Jeep Grand Cherokee Brake & Steering Kit For Jeep TJ - Grand Cherokize Your TJ's Steering And BrakingPosted in How To: Wheels Tires on August 1, 2002
Dan McKeag of Burnsville Off Road in Burnsville, Minnesota is an avid gearhead who must lay awake at night devising innovative ways to improve 4x4 vehicles. You may remember McKeag and his one-of-a-kind Viper V-10-powered TJ from our 1999 Top Truck Challenge-he drove his powerful beast to a strong third-place finish. McKeag's shop, Burnsville Off Road, is a full-service 4x4 shop specializing in bolt-on installs as well as custom-fabbed components. What makes the crew at Burnsville Off Road the happiest is when a customer comes to them with an unusual request that requires the staff to get down and dirty in an effort to solve a problem or custom design something new. McKeag's latest creation solves a problem that many TJ owners encounter when adding larger tires and/or a suspension lift. When you see what parts are used and how it's done, you'll slap yourself and say, "Why didn't I think of that?"
Installing bigger tires and a suspension lift on your TJ can create a twofold problem. The first is braking. While TJs have brakes that are powerful enough to stop the rolling mass of the stock vehicle, those same brakes are substantially less than effective when larger tires are added or when the vehicle is used to pull a trailer. The second problem is steering. Most folks who fit larger tires also install a suspension lift, and most people find that a lift of more than 4 inches tends to tweak the stock steering enough to cause aggravating bumpsteer. McKeag solved both of these problems in one fell swoop by creating a bolt-on kit that uses the beefier steering and front braking components of '99-'02 Jeep Grand Cherokees. The results are impressive, and include increased braking power due to the Grand Cherokee's dual-piston calipers and 12-inch rotors (stock TJs feature single-piston calipers and 11-inch rotors), and significantly enhanced steering durability and operation due to the Grand Cherokee's heftier 24mm tie rod ends (stock TJ ends are 18mm), one-piece tie rod, and 3-inch-higher drag link mounting location.
Burnsville Off Road can install the kit under your TJ in about three hours using new, or if available, used components. If you prefer to install the kit yourself, they can ship a complete kit to you. Kits are available to fit either Dana 30 or Dana 44 axles with either stock or manual hubs, and it will work with vehicles ranging from stock height to those with more than 10 inches of lift. Kit options include a custom Burnsville Off Road heavy-duty 1 1/4-inch-diameter 3/8-inch-wall chrome-moly tie rod and/or drag link, chrome-moly axleshafts, and new super-tough CTM axle U-joints (see sidebar). We watched as the kit was installed on a 4.7L V-8-powered TJ equipped with 35-inch tires, a 6-inch suspension lift, a Dana 44 front axle, and a Warn manual- hub conversion. A test drive of the vehicle after the install clearly indicated a vast improvement in braking, even with the larger tires, and steering feel and operation was stock-like, even with the 6 inches of lift and bigger meats. What follows are the basics of the install and its components.
10. The final step is to attach the steering stabilizer. It uses the stock mounting location at the differential, while the other side is attached using the stock Grand Cherokee steering stabilizer brackets. The finished vehicle is aligned before being sent off to do battle.
Bigger, Stronger U-Joints
One of the options that Burnsville Off Road offers when installing the Grand Cherokee steering and braking package is CTM Racing Products' heavy-duty universal joints. These U-joints were designed by CTM founder Jack Graef to be the ultimate rebuildable, unbreakable U-joint, and they've only been on the market since mid-2001. His impetus for this product was seeing the damage to expensive chrome-moly axleshafts caused by U-joint failure, so he devised his heavy-duty U-joint to work in conjunction with these heavy-duty axleshafts.
CTM U-joints are available for both Dana 44 (replacing U-joint #5-297X) and Dana 60 (replacing U-joint #5-332X) applications, and they've been designed to require no driveline modifications. The Dana 44 U-joint is forged, while the Dana 60 piece is billet aluminum. Probably the most unique feature of the U-joint is its lack of needle bearings. Instead, Graef uses a bushing created from a bronze compound. The bushings are pressed into heat-treated chrome-moly caps, each of which features a zerk fitting so each can be individually greased. CTM recommends greasing the U-joints at each scheduled vehicle oil change.