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  #1  
Old February 28th, 2021, 20:52
FatSlobBob FatSlobBob is offline
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I think my steering geometry may be wonky... Help me sort it out!

Just bought this old girl. '01 with 132k miles. She has a 4.5" RC long arm lift. Also has RC away bar quick disconnects and an RC dual steering stabilizer. Now, I know she needs at least one new tie rod end and the end of the track bar at the pitman arm needs to be replaced as well. But here's the current issue:

The steering is super light. It also has a large dead spot in the middle. After the dead spot the steering is super quick and responsive. Additionally, the steering is so light that if you park on a hill the wheels will turn themselves with no driver input.

Anyone point me in the right direction on this one? Here is an album of pics of the current setup:

https://imgur.com/gallery/6YyAuM2
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  #2  
Old February 28th, 2021, 21:01
VAhasnoWAVES VAhasnoWAVES is offline
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Re: I think my steering geometry may be wonky... Help me sort it out!

in a turn... does the steering wheel naturally return to center or do you have to bring it back?

the dead spot is typical of an aged saginaw box. the gear mesh lives 99% of its life in one position (going strait) with small inputs. this particular section of the gear mesh can wear out and get "sloppy," there may be a considerable amount of slop in the steering wheel back and forth before it begins to turn the tires. outside of a strait steer condition, the mesh is tighter/less worn and doesnt have the same dead spot. you CAN tighten up the box so that it is tighter going strait, but this will often make the steering very stiff when turning. do so carefully, and test drive it accordingly.
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  #3  
Old February 28th, 2021, 21:04
FatSlobBob FatSlobBob is offline
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Re: I think my steering geometry may be wonky... Help me sort it out!

No, the steering generally won't return to center without input. Does the dual stabilizer have any impact in how light the steering feels?
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  #4  
Old February 28th, 2021, 22:02
Evan03 Evan03 is offline
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I think my steering geometry may be wonky... Help me sort it out!

Castor is in the negative side of the castor adjustemt range. It needs to be positive 4 or more degrees.

Lengthn lower arms shorten uppers to increase castor to the positive side.. drive and rd test till steering returns to center on its own and tracks straight down the road

Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
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  #5  
Old February 28th, 2021, 22:16
FatSlobBob FatSlobBob is offline
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Re: I think my steering geometry may be wonky... Help me sort it out!

You sir sound like you know what you're talking about. Shouldn't a proper alignment fix the castor angles though? What would you do about such light steering?
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  #6  
Old February 28th, 2021, 22:29
Evan03 Evan03 is offline
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I think my steering geometry may be wonky... Help me sort it out!

Adjust castor to make steering return to center. Will also make the steering feel heavier . To much castor can make steering feel to stiff.

I'd assume it has steering stabalizer on it to fight bump steer due to steering and track bar being out of wack with eachother.

I dont feel steering stabalizers are needed and don't correct or hide any steering issues.
If track bar and drag link aren't parallel the steering will produce bump steer that no stabalizer can fix.


With the lift the shop will likely have a hard time getting castor to 4+ degrees.
I would have them set steering toe at zero and do castor myself

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  #7  
Old February 28th, 2021, 22:43
Evan03 Evan03 is offline
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I think my steering geometry may be wonky... Help me sort it out!

Steering toe needs to be set for style of steering you have. 1/8" toe in would work best for factory style steering

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  #8  
Old March 1st, 2021, 04:57
RCP Phx RCP Phx is offline
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Re: I think my steering geometry may be wonky... Help me sort it out!

I'd start by getting rid of that "jerry-rigged" set-up and start fresh with all new components. Currie's Correct-link is the best direct bolt-on set-up after that you also need a good trackbar/bracket/ and cross-brace.
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  #9  
Old March 1st, 2021, 05:24
RCP Phx RCP Phx is offline
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Re: I think my steering geometry may be wonky... Help me sort it out!

It also looks like you have ABS which means a D35 and most likely a NP242.
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  #10  
Old March 1st, 2021, 06:32
VAhasnoWAVES VAhasnoWAVES is offline
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Re: I think my steering geometry may be wonky... Help me sort it out!

Quote:
Originally Posted by FatSlobBob View Post
No, the steering generally won't return to center without input. Does the dual stabilizer have any impact in how light the steering feels?
as evan03 said. poor return to center is typical of not enough castor. take the easy route on this one... get it to an alignment shop, preferably one that does modified vehicles. have then take a look over it and recommend any parts that need fix/replace and get it aligned.

the dual stabilizer was a waste of money for whoever put it on.
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  #11  
Old March 1st, 2021, 06:55
Evan03 Evan03 is offline
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I think my steering geometry may be wonky... Help me sort it out!

I went and looked at photos.
Id figure out f its got a dropped pitman on it.

However if your only concerned about the light steering that doesnt return to center well or at then castor tunning is where you need to be looking.

