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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
2006 Rubicon. From what I can tell and from what I've been advised, I need to replace the Control Arms (particularly the lower CAs) and the Tie Rods/ends. I am relative new to working on cars/Jeeps, so thinking that I need to start with the "easier job." My mechanical experience so far is limited to replacing radiator, rad hoses, tensioner, idler pulley, oil change and transmission fluid change. From what I have read/seen, both of these jobs (control arms and tie rods) are relatively easy.
BUT which job is easier for the novice mechanic to build up experience??馃槀
 

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Who told you they need to be replaced? Was it a 4x4 shop trying to drum some business out of you or is there a problem where you took it to a shop for diagnosis?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Who told you they need to be replaced? Was it a 4x4 shop trying to drum some business out of you or is there a problem where you took it to a shop for diagnosis?
I've taken it to three separate shops since purchasing the Jeep a few months ago. Two of the shops (general mechanics) strongly recommended the replacement of the CAs and tie rods. The third shop (4x4 mechanic) felt that it was more optional.

The Jeep has 115k miles and I believe it was run hard before I got her. She does not ride smoothly (both steering and suspension are sloppy/rough). 29 PSI on 32" E rated tired. Track bar and balls joints were recently changed and have improved things noticeably, but she is still a rough ride.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Photos of control arms attached.

Link to tie rod diagnosis:

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Either are pretty easy

Do need to adjust toe in after doing tie rods but again pretty easy

Stuck rusted hardware makes any job harder and proper tools are a must

With no lift would need jack and stands or ramp lift to get under for control arms but with enough room and doing one at a time vehicle can have weight on wheels when doing control arms


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She does not ride smoothly (both steering and suspension are sloppy/rough). 29 PSI on 32" E rated tired. Track bar and balls joints were recently changed and have improved things noticeably, but she is still a rough ride.
Can you post pictures so we can see how the Jeep is set up? Is all of the suspension and steering aftermarket? E rated tires, are they KO2's?

Assuming that all parts are in proper working order, nothing will effect ride quality more than tires & shocks. Does this Jeep have crappy old shocks? Cheap Rough Country shocks?

Do a dry steer test, while filming, to determine if any of your steering joints are worn out. It's pretty unlikely that the control arm joints/bushing are the problem here. There isn't much to fail with the stock style setup (Bushings). If this Jeep has some old busted aftermarket arms on it, that could be an issue, sure. A loose control arm bushing would be pretty obvious though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Can you post pictures so we can see how the Jeep is set up? Is all of the suspension and steering aftermarket? E rated tires, are they KO2's?

Assuming that all parts are in proper working order, nothing will effect ride quality more than tires & shocks. Does this Jeep have crappy old shocks? Cheap Rough Country shocks?

Do a dry steer test, while filming, to determine if any of your steering joints are worn out. It's pretty unlikely that the control arm joints/bushing are the problem here. There isn't much to fail with the stock style setup (Bushings). If this Jeep has some old busted aftermarket arms on it, that could be an issue, sure. A loose control arm bushing would be pretty obvious though.
Tires are 'Advanta A/T' with 5/32 thread remaining. Here are photos of the shocks, which look old and crappy! I will need to film a dry steer test later...

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Here are photos of the shocks, which look old and crappy! I will need to film a dry steer test later...
Yikes. Time for some new shocks. Nothing will improve ride quality more than a good pair of shocks. I bet 90% of us would recommend Rancho RS5000x shocks. I run them on my daily driver Cherokee. They are tried and true.
 

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Tires are 'Advanta A/T' with 5/32 thread remaining. Here are photos of the shocks, which look old and crappy! I will need to film a dry steer test later...

View attachment 4524624 View attachment 4524625 View attachment 4524626 View attachment 4524627
Those look like the original shocks, it's time to replace them. I personally like the ride and even the offroad control of the Rancho RS5000x which is not an expensive shock. Don't get that confused with their older RS5000 which is a terrible riding shock for a Wrangler.

Replacing the control arms is a straight-forward job, unbolt the old arms and bolt in the new arms What can make it more difficult is 1) seized bolts which can mostly be avoided by several days of spraying the control arm mounting bolts and nuts with Kroil, Liquid Wrench, or Break-Free. Don't waste your time with PB-Blaster or WD-40, neither of those are good penetrants. The other issue is any pressure on the arms will make the bolts far more difficult to remove so you may need to 'slightly' jack up the frame to remove the pressure. The bolts will be tight with all of the Jeep's weight on the tires and if the frame is jacked up to let the axles fully droop. So a little bit of jacking the Jeep up via the frame can help reduce the loading on their mounting bolts.

Replacing the steering components is physically easier but then you have to set the toe-in and re-center the steering afterward. Neither of those jobs are difficult, all you need is a wrench, big pair of pliers to rotate the tie rod with, and a tape measure. This is how to set your own toe-in which will produce just as accurate of a toe-in as an experienced alignment guy can do on the latest laser-guided alignment rack.

Basic TJ/LJ front alignment

Setting your toe-in will change the steering wheel position. Centering your steering is even easier than setting the toe-in. Simply rotate the adjustment link on the drag link until the wheel is centered while you're driving it. I loosen its two clamp bolts then do a test adjustment and drive it up and down the street a few times without tightening the bolts for a test after making minor adjustments after each short test drive.. Once you get the steering wheel centered tighten the bolts. I circled the adjustment link on the drag link in the below photo.

Rotating the circled link so it goes upward in front shortens the drag link. If your steering wheel is too far clock-wise when driving straight ahead after setting the toe-in, the drag link is too short and needs to be made longer by rotating the link so the front of it moves downward. And visa-versa.

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Thanks @Jerry Bransford and @Mattaeus !
How difficult is it to replace shocks for the rookie mechanic?
Easy-peasy, you don't even have to jack up the Jeep or remove the tires to do it.

The upper bolts on the rear shocks can sometimes seize into place if your Jeep is in the rust belt. Spraying those bolts a couple times over a few days before the job with Kroil, Liquid Wrench, or Break-Free will help that a lot. Don't waste your money with PB-Blaster or WD40, neither will help.
 

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Self mix of atf and acetone cheaper and as good or better
For the convenience and minor extra cost of Kroil or Liquid Wrench over mixing my own with acetone and ATF, I'll go with the stuff already to go in the aerosol cans.
 

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Thanks @Jerry Bransford and @Mattaeus !
How difficult is it to replace shocks for the rookie mechanic?
But twist off a rear shock upper bolt and difficulty goes up by a factor of 1
Nola, this is the most important information regarding TJ/LJ shock replacement. The rear shocks are fastened to the axle (Lower) and the gas tank support (Upper). There are weld nuts in the gas tank support and they or the bolts themselves, break very easily. Do yourself a favor and get a wire brush on the threads of those bolts. It's a tricky spot. Close to the fuel tank so you have to be very careful if using heat on the bolts. You kind of have to fish the brush in there between the tub and the gas tank support. Just feel around for the threads, get them clean and lubricated. Digger mentioned it. Shocks are an hour job but if you snap one of those bolts, it turns into a mess. Some folks resort to cutting from the inside of the tub to gain access to the broken bolt from the top. You don't want to do that, try to get the threads clean.

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