99 Jeep TJ STEERING STILL VERY WONKY AND DANGEROUS - JeepForum.com
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post #1 of 39 Old 08-13-2019, 02:52 PM Thread Starter
kaybone
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99 Jeep TJ STEERING STILL VERY WONKY AND DANGEROUS

OK so I am still struggling with my Jeeps steering - it wanders all over the road especially at highway speeds. Very unsettling no control feeling.
It does have some bump steering when I hit strong bumps or changes in the surface, but I wouldn't say it is totally that.

Here is what I have checked for OK so far:

- TIRE PSI; running around 32 on 10.15x31's
- Did a complete dry steering test both with wheels on the ground and in the air - everything seems pretty tight. no play at rubber linkage parts
- I double checked the TOE IN the way I always do it with wheels on the ground and that checks out - 1/16" narrower in front than in rear.
- Can't mess with Caster much I still have the stock control arms on and besides I only have a 2" budget spacer lift on with a heavier spring for about 2.25" lift.
- When the wheels were in the air I rocked wheels side to side and up and down and no play in any ball joints nor steering linkages then either.
- I double checked the axle u Joints (which actually i replaced about 20K miles ago) and those are solid with no play.
- checked for play in the steering shaft U-Joint linkage and that is firm also.

The Jeep steering wheel has about 2 inches of play in it either way (4" total) before it really does anything. This makes the steering extremely
sluggish and unresponsive. Also when I make a turn of 90 degrees or more the steering wheel does not spring back at all, it stays right where I
steered it and I have to manually yank it back!

These are the original suspension components and I have 200K on them, Minus the OME Shocks and Steering Stab i installed with the lift about 90K ago.
so I am tempted to believe it is indeed the steering box, but I am not 100% sure. There is a part of me that just wants to replace all of the front suspension
components since they are the originals, but I hate to be one of those mechanics that just throws parts at a problem without know what it really is first.

My mechanic that works on my other cars suggested perhaps one of the Axle U-Joints is all froze up, but he doesn't do jeeps, and that didn't sound quite
right to me. I'm interested all y'all's thoughts on my guess that it is the steering box? Thanks ahead of time!!


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post #2 of 39 Old 08-13-2019, 02:54 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks ahead of time

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post #3 of 39 Old 08-13-2019, 03:42 PM
Richisinyoface
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How are your control arm bushings? Years ago before I built my complete Currie/Savvy suspension I replaced my bushings in my front control arms(cheaper lift) and it made all the difference in the world
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post #4 of 39 Old 08-13-2019, 03:46 PM Thread Starter
kaybone
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How would I check those?
I was kinda thinking of putting in adjustable arms up front at some point anyway.
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post #5 of 39 Old 08-13-2019, 03:50 PM
Jerry Bransford
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So long as you have not installed a dropped Pitman arm (do you?), it sounds like your steering box is in need of replacement.
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post #6 of 39 Old 08-13-2019, 03:55 PM Thread Starter
kaybone
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Well that is my guess and thinking. And yes I have the regular stock Pittman arm. And with 200k on it it may be time to replace some front components anyway, but perhaps
I start with the steering box first. Got any recommends to point me to a good steering box? All my reading on here seems to indicate most rebuilt or newly made are kind of junk.

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post #7 of 39 Old 08-13-2019, 04:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaybone View Post
Well that is my guess and thinking. And yes I have the regular stock Pittman arm. And with 200k on it it may be time to replace some front components anyway, but perhaps
I start with the steering box first. Got any recommends to point me to a good steering box? All my reading on here seems to indicate most rebuilt or made are kind of junk.
Avoid anything with Cardone's name on it or store brands like Duralast from Autozone or similar low-quality auto parts stores. I'd probably go to NAPA and ask for their premium rebuilt box or get it from www.rockauto.com where they have AC-Delco and rebuilt Mopar steering boxes.
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post #8 of 39 Old 08-13-2019, 05:24 PM
meplatgroup
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaybone View Post
OK so I am still struggling with my Jeeps steering - it wanders all over the road especially at highway speeds. Very unsettling no control feeling.
It does have some bump steering when I hit strong bumps or changes in the surface, but I wouldn't say it is totally that.

Here is what I have checked for OK so far:

- TIRE PSI; running around 32 on 10.15x31's
- Did a complete dry steering test both with wheels on the ground and in the air - everything seems pretty tight. no play at rubber linkage parts
- I double checked the TOE IN the way I always do it with wheels on the ground and that checks out - 1/16" narrower in front than in rear.
- Can't mess with Caster much I still have the stock control arms on and besides I only have a 2" budget spacer lift on with a heavier spring for about 2.25" lift.
- When the wheels were in the air I rocked wheels side to side and up and down and no play in any ball joints nor steering linkages then either.
- I double checked the axle u Joints (which actually i replaced about 20K miles ago) and those are solid with no play.
- checked for play in the steering shaft U-Joint linkage and that is firm also.