Make ujoint on the pinion straight with driveline then push it down alittle so yoke is pointing slightly away from driveline towards the ground.
By looking at the front steering im doubtfully that your going to be able to get enough castor to correct the issue.
Will like pay the shop for mainly fun and get nothing for your money. But I have been wrong before they might be able to hit +4 deg castor easily.

I won't comment on the steering much as you've got enough of that on your picture's make track and drag link parralell and go from there.
That stock steering would not fly with me. Id at minimum be going over the knuckle 1ton or wj to raise drag link as much as possible

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  #12  
Old March 1st, 2021, 07:22
maxbraketorque maxbraketorque is offline
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Re: I think my steering geometry may be wonky... Help me sort it out!

A few comments:

- Your track bar is incorrectly mounted to the axle. For some reason, its mounted outside of the bracket rather than inside. I would not drive it like that.

- You need to reduce the steep track bar / drag link angle. Get a drop pitman arm and drop track bar mounting bracket. The Rough Country versions of these are good. I have them on my XJ. They are stout.

- Replace all the steering linkages. I just did this on my XJ, and for what you said needs to be replaced on your XJ, its better to just rip everything off and start fresh. If you are going to be rock crawling, then heavy duty (such as the Curry) is a good choice, but if you only plan to trail drive, factory equivalent is fine, except perhaps for the tie rod bar. For factory equivalent, most people go with Moog, but I decided Pro Comp because it comes with a corrosion resistant coating, and the quality seemed otherwise sufficiently equivalent to Moog. (Moog suspension parts come unpainted/coated). I had both Moog and Pro Comp in my hands, and I thought had good build quality. Pro Comp doesn't make a drag link for the XJ. For this I went with the AC Delco Premium. This comes powder coated and looks to be the OEM part. Don't get the AC Delco "Silver". For the tie rod bar, I went with the Rough Country HD. This is the best combination of quality and price. Its beefy, well designed, and inexpensive.

- There are a two places I recommend for alignment in the Portland area. Trackside Motorsports is inexpensive, they don't BS you, and they do a good job, but they don't have a lot of experience with XJs. I have no doubt that they can do the caster adjustment, but it might be their first time messing with an XJ. The other place is Holbrook Auto. They specialize in Jeeps, and the alignment guy there has tons of experience with Jeeps. They will be more expensive though.

- As was suggested, you could consider some bracing for the front steering even for mild trail work. Install a steel steering box spacer if it doesn't already have one. Consider a steering box brace such as the BWE or the IronmanFab braces. I went with the Ironman. Its a bit more complicated to install, but it arguably better supports the steering box. You'll need drop sway bar mounting brackets for either kit. You could optionally go with one of the elcheapo steering box support kits that are about $100. These attach to the opposite frame rail and are supper easy to install, but I don't think they do anything useful. Consider a track bar mounting bracket brace such as the SFR. This is a bit of a tricky install because the track bar on your vehicle can potentially collide with a track bar mounting bracket brace.

- I have an RC 4.5 LA kit on my XJ. You can come by to see my XJ if you want.
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  #13  
Old March 1st, 2021, 07:25
VAhasnoWAVES VAhasnoWAVES is offline
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Re: I think my steering geometry may be wonky... Help me sort it out!

as someone who did everything super cheap in college then axle swapped fully built axles later on, i am of a different school of thought... spending $1k on steering and suspension components is nice if you got cash burning a hole in your pocket, but not needed for someone just getting into a cherokee. spending a ton of money right away is a great way to get buyers remorse very quickly.

the stock drag link and a ZJ tie rod are more than enough for light duty use and street driving. a quality track bar using the factory axle side location is fine for any reasonable lift and stock pitman arm. you can definitely do everything in your driveway with some simple hand tools and time, and i recommend learning to do so. but the reason i recommend an alignment shop is that they can help you identify any worn components that need replacing rather than the internet telling you that you need this or that because their use has dictated such.


BEFORE recommending parts, your usage and expectations for the vehicle would be very helpful.
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  #14  
Old March 1st, 2021, 07:40
FatSlobBob FatSlobBob is offline
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Re: I think my steering geometry may be wonky... Help me sort it out!

Thanks for all of the great replies. This Jeep is not going to see any rock crawling or heavy trail use. Likely the roughest it'll deal with are forest service roads. It is my DD at this point, but my workplace provides me with a car so I only drive maybe 2-3 times per month, mostly locally. I drove it 3 hours home last night and it did great.

I previously owned a lifted '96 that I did a lot of work on so I'm not unfamiliar with XJs. This Jeep is solid except for the interesting steering.

I am planning on doing a V8 ZJ tie rod swap, replacing other worn ends (such as track bar at pitman), then getting a proper alignment and seeing where I'm at. I do not plan on getting heavy duty steering components simply because I will not need them for how I use it.
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  #15  
Old March 1st, 2021, 07:42
FatSlobBob FatSlobBob is offline
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Re: I think my steering geometry may be wonky... Help me sort it out!

And sorry, I meant drag link at pitman arm
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