33 PSI, bumps are no longer jarring me. Wondering about going a touch lower though.
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Old 08-31-2019, 02:22 PM
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Thank you for the link. It does not give me the radio code, and I'm not sure i will even need it ... guess I will find out when I do a new battery in the future.

I have read about the "death wobble", mine does not have it. Drives pretty nicely actually, just a very slight touch of wheel play. Now that I have the tires at 33 PSI, bumps are no longer jarring me. Wondering about going a touch lower though.

Did you do all that front end work yourself ?
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Old 08-31-2019, 08:49 PM   #12
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Death wobble can be caused by multiple components do to not maintaining the components over time. Still do the dry steer test then check torques on tie rods and track bar. Loose fittings can cause the holes to wallow out. Checking those items are part of the maintenance schedule but many will only visually check (no actual dry steer test). TIs akin to to the dentist only when you are in pain, ie needing a root canal instead of having twice/year or even once/year dentist checkup/cleaning, and a filling to stop/prevent further damage.

Track Bar (aftermarket trackbar/bolts will have higher torque settings)

Ball Stud Nut 88 N-m (65 ft. lbs.)
Ball Stud Nut (2004) 81 N-m (60 ft. lbs.)

Axle Bracket Bolt 75 N-m (55 ft. lbs.)
Axle Bracket Bolt (2004) 54 N-m (40 ft. lbs.)

And the Dry Steering testing may yield an issue early enough so it does not become expensive (JEEP ) after it develops into death wobble, which then you are having to change your britches and wash off your seat covers.
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Old 08-31-2019, 10:21 PM   #13
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If you have the factory radio, I am not sure you will need a code, even if there is one. I know the JK 430/430N radios do have a code.

I have had my battery go completely dead a few times before I finally replaced it, and even though there was no battery for a bit, there was no issue after the new battery was installed. Again, when the TJ was being painted and a new front fender installed (removed the POs snorkel), the battery and all the brackets were out of the Jeep for a day or so. No issue.

Even in the JKs where I know there are radio codes, they only come into play when moving a factory radio from one JK to another.
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Old 09-01-2019, 07:13 AM
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Even in the JKs where I know there are radio codes, they only come into play when moving a factory radio from one JK to another.
OK, that good to know ... Thanks !
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Old 09-01-2019, 08:51 AM   #15
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Chrysler did not add codes to radios on vehicles sold in US until 2011 long after last TJ and as those newer radios all require a CAN communications bus which no TJ had the coded radios are not in USA TJs

However for export models they did various kludge things like daytime headlights and dash adjustable headlight vertical aiming and disable alarms to satisfy various Other country laws


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Old 09-01-2019, 10:27 AM   #16
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On tires... I am running 33x12.5x15 Federal Couragia MT tires on steel rims.
These are set to 26 PSI. They ride super nice! I have seen "some people" on the internet complain about Federal tires, but it seems to be mostly other tire sizes (smaller). I have been running these 33" Couragia MT tires for over 18 months and put many miles on them as my daily. They are wearing evenly and will get me two solid years and at least 50k miles before I will even have to think about replacing them. For the price (about $185 each), I would buy them again. Great riding tire!
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Old 09-02-2019, 10:38 AM
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On tires... I am running 33x12.5x15 Federal Couragia MT tires on steel rims.
These are set to 26 PSI. They ride super nice! I have seen "some people" on the internet complain about Federal tires, but it seems to be mostly other tire sizes (smaller). I have been running these 33" Couragia MT tires for over 18 months and put many miles on them as my daily. They are wearing evenly and will get me two solid years and at least 50k miles before I will even have to think about replacing them. For the price (about $185 each), I would buy them again. Great riding tire!
I will look at these when it's time ... plenty of tread life left for some time I think
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Old 09-02-2019, 02:46 PM   #18
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Thank you for the link. It does not give me the radio code, and I'm not sure i will even need it ... guess I will find out when I do a new battery in the future.

