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Unread 10-21-2011, 06:05 PM   #1
GlennLever
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Steering Wheel does not return to center after a corner / Newbie Question

I am completely new to Jeeps. I purchased this Jeep after looking for a Jeep that basically had not been modified and was in really sound condition. I really could not test drive it as it was unsafe for the road with the steering the way it was.

I diagnosed it to be a steering box problem, by running the jeep and turning the intermediate steering column with my hand (power steering), and watching the pitman arm. I could turn the intermediate steering column turn before the pitman arm would even begin to move.

So….. with 85,000 miles on the Jeep and 31 inch tires, wanting a reliable daily driver, I replaced everything from/including the intermediate steering column to the steering knuckles (heavy duty intermediate steering column, AGR steering box, used the old pitman arm (powder coated it) all moog tie rod ends.

I took it for a test drive and it was much better, but the steering wheel would not return after a corner. I called AGR and explained what I had done and that I thought the steering box was tight. They wanted me to put a 100 miles on the box and call them back.

I took it to the alignment shop and everything was off toe, caster, camber.

It was diagnosed as Bad front ball joints, sagged front springs.

So…..rather than install new stock springs, and knowing I wanted a small lift to try and retain the stock look I installed a complete Old Man EMU 2.5 lift kit (This is actually a YJ to CJ conversion as Old Man EMU does not offer springs for the CJ (difference being the front spring width)). Installed four Moog Problem solver ball joints, and install two new universal joints while the axle was apart. I would have replaced the seals but could not find the correct ones and will go back and do that when I have them.

Returned to the alignment shop. They installed Caster wedges and all the measurements (caster, camber, and toe) were set on the money.

The steering wheel still does not return after a corner. As yet I still do not have the requested 100 miles on the gear box.

I cannot believe that with the caster correct the steering wheel should not return.

Is this normal for a Jeep?


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Unread 10-21-2011, 08:00 PM   #2
hdsport
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Me Too

I just had a thread on this same topic.
2000 Wrangler, 104,000mi.
I replaced my leaking gearbox with a rebuilt from NAPA.
It felt a little too "tight" and I loosened the adjustment shaft about ~1/4 turn....played with more and less to get a feel where it felt the best.
The wheel still does not easily return to center by itself.
It begins to return but I have to "help" it along.
Got used to it now so is no longer an issue.
Box is tight, great response, no wondering while driving.
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Unread 10-21-2011, 08:03 PM   #3
mopar408
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Quote:
I cannot believe that with the caster correct the steering wheel should not return.
that 6 degree reading is pretty well accepted as perfect. Hmmmmmmm.....
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Unread 10-21-2011, 08:07 PM   #4
gojeepin
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Your numbers after the corrections look good.

No... it's not normal for a Jeep. Mine returns to center just fine.

Does yours wander on the highway?
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Vibration? Bump steer? Wandering? Read: Steering, suspension, and driveline basics. An article on how it works and where to look for problems.

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Unread 10-21-2011, 08:43 PM   #5
GlennLever
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gojeepin View Post
Your numbers after the corrections look good.

No... it's not normal for a Jeep. Mine returns to center just fine.

Does yours wander on the highway?
I have not taken it on the highway yet. Trailered it back from the alignment. I have a running problem (carb) new weber on the way.

It seems to steer just fine in the parking lot (large, got it up to 40)

my gut feeling is it is the box
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Unread 10-22-2011, 06:59 AM   #6
Matt1981CJ7
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Glenn,

If you crank the wheel full right/left and drive in a circle, does the steering remain at full-turn when you let go? Or does it straighten out some, but not all the way to center?

Another test would be to jack up the front end and manually push/pull the front wheels left and right. It should only take light to moderate force to crank the wheels full-cock in either direction. I can do it one-handed as I'm laying under the Jeep. If it's more difficult than this, then the problem lies somewhere in the new components you've installed.

Good luck, and let us know.

Matt
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Unread 10-22-2011, 07:38 AM   #7
GlennLever
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt1881CJ7 View Post
Glenn,

If you crank the wheel full right/left and drive in a circle, does the steering remain at full-turn when you let go? Or does it straighten out some, but not all the way to center?

Another test would be to jack up the front end and manually push/pull the front wheels left and right. It should only take light to moderate force to crank the wheels full-cock in either direction. I can do it one-handed as I'm laying under the Jeep. If it's more difficult than this, then the problem lies somewhere in the new components you've installed.

Good luck, and let us know.

Matt
If I crank the wheel full left or right it just goes in circles with no attempt to return to center.

