Front Suspension: What do I have here? - JeepForum.com
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post #1 of 26 Old 03-20-2017, 11:11 PM Thread Starter
camillescott
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Front Suspension: What do I have here?

Hello! This is my first post here, so consider this an introduction as well as a question.

About a year ago, I decided I needed an off-roading vehicle. After lots of reading, I settled on getting either an XJ or a 3rd gen 4runner, and I after lots of craigslist crawling and budget considerations, I ended up with a '92 XJ. It came with a 4.5" Rubicon Express lift, along with some other modifications, and that's where the questions begin.

As far as I can tell, the front has been modified pretty heavily, outside of the lift kit: there's a new drag link and tie rod, and I think a drop pitman arm. The steering stabilizer is missing, presumably because the new drag link doesn't have the flattened area and bolt-hole for it (laziness on the part of the original installer?), and unlike the stock system, the tie rod attaches to both steering knuckles instead of to the drag link on the passenger side. This would be all well and good, except that the steering is pretty sloppy; over about 50mph, it has a mild-to-moderate death wobble triggered by bumps, and I can shake the tires a fair amount just grabbing them with it jacked up. The tie rod and drag link don't seem lose, though the drag link in particular is pretty easy to twist on the ball joints. Shaking a tire back and forth moves the entire system, including the pitman arm. The guy I bought it from (said he'd) had it aligned recently, and the wobble has worsened over the past ~300 miles since I purchased it (it made for an exhilarating return from Lake Tahoe), which makes me think it isn't that it needs an alignment, but that something is throwing it out of alignment over time.

I bought a new steering stabilizer, which I plan to clamp mount. However, I feel like a decent build should be relatively stable without the stabilizer. My questions are: what should I be looking to do about this? Is this a workable build as-is? Should I be looking to reduce the drag link's ability to twist? Replacing all the tie-rod ends? And, is that kink in the tie rod on the passenger side something to worry about (it appears to be there to prevent it from rubbing the mount point for the track bar)? Is it a major problem that neither the track bar, drag link, nor tie rod appears to be adjustable?

I'm new to this, but eager and ready to learn basically anything that can be reasonably performed at home. Thanks!

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1992 Cherokee XJ, 4.5" Rubicon Express Short Arm, C8.25 rear axle, 31" tires
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post #2 of 26 Old 03-20-2017, 11:44 PM
Moezer
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first off get rid of that dropped pit man arm, also all those links are adjustable, if your having death wobble it would be from wither the links are a bit worn out or ur low and upper ball joints need to be replaced

on my xj I ran my jeep with out a steering dampener for like 2 mons

ur track bar might be woken out from the axle side and not the driver side but most of the RC track bars I have seen ware out on the frame side and not the axle side but check both bushings, also if you can change the frame side bushing try and replace it with a stock end link that is greasble
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post #3 of 26 Old 03-21-2017, 12:01 AM Thread Starter
camillescott
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moezer View Post
first off get rid of that dropped pit man arm, also all those links are adjustable, if your having death wobble it would be from wither the links are a bit worn out or ur low and upper ball joints need to be replaced

on my xj I ran my jeep with out a steering dampener for like 2 mons

ur track bar might be woken out from the axle side and not the driver side but most of the RC track bars I have seen ware out on the frame side and not the axle side but check both bushings, also if you can change the frame side bushing try and replace it with a stock end link that is greasble
Thanks! Your point about the track bar makes sense -- I can wiggle it a tiny bit (relative to the other components, which feel static) with the Jeep jacked up.

Two questions then: what problems can the drop pitman arm cause? And, how can I tell if the ball joints or links need replacing? The advice I've read is usually "if they seem loose, replace them," but mine seem tight. Are there any other clues?

1992 Cherokee XJ, 4.5" Rubicon Express Short Arm, C8.25 rear axle, 31" tires
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post #4 of 26 Old 03-21-2017, 07:26 PM
CJ7-Tim
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I see lots of flex joints/rod ends replacing regular tie rod ends. Flex joints are open to contamination from the environment, and are non-greaseable, so their service life is very limited. I would attribute the wobble to worn flex joints, or to the need for a better track bar.


The first thing I would do is convert the RE track bar upper joint to a double shear arrangement, or replace the whole thing with an Iron Rock Off Road double shear track bar. Then, I would very strongly consider replacing the flex joints with tie rod ends. This may require new outer knuckles at which time you could also replace the ball joints. Before you replace the ball joints, you need a skilled mechanic to check them for wear. If that is a drop pitman arm it needs to be removed. As suggested check for wear in the bolt hole of the axle side track bar bracket.

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post #5 of 26 Old 03-21-2017, 07:36 PM
kg6mov
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That steering looks like IRO OTK, but it's installed upside down, which isn't helping.

The drag link and track bar need to be parallel or you're going to have a lot of suspension travel induced steering issues. With the axle side of the steering raised by being installed wrong, and the box side lowered with a drop pitman arm you're in pretty bad shape since you have stock track bar mounts.

I would fix the steering so it's installed properly and go to a double shear track bar as my first steps.


