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Detail Oriented
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Discussion Starter #1
My 2003 Sport has had a minor shimmy at about 45 mph for the past year. The PO was a pig and seemingly never did any work to it whatsoever, save for oil changes.

Recently the steering shimmy has gotten worse.

Time to do the paranoid, wholesale swap out of all minor wear items that I do whenever a system on this rig starts acting funny. (The PO lost this in a repo, I think. The small lot dealer bought it at auction and had zero records on it. So I have to assume the worst when there are tough to diagnose problems come. Last summer I swapped out the entire cooling system. This summer was to be the steering and exhaust including the manifold. Looks like steering will be right now, though...)

So, I am now learning about steering.

I have what seems to be a sagging 4" suspension lift, maybe a 3" one. I run 33x12.5R15 tires with 3.73 gears (D44 in back) with a TC drop. The steering wants to wander to the left when I brake.

I have the heavy duty Monroe steering stabilizer and the gas charged, red JK Rubicon shocks on unknown, stiff springs.

I am assuming that I will need tie rod ends. What brand would be a good upgrade?

I plan on getting the Teraflex HD track bar at some point as an upgrade. How can I tell if my track bar *needs* to be replaced rather than merely upgraded? (Meaning, I want to know whether I can wait on the heavier track bar for a while or if I need one now.)

What about the drag link? I know nothing about what this does, nor do I know how to diagnose problems with it.

FURTHER: I have another TJ that is dead and that has been feeding me parts for my current TJ. It is an SE with the 2.4L PowerTech engine they replaced the 2.5L with in 2003. I am assuming that if the PO of my Sport did not upgrade or otherwise change any of the steering gear when he put on the lift and bigger tires that the Sport (D30) and the SE (D30) both being of the same year (2003) will have exactly the same steering gear. Is this true? My SE's steering gear was in excellent condition when it threw the rod through the block, so I could possibly swap out these components.

Worth it? Get new/better tie rod ends? I am assuming that the slight wobble (visible from another vehicle when it happens) is likely due to worn connection points like these.

I will have my wife start it up this afternoon and turn the wheel back and forth to look for slop/play, and if I find any I will post photos here at that time.

The steering box seems to be working fine, as is the PS pump. Wheel bearings are good. Needs brake pads. Otherwise the front end seems tight except for the slight wobble at 45 mph.

Any preliminary advice for me to consider before doing the inspection this afternoon?

Thanks!
 

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Knows a couple things...
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49,002 Posts
Speed sensitive shimmies are nearly always (!) caused by a bad tire or an imperfectly balanced tire. In 50+ years of driving, I've never had a speed sensitive shimmy where the root cause was anything but a tire (less frequently a bent/untrue wheel). Something else might also be loose and allow the shimmying to be worse but they don't spin & vibrate if not perfect, that is what bad tires do.
 

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+1 to what Mr. Bransford said...I have a couple of loose upper ball joints that is causing my shimmy.
 

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Detail Oriented
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3,172 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Jerry, you can see it wobbling right-to-left when it happens. It does not wobble up/down. Would a visible wobble be the balance? I rotated my brand new spare (well, never on the ground, but less than a year old) to passenger front as it had a screw in it. (I will get that plugged later. It is not leaking.) I have not yet rotated out the other front tire. Should I try that?

I took rear passenger up to front passenger. Spare to rear passenger. Should I just swap the driver side tires front to back and take it out for a spin? The shimmy was about the same after the spare was swapped in and the old passenger front was removed. It would be GREAT if that was the only problem...
 

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Detail Oriented
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Discussion Starter #5
Regarding ball joints and tire rod ends, what should I purchase? OEM? Something stronger (ahem, more expensive)? As I said, I have zero history on this jeep and I haven't yet done anything to the steering. I am sure it could use some attention. But I don't want to just toss money at it.
 

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I am looking at Moog parts, they seem to be decent. I will never be a hard-core off road guy though.
 

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I may not be the best to suggest this but I just ordered a bunch of new parts for my steering setup. I went the ZJ tie rod upgrade. I ordered service grade Raybestos tie rod ends and let me tell you they are significantly bigger than stock, and solid. Plus they won't clean out your wallet. As far as the ball joints you might just want to get the Spicer, good quality and usually American made. Denny's driveshaft online has a set (upper and lower) for less than 50 bucks.
 

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Mostly old school..!
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12,149 Posts
The steering wants to wander to the left when I brake.
I suggest you do your dry steering test and replace parts as needed rather than a wholesale swap out of everything. I also suggest that if it is pulling left when you brake, maybe you should start there. You may well have a caliper that's hanging up and contributing to your other issues.
 

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Detail Oriented
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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks, guys!
 
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