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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
2015 JKUR, 3" lift, 35's

I have an intermittent issue I can't figure out and am hoping to get help with. I've had this happen ~4 times in the last 2 months, with 3 occurrences being on the Rubicon Trail in a single day.

In short, the steering wheel will not turn the wheels to the right unless I first go a foot or two in reverse. In all of the cases, the wheels were turned slightly to the left. I could turn further to the left, but no-go trying to go the other way. Once I put the Jeep in reverse and roll back a foot or two, then it turns freely.

Lockers were not on in at least 3 of the instances, but I was in 4-lo each time.

I've put the Jeep up on the lift and can't see anything obvious. Things look fine. Nothing is bent. Everything is torqued appropriately. Nothing is rubbing.
 

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I don't have particular knowledge of anything JK, but sounds like 4wd driveline binding. Wound in the direction to cause trouble right. Longer shaft on that side, more force on the u-joint ears.
 
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If you were locked right before, its possible the locker was stuck engaged for a bit causing the issue.
 

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It certainly could be the locker, if it was being used. But the JK / JKU has a fairly simple U joint at each side, and sometimes the U joint(s) are bound up and do not want to let the steering turn in one direction (typically the direction you want to turn in). It is more likely as you move to larger tires, and for us it seems to happen in situations where you are using the articulation of the suspension. A U joint can and will do that, while a CV joint like the RCV axles use doesn't. But when you are locked it is a different animal altogether.
 

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I just experienced this. My first jeep and I’m knee deep in the learning phase but I too ran across similar issues. While on the trail I was in low/low and locked both front & back. As I reached the top of the climb I went to turn left (switchback) and it was very hard. I sensed something was in a bind so I stopped & unlocked the front and things seemed better. Not knowing any more that this I just decided I’d only lock the front if I was going straight. I later just stopped locking the front and only locked the rear when I felt I needed to lock. I plan to crawl under the jeep and give it a good inspection anyway due to 4 days of hard trails but other than the steering binding with the front locker engaged it was a perfect 4 days of wheelin’. I too would appreciate any input on this issue.
 

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It certainly could be the locker, if it was being used. But the JK / JKU has a fairly simple U joint at each side, and sometimes the U joint(s) are bound up and do not want to let the steering turn in one direction (typically the direction you want to turn in). It is more likely as you move to larger tires, and for us it seems to happen in situations where you are using the articulation of the suspension. A U joint can and will do that, while a CV joint like the RCV axles use doesn't. But when you are locked it is a different animal altogether.
Oh, believe me, rcv axles still can have difficult steering while locked. What causes the steering to bind isnt the axle shaft, but rather the scrub radius of the front wheels. When your locked, your basically trying to slide the tires accross the ground, and wheels with more backspacing than stock just amplify that effect, since you are basically increasing the lever against the steering/sliding force of the tires.
 

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I've had no issues steering with RCV even locked. It's called hydroassist. Steering stop to steering stop on a fully locked axle with no bind.
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I've had at least one instance where the wheels had not been locked anytime before, but the binding still occurred. In the other instances, I was in and out of lockers most of the day. It's possible they were slow to disengage. This would make sense to me... the non-locker case still has me baffled.

Thanks to all for input on this. You've given me a direction to look in. I'll get it back on the rack and check out the U-joints at each side.

-Gonzo
 

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could have also been a rock or something beside the tire blocking it?
 

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Sounds like the power steering pump is going.
Next time it does this increase the revs so the ps pump pumps harder. If that works the pump is getting week.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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I would suggest the 4 low bit to be a red herring. It's probably just more noticeable on the trails in 4 wheel drive because of the increased Articulation.


Even in 4lo with lockers on, your turning radius will go to crap but the wheels should still be able to turn from stop to stop..... albeit a bit more difficult at a dead stop with brakes on because one wheel will have to slide on the surface a little instead of roll.


