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Thread: JK STEERING HAS ME WANDERING.... I mean wondering

  1. #1
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    JK STEERING HAS ME WANDERING.... I mean wondering

    I just bought my 2015 JKU Rubicon with 100k miles on it. Don't know much of its history, but was a one owner who left it stock, traded it in, and thru the auto auctions it ended up at a Off Road shop in CA that specializes in jeeps only. They put a Teraflex 2.5 lift and 33" on it, stock rims w/ wheel spaces, 9550 shocks & steering stabilizer.

    When driving straight (or trying to) it always seems to go back and forth, never in a straight line. Even at fairly slow speeds. The steering feels tight, no play or sloppiness. Maybe too tight? The steering doesn't return all the way to center when coming out of a turn. Comes part way back but not completely, and seems worse on a right hand turn.
    Driving straight If you flick the wheel to the right it keeps going to the right, won't straighten out. Then you have to steer it back to the left, and it keeps going to the left.... and back and forth it keeps going.

    I thought with the lift (albeit modest) and slightly larger tires it might be caster angle. So I installed adjustable lower arms and set caster to 5.5 which made absolutely no difference.

    Took it in to a 4 Wheel parts shop and had the entire front end inspected. They reported back that the drivers side ball joints were bad, and the tie rod end at the bottom of the pitman arm needed replaced. Had them replace those and the problem remains unchanged. It did steer tighter with the new ball joints, and they advised me that it takes 500 miles to break in new ball joints. I did that.... but the problem remains.
    I returned to them, and they re-inspected the front end parts but claim everything else is good. They were not sure what was wrong and basically tried getting rid of me.

    I took it to a different off road shop to get a second opinion. They agreed that the remaining front end components do not need replacing, and that doing so was just a waste of money.

    I'm wondering if the passenger ball joints are dry, too tight, bound up? When these shops check things they always seem to focus on play, sloppiness, worn out parts.... and often times miss a part that is binding.

    Maybe steering gear box? I tried loosening the adjusting nut thinking that maybe the used car auction dealer tightened it up too tight trying to hide a worn out front end. I loosened it in small 1/8th turns to the point that I started getting some play in the steering, but the original problem never went away. When putting the adjusting nut back to where it was I noticed that it's only a 1/4 from bottoming out. Made me wonder if that's normal.

    Played with tire pressure (they are almost new KO2) and did the chalk test finding that 28psi showed the most even wear. But regardless of where I put the tire pressure the problem remains.

    I've owned Jeeps my whole life, probably had 8 or 9 of the them (well ok..... 8.5 LOL) and I know how a jeep handles. But there is something wrong here.
    Makes me think I am barking up the wrong tree. Over looking something.

    Any ideas? Suggestions? Similar stories?

  2. #2
    Addict BaddestCross's Avatar
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    Factory caster is 4.25° if I recall. New ball joints can be tight and create that feeling as well.

    Have you checked the toe? Did any shop actually put it on an alignment rack and give you numbers?



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  3. #3
    Nothing but a Thing desertrunner's Avatar
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    Toe was my first thought as well
    Definitely check that. It sounds like you might be toed out

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  4. #4
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    Yes both shops gave me a print out of the alignment. I just moved into a new place this past weekend and am a little disorganized but will post the alignments just as soon as I find them. Everything else on them was within spec tho as I recall.

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    Get a new gear box. Especially since the adjuster has been messed with. Just went thru your exact headache.

  6. #6
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    Here's the print outs from both shops.
    As you can see the toe is within specs.

    I questioned the right camber but have been told that's normal for jeeps, and that new JKs even came thru that way.
    Not sure about that, but staying focused on the problem I don't think camber is the culprit.
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  7. #7
    Old Timer TrailHunter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BaddestCross View Post
    New ball joints can be tight and create that feeling as well.





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    ^^^This.... try removing your steering stabilizer and see if that helps a little. Have you replaced your unit bearings?

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    I haven't replaced the unit bearings, and not knowing the history I am unsure if they are original. But I would think bearings going bad would be making a noise? (which I'm not hearing)

    I'm thinking maybe replacing the passenger side ball joints. If for no other reason than it bothers me that the drivers side was bad, and replaced.... how far behind is the other side?
    And if that doesn't cure it, well at least once I find the cause I will also have new upper and lower ball joints on both sides.

    Dpindustries might be right? Curious what type of gear box did you replace it with?
    I've read that rebuilt ones don't last, and that the factory OEM models are crap to begin with (probably why I'm replacing it now) so what's a good one to go with?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dpindustries View Post
    Get a new gear box. Especially since the adjuster has been messed with. Just went thru your exact headache.

  9. #9
    Addict wjtstudios's Avatar
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    PSC big bore XD llr. When my OEM gear went, I had a lot of play at the steering wheel and that does not sound like what you are dealing with.

    For the unit bearings, they won’t always make noise. You need to check for play in the wheel itself. Grab top and bottom of the tire and twist to see if there is any play in the unit bearing.


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  10. #10
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    -I replaced the tie rod/draglink.
    -Replaced unit bearings that didnt need to be replaced.
    -replaced Dana ball joints with synergy that didnt need to be replaced.
    -replaced control arm bushings.
    -got 3 different alignments.
    -new trackbar

    These were all done separately on a jku with 37s. Finally last week I just ran to advance auto to try out a new gear pump. Fixed it all. I've been chasing this issue for awhile, it was terrible and it surely didnt use to be. So yes safe to say 37s do in fact wear out steering parts quicker lol. I will be upgrading to a beefier pump of some sort shortly but this cheap $240 pump is fine now

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