99 XJ front axle "clunk" and steering wobble - JeepForum.com
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Unread 11-25-2009, 05:17 PM   #1
PDBreske
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FIXED! 99 XJ front axle "clunk" and steering wobble

I just bought this Jeep, so I'm still figuring out what's wrong and what's normal, but this can't be right:

At low speed (parking lot speed) the front axle sometimes emits a loud and intermittent "clunk" or bang. Transfer case selection (NP242, 2WD or 4WD Full-time or Part-time) seems to make no difference. It does this most often when initiating a turn or while in a turn.

Also, sometimes I'll feel the steering wheel wobble slightly during a turn. I think it's mostly during acceleration, but I'm not sure if it could be happening when also coasting through a turn. Today I noticed the entire front end seems to jerk side-to-side during a turn as I was leaving the parking lot at work. It seemed like what I've read about a locked axle's behavior, but I think this is a stock diff.

I don't know if these are related issues, but it sure seems like they could be.

The Jeep has a Rubicon Express 3.5" lift, SYE, 31x10.5 Firestone Destination A/T tires on stock wheels. The previous owner didn't mention anything about locking diffs, and since he was quite specific about all the other modifications I'm sure he would have mentioned if he had replaced the original differentials. The tires do rub during full-lock turns, but what I've described here is something different.

Anyone have any ideas? Any questions I can answer that might help shed light on these issues?

EDIT: Figured out my problem! The track bar bushings are shot at both ends and I didn't notice it when I was crawling around under there after I took the Jeep home. Today I had my brother wiggle the steering wheel back and forth and I could clearly see the uniframe end of the track bar popping down when the wheel was turned left, causing the clunk I was hearing.

It's not an OEM bar and I don't know what manufacturer it is, so I ordered a new Adjustable Double Shear Track Bar Conversion Kit from Iron Rock Offroad. I figure this should fix the problem and prevent it from recurring.

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Last edited by PDBreske; 01-03-2010 at 10:19 AM.. Reason: Problem solved.
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Unread 11-25-2009, 05:38 PM   #2
AFjeepMan
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Start small and go through and tighten up all bolts on the front end suspensin parts...check the alignment...and the steering stabilizer...does it wobble at higher speeds in a straight line or while turning?
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Unread 11-25-2009, 05:40 PM   #3
PDBreske
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AFjeepMan View Post
Start small and go through and tighten up all bolts on the front end suspensin parts...check the alignment...and the steering stabilizer...does it wobble at higher speeds in a straight line or while turning?
No, at highway speeds it's perfectly stable and downright pleasant to drive.

If it stops raining here long enough for me to get underneath I'll take a look at all the nuts and bolts tomorrow or this weekend.
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Unread 11-25-2009, 05:44 PM   #4
00XJ00
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check the tre at the pitman arm

mine is bad and it makes a clunk noise when turning, you can also feel it in the steering wheel.
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Unread 11-25-2009, 05:46 PM   #5
PDBreske
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 00XJ00 View Post
check the tre at the pitman arm

mine is bad and it makes a clunk noise when turning, you can also feel it in the steering wheel.
"Tre?" Pardon my ignorance. I'm still not caught up on all the Jeep abbreviations.
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Unread 11-25-2009, 05:48 PM   #6
Beefcake7777
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get underneath and take a look at the transfer case. it sounds like you are in 4 wheel drive. put the shifter into 4ft then put the xj in reverse and back up in a straight line for about 50 feet. then pop the transmission into neutral then put on the brakes. THEN put the shifter into 2wd then FINALLY put it into drive and try to turn an see if it still does it. if it pops still just repeat backing up and etc.
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Unread 11-25-2009, 05:57 PM   #7
PDBreske
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beefcake7777 View Post
get underneath and take a look at the transfer case. it sounds like you are in 4 wheel drive. put the shifter into 4ft then put the xj in reverse and back up in a straight line for about 50 feet. then pop the transmission into neutral then put on the brakes. THEN put the shifter into 2wd then FINALLY put it into drive and try to turn an see if it still does it. if it pops still just repeat backing up and etc.
I did check the transfer case several times because I thought the same thing. I even took it to a local empty field and tore around in 4FT and 4PT, even 4LO. Then switched back to 2WD and made damn sure it was set into 2WD. I'm positive it is in 2WD.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the NP242 transfer case has the 4 Full-time setting so it can be driven all the time in 4WD, right? It provides a differential connection between the front and rear driveshafts. Now, if the TC allows the front and rear driveshafts to turn at different speeds, how could it be affecting the front axle's ability to turns the wheels at different speeds? Again I ask, the factory front diff has no locking capability, correct?
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Unread 11-25-2009, 06:05 PM   #8
00XJ00
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sorry, tie rod end.

I had my wife get in the Jeep and turn the steering wheel and you could see it moving and popping.

So.. tomorrow I'm putting in a new one.

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Unread 11-25-2009, 06:06 PM   #9
PDBreske
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 00XJ00 View Post
sorry, tie rod end.

I had my wife get in the Jeep and turn the steering wheel and you could see it moving and popping.

So.. tomorrow I'm putting in a new one.

Ah, got it. I'll take a look tomorrow. Thanks.
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Unread 11-25-2009, 06:12 PM   #10
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Take a good look at all tie rod ends and the trac-bar bushing on the axle side as well as the tie rod end on the frame side. Control arm bushings could be considered as well. Like stated above have someone turn the wheel back and forth while you lay under the jeep and watch listen and even hold on to moving parts till you can be sure where the problem is. Watch your hands and don't get them caught in moving parts.
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Unread 11-25-2009, 08:09 PM   #11
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bad U-joints can clunk.. also had bad front sway bar bushings make really funky clunking sounds.. two more easy things to check!
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Unread 11-28-2009, 02:16 PM   #12
PDBreske
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Problem solved! See the edit in my first post.
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Unread 11-28-2009, 03:12 PM   #13
HACKGT350
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mine pops at almost full lock and the steering wheel wobbles when turning in a tight circle it also vibrates on the highway. turns out my front axle u-joints are shot i just havent gotten around to replacing them.
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