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Thread: Replaced everything... Jeep still wanders & has steering play. WTF??

  1. #1

    Icon928 Replaced everything... Jeep still wanders & has steering play. WTF??

    I'm just at a total loss at this point.

    1998 5.9 ZJ

    Problem: The damn thing is all over the road. I look drunk on the highway. Worse at higher speeds. Have to keep correcting the direction or it will just slowly veer itself into a tree.

    Now... I've never driven a low mileage or properly driving ZJ so I don't have anything similar to compare to. But there's no way this wandering shopping cart feeling is normal. And I have at least 1/8 of a turn play in the wheel.

    Replaced within the past year/5k (and I'm sure I'm forgetting things): All bushings with Prothane, Bilstein shocks, Bilstein steering stabilizer, H&R springs, all tie rods and ball joints with Moog stuff, Moog track bar, steering box, steering pump and all lines, both front axle knuckles & CV's, and brand new Michelin tires (stock size for winter).

    All u-joints in the steering are tight.

    Alignment was JUST done as I just had the steering box and pump replaced. Pic below.

    Jeep has never been wrecked.

    What else could it be??

    Last edited by aaron7; 12-30-2012 at 08:33 AM.
    98 Jeep GC 5.9 - Mopar intake & ECU, cut H&R springs, Prothane kit, 255/55/18 tires, Alpine electrics, a/d/s amps & components, few JL 10W6
    89 MR2 MK1.5 - Back to bare shell for the final product 7+ year project so far
    74 CB360 - lots of fun cafe stuff
    81 CX500 - next victim...

  2. #2
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    Does it do it on its own or is it when you're on/off the gas changing direction? If so my rear lower trailing arms caused that (front rear travel of the bolt through the bushings).

    2002 Grand Cherokee Laredo WJ 4x4 283,000km Jan. 2014
    I6 4.0, Transmission Cooler
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    Westin Safari Light Bar w/big amber driving lights
    Nokian WR SUV All Weather Plus 245P70R/16 - retired due to wear
    Yokohama Geolandar I/T 245P75R/16 on it now. Winter 2014

    2009 Jeep Compass 4x4 North Edition, 2.4L, CVT
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  3. #3

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    Good tip and I'll check that but it does do it when I'm just steadily on the gas (highway).
    98 Jeep GC 5.9 - Mopar intake & ECU, cut H&R springs, Prothane kit, 255/55/18 tires, Alpine electrics, a/d/s amps & components, few JL 10W6
    89 MR2 MK1.5 - Back to bare shell for the final product 7+ year project so far
    74 CB360 - lots of fun cafe stuff
    81 CX500 - next victim...

  4. #4
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    Sounds like its something up front though but it never hurts to check to isolate it. Those trailing arm bushings failing can be seen with a helper. Merely rolling the wheel forward and back (kind of rocking or just one way, push and let go) while you are looking underneath with a good flood lamp at the pinning bolts at the rubbers. If its worn you'll see it separating and in my case inches of movement and a clunk.

    PS: I replaced the front arms and rear A-arm before this by guessing from what others said it might be. Wrong tact and $500 later still no satisfaction until a tip from another owner figured it out this way.

    2002 Grand Cherokee Laredo WJ 4x4 283,000km Jan. 2014
    I6 4.0, Transmission Cooler
    Class III In-Bumper hitch
    Westin Safari Light Bar w/big amber driving lights
    Nokian WR SUV All Weather Plus 245P70R/16 - retired due to wear
    Yokohama Geolandar I/T 245P75R/16 on it now. Winter 2014

    2009 Jeep Compass 4x4 North Edition, 2.4L, CVT
    101,000km
    Many problems with the Compass - DON'T BUY CHRYSLER JUNK

    Nokian WRG2 tires (poor wear, cup easy and real noisy now)
    Markham, ON
    Canada

  5. #5

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    If you're talking about bushings I've replaced all of them with Prothane versions already :/
    98 Jeep GC 5.9 - Mopar intake & ECU, cut H&R springs, Prothane kit, 255/55/18 tires, Alpine electrics, a/d/s amps & components, few JL 10W6
    89 MR2 MK1.5 - Back to bare shell for the final product 7+ year project so far
    74 CB360 - lots of fun cafe stuff
    81 CX500 - next victim...

  6. #6
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    Aaron7,

    Based on your alignment specs, it appears that your rear axle is rotataed a bit CCW off square. The right rear control arm appears to be a little shorter, or the left side is a little longer.

    How is the adjustment in your steering box? If you have a fair amount of play left-to-right before the box loads it will contribute to a bit of wander. Does it have much feel (positive) at the center of travel?

    P.S. If your rear axle is not square your vehicle will wander and react differently with left vs. right road irregularities...

    Carlos
    Last edited by Carlos Brown; 12-24-2012 at 05:04 PM.

  7. #7
    Registered 98ZJ_Devotee's Avatar
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    Question

    Quote Originally Posted by aaron7 View Post
    If you're talking about bushings I've replaced all of them with Prothane versions already :/
    Sorry to interrupt with this question but...

    Is replacing the control arm bushings difficult or...

    After removing a bolt, can the control arm just be moved out of position and the bushing replaced and bolted back up? Rinse and repeat.

    Thanks.

