Please help a wannabe enthusiast - Long, detailed post - Page 2 -
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Keep the Jeep and fix it now - too close to turn back now 7 87.50%
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post #16 of 28 Old 02-18-2015, 05:12 PM
AZ Jeff
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2014 JK Wrangler 
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Originally Posted by Kevin108 View Post
You will go broke paying someone else to fix a Jeep. It's a high performance, high maintenance scenario. If you don't use it to its full potential or if you can't turn wrenches on it yourself, you're better off with something else.

Others may disagree, but this is my opinion after having been around Jeeps for the last 15 years and having owned mine for half that.

My 00 XJ has been - and continues to be - the most problematic vehicle I've ever owned.
Kevin, I disagree with your assessment of XJ's being problemsome vehicles. ALL vehicles have their quirks, but the ones the XJ has are fairly easy to deal with and repair.

To the OP--the advice you are getting from your chosen repair shops is marginal at best. Wandering steering is usually a culmination of several issues, mostly like a combination of worn parts and out of specification steering geometry due to worn parts and improper wheel alignment.

Start by getting a helper to do some basic steering linkage inspection. Have the helper turn the steering wheel just enough to cause the front wheels to barely start to turn right or left. Do this with the ENGINE OFF. Then have him/her turn the wheel the other way. The idea is load/unload the various steering linkage connections.

While he does that, lay under the vehicle and observe each linkage connection. I find placing a hand around the connection while it is moving helps to feel relative motion between the two parts.

Then watch all the control arm connections to the axle and the chassis while the helper is doing the same. No motion is what is desired.

Repeat again, watching or holding each end of the track bar. Again, no motion is desired.

Any relative motion in any of these various connections means a worn joint. All joints must be brought up to snuff, and then once they are "like new", the front wheels must be aligned.

Steering boxes CAN wear out, but they are usually FAR behind the issues with steering linkage and suspension joints.

I don't own an XJ any longer, but I still think they are the best of all the Jeep products ever made. My XJ was my favorite vehicle in my 50+ years of driving.
So...I stick around and give advice.
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post #17 of 28 Old 02-18-2015, 07:33 PM Thread Starter
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Slayer - I guess eventually I'll make some friends here, but most of my co-workers aren't from here either and they live further. Someone from work recommended this last shop I went to, so yeah. I am definitely beginning to wonder if gender and/or race have played a part in my experience, though I'm never quick to jump to conclusions about those things. It's 2015, right? My quotient of either clueless/indifferent or sexist/bigoted mechanics seems pretty high now, so maybe I've gone through all the bad apples. Otherwise, if the current ratio is any indication of what I can expect it does not bode well for future help. There might be a club around; I will look into that.

RB - Your mention of having all the right tools is essential... It'd literally be like going to school and then some, with the learning curve I have, we're looking at a lot of weekends...the deep diving part you mentioned is what I'm concerned about. If I were able to do some of the important stuff, like a half/half ratio that could work.

As an update, the following has occurred today:

I've been to Les Schwab - "Front end is totally fine."

Went to buy stuff at O'Reilly's and a guy in the lot there had an XJ, so I asked him if he had the same issue. He said, yes but that it's his ball joints. He highly recommended I go to see a specific guy at Commercial Tire to check mine out.

Commercial Tire - "Jeeps are squirrely by nature, but the steering box is loose." He did adjust my front toe, which was under by 20 degrees total.

Place where I had the Steering Box replaced - Asked the mechanic if the box was bad why wouldn't he tell me, regardless of whether I'd need to pay for labor again. He didn't even come to check what I was talking about, but suggested the other mechanic come test drive it with me. That mechanic said he felt nothing that would cause alarm and that it felt like all other Jeeps that model he's ever driven.

Everyone today said I was not in need of an alignment either. So I guess lot guy's wheel-ease cause could be different from mine, but the fact that he has a solution and there aren't any being presented to me is troubling. Maybe I could just replace every potential cause, but if the "feature" would persist, it'd be pointless.

Last edited by NoviceOwner; 02-18-2015 at 08:07 PM.
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post #18 of 28 Old 02-18-2015, 08:01 PM
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Originally Posted by NoviceOwner View Post
Sears said my entire front end needed replacing and an alignment wouldn’t do anything for me, so they didn’t.
The fact that a big name shop that routinely does alignments would decline to bill you for an alignment is interesting.
How many miles are on this XJ?
Can you post a picture of it from about the same perspective as the one I posted here earlier? And maybe one from a little further out that shows the front of the front tires as well?


"You can set my jeep on fire and roll it down a hill,
But I still wouldn't trade it for a Coupe DeVille."

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post #19 of 28 Old 02-18-2015, 08:05 PM Thread Starter
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AZ Jeff - I participated in that test with the lock to lock test, but I wasn't looking at the under carriage. This was with the mechanic that got over a grand from me, so I don't see why he wouldn't tack that stuff on too, unless it was just work he didn't feel like doing.