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I heard someone yell "mall crawler" from the back porch. I'll go see who said that. Be right back.
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post #6 of 26 Old 03-21-2017, 07:43 PM
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Since the XJ front end is basically identical to a TJ, I'll say this... Get rid of that steering set up completely.. Replace it with ZJ V8 parts ( Google for part numbers from Napa, etc), or if you want the best, order the Currie steering. Find an OEM pitman arm too. If everything is in good shape, you could drive from now on w/o a stabilizer.. For a track bar I highly recommend the one from MetalCloak. For the money, there is not a better one available. Then, if you're not sure on alignment, take it and have it checked.

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post #7 of 26 Old 03-21-2017, 07:48 PM
bunghole
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Definitely an IRO OTK. I have one myself. Looks like the drag link adjuster was removed and just the rod end used by itself.
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post #8 of 26 Old 03-21-2017, 08:24 PM
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Maybe an older version of the kit? The one I just got doesn't have that many misalignment spacers.

Hopefully it's not the 5/8 version.


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post #9 of 26 Old 03-21-2017, 09:14 PM Thread Starter
camillescott
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Wow! So whoever installed it didn't RTFM

I'm not quite in the position to replace the entire steering system (hoping to do a SYE soon so $$), but I can manage new tie rod ends, a pitman arm from the junk yard, and, of course, reinstalling it properly. Recs on replacements for the flex joints? I figure I ought to throw new bushings on the track bar as well.

I'm also noticing that in the pictures of the steering system on the IRO site, the tie rod has a slight bend on both ends, where mine only has one on the passenger side. There's a weld on it on the driver's side, so maybe I should be looking to just replace it as well?
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1992 Cherokee XJ, 4.5" Rubicon Express Short Arm, C8.25 rear axle, 31" tires
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post #10 of 26 Old 03-21-2017, 09:22 PM
sduncan
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Moog parts on Amazon run about 140 for tie rod,drag link, adjuster, and the one tie rod end. An OEM pitman arm from Crown is about $25. There are write ups on self alignment (really easy to do) and the install on the parts is kid simple. Do a little research and see what you think.. Stu Off Road is an excellent resource.

'98 TJ, 5.7 HEMI,
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post #11 of 26 Old 03-21-2017, 09:41 PM
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I wouldn't use the stock V8 ZJ stuff at that height and tires, at least not on a XJ/ZJ.

You need to start by confirming the size of the hardware, if somebody drilled and reamed your knuckles then you're limited for options, if you have stock size hardware you have more options.

IRO usually has pretty good support, so I would at least ask if they can help you out.


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post #12 of 26 Old 03-22-2017, 01:05 PM
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Whoever put that steering kit on thought they could cheese together a crossover with the draglink on top using a kit not specifically designed for that purpose. It maybe could be done if you really knew what you were doing, which that person obviously did not. The only way to do it to be somewhat properly done is to keep the tierod UTK like the pic shows. But when the draglink goes on top then the trackbar mount on the axle has to be raised to match. Lots of work. I guess every new relationship come with baggage
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post #13 of 26 Old 03-22-2017, 03:33 PM Thread Starter
camillescott
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bunghole View Post
Whoever put that steering kit on thought they could cheese together a crossover with the draglink on top using a kit not specifically designed for that purpose. It maybe could be done if you really knew what you were doing, which that person obviously did not. The only way to do it to be somewhat properly done is to keep the tierod UTK like the pic shows. But when the draglink goes on top then the trackbar mount on the axle has to be raised to match. Lots of work. I guess every new relationship come with baggage
Yuuuuuup Really not sure what they were going for here. Maybe they pulled a partial kit off something in the junkyard and tried to improvise? Ordered one and went all "I don't need no stinking instructions!"? At least the initial screwiness should be easy to fix. Gonna take it apart tonight

1992 Cherokee XJ, 4.5" Rubicon Express Short Arm, C8.25 rear axle, 31" tires
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post #14 of 26 Old 03-23-2017, 08:27 PM Thread Starter
camillescott
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Update: took it all apart. Unfortunately, they tapped the steering knuckles for 5/8". It also turns out the current parts *can't* be made to work properly, as the tie rod was modified or damaged and no longer has the kink on both ends, thereby causing it to rub the sway bar mounts (also, the drag link can't clear the tie rod with the drop pitman arm). Considering it turns out both the drag link and tie rod were hacked and welded, I'm considering just buying a new IRO kit for it -- need to look around at other options though.
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post #15 of 26 Old 03-23-2017, 09:06 PM
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Ouch, with the knuckles drilled for 5/8 there's unfortunately not a short path.

Options (off the top of me head):
Replace the knuckles and go back to stock size TRE's. This isn't any more work than doing balljoints, and you can probably get knuckles for cheap.
Replace the knuckles with the WJ upgrade stuff and do that work.
Use a 5/8 steering kit like the IRO OTK 5/8
Go to one ton TRE's like this kit: https://www.jcroffroad.com/product/STR/1TS-UTK.html

In your shoes I would probably do one of the first two if I was going to stick with that axle long term. I'd just toss a 5/8 kit at it if I just wanted it fixed.


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