Tough and Tight Steering for WJs
Lifted trail rigs take a lot of abuse as a whole, and the steering system is typically the most vulnerable to damage. The repeated stress of bumping and knocking around takes a toll on the factory steering parts, not to mention that two of your rig's major steering components – tie rod and drag link – are the first items to meet rocks and other trail objects head on.
The factory steering system will withstand the stress of off-road use for a time but once it's had enough, you and your 4x4, lifted or not, will be parked trailside until limped home for repairs. Or worse yet, veering out-of-control across the highway with a white-knuckle death grip on the wheel praying that you'll come out alive. Both situations can largely be avoided, however, by performing a few simple steering upgrades.
The JKS HD Tie Rod and Drag Link are easy, bolt-on replacements that will resist impacts and bending much better than the OE tie rod and drag link. Both are manufactured from 1.25-inch-by-0.375-inch-wall seamless tubing and are designed to provide improved steering sensitivity and feedback to the driver. The HD Tie Rod and Drag Link are also properly threaded to accept readily available OE-style tie rod ends or re-use your existing ends.
Manufactured from 1.25-by-0.250-inch DOM tubing, the JKS Adjustable Track Bar is easily adjusted to perfectly center the axle housing beneath the vehicle. It is compatible with virtually any suspension system and can be adjusted to meet new length requirements as modifications are continually added to the vehicle. The track bar is mandrel-bent to ensure proper geometry and optimum clearance and is zinc-plated and powdercoat finished to provide excellent protection from corrosion and trail debris. It uses poly bushings at each end and can accommodate 1 to 6 inches of lift. Some of the JKS adjustable track bars are equipped with a Johnny Joint or OE-style rubber bushing at one end, depending on the application.
Finishing off the list of upgrades is a collection of products from Kevin's Offroad, all designed to eliminate the dreaded Death Wobble that can occur in lifted coil-sprung 4x4s. If you have to ask what Death Wobble is then you have never experienced it. You will know if Death Wobble is occurring and you will not forget it. The Kevin's Offroad website offers in great detail the causes and effects of Death Wobble and how it can be cured. The Kevin's Offroad parts that we'll install to eradicate the Death Wobble effect include, KOR SuperHard Durometer track bar bushings and KOR primary and secondary steering stabilizers.
This article details the installation of the aforementioned parts on a 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee WJ but these upgrades from JKS Manufacturing and Kevin's Offroad are also ideal for many other Jeep models, including XJ, MJ, ZJ, TJ, and JK. Wrangler TJ and JK versions can also be paired with JKS Manufacturing's track bar relocation brackets to raise and rotate the mounting point on the axle end for correct alignment following the installation of a CV-style driveshaft.
Check out the photos and captions for more info as we detail the installation as completed by the crew at Off-Road Evolution.