Nonetheless, wouldn't the steering linkage and joints have been checked and mentioned by one of the 7 diagnostics I've had? I don't see why only one of the now 7 mechanics I've talked to even suggested there was anything going on with my front end. Everyone says there's nothing wrong with those parts including my joints, except Sears, and he may have been just grouping together potential issues from checking one or two things and the visual inspection. Or maybe it's the other way around with the other mechanics...
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post #20 of 28 Old 02-18-2015, 08:08 PM Thread Starter
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Chris - it's got 116,535, I believe. It's dark now but I could try to do that and post it after work tomorrow.
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post #21 of 28 Old 02-18-2015, 08:10 PM
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I don't envy what you're going through... This kind of thing is why I don't let other people work on my vehicles anymore. If someone is just going to guess what's wrong with my vehicles, I might as well do that myself... actually got tired of that too, so taught myself enough to learn how to diagnose things, and it has ended up saving me a ton of money.

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post #22 of 28 Old 02-18-2015, 08:29 PM
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you might be able to post in the oregon area on here and find someone local willing to come help that knows what they are doing.
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post #23 of 28 Old 02-18-2015, 08:36 PM
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Originally Posted by AZ Jeff View Post
Kevin, I disagree with your assessment of XJ's being problemsome vehicles. ALL vehicles have their quirks, but the ones the XJ has are fairly easy to deal with and repair.
Yes, for people who can work on stuff. If I ever wind up with another XJ, it'll be a 96-99, back when they were still good.

My build thread has pics again.
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post #24 of 28 Old 02-18-2015, 09:21 PM Thread Starter
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Nick yes; I just realized that RB also mentioned the same thing. I'll be there searching for sure. Thanks for mentioning it again.
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post #25 of 28 Old 02-19-2015, 12:55 AM
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Without actually putting my hands/eyes on it, I can only speculate. I'll try to be brief.
Here's my thoughts..... The general consensus is that the front end is ok. Its been aligned and the tires are decent. (lets go with that for now)
I think your just not used to a solid axle front end.
The problem with a solid axle is that anything 1 wheel encounters, has a direct effect on the other. So they tend to feel "twitchy" even when everything is perfect. Independent suspension (as used in your last vehicle) Is a far superior design when it comes to ride, handling and stability.
Try to relax and "guide" your jeep instead of making "hard"corrections or over-corrections all the time. (You need to be one with your jeep Grasshopper :-)
It will never ride like a Caddy or handle like a GTR. In fact ...just the opposite.
Face the fact that your driving a stationwagon with outdated truck suspension and all the aerodynamics of a brick. That said, it IS a tough reliable package once you get past it's quirks.
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post #26 of 28 Old 02-19-2015, 06:13 AM
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Another thought to consider - "test drive" another XJ at a used car lot on the pretense of buying it. This will give you a reference point to compare your wandering to. Not a guarantee - theoretically it could have problems (most used cars do) but it might give you peace of mind or a clear indication that you have a problem with yours.
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post #27 of 28 Old 02-19-2015, 11:52 PM Thread Starter
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Olive- It has not had any alignments to my knowledge, except for the minor adjustments made yesterday to the front toe. Everything else forming the basis for your thoughts is correct.
You're probably right; I have never driven a vehicle with a solid axle front end so it's...different than what I'm used to. As long as it's actually no less safe than an independent suspension vehicle, then I might be ok with it. It would be tough to get over it not feeling as stable, but I guess that comes down to confidence and driving experience ultimately. I just wouldn't want to go "off-roading" in the not so fun sense. Been there; done that.
And yes, your "grasshopper" advice is in fact, very sage. It's good to take that approach in most everything, so I'll remember the suggestion : )
The drive to work today was not bad, though I took a route that only did 5 mi on the E-way, so most of the roads I was on were 55 mph. That said, I'm leaning towards further optimizing and keeping it as a result. But the wheel/handling might bug me...

Thanks ECL. I will definitely do that if the opportunity presents.

If Chris is still interested in seeing the front end, it's looking like this weekend is more likely, as I'm back to work.
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post #28 of 28 Old 02-20-2015, 12:16 AM
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First, and I may have missed this, but did the front drive shaft get replaced? I notice OP is in OR which means winter which means 4wd might be a good thing.

I'm not going to disagree with any of the advice here, except the one that said that XJ's require a lot of work. My '98 was the easiest, cheapest vehicle I'd ever owned and my current '91 is proving to be the same. while my '98 had low mileage when I bought it, my '91 has something like 275,000 miles on it and still running well. My son is driving it currently.

'03 TJ Rubicon (sold)
'16 KL Latitude
'97 Grand Cherokee Laredo, Stock (for now)
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