It wouldn't have anything to do with the drive line because it has nothing to do with turning the wheels. That leaves the either steering gear or binding u joints and I would suggest the u joints before the steering gear.


I know that on extreme turns in 4WD even on slippery surfaces with a GOOD set of u joints there is still a tremendous amount of u joint bind. On extreme turns with my 2017 the steering wheel feels like ripping out of my hands and wanting to straighten out with each 1/2 revolution of the front wheels. I really have to hold the wheel HARD to prevent this from happening. I can only imagine what it's like with a set of slightly worn joints.


I went and bought a set of rcv shafts this summer. Haven't gotten around to installing yet but I'll get to it before Winter. I'm pretty sure this is somewhat your issue too. You're probably trying to turn while one or both the u joints (which are a bit worn now) are at their worst point for extreme articulation.
 

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Oh, believe me, rcv axles still can have difficult steering while locked. What causes the steering to bind isnt the axle shaft, but rather the scrub radius of the front wheels. When your locked, your basically trying to slide the tires accross the ground, and wheels with more backspacing than stock just amplify that effect, since you are basically increasing the lever against the steering/sliding force of the tires.
I know of two different forces that can cause the steering to lock up and not want to turn. One is what you mention, and that typically happens when the front locker is locked. If the front locker is not locked, that typically does not happen as the two front tires can spin at different speeds or even in opposite directions when the diff is open. The other is for the U joint to bind up. This is something that can happen when the steering is turned fairly far in one direction or the other and there is load on the drive train. In that situation the U joint can bind and not allow the steering to turn in one direction, but you will typically still be able to turn in the other direction. It has something to do with the way a U joint spins as it turns. It actually slightly speeds up and slows down as it spins when turned, The more it turns the more it does that. So in some situations it actually has to spin / rotate to allow the steering to turn. You can experience the same effect using one of those U joint socket adapters. They sell twin U joint socket adapters that do not have the issue as much, and they sell CV adapters that do not have the issue at all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
...

The other is for the U joint to bind up. This is something that can happen when the steering is turned fairly far in one direction or the other and there is load on the drive train. In that situation the U joint can bind and not allow the steering to turn in one direction, but you will typically still be able to turn in the other direction. It has something to do with the way a U joint spins as it turns. It actually slightly speeds up and slows down as it spins when turned, The more it turns the more it does that. So in some situations it actually has to spin / rotate to allow the steering to turn. You can experience the same effect using one of those U joint socket adapters. They sell twin U joint socket adapters that do not have the issue as much, and they sell CV adapters that do not have the issue at all.
Great explanation. Not sure if I can diagnose this through visual inspection... but it totally makes sense. This could also explain why I had to go a few feet in reverse (rather than forward) to unbind the steering.

-Gonzo
 

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When I've been wheeling for a while and returning to the paved road - I will always back up in 2 wheel drive for a bit to reset the driveline-moving steering wheel side to side
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
UPDATE and CLOSURE

The issue was cured accidentally... but has allowed me to diagnose.

In short, it was a problem with my Fuel Hostage III 17x9 wheels combined with my 25x12.5 tires. The issue is that the wheels have a 5" backspace, and a 1mm offset. The wheels were tight, but didn't rub until you neared full lock. My accidental fix involved me getting fed-up with the rubbing, and getting 4 1-1/4 wheel spacer/adapters. Not only could I now turn lock to lock without rubbing... but the steering bind while in 4-lo vanished!

It was only after inspecting that I realized the binding only happened while turning to the right while air'd down. I failed to do the pattern match until now.

As near as I can gather, while turning to the right on high-grip surfaces, the tire would roll to the inside just enough to wedge a part of the suspension that prevented turning back to the left until you unrolled the tire by reversing. Adding the wheel spacers allowed the tire enough space to roll on itself without coming into contact with anything.

Moral of the story - 5" back spacing is too much unless you employ wheel adapters.

-Gonzo
 
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