I have read about the "death wobble", mine does not have it. Drives pretty nicely actually, just a very slight touch of wheel play. Now that I have the tires at 33 PSI, bumps are no longer jarring me. Wondering about going a touch lower though.
I think you will be even happier with about 26 PSI in your tires
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Old 09-02-2019, 08:07 PM   #19
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Yes. Lower your air pressure further. To between 26 - 28 psi. I run at 28psi with 33x12.50 tires. Many people suggest closer to the 26 psi range.
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Old 09-03-2019, 09:02 AM   #20
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I think you will be even happier with about 26 PSI in your tires
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Yes. Lower your air pressure further. To between 26 - 28 psi. I run at 28psi with 33x12.50 tires. Many people suggest closer to the 26 psi range.
with 33" c-load tires I agree 100% but something tells me the OP is running ~245/75R16 D or E load tires which would be better off around 30-32 psi
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Old 09-04-2019, 07:32 AM   #21
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Agree on the 26 psi on tires. The chalk test bears this out, which can be used on a mere passenger car also
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Old 09-04-2019, 09:42 AM   #22
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what are you guys basing the 26 psi recommendation on?

what tire size and load rating does the OP have?
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Old 09-04-2019, 08:00 PM
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what are you guys basing the 26 psi recommendation on?

what tire size and load rating does the OP have?
Goodyear Wrangler Duratec
LT265/7t R16
aggressive tread

I took the jeep in to have a mechanic look at it , he came back with a lot of issues. Going to see him tomorrow to get a rundown. My Jeep may not have been as clean as I thought, as he mentioned that the "channel" was toast ( connects body to frame ???) as well as some other things. I will continue this tomorrow as I learn more.
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Old 09-04-2019, 08:02 PM
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LT265/75 R16

How do you edit a post here ... I can not find it
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Old 09-04-2019, 08:39 PM   #25
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Edit button is locked out after a set amount of time. See below.

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Posts can only be edited within 30 minutes of it's creation. After that, any changes will need to be made by a member of the forum staff.

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Old 09-04-2019, 08:48 PM   #26
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My question concerns ride quality: I expected it to be stiff, like a truck, which it is, but when I hit a bump in the road it seems like a severe jolt to the vehicle and my body. I am guessing I need new shocks ? I'm assuming and hoping that this jolting impact is not normal ... Anything else besides shocks that could cause this ?

A 15-year-old Jeep with mileage probably needs new bushings (new control arms and trackbar - time for a lift ! )


Even if your steering is perfect, for a Jeep, it's not going to feel as precise as IFS rack-and-pinion
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Old 09-04-2019, 08:53 PM
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Goodyear Wrangler Duratec
LT265/7t R16
aggressive tread

I took the jeep in to have a mechanic look at it , he came back with a lot of issues. Going to see him tomorrow to get a rundown. My Jeep may not have been as clean as I thought, as he mentioned that the "channel" was toast ( connects body to frame ???) as well as some other things. I will continue this tomorrow as I learn more.
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Edit button is locked out after a set amount of time. See below.
I was trying to edit the post immediately after seeing my typo ... only one or two minutes after posting .. could not find it
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Old 09-07-2019, 12:36 PM   #28
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Found a 04 TJ Rubicon w/17k miles, Auto, N(th) Degree 6” lift, 35 x 13.5 x 15.
My question is the ride is STIFF. Tire pressure is 26 PSI, shocks are Rubicon. I’ve owned a 94 YJ w/4.5” lift and ran Rancho adjustable shocks. I’m going to upgrade, looking for opinions.
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Old 09-08-2019, 08:45 AM   #29
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Found a 04 TJ Rubicon w/17k miles, Auto, N(th) Degree 6 lift, 35 x 13.5 x 15.
My question is the ride is STIFF. Tire pressure is 26 PSI, shocks are Rubicon. Ive owned a 94 YJ w/4.5 lift and ran Rancho adjustable shocks. Im going to upgrade, looking for opinions.
shocks would be a good starting point as the old RE shocks are known to ride stiff.

a good once over on the entire suspension should be done as well. not too familiar with the Nth degree stuff.

IMO, 6" is too much lift for a TJ on OEM axles

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