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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm working towards getting my '01 TJ SE sorted suspension-wise and want to resolve the other real nagging issue with my Jeep that I would best describe as a "flat spot" or "dead center" in the steering. My Jeep wanders going straight on flat and level streets; and in curves (like highway transfer ramps from one highway to another) the Jeep exhibits a somewhat dangerous behavior where it will not turn much with a slight steering input, then all of a sudden it turns much sharper than necessary, requiring counter-steering input. Not really safe.

It appears that my tie rod ends need replacing and while I have not tested them yet I am inclined to replace the upper and lower ball joints at the same time.

Question: what brands should I be looking at?

Ball Joints: Synergy, Alloy USA, Moog, Crown, Rugged Ridge, Omix-ADA, and the dozens of no-name sellers on Amazon and Ebay.

Tie Rod/Pitman Arm Ends: Fabtech, Moog, Rugged Ridge, Omix-ADA, Crown, Currie, and the dozens of no-name sellers on Amazon and Ebay.

Also, do you only replace the tie rod adjusting sleeve when it gets damaged?

Cost isn't really an issue but I don't want to be spending Currie and Synergy money if Crown or Rugged Ridge will get me the same thing.

Below are some pics of what I currently have going on. Ball joints don't *look* bad but the tie rod and pitman ends are shot.


Nothing appears bent, damaged, or broken... just worn.



Passenger side:






Driver's side:






Pitman arm:

 

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NAPA branded tie rod ends are made by Dana in the US. I have had great luck with them and they won't break the bank neither.
 

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Put in Spicer ball joints. Might as well check the unit bearings while you have everything apart, Timken are a good choice. Then your tie rod ends (also suggest a V8 ZJ version tie rod, sooner then the stock hollow one you have on now).

Have you checked the steering gearbox for slop or delay, when you turn the input (from steering wheel side) does the pitman arm move at the exact same time? IE no dead spot.
 

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I'm working towards getting my '01 TJ SE sorted suspension-wise and want to resolve the other real nagging issue with my Jeep that I would best describe as a "flat spot" or "dead center" in the steering. My Jeep wanders going straight on flat and level streets; and in curves (like highway transfer ramps from one highway to another) the Jeep exhibits a somewhat dangerous behavior where it will not turn much with a slight steering input, then all of a sudden it turns much sharper than necessary, requiring counter-steering input. Not really safe.

It appears that my tie rod ends need replacing and while I have not tested them yet I am inclined to replace the upper and lower ball joints at the same time.
before replacing anything, test. from your description, you may just have some play in your steering box. this can be adjusted, and one can screw the pooch at the same time. there are several discussions on how to adjust it. testing the ball joints is easy, lift the front wheels off the ground, using a long pry bar, lift on each tire. it the wheel moves up and down replace ball joints. the way to test tie rods is on here. just do a search. from your pictures, you got a tight looking suspension and not much rust. that's good. if you adjust your steering box, don't move the adjustment screw very much, 1/4 turn could be too much. have fun. good luck.
 

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found a bad ball joint on mine, did all 4 with HD alloys, picked up currie steering linkage sys too, massive piece of hardware compared to OE
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Ok, clearly I have skipped a step. Glad I posted and thanks for the "before you go spending hard earned money..." suggestions.

I should:

1) Check for power steering unit for:

- Slop: have someone turn the steering wheel left to right in a slow consistent pattern and watch the output shaft to make sure that it remains straight and doesn't flex when turning the pitman arm.
- Someone else's video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=no-UesulNfg

- Delay: have someone turn the steering wheel left to right in a slow (repeated) consistent pattern and compare the input shaft movement to the output shaft movement, they should be the same.
- Someone else's video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muXB2RRq5RI

2) Check for slop and excessive movement of the pitman arm to steering tie rod end bushing.


I'm assuming I do this with the tires on the ground, correct?

I'll get some assistance to to this in the morning.
 

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I would only use MOOG. Spicer is a good option, but you can usually get the Moog for about the same price. Shop around too. I have found them super cheap at places like Summit and JC Whitney. Once in a while eBay will surprise you too, but then if you have an issue later it is very difficult to get them warrantied.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Tires on ground. Check.

Well, it appears that MOOG isn't the company they once were. Googling "MOOG QUALITY" brings up thousands of hits that are mostly forum posts from every kind of car and truck forum you can think of and many of them are saying that Moog, since sourcing manufacturing offshore, has gone down the toilet.

I'm probably going to go with Spicer or Alloy USA or Napa.

Still, I need to troubleshoot the steering box in the morning. I'll report back later in the day.

Thanks fellas.
 

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I've never had bad luck with Moog but I have had to use they're warranty to replace worn Moog parts, I've never had a problem with they're warranty though. I can say I've never replaced a Spicer balljoint twice! I Use Spicer where I can then Moog where I can't unless it's a disposable car for commuting purposes, then it gets the cheapest Chinese part I can find.

I'd do a dry steer first though like mentioned. That way you'll know how much slop everything has and you'll be able to form a better plan instead of the shotgun approach. I've had worn track bar ends cause the same thing your describing. When you start steering, instead of pivoting the steering, it'll take up the slop in the track bar so you actually shift over top of the housing before you start to actually turn. Gives you a pretty good dead spot between left and right.

Lifts can cause a dead spot also, if there's much lift then it messes the caster angle up which allows your steering geometry to work properly.
 

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Also some of the "HD" ball joints have a knurled body. I would stay away from them, once they're installed your stuck using knurled joints from then onward as it deforms the inner C's sockets enough that standard joints wont seat in to them properly. I've personally seen it happen and the "HD" joints in question kept failing under what I would call aggressive but normal use.
 

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I had the crown "hd" steering kit. 3 years and 1500 miles later i just tore it all out and installed moog v8 zj parts. The crown kit was junk. The tie rod ends were shot. I could move the tie rod almost an inch by hand. No dry steering test required
Moog part #s
Es3096L
Es2079s
DS1312
And i used the stock drag link i don't recall the part number for it
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I got a helper and made a video and posted on YouTube. Shot in 1080 so if you go full screen you'll see good detail.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ROo5ehs59E

I see the following:

1) Steering input does not match the movement of the pitman arm - 00:04
2) Drag link end at the pitman arm appears to have excessive play - 00:19 - 00:40
3) Pitman arm output shaft appears to have unwanted lateral movement - 0049 - 01:04
4) Large lateral movement of the steering input shaft - 01:29 - 02:30
5) Clunking sound (throughout video)

Thoughts?
 
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