Steering Upgrades For Your Jeep
Now, for those of you who didn’t spend a lot of time around old timers growing up, you might think “hardy steering” means “hard to steer.” Such is not the case. Hardy can also mean “tough,” “strong,” “bullet-proof,” and “heavy duty.” Yeah, OK, so that does mean that we used the same word in both the title and the deck of this story. But if you knew what hardy meant in the first place, we wouldn’t have had to explain it to you, so cut us a break.
Steering linkages are like opinions: Everyone has some. In a Jeep, most of us don’t think about the linkage until something goes wrong or breaks. And if it breaks, well, it is a bit late to think about it, isn’t it? Before it breaks or gets loose, you should give some thought to how you use your Jeep, and take a look at what you’ve got for linkage. What’s the weak part? Pushing heavy tires into rocks or crawling over boulders? Maybe your thin-walled tube and puny factory tie-rod ends just aren’t going to cut the mustard. Are you in the mud, and do you drive the Jeep on salt-encrusted roads? That raw or painted steel part might rust before they even survive a year. Do your tie-rod ends have grease fittings? Do you use them? Do you find yourself adjusting your steering a few times a year to keep it going straight down the road? If so, maybe a tie rod with only one adjustment should be avoided.
Whatever the case, gone are the days of double- and triple-sleeving your own tie rods for strength. Gone are the days of pouring over parts catalogs to find a tie-rod end with your factory taper and a larger ball and shank. The aftermarket is so rife with complete and partial bolt-on heavy-duty steering linkages that the only work you now have to do is pour over which setup is right for your Jeep. Fear not, intrepid Jeeper, we have compiled a list of aftermarket steering linkages, what they fit, and what makes them good—right here in our own pages for your reading enjoyment.
What: A steering system for TJs that eliminates toe change with suspension cycling. Both tie rod and drag link are made from 4130 chromoly with the drag link being 11⁄4-inch OD and the tie rod being 13⁄8-inch OD. Both capped with 11⁄4-inch radially-welded and are painted in Rustoleum Hammerite paint for easy touchup. The drag link is designed to clear the track bar and the system matches your factory pitman arm so that you get full steering box and knuckle turning. The kit eliminates bumpsteer and the dead spot that many TJs have. The adapter brackets that bolt to your factory knuckles are CNC-machined and cut and TIG-welded.
Fits: ’97-’06 TJ
Pros: Bolt-on, chromoly tubing, separate tie rod and drag link
Contact: Off Road Only, 651/644-2323, offroadonly.com
What: Mountain Off Road Enterprises offers a vast selection of steering improvements for your Jeep. From a simple tie rod and drag link upgrade to a steering correction for the inverted “T” and “Y” inflicted Jeeps, the company has you covered. There are both 0.188- and 0.250-wall tubes available and the correction kit includes a heavy-duty bracket so that your passenger-side knuckle can finally accept a drag link. The links ship with either a yellowish zinc plating or no plating. The company also has builder’s parts so that if you have a Jeep not named here, you can build your own heavy-duty steering for it.
Fits: ’72-’86 CJ, YJ
Price: $300 (CJs), $600 (YJ correction)
Pros: YJ kit gets rid of “dead spot”, not everyone needs 0.250-wall thickness, zinc coating for rust resistance
Contact: M.O.R.E, 877/533-7229, mountainoffroad.com
What: The HD steering from T&T Customs is designed to work with the company’s track bar. Whether you are running an over-the-axle trackbar or not, the company has your solution. By offering both over- and under-the-knuckle kits your needs can be met. The DOM tube is 15⁄16-inch-diameter, 0.250-wall. As long as you can give the company an accurate measurement between your two knuckles and your passenger side knuckle and your pitman arm, it can build your steering. Available in grey powdercoating or raw steel, the only “fabricating” that you will need to do is to ream your knuckles and pitman arm for the correct taper with a reamer.
Fits: CJ, YJ, TJ, JK, XJ, MJ, ZJ
Price: $449 ($395 raw steel)
Pros: 1-ton tie rods, custom lengths to your specifications (no cutting or welding on your end), ships with powdercoated finish to better resist salt
Contact: T&T Customs, 307/775-9565, tntcustoms.com
What: A steering setup with heavy-duty aluminum links designed to take a hit, flex, and bounce back. The kit includes a new passenger-side knuckle to eliminate the “Y” or “T” nonsense your Jeep came with new. It fits both Dana 30 and 44 front axles. The cast steel knuckle is a direct bolt-in replacement for the factory knuckle. The offset-center 7⁄8-inch tie-rod ends come with tapered spacers so that after drilling out your knuckles you don’t need a specialty tool to go back to stock.
Fits: ’91-’06 YJ, XJ, TJ, LJ
Pros: Aluminum gives a bit and bends back, offset tie-rod ends clear track bar better, big tie-rod ends are way stronger than stock
Contact: TeraFlex, 801/288-3585, teraflex.biz
What: Currie CurectLync steering is the product of wanting a good steering solution that could take a brutal beating yet still maintain the stock attachment points. The CurrectLync also features rotated tie-rod ends to allow for more lift. Built from solid cast chromoly rods and Currie-spec tie-rod ends this steering is not only easy to install, but lasts a long time. It ships powdercoated in gloss black and retains the factory-location steering stabilizer for a true bolt-in application.
Fits: YJ, TJ, XJ, MJ, JK
Price: around $450
Pros: Bolts in, solid chromoly links, allows for more lift
Contact: Currie Enterprises, 714/982-5298