Hardy Steering - Heavy Duty Parts Buyer's GuidePosted in Product Reviews on July 1, 2013
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
Parts Mike Parts
What: Heavy-duty, do-it-yourself tie rod and drag link kits. If you want to do it on your own, you can order a length of tubing and some taps to thread the tubing to the 1-ton tie-rod ends the company uses. Even with the purchase of taps, the overall cost isn’t bad. Want to have them make it? Just take careful measurements and the company will cut, tap, and ship your new setup. The company also has the 1-ton tapered reamer in stock for a decent price for true one-stop shopping. For tough fitments, the company also offers offset center tie-rod ends that are great for getting around things like track bars.
Fits: Any Jeep you want it to
Price: About $250 depending on how you set it up
Pros: Big, beefy tie-rod ends, company taps rather than welds, company offers taps and tapering tools
Contact: Parts Mike Parts, 530/885-0673, partsmike.com
What: If you want something better than stock, but don’t plan on winching your Jeep out of something with your steering, maybe you can save a few bucks too. This kit from Crown Automotive might not have 5-foot-thick tubing it does have a 1-inch-diameter solid tie rod that is a big increase over stock. The drag link is similar to stock but the tie-rod ends are larger and beefier than stock too. Additionally the kit sources stock Jeep parts so if you destroy one out in the field, you can go to a parts store and replace it.
Fits: ’91-’01 XJ, ’97-’06 TJ
Pros: Solid tie rod, lower cost than others, easy replacement
Contact: Crown Automotive Sales, 781/319-3100, crownautomotive.com
What: A combination of aluminum and steel gets the best of both strength and weight. The drag link is 11⁄2-inch-thick, solid 1020 cold-rolled-alloy while the tie rod is 15⁄8-inch-thick, solid 7075 aluminum. Both feature turnbuckle-style adjustment and forged 2-inch chromoly greaseable ends. The drag link attaches to the original pitman arm tie rod end up top though. The tie rod can be used above or below the knuckles and attaches with 18mm grade 10.9 hardware. Tapered spacers are available to return to stock linkage, if necessary.
Fits: ’07-present JK (the company has other kits for older Jeeps as well)
Pros: Nice combination of weight and strength, greaseable forged ends, 7075 material is very resilient
Contact: Rock Krawler, 518/270-9822, rockkrawler.com
What: A heavy-duty tie rod to replace the bash-magnet tinfoil factory part. JKS tie rods are 11⁄4-inch OD with a whopping 3⁄8-inch wall thickness. That is thicker than many differential assemblies. The tie rods are threaded to accept your factory tie-rod ends and have a machined flat spot on either end for easy adjustment. The added beef of the tie rod also adds steering feel and precision. Installation is as easy as measuring center to center on your existing setup, pulling it, putting this in, and matching the measurement
Fits: XJ, MJ, TJ, WJ, ZJ
Pros: Bolt-in installation, super-heavy wall, uses stock tie-rod ends
Contact: JKS Manufacturing, 308/762-6949, jksmfg.com
GenRight Off Road
What: In addition to a full line of build-it yourself rod-ended steering setups and many built-to-spec kits for specific axles (aftermarket and stock) and models of Jeeps, the company has come up with a solution for you JK guys that have converted to coilovers. The first kit is for the JK Dana 44 and includes two new high-steer knuckles and matching track bar and mounts. The steering linkage itself is thick-walled chromoly tubing and FK rod ends. The kit solves interference, bumpsteer, and clearance issues that other “solutions” still have.
Fits: ’07-current JK
Pros: No-hassle coilover fix, all inclusive kit, high clearance
Contact: GenRight Off Road, 805/584-8635, genright.com
What: Omix-Ada makes all kinds of stock replacement Jeep parts and is the parent company of Rugged Ridge which makes off-road-specific Jeep parts. This Rugged Ridge heavy-duty kit features 13⁄4-inch, 0.250-wall DOM tubing. In Jeeps with inverted “Y” or “T” steering this kit moves the drag link/tie rod connection closer to the knuckle for better steering angle. All kits feature custom 1-ton-sized tie-rod ends that use the factory taper on the tie-rod ends so that no modification is needed to your knuckles or pitman arm and is available in gloss black finish.
Fits: ’72-’86 CJ, YJ, TJ, XJ (with under 4 inches of lift), and six-cylinder ZJs
Price: around $215 (depending on application)
Pros: Bolts in, heavy wall thickness, wide range of fitment
Contact: Rugged Ridge, 770/614-6101, ruggedridgeoffroad.com
JCR Off Road
What: Over- or under-knuckle steering with 11⁄4-inch-diameter DOM tubing and near 1⁄4-inch wall thickness, JCR has what you need. The kits feature 1-ton Chevy tie-rod ends and a polyurethane spacer on the passenger-side knuckle to help prevent the roll that some inverted “T” setups can have. The kit ships raw and will require painting, if you are into that sort of thing. It will also require you to ream your knuckles and pitman arm out to accept the bigger joints.
Fits: All years and models
Pros: Much bigger joints, thicker tube, most applications don’t need stabilizer
Contact: JCR Off Road, 269/353-1184, jcroffroad.com
What: Synergy Suspension looked at what was out there, and made it better. Rather than use super-thick-walled tube, the company uses 13⁄8-inch-diameter, 0.188-wall heat-treated chromoly tubing. Rather than make you use a pair of pliers on the tie rod for adjustment, the company incorporates a cool threaded sleeve for one-stop adjustment. Another big improvement is in the 1-ton tie-rod ends themselves. Rather than use parts store parts, the company designed its own ends that stand head and shoulders above the rest if you want to use your Jeep off-road. The company also stocks builder’s parts so you can fine-tune your setup to your liking.
Pros: Easy adjustment, lower weight, bulletproof tie-rod ends
Contact: Synergy Suspension