Wandering steering, four mechanics stumped - JeepForum.com
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post #1 of 25 Old 05-15-2017, 03:42 PM Thread Starter
jjw3579
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Wandering steering, four mechanics stumped

Hey folks,

Any help would be appreciated, I'm at my wits end. My 04 TJ Wrangler Sport has drifty steering that neither I nor the four shops I've taken it to can diagnose. It's not terrible but I'm tired of fighting to stay in the lane. I've replaced the steering box, the track bar, and the steering stabilizer. The TREs look OK and the mechanics agreed they seem fine. Ball joints seem tight too. I checked the lower steering shaft and it seems tight. I've had a couple people turn the wheel while I've watched and I don't see anything loose. I also had it rebalanced and aligned and they said the alignment is OK with "in spec" Toe in (I think they said it's .5 or 1 degree in? I forget)

Anything else I can try? I feel like I'm pissing into the wind with parts and no results

Thanks!

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post #2 of 25 Old 05-15-2017, 04:15 PM
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Tire pressure?


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post #3 of 25 Old 05-15-2017, 04:36 PM
Jerry Bransford
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Knowing your actual measured alignment specs consisting of the toe-in, caster, and camber angles will be required to at least get started off on the right foot. They may have said they're in-spec but who knows if the one who told you that knew that first-hand.

Also, exactly what tire pressure is in your tires and exactly what size tires are you running? Is the tire pressure exactly the same in all four tires?

Is your suspension stock is is there a suspension lift installed? Is the steering stock or is there an aftermarket steering system installed?

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post #4 of 25 Old 05-15-2017, 04:37 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xxdabroxx View Post
Tire pressure?
32 PSI on stock Goodyear Wranglers. No lift by the way. Everything stock. Tires were just balanced and rotated.
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post #5 of 25 Old 05-15-2017, 05:31 PM
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Is the front swaybar connected with no broken links? If not, that would make on-road handling awful.
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post #6 of 25 Old 05-15-2017, 06:33 PM
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How many miles? If I had loose steering I definitely would've replaced the TRE's first...

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post #7 of 25 Old 05-15-2017, 08:07 PM Thread Starter
jjw3579
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Originally Posted by Trevlaw View Post
How many miles? If I had loose steering I definitely would've replaced the TRE's first...
Swaybar is connected, endlinks seem good- it doesn't sway much really. This is my third TJ and it handles like the other 2 except for odd-ball steering behavior

62k miles, at least according to the odometer.

Alignment results:
(Edited these out because I think I put the ones for the Liberty, need to double check)

The current proposal is that it's power steering pump related, or it needs *another* new steering box. The steering box has a warranty but I'd have to wait for another one to get shipped out. I'm considering just replacing the tie rod ends because why not, but they swear up and down they are fine. Perhaps worth noting is that the clockspring got buggered when I replaced the steering box (long story but my fault) and I'm waiting for the replacement to arrive :/

BTW, it doesn't feel so much like something is loose as much as it feels like the steering has weird response. Sometimes it's hard to "push" the Jeep left, then it will become easy and that causes me to "overshoot".. then when trying to line back up right the same things happens. I thought it might be binding in the steering shaft U joint but that seems to check out ok.

Last edited by jjw3579; 05-15-2017 at 08:25 PM.
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post #8 of 25 Old 05-15-2017, 08:11 PM Thread Starter
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Oh, and there doesn't appear to be excessive "dead zone" in the steering wheel. At slow speed 1/4" to a 1/2" of wheel movement causes a response in the steering, so it's not like it feels all sloppy. It's just surge-y, or bumpy, if that makes sense. It got worse after I installed the new steering box. I made sure to bleed the steering pump and it isn't making any noise or other indication that it's having a problem.
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post #9 of 25 Old 05-15-2017, 08:16 PM
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If it got worse after putting the new box in, I'd probably go get another box or a different brand box. What brand was it?

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post #10 of 25 Old 05-15-2017, 08:18 PM
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And if you haven't already, I would check the TRE's yourself. Even if four mechanics swear they're good, they're also four mechanics that can't figure out why you jeep wanders

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post #11 of 25 Old 05-15-2017, 08:31 PM Thread Starter
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Heh, true, but from what I know of how to check them they seem OK. I checked that they don't feel loose and there's no up and down play in them.

The box is a junk yard pull OEM box, it's the only one I could get my hands on in short order. The donor car had 86k on it- of course, who knows what happened to that Jeep. I'm suspect of it and since the problem didn't go away may just swap back in the original box and return that one anyway.

I'm just trying to get some sort of plan together before I just go messing with it more though. I'm really just guessing now which isn't good for my wallet.
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post #12 of 25 Old 05-15-2017, 08:33 PM
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Your alignment specs don't look right.

I think you may have your caster and camber numbers switched. Is it the caster that is actually 3.4 and 3.6 degrees? 0.1 and 0.1 degrees would be no caster really. If it is really 3.4 degrees caster, that's quite low. Factory sized tires call for 7 degrees. Also, factory toe should be +0.15 degrees per side. If your toe is really 0.01 degrees, that would explain the pulling left and right. That's a classic symptom of not enough toe.

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post #13 of 25 Old 05-15-2017, 08:56 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah, disregard those, I need to double check those numbers- I was working from an iPhone photo. I'll post the right numbers when I have the sheet in front of me.
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post #14 of 25 Old 05-16-2017, 04:37 AM
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for what its worth, I'd disconnect the sway bar and see if it still does it, I've had that sway bar do weird stuff to handling..... everything HAS to be tight with it or it causes wandering.

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post #15 of 25 Old 05-16-2017, 05:07 AM
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Make sure your trackbar is torqued down properly. A lose trackbar bolt can cause the front axle to shift side to side which would cause the steering to feel strange.

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