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post #1 of 9 Old 08-16-2017, 10:56 PM Thread Starter
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Darty Steering

I recently acquired a 87 Cherokee Laredo 4x4. It shook like crazy and was literally rattling the car to pieces so I replaced nearly everything in the front end. Upper and Lower control arm bushings, track bar, drag link, tie rod and all tie rod ends, upper and lower ball joints, front wheel bearing/hubs, axle U-joints, steering stabilizer, front shocks, Rotor, pads, and brake lines. Then I had her aligned by a reputable alignment specialty shop. She still has a slight driveline vibration (I feel it in the seat, not the steering wheel) at 65 and the drivers side axle seal is leaking. This weekend I will replace the axle seals, ballance the drive shaft, and replace the drive shaft U-joints to address the leaking seal and the slight vibration I feel through the seat.

I'm happy to be nearly rid of the vibration and confident that the remaining vibration is the drive shaft and not the front end. But now at highway speeds she is scary to drive. She tracks pretty straight in the lane, but when you go to change lanes it is as if the car digs in and exaggerates the turn abruptly. She has a bit of memory steer at all speeds, but I think/hope that will improve as the ball joints break in a bit. The memory steer is already getting better after only 100 miles. The darty steering is a bit unnerving though. I am going to take it back to the alignment shop, but want a better understanding of what might be wrong so I can have an intelligent conversation with the shop technicians. I just looked at my paperwork and no the shop did not give be any specs on castor, camber or toe in or out. Just looking at the jeep in the parking lot it appears to be toed out a bit, but that is hardly scientific. I am sure I'm not the first XJ owner with this problem, what normally causes darty steering?

My search turned up a lot of suggestions to replace things I already replaced. Are there alignment specs I should ask the shop to try?

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post #2 of 9 Old 08-17-2017, 12:37 AM
Worktruck
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A bad belt in the tire, imbalanced rim tire combo, or bent rim? A set of junkyard tires and aluminum rims made my Jeep feel way better. Also and I just thought of this as I was typing, if you have a lot of grease on the back of the wheels from the bad parts you replaced, that can throw everything off balance especially when dirt gets caked in there too.
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post #3 of 9 Old 08-17-2017, 04:06 AM
RLE
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It could be a bad tire as Worktruck suggested.. You might try rotating front to back
and see if that changes anything.

Also, check the steering box to make sure it is not loose. Grab the box and the shaft from
the steering wheel and try to shake it. A box can work itself loose, or sometimes, the
frame cracks under the box.

If the front wheels are toed out, that will make the steering wander like you describe.

They should be toed in about 1/8 to 3/16 of an inch. You can adjust toe-in
in your driveway. It is basically just twisting the tie rod to lengthen or shorten
it. The tie rod has LH and RH threads on each end, so that when you twist it,
it shortens or lengthens.

Turn the steering wheel so the front wheels are eyeball straight, turn off
the motor, jack up the driver side wheel an inch off the ground. Then loosen
the nuts on the collars at each end of the straight tie rod. Place a long 2x4
across the front of the Jeep, touching the front of both tires, pick a tread groove
on each tire and mark the board where the groove hits, then put the board
behind the tires and mark where the same grooves hit. Then twist the tie
rod to shorten or lengthen it so the distance between the grooves in front
of the tires is 1/8 to 3/16 inch less than behind the tires (the "toe-in").
Tighten up the collars and keep the 2x4 in your garage for next time.

If the steering wheel isn't straight after that, just loosen the 2 bolts on the
collar of the drag link, and turn the collar and that will move the steering
wheel. When you have it straight, tighten the collar back up and you're done.
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post #4 of 9 Old 08-17-2017, 04:45 AM
CJ7-Tim
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I would suggest that it might have the wrong shocks. What brand and part number shocks were installed ? Did you install new rear shocks also ? Does it have the front sway bar, and are the sway bar and end link bushings fresh ?

When I bought my 1999 at 196,000 miles it had mushy suspension and swervy behaviors when turning sharply, almost to point of being dangerous to change lanes at freeway speeds. A full set of top quality shocks along with new sway bar bushings and end links made a night and day difference in the handling and control.

With the other obvious neglect of routine maintenance issues in the steering and suspension, I would suggest some new shocks such as: Bilseitn 4600, DoetchTech DT-3000, or BDS shocks. As suggested already, bit more toe-in may also help, and is easy to do or undo.

.

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post #5 of 9 Old 08-17-2017, 11:54 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the ideas. The sway bar bushings and end links are also brand new, forgot to mention that. I replaced so many parts I lost track. I put cheap auto zone brand shocks on and only replaced the fronts. The rims are original 30 year old aluminum, the tires are relatively new goodyear wranglers. Rims and tires were recently balanced by discount tire. The steering box seams tight. I will rotate the tires and adjust the toe in a bit as suggested and see what happens. If that does not help I will look into better shocks and new wheels/tires. Thanks again!!

84 CJ7 Renegade
87 XJ Laredo
97 Toyota Tacoma 4x4

Last edited by AMCJeeps; 08-17-2017 at 12:06 PM.
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post #6 of 9 Old 08-17-2017, 04:07 PM
CJ7-Tim
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Tires and rims are unlikely to cause issues with the driving and handling unless they are damaged or defective. If the tires balanced OK, they should be of no concern. Do a full set of shocks first before any tires/rims.

.

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Progressive Liberalism: Bringing you new Healthcare ideas so wonderful, they have to include mandatory participation ...

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post #7 of 9 Old 08-17-2017, 09:11 PM
Wolpertinger
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My son's 91XJ had the same problem. We replaced the steering gear box and it went away.
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post #8 of 9 Old 08-21-2017, 02:21 PM Thread Starter
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I adjusted the tie rod two full turns shorter and adjusted the drag link one full turn "up" to recenter the wheel. She drives much better now. I think I will get rear shocks to match the fronts as recommended and closely insect the rear suspension for worn parts while I am at it. The steering gear seams tight to me, but I am sure a new gear would improve things even more, but that project will have to wait.

Thanky ou all for your help!

84 CJ7 Renegade
87 XJ Laredo
97 Toyota Tacoma 4x4
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post #9 of 9 Old 08-21-2017, 02:59 PM
RLE
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Since you do a lot of your own work, you might be interested in adjusting
the steering gear first before spending for a new one.

Here is a write-up on how to adjust it the right way. It's for a ZJ, but they
use the same gear.
http://www.jeepforum.com/forum/f13/s...ering-1164443/

You have perhaps heard about the problem some people have of breaking
rusted bolts in the rear upper shock mounts. Squirt pblaster on well beforehand
to loosen them.
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