The Jeep steering wheel has about 2 inches of play in it either way (4" total) before it really does anything. This makes the steering extremely
sluggish and unresponsive. Also when I make a turn of 90 degrees or more the steering wheel does not spring back at all, it stays right where I
steered it and I have to manually yank it back!

These are the original suspension components and I have 200K on them, Minus the OME Shocks and Steering Stab i installed with the lift about 90K ago.
so I am tempted to believe it is indeed the steering box, but I am not 100% sure. There is a part of me that just wants to replace all of the front suspension
components since they are the originals, but I hate to be one of those mechanics that just throws parts at a problem without know what it really is first.

My mechanic that works on my other cars suggested perhaps one of the Axle U-Joints is all froze up, but he doesn't do jeeps, and that didn't sound quite
right to me. I'm interested all y'all's thoughts on my guess that it is the steering box? Thanks ahead of time!!
Not returning to center and wandering both sound like caster issues to me. I'd wager your caster is out of spec.

Also check the slip joint on your steering column. It is in the engine bay near the firewall. I believe it is covered by a rubber boot. It allows the steering column to collapse in the event of an accident. I'd bet that's where your steering play is.
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post #9 of 39 Old 08-13-2019, 05:27 PM
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99 Jeep TJ STEERING STILL VERY WONKY AND DANGEROUS

My guess is the steering box is a problem. You can try the adjustment screw to tighten it up but if its bad id replace it. Junk yards will have them cheap, but they can be iffy.

Also you can try more toe, or get the alignment checked at a shop that has more accurate measurements.
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post #10 of 39 Old 08-13-2019, 06:45 PM
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If there is that much play in it, sounds like a failing gearbox.
have a close look at the gearbox, watch the input and watch the pitman at the same time, when one moves, the other should as well.
a helper to turn the wheel as you watch makes it easier. do this with engine off.

Get out and explore.
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post #11 of 39 Old 08-13-2019, 09:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meplatgroup View Post
Not returning to center and wandering both sound like caster issues to me. I'd wager your caster is out of spec.
I'd agree if he had a taller suspension lift but not with his 2" budget boost which with stock control arms doesn't reduce the caster angle enough to worry about.

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post #12 of 39 Old 08-14-2019, 02:18 PM
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The Jeep steering wheel has about 2 inches of play in it either way (4" total) before it really does anything
Go get a steering box that does not have play in it.

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post #13 of 39 Old 08-15-2019, 10:29 AM Thread Starter
kaybone
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Hey thanks y'all for the good suggestions - so I did a little more noodling just to be sure:

- I did the steering shaft/Pittman Arm test. There is a good whole inch of turning movement in the steering shaft in either direction before the Pitman arm moves- well Gee that's no good!
- I checked the steering linkage suggested up near thee firewall and that's pretty solid - very minimal play if any.
- Checked the front control arms bushings and those are looking a little cruddy and could prob use replacement
- For grins and for research sake for this thread I did a little shade tree measurement of my Castor angle and Front Pinion angle with an angle measuring tool
and I came up with around 5-6^ Caster Angle and perhaps 2-3^Front Pinion Angle. Certainly not widely off, and I know the Pinion is a little off because of the budget lift and stiffer springs.

So I will do this:

Replace the obviously shot steering box.
Finally install new adjustable upper and lower Front control arms since bushings seem worn on my originals anyway and then I can get the Castor(and Pinion>) dialed in properly at a shop. (it isn't that off)
I'll replace tie rod and drag link just because I want to and they have 200K on them anyway.
Might as well put new front shocks and steering stab on too since I am rebuilding all of that anyway.

So yeah like I figured I was into around $1K+ parts and such, but worth it I think - My TJ's been good to me - I haven't had to do a lot of crazy repairs on it through my ownership
other than regular stuff.

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post #14 of 39 Old 08-15-2019, 12:56 PM
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I find it hard to believe that the steering box itself has almost 4" of play...that is crazy. Unless someone ****ed with the screws on it, there is no way it can be out that much.

I would be focusing more on your Tie Rod ends and inspecting for play. Replace whatever has play. Skip the box for now.

I have owned 2 TJs, weekend warriors only, and never , ever had a steering box have any play like that, or any for that matter.

2006 LJR...the madness begins again
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post #15 of 39 Old 08-15-2019, 01:17 PM
Jerry Bransford
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TJnBC View Post
I find it hard to believe that the steering box itself has almost 4" of play
He said his steering wheel has 4" of play which is not hard for me to believe at all.

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