Ask The Expert- Steering - Does not return to center

RhuntMT

Jeep Newb
Hello! Hopefully I can get some direction here.

Backstory - I recently installed the Metal Cloak (MC) 3.5" Game Changer lift. After the install I drove it around (local neighborhood) as I knew it would still need an alignment to be finished with the install, but I noticed some wandering and vibrations which I discovered was caused by bad tie rod ends. I then purchased and installed a new MC Tie Rod and MC Drag Link. Upon driving I discovered some really bad Death Wobble at about 45 mph and hitting any bumps would trigger the violence. I ordered and installed Dynatrac ProSteer Ball Joints (upper and lower). After the lift and other maintenance the Jeep was hard to maintain lane and wandered some, but I attributed that to a possible issue with the axles being off center and an alignment being needed.

I took my Jeep to a semi local shop that did the alignment (twice actually, the second one is attached here), centered the axles, adjusted Toe & Castor. The first time they adjusted caster they had it set to 9.7 degrees. After a conversation with MC they stated that it should be in the 4.5-5.5 range. I asked the shop to accommodate this setting and they complied (see attached). Also I had them drop the tire pressure to 28psi to accommodate the 35" tires.

Problem - The issue is now, at speeds of 40 - 50 its a little loose, it wanders a tad, but not terrible. At speeds of 50 - 65 the wheels don't feel like they will center, so a correction to direction of travel to maintain a lane turns into a over correction and then a correction again in the opposite direction which then makes the Jeep hard to steer and swerves as its a struggle to maintain the lane of travel. Using steering inputs to correct and then you end up over correcting and reverse the direction of input. Its a bit scary actually.

Now - I think the ball joints are binding and causing the steering knuckles to be overly stiff, is this a thing? How can it be proved? At this point I can tell the shop to forget about it and I can take it home and tear it apart myself and maybe find something and maybe not, or I can pay them to do the same. They already have it so I am fine with them doing the work, but they want to start disconnection steering components for troubleshooting and they aren't a cheap shop, therefore labor will be expensive, but at this point I am not sure what I can do. Its a 30 miles drive on the Interstate to get my Jeep back home. I am still leaning on the ball joints as the suspect as it started after they were changed. Any advise?
 

Attachments

Pthorpe84

Moderator
Staff member
Hello! Hopefully I can get some direction here.

Backstory - I recently installed the Metal Clmiles drive on the Interstate to get my Jeep back home. I am still leaning on the ball joints as the suspect as it started after they were changed. Any advise?
If they aren't getting it fixed, I know a local guy that will resolve the issue for you. He is the only one I will let work on my rig and was instrumental in educating me on my build.
 

RhuntMT

Jeep Newb
The shop confirmed that the ball joints on the driver side were causing the issue. They are binding or very stiff. They said they reached out to Dynatrac who said sometimes it requires some break-in period. The shop also reached out to MC and they said that's unusual with that brand which is why they recommend them. This was my impression of these joints as well. I'm picking up my Jeep on Monday. Maybe I need to get your guy to take a look!
 

Pthorpe84

Moderator
Staff member
The shop confirmed that the ball joints on the driver side were causing the issue. They are binding or very stiff. They said they reached out to Dynatrac who said sometimes it requires some break-in period. The shop also reached out to MC and they said that's unusual with that brand which is why they recommend them. This was my impression of these joints as well. I'm picking up my Jeep on Monday. Maybe I need to get your guy to take a look!
Yeah dynatrac joints are extremely good and pricy. Surprised they are having issues. May have been pressed in wrong or over torqued
 

katswuy

Jeep Newb
I have a MC 2.5 lift and after a couple of troublefree years my JKUR developed SEVERE death wobble. I installed new balljoints, MC HD steering system, HD Fox steering stabilizer, had several alignments done and still had the problem. The fix was installation of the Synergy frame to sector shaft brace and lowered frame end control arm mounts. Not sure which of these fixed it, but at that point I was desperate, we were afraid to drive the damn thing. I have seen a video of the frame flexing near the steering box mount on a JL when the steering wheel is moved back and forth, so I think that was the problem. It has been a year now with trips to Silverton, Moab, some Az. trails plus local trails in our desert and no further problems.
 

Pthorpe84

Moderator
Staff member
I have a MC 2.5 lift and after a couple of troublefree years my JKUR developed SEVERE death wobble. I installed new balljoints, MC HD steering system, HD Fox steering stabilizer, had several alignments done and still had the problem. The fix was installation of the Synergy frame to sector shaft brace and lowered frame end control arm mounts. Not sure which of these fixed it, but at that point I was desperate, we were afraid to drive the damn thing. I have seen a video of the frame flexing near the steering box mount on a JL when the steering wheel is moved back and forth, so I think that was the problem. It has been a year now with trips to Silverton, Moab, some Az. trails plus local trails in our desert and no further problems.
yikes! Great to hear y’all got it squared away
 

RhuntMT

Jeep Newb
Definitely a possiblity. I was hoping the shop would have identified that and corrected it.
So I drove it. It seems better, but it still doesn't feel right. DynaTrac sales guy I reached out to said it would be a 500 mile break in period. /SMH
 

Rubicon_Freedom

Jeep Newb
I just wanted to add here and this is not related to anything metalcloak as we're in the process of installing these products on our jeep. But 3 weeks ago our jeep a 2017 unlimited sport with a 2.75 inch lift has developed a side to side motion. We had the jeep's alignment check 6 times by 6 different shops only to be told nothing is wrong. This is being cause because of the slop in the Moog drag link & tie rod ball joints. With only a 1 year warranty, both of these components last 1 year 3/4 months.

We've concluded that the Moog drag/tie assembly was designed for only stock sized tires and wheels. We've installed 17x8.5 ET 10 wheels with Nitto grapplers 34'' tires. The added weight to these components has worn them out within the warranty period. If anyone is starting to deal with a drifting, side to side , shimmy or wobble, here's what you should look for. Check the drag link, Tie rod and track bar first. Crawl under the jeep, place you hand on the drag link (rod) and see if you can twist the rod forward and back. if the rod is lose at the ball joints, chances are this is where your issue is.

Again assuming that you're running larger tires/wheels without upgrading any of the factory drag link, tie rod or track bar.

Here's a video for reference:

Not my jeep, but nearly the say issue as this fellow. If your drag link & tie rod moves like this as there should be some resistance, your ball joints have lost their rigidity and even though the jeep can be driven like this, it's unsafe to do so. Check the drag link, tie rod, and track bar for any play. We're replacing all of these Moog/factory components with Metalcloak 1 ton ball joints.

However, I'm not suggesting you run out an upgrade your drag link tie rod to 1 ton only do this IF you're running wheels and tire larger than 34'' as the moog assembly is perfectly capable of handling the factory wheels/tires.
 
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RhuntMT

Jeep Newb
I agree with your assessment that the movement such as that is a definite sign of wear, however, in my case I have already changed the drag link and tie rod to the metal cloak versions because mine were worn as well.

Thanks for sharing that link!
 
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