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Steering Issues After 4" Lift

 
Old 04-16-2019, 11:07 AM
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Angry Steering Issues After 4" Lift

Hello all,

I've been trying to dial in the steering in my wifes 2012 JK 2dr Rubicon, and it is driving me nuts!

July 2018
I got a 4 inch RC lift kit w/ shocks and 35's with 2inch spacers on stock wheels.
Result: Flighty wandering steering. Read that was normal with bigger tires and lifting.

August 2018 - We took it to Windrock offroad park in Tennessee wheeling with some friends in our Jeep club.
On the way home from I noticed the steering even more wandering than before.
I had brought spare parts along in case anything got bent out of shape and we checked steering linkages and replaced the drag link as the ball joints were very loose.
Drove home, steering still wandering.

Got home, installed tie rod and got the Jeep aligned.
Result: With all the ball joints new and tight, I was feeling A LOT of feedback in the wheel from the road as well as HORRIBLE BUMP STEER to the point that driving over 40mph was
gambling with your life and others on the road. So it was strictly short trips no faster than 40mph anywhere.

November/December/January? Let's call it fall 2018
My Jeep club admin mentioned that my 4in lift would have moved my wheels in and I should get adjustable control arms to fix the caster which should help with the bump steering issue.
I was also wanting to beef up the steering components to handle a Hydro Assist steering box some day in the future.
So I ordered:
- Yeti steer smarts top mount draglink with griffin attenuator
- Yeti adjustable trackbar
- Yeti XD tie rod
- Rock Krawler upper/lower, front/rear control arms

April 2018 - Yes I know, parts sat in a pile in my garage for months, my wife pointed this out to me as well.
Installed these, got an alignment.
Result: Bump steer is gone but there is a pronounced dead spot in turning the wheel.
You can drive over 40mph with 1 hand but the dead spot has resulted in needing 2 hands to control it and be able to handle the steering engaging when you turn past the dead spot.
You turn, turn, turn nothing happens then bam, your turning aggressively and you have to turn back through the deadspot to make it catch the engagement point and go the other way to correct it and try to get centered in the lane.

There was discussion to upgrade the shocks and help stiffen up the handling a bit.
Installed Teraflex 2.0 Monotube shocks and the ride is much firmer for sure.
Dead spot in steering is still there, it steers better but not where it should be.

Took it to get it aligned and the numbers are below.

Alignment results


So after replacing everything we could think of affecting the steering and the caster looked pretty good, the only thing we could think of being the issue was the steering gear box.
We tightened up the adjustment screw on the gear box and it tightened up the steering wheel but it did nothing for the dead spot in the wheel.
So we decided to install a new gear box from Autozone 4.13.19.
Result Test Drive: Steering very, very firm, but can be held at highway speeds with 1 hand which was unthinkable before.

April 14 2019 Road Test
Drove with the club about 300 highway miles round trip to a wheeling event the next day with the new box installed and it wheeled great with the new shocks.
Observed Highway Results:
- Steering is incredibly tight.
- Requires minimal inputs to steering wheel to track in stratish line on the highway
- It requires 2 hands to move the wheel to change lanes
- The dead spot is not a dead spot now, it is now a fine adjustment range between 11 and 1. On the high way to track straight, the movement in this range can keep the vehicle under control in your lane.
- The turning motion of the wheel is not smooth with the wheels on the road or with the wheels in the air and the Jeep on jack stands. You can feel hard, resistant spots throughout the turning range from lock to lock.
- While on the road the extremely stiff steering motion is problem 1 but is also compounded by the resistance at positions 11 and 1 as when you put enough force at these points to push through the resistance, the wheel falls through the resistance, goes limp and turns HARD unrestricted which means you better be ready and have 2 hands on the wheel to control the Jeep to get it centered.
- Wandering still happens, if you try to correct it too much, it unexpectedly darts in response. So you try to feather the steering through this but it's hard to turn to begin with and it's not smooth at all, lots of resisting points and lots of non resisting points together makes turning a PIA and awful as a daily driver.

Jeep is currently at the shop getting the alignment done and they said they cannot adjust the steering gear box as Firestone corporate will not allow them to.

So...
I have heard of steering boxes needing tightened up but do new boxes need loosened up?
Do they need to break in for a while?
Did we miss anything else in diagnosing what the cause of horrible steering could be?
What else could we possibly try to help with steering pressure/smoothness and get steering closer to stock without it being a dangerous vehicle to drive?
I'm all ears.
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Old 04-16-2019, 11:29 AM
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Well, that was a very detailed post. Usually we get the opposite! It's a lot to take in. This isn't going to address your steering box, but others will probably want some clarification as well.

Originally Posted by CoqRock View Post
November/December/January? Let's call it fall 2018
My Jeep club admin mentioned that my 4in lift would have moved my wheels in and I should get adjustable control arms to fix the caster which should help with the bump steering issue.
I was also wanting to beef up the steering components to handle a Hydro Assist steering box some day in the future.
So I ordered:
- Yeti steer smarts top mount draglink with griffin attenuator
- Yeti adjustable trackbar
- Yeti XD tie rod
- Rock Krawler upper/lower, front/rear control arms
I presume that 4" RC lift came with a drop pitman arm. I notice you added a top mount drag link. At that time, did you revert back to the factory pitman arm, or are you now driving with a flipped DL AND a drop pitman?