    Forgot to add: Sorry to hear about the steering problem. For me, after being t-boned by a red light runner that nailed my front axle dead on, the steering was loose like that and some of the steering box's gear teeth had been sheared off from the sudden impact.
    Last edited by 98ZJ_Devotee; 12-24-2012 at 05:02 PM. Reason: Loose steering suggestion

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by aaron7 View Post

    Have the caster set closer to the max spec(about 4.5-5 degrees),caster effects steering feel at higher speeds.More caster the heavier the steering and makes it track better at high speeds.Then have the front toe set more torwards the inner spec(0.10 degrees will work,total toe at 0.20 degrees) so your slightly toe'd in,again helps with higher speed tracking.Lastly get the rear axle fixed,it's not sitting straight by your rear thrust angle,should be 0 degrees or no more then 0.05 degrees.
    I drive a Liberty,laugh now.

    Sitting on 35's,HP44,RockJock60,and 4:3 AtlasII

  9. #9
    Victim of Circumstance HighDesertZJ's Avatar
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    Max caster is like 7.5* isn't it?

    caster looks off

  10. #10
    Registered Billy Ray's Avatar
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    Replacing the steering box should have done it but there are adjustments to take some of the slop out.

    There are two screws, one is the adjustment, the other is a lock. Make sure you unlock it before you try adjustment ad lock it again afterward.

    How did the rear alignment specs change, nothing back there is adjustable is there?

    Have the tire balanced with you standing there. You want the balance spot-on, NOT just 'close enough'.

    While the tires are spinning check the wheels (steel or aluminum) AND the tires themselves. We have a lot of railroad tracks and having bent wheels was very common.

    Another option is to have the balancing done ON THE VEHICLE, that can adjust for imbalanced front end components that a standard 'tire balance' misses..

    Is this thing stock height?
    Has it EVER been wrecked?
    Has it EVER been off-road?
    Do you park diagonally on a high crown roadway?
    Last edited by Billy Ray; 12-25-2012 at 05:32 PM.
    -br

    Helping one another is why we are all here on Jeeps-Unlimited, or should be.
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  11. #11
    Registered Johnny V's Avatar
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    Shouldn't the toe have a positive degree spec?

    After I budget lifted my '95 ZJ I did my own alignment. Adjusted toe using a long stick - the back of the front tire was 1/4" wider than the front. Was eventually going to get it re-aligned professionally, but never got around to it. After 5 years no uneven tire wear and drives straight as an arrow.
    Best Regards,

    John V.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------
    2002 WJ Limited 4.7L ||| Inferno Red Tinted Pearl Coat ||| Quadra-Drive/Trac II 4WD System ||| Firestone Destinations LE2 245/65R17 @ 129,500 Miles
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  12. #12

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    I agree with BR, the rear specs shouldnt change like that. something could be loose back there, might want to check the control arm and trackbar bushings.

  13. #13
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    Gentlemen,

    I doubt that the rear specs changed at all... Given that the vehicle is sitting with four wheels on the rack, all the while adjustments are being made and the steering wheel is being cycled, the difference in the rear reading is likely related to "two" different snapshots in time...

    However, the rear axle is either "cocked" or one of the front wheel adjustments is too far forward or rearward (and the Jeep had a new "front" centerline established)...

    Regards,

    Carlos

  14. #14

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    Didn't realize there were so many replies!

    Quote Originally Posted by Carlos Brown View Post
    Aaron7,

    Based on your alignment specs, it appears that your rear axle is rotataed a bit CCW off square. The right rear control arm appears to be a little shorter, or the left side is a little longer.

    How is the adjustment in your steering box? If you have a fair amount of play left-to-right before the box loads it will contribute to a bit of wander. Does it have much feel (positive) at the center of travel?

    P.S. If your rear axle is not square your vehicle will wander and react differently with left vs. right road irregularities...

    Carlos
    Steering box was adjusted when installed but if that's the only place I could get steering wheel slack I'll have another set of hands check it.

    Interesting about the rear axle being cocked... how the heck does that happen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Ray View Post
    Replacing the steering box should have done it but there are adjustments to take some of the slop out.

    There are two screws, one is the adjustment, the other is a lock. Make sure you unlock it before you try adjustment ad lock it again afterward.

    How did the rear alignment specs change, nothing back there is adjustable is there?

    Have the tire balanced with you standing there. You want the balance spot-on, NOT just 'close enough'.

    While the tires are spinning check the wheels (steel or aluminum) AND the tires themselves. We have a lot of railroad tracks and having bent wheels was very common.

    Another option is to have the balancing done ON THE VEHICLE, that can adjust for imbalanced front end components that a standard 'tire balance' misses..

    Is this thing stock height?
    Has it EVER been wrecked?
    Has it EVER been off-road?
    Do you park diagonally on a high crown roadway?
    I'll have the box adjustments checked.

    Not sure how they changed rear alignment... it was Town Fair Tire.

    Tires are balanced perfectly. Had a buddy do them so I'm sure! No bends either.

    Jeep is not stock height; has H&R lowering springs that have had a coil (professionally) removed.

    Never wrecked. Never offroad... not even dirty! haha

    Always parked in a flat garage till a year ago. Now sits on my flat driveway.


    Thanks for all the info guys. Sounds like my steering box and rear axle need a little tweaking!!
    98 Jeep GC 5.9 - Mopar intake & ECU, cut H&R springs, Prothane kit, 255/55/18 tires, Alpine electrics, a/d/s amps & components, few JL 10W6
    89 MR2 MK1.5 - Back to bare shell for the final product 7+ year project so far
    74 CB360 - lots of fun cafe stuff
    81 CX500 - next victim...

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