When I was putting it to gether I started at the Intermediate steering column and worked my way down.

I tried tuning the steering wheel with just the intermediate shaft and the box no pitman arm or tie rod end and it was very stiff.

I will jack the front end up today and try turning the tire and wheel with everything hooked up, than separate the tie rod from the pitman arm and try again.
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Unread 10-22-2011, 08:19 AM   #8
gojeepin
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Are you using a steering stabilizer? Sometimes when they wear out they provide too much resistance for the caster (mechanical trail effect) to counter.
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Vibration? Bump steer? Wandering? Read: Steering, suspension, and driveline basics. An article on how it works and where to look for problems.

83 CJ7, 4.1L 6cyl (4.0L bored .030" over), 35" tires, T-5 transmission, Dana 300 TC, Trussed AMC 20.
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Unread 10-22-2011, 08:20 AM   #9
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Did you rebuild the knuckles on your Dana 30? If so, did your torque your upper and lower ball joints too tight? Like Matt said, jack up the front of your Jeep and see how easy it steers left and right.
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Unread 10-22-2011, 10:03 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gojeepin View Post
Are you using a steering stabilizer? Sometimes when they wear out they provide too much resistance for the caster (mechanical trail effect) to counter.
I have not put it back on yet so that is not the problem.
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Unread 10-22-2011, 10:09 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scottymac62 View Post
Did you rebuild the knuckles on your Dana 30? If so, did your torque your upper and lower ball joints too tight? Like Matt said, jack up the front of your Jeep and see how easy it steers left and right.
I will jack the front end up yet today and check left to right travel, will also disconnect the tie rod at the pitman and try again.

I have a small honey do list to complete this morning.

No I did not torque the ball joints. That should not be the problem as the nut is on the end of the shaft of the ball joint, the ball joint turns in a socket in the body of the joint, that has nothing to do with the nut. I used the impact to zip down tight, then one quick triger that alignes the castle nut to the hole in the stud to place the cotter pin. I have used that menthod for years with no problems.

I hope this isn't the first.
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My restoration thread here on the Jeep forum
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Unread 10-22-2011, 11:23 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GlennLever View Post
No I did not torque the ball joints. That should not be the problem as the nut is on the end of the shaft of the ball joint, the ball joint turns in a socket in the body of the joint, that has nothing to do with the nut. I used the impact to zip down tight, then one quick triger that alignes the castle nut to the hole in the stud to place the cotter pin. I have used that menthod for years with no problems.

I hope this isn't the first.
Glenn, Since your caster is perfect this may be it. When I did mine I followed the FSM but I did not have it handy and I "thought" I remembered the correct torque values. I torqued the bottom jam nut, then the split ring, then the kastle nut. It took both hands and all my weight to move the knuckle. So I dug out my FSM and I had the values wrong. Took it apart and started over. 85 for lower jam nut, then 50 on the split ring, then 100 on the kastle. This time I could rotate the knuckle with one hand using some force.
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Unread 10-22-2011, 12:27 PM   #13
gojeepin
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OK... I assumed you had a shop do the ball joints.

Like stated above, you need to have the correct preload on the knuckle from the "split ring" to properly seat the knuckle. Too much or too little will affect drivability, wear, and failure in different ways.
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Vibration? Bump steer? Wandering? Read: Steering, suspension, and driveline basics. An article on how it works and where to look for problems.

83 CJ7, 4.1L 6cyl (4.0L bored .030" over), 35" tires, T-5 transmission, Dana 300 TC, Trussed AMC 20.
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Unread 10-22-2011, 01:16 PM   #14
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Torque of the upper ball joint split ring is critical. As stated 45-50 lb/ft is what you're looking for on the split rings.
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Unread 10-22-2011, 02:33 PM   #15
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Ok, got the chores done.

Pulled the Jeep into the garage and jacked up the front.

I could not move the tires left or right even with both hands.

Rather than pop the tie rod end and tear the boot with the pickle fork I pulled the pitman arm.

I can move the tires left and right fully with one hand with very little effort.

I pulled the manual out and read about Ball Stud Preload.

I know very little about 4X4's, I owned and operated a five bay general repair garage for years. Did front end alignments all the time. Never really had any call to work on 4X4 suspensions other than brake jobs. Had an on the vehicle rotor cutter so never had to take hubs apart or knuckles off.

I guess I read the manual first from now on.

Based on the above, steering is free once seperated from the box. I'm going to pull the box and send it back.

Correct?????????
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My restoration thread here on the Jeep forum
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