The factory steering components on our ’06 Rubicon LJ were in fair shape but had seen a lot of miles. We decided to replace the aging pieces and it made for a perfect opportunity to upgrade to stronger components at the same time. We opted to upgrade with a Heavy-Duty Steering Kit from Synergy Manufacturing.
The complete kit is available for Jeep TJ, LJ, XJ, ZJ, and MJ models. It's a bolt-on replacement kit that replaces the stock steering components and works on Jeeps with 2-6 inches of lift. It includes a new beefier draglink and tie rod with metal-on-metal tie-rod ends. It also comes with a clamp-on steering stabilizer mount to attach the stabilizer onto the new draglink. Lifts over 4 inches typically require the addition of a drop pitman arm.
The kit emulates the Y-style steering linkage that comes stock on these models. This setup, when compared to the alternative T-style linkage helps minimize bumpsteer that can occur as the steering linkage cycles a bit side-to-side when the suspension flexes on bumps. Additionally, the Y-style is typically more effective at eliminating death wobble oscillation by keeping the front wheels separated using this linkage configuration.
Following the well-documented instructions that were provided, we performed the install in an afternoon by removing the factory steering and installing the new Synergy components. We knew that our frontend alignment was in good shape, so we made some knuckle and wheel distance measurements before removing the factory steering rods. We were able to bolt on the new parts and reset our toe-in and steering wheel center without issue.
We added a Fox 2.0 internal floating piston (IFP) steering stabilizer that Synergy recommends with its kit. It's sized and tuned specifically for this application and uses nitrogen pressure in addition to the fluid damping. The stabilizer bolts to the factory axle bracket and to the Synergy clamp on the draglink.
With the addition of the stronger steering components, we had less flex in the steering and more protection against a bent tie rod out in the rocks. The upgraded stabilizer also provided greater resistance to steering kick when used with our larger tires.
The Synergy heavy-duty steering kit includes a complete new draglink and tie rod with stronger ends. It's designed to bolt right up to the factory pitman arm and knuckles. A CNC-machined clamp-on steering stabilizer mount is also included in the upgrade kit. Both steering rods come in a gray powdercoat finish.
Our stock draglink was a reasonable piece of solid stock, but the more vulnerable tie rod was a smallish 7/8-inch-diameter tube with a fairly thin wall thickness. While ours was still relatively straight, a smack or two on some rock could send it into a frown.
Here's a look at the difference in the factory steering components and the Synergy parts. The draglink is bent to clear the factory axle brackets and is constructed from 1-3/8-inch solid 1018 steel bar, and the tie rod is built from 1-3/8-inch 4130 chromoly that's been heat treated. The difference in tie-rod end construction is very evident.
Synergy includes their greasable sintered metal-on-metal tie-rod ends. They're based on a spring-loaded design that keeps pressure on the joint as it wears. The forged housing and 4140 steel stud are considerably stronger than the stock pieces. Unlike the factory setup, Synergy designed the steering rod lengths to minimize the thread exposure of the tie-rod end to maximize strength there. Useful wrench flats are also provided on the ends of the draglink and tie rod.
We started with the tires pointed straight, took some toe-in measurements, and then removed the stock steering rods. We installed the Synergy rods while re-establishing our toe-in settings and steering wheel alignment as close as possible. The tie-rod ends come with replaceable silicone/polyurethane boots with retaining springs.
Synergy recommends use of a Fox 2.0 IFP steering stabilizer, and we chose to install one with this kit. It offers better damping than the stock Mopar stabilizer we were running.
We mounted the new stabilizer into the factory axle mount and to the draglink using the zinc-plated Synergy clamp-on mount. The aluminum-body Fox IFP damper uses an internal reservoir to separate the shock oil from the high-pressure nitrogen charge to maintain consistent action.
Both the tie rod and draglink were designed to allow for adjustment while on the Jeep. The tie rod has one left-threaded end and one right-threaded end. The draglink uses a double-adjuster assembly as shown here. The zinc-plated threaded inner tube can be used to adjust the draglink length and the cinch clamp holds it tightly in place once the length is adjusted.