Caster below 4* is still low. Most of us are probably in the 4.2*-4.5* range.....some closer to 5* even. I don't think that is your issue, but since you have adjustable arms, no reason to be that low.

Curious to hear if others have comments specifically about the steering box. The 2dr and 4dr steering boxes are different. Presumably the replacement was the proper one.
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Old 04-16-2019, 11:41 AM
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Good eye!
I'm now running an OEM pittman arm and the steering box I can only guess is the right one for a 2 dr.
Visually it looks the same as the one we pulled off.

Caster angle is something I have wandered about A LOT.
What is the range for a 4 inch lift on a 2dr with 35's?
I imagine that might be the last thing to try to help if the box begins to behave better in another 700 miles or so.

Thanks for the input!
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Old 04-16-2019, 11:59 AM
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Caster isn't an exact science, it's more of a range. You can get too high if you have a DC driveshaft....but there is a wide range of acceptability. There's some good reading for you in this thread which might help understand caster a bit more. Pay attention to the video link in Rednroll's #15 post -

https://www.jk-forum.com/forums/modi...1/#post4300545
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Old 04-16-2019, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by CoqRock View Post
Hello all,

I've been trying to dial in the steering in my wifes 2012 JK 2dr Rubicon, and it is driving me nuts!

July 2018
I got a 4 inch RC lift kit w/ shocks
And there it is again. The now customary introduction to all steering related issues.
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CoqRock (04-16-2019)
Old 04-16-2019, 12:25 PM
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If I read that right, you paid for two separate alignments, and neither shop raised the caster? (many won't touch adjustable arms, so that is understandable. But they should have at least mentioned it). As was noted, most of us like to be in the mid 4* range after a lift. The higher caster gives less flighty steering, and as you can see you are at the very bottom of the factory specs. (those 3.6 readings probably should have displayed in red). But yeah, when you get some time, raise it and see what you think.

Has the driveshaft been replaced yet? If so, you'll have to watch how high you take the caster, but mid-4's should be ok.

CASTER + 4.2 0.5 (+3.7 to +4.7)
MAX LT/RT DIFFERENCE 0.65

I also noticed a difference in handling when the Toe was adjusted one way or the other. It was to fix a pull to one side only, not a flighty back and forth or bumpsteer, but might be something to research.

For the dead spot, I saw a couple posts a number of years ago talking about the gearing difference between 2 and 4 door models, but I don't recall what was said about just how much difference there is. Hopefully someone else will chime in on that. There have also been a few how-to threads posted about pulling the box and adjusting it on bench that might be a good read. And, since you are considering hydro, have you touched base with West Texas Offroad? They can upgrade and port the stock boxes when it is that time, but they might also be a good source for diagnostics of the current issue.

And you might also try removing the steering stabilizer, on the off chance that it was damaged and could be contributing.
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Old 04-16-2019, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by nthinuf View Post
For the dead spot, I saw a couple posts a number of years ago talking about the gearing difference between 2 and 4 door models, but I don't recall what was said about just how much difference there is. Hopefully someone else will chime in on that. There have also been a few how-to threads posted about pulling the box and adjusting it on bench that might be a good read. And, since you are considering hydro, have you touched base with West Texas Offroad? They can upgrade and port the stock boxes when it is that time, but they might also be a good source for diagnostics of the current issue.
I want to say the difference is something like a whole additional tooth, but I can't recall for certain. I just know they are different boxes, and who knows when you're dealing with Autozone. I was gonna ask if still had the original box as well.....send that sucker in to WTO! They'll port it and rebuild it and you'll be good to go.....and can move on past this Autozone box completely.
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Old 04-16-2019, 01:16 PM
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Side note. I have heard about WTO. Are they the place to go for steering? Havent decided on full hydro or hydro assist yet.
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Old 04-16-2019, 01:55 PM
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Hey all thanks for the quick replies!
I have been in touch with WTO and I have the OEM box as well to send for the rebuild. That may be my next step if this box is junk, which I have heard that rebuilt boxes from parts stores is like playing the lotto.

So some updated info about diagnostics.

I have OEM driveshafts and am currently running without a steering stabilizer.

The alignments that have been done were over the course of many months, I wanna say one in the fall after Installing the oem replacement drag link and tie rod, and then again recently after installing the upgraded Yeti steer smarts parts.
One was done at 4WP around August 2018 when the bumpsteer was the major issue and the most recent was done at Autozone.
After 4WP alignment was done they gave me a print out but it didn't have the caster mentioned at all

So I went and got the lifetime alignment deal at Firestone where the Jeep is sitting right now.

Will read up on the pinion angle and caster thread as mentioned above by @resharp001

Will post the numbers when i get the Jeep back from the shop and notes on how it is handling.

Im tempted to pull the gear box from my 2015 JKU and see what, if any difference it makes in wheel travel as it being still stock is smooth as butter to turn.
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Old 04-16-2019, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by DEJK2012 View Post
Side note. I have heard about WTO. Are they the place to go for steering? Havent decided on full hydro or hydro assist yet.
PSC and WTO are the two companies that get mentioned all the time. I like the WTO Redneck Ram option because the price tag is much more appealing.
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