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calvindcw 05-03-2013 01:35 PM

Front axle moves side to side with steering...issue?
I recently installed (myself) a 4" Rough Country lift kit, including springs, shocks, lower control arms, track bar relocation brackets, drop pitman, new swaybar end links, etc.

After installing, dropping, and torquing the control arms (from memory I believe 130lb-ft at the axle and 150lb-ft at the frame), I took it for a spin. Obviously, the ride felt stiffer (this is the older RC 4" lift) but I noticed that the steering had gone to crap.

After replacing the tie rod end where the drag links connects to the pitman arm (definitely bad, clunking, etc) it felt tighter, but now I notice that I get some interesting vibration during lower speeds, and that my steering still feels lose at times. When parked and running, when I steer the wheel the front seems to sway from side to side depending on which way I steer. I had a friend look and he said the axle was shifting left to right and vice versa when steering.

Being new to much of this, I'd like to know if this is normal, or not, and what methods I can go about to troubleshoot and fix this if it is a problem?

Wheel hubs (good)
Brakes (Good)
Control Arm Torque (all within spec)
Transfer case drop kit is installed (1")
Track bar and bracket bolts are tight
Pitman arm is tight, as well as drag link and tie rod end sleeve connectors


tators 05-03-2013 01:43 PM

Your front track-bar controls front side-to-side movement... I would suspect the "track bar relocation bracket" you mentioned.

tators 05-03-2013 01:44 PM

Or trackbar bushings... ANY slop is a problem

AzClay 05-03-2013 01:50 PM

Do a search for "Dry Steering Test". Fix anything observed to be loose and see if that doesn't fix your problem.

calvindcw 05-03-2013 02:03 PM

Thanks, I will check it out

77midget 05-03-2013 05:00 PM

^^this-dry steer test for me indicated track bar bushing issue that was allowing body to shift over axle in initial steering movement. Path of least resistance-shift the body o the springs or grind tires on the ground. It moves the body until it uses up the play in the loose joint-wherever that is.

Jerry Bransford 05-03-2013 05:35 PM

Which end does that front track bar bracket drop, the passenger-side or driver's side? Both are bad news so far as I am concerned but there is one combination of dropped track bar mount & dropped Pitman arm that is especially bad.

calvindcw 05-06-2013 03:22 PM


I am pretty sure the bushing is gone on the front track bar, after just inspecting it. I have done a dry test before (what led me to replacing the pitman arm - drag link tie rod end), and that seems to be causing issues.

That bracket is on the passenger side (axle bracket) and as far as I know, it's the RC one that comes with the kit (I bought this kit slightly used).

Also noticed that the rear suspension seems to absorb absolutely nothing - I can feel the front compress decently when I roll over the speed bump, but the back feels like a solid linkage between the axle and the frame. When I jump on the rear bumper it obviously moves, but it seems to be at least 50% stiffer than the front.

3X4X4 05-06-2013 04:08 PM

I just removed the "older" kit you just installed (on my vehicle by the PO). The control arms bushings are horrid. The Jeep rode like a loaded concrete truck. Simply removing them and replacing them with a quality components (Currie is what I got) is huge. My suspension now actually moves up and down instead of being locked by the crappy rubber bushings.


calvindcw 05-12-2013 12:37 PM

Did you replace the bushings or the entire control arm?

Gary2 05-12-2013 01:05 PM

If you have a drop pitman remove that ,reinstall the OE . Get an adjustable track bar, Currie or JKS . Don't off road it until you get better control arms if you have a real old set of none adjustable poly bushing arms. Did you add the rear track bar bracket on the axle end ? Stock track bar should not belong enough to work with 4" in rear either ,JKS or Ccurrie again. Shocks , Bilstein or Rancho 9000xls are a good place to start your research on shocks . About the only thing RC seems to offer of any value is some springs period. Not just my opinion , research before you buy or you may be throwing money away . Plenty of info on this forum alone

Jerry Bransford 05-12-2013 03:08 PM

1 Attachment(s)

Originally Posted by calvindcw (Post 15397225)
That bracket is on the passenger side (axle bracket) and as far as I know, it's the RC one that comes with the kit (I bought this kit slightly used).

WIth the passenger-side track bar having been dropped, which is a bad design anyway, you DEFINITELY don't want to install a dropped Pitman arm. The drag link & track bar need to operate in planes that are parallel to each other or bump steer will result. Dropping the passenger-side track bar took them out of that parallel plane already. Dropping the upper drag link via a dropped Pitman are would further harm the geometry which would definitely worsen any bumpsteer caused by that existing passenger-side bracket.

This photograph lustrates how the track bar & drag link operating planes are parallel to each other. Your passenger-side bracket has already dropped the left side of that red line. A dropped Pitman arm would drop the right-side of the yellow line. That combination would give you a nice case of bump steer.

Click on the photo to make it big enough to read.

rs4race 05-12-2013 07:40 PM

If the trackbar bushing on the axle side is bad or you notice alot of movement at that joint, there is a poyurethane bushing that you can replace it with. This is assuming that your still using the stock trackbar. I have been using one for a couple years with no problems, and was my solution to front end wobble.

If your using the stock trackbar you might want to jack up the front of your jeep and make sure the frame side joint doesn't bind when the front axle droops down. If its binding it will wear out quickly when flexing out and develop a lot of play. You could also take the opportunity to check to make sure it doesnt hit on the passenger side. (top of trackbar into bracket)

calvindcw 05-13-2013 09:59 AM

Thanks for all the great information, I learn more every time I get on this forum!

I am purchasing a front adjustable track bar soon. I assume once installed I can remove the drop pitman arm and axle bracket, and regain appropriate steering geometry?

Can I replace the bushings in the current LCAs with some Polyurethane bushings?

As far as the rear setup goes, I have a set of adjustable UCAs to install from RC, and while I did install an axle bracket for the rear track bar, the bar itself is a custom one-off extended track bar that I got from the same person who sold me the rest of the lift kit. Obviously I'd like to do an aftermarket rear track bar that doesn't require a bracket to fit, so that is also on the wish list. In the meantime, I don't have much opportunity to get off the asphalt so my most pressing need is the steering geometry corrections.

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