Part 14: Sorting Out 'Con's Bent Steering
It was on our most recent outing to the Rubicon Trail that our JK's second stock tie rod and second steering stabilizer succumbed to the forces of angry granite boulders. This latest iteration of our steering consisted of a prototype aftermarket track bar, drag link and steering stabilizer, as well as a stock tie rod.
Our search for a stronger tie rod brought us to Poly Performance in San Luis Obispo, California. Poly Performance designs and sells a wide variety of products for Jeeps that have been developed in-house for novice to hardcore enthusiasts. All of the Poly Performance parts are designed to be modular and can be bought in kit form, or a'la carte for those who need the individual components.
The main Poly Performance product we were interested in was their JK chromoly tie rod, the strongest on the market. The Poly tie rod starts with 1 3/8-inch 4130 chromoly that is induction heat-treated and is two times stronger than stock. It is also bent to clear the sway bar mounts, and features beefy tie rod ends in double adjuster sleeves to allow factory-like adjustments without having to remove the part from the Jeep.
We also wanted to upgrade the steering stabilizer after ours puked its guts out after a particularly nasty obstacle. The Poly Performance Hi-Mount Steering Stabilizer Relocation Kit includes a bracket and a new stabilizer that is ready to bolt on. For those who wish to fine tune it, the Poly stabilizer comes with a Schrader valve for pressure adjustments. Poly offers a nitrogen fill gauge to dial in the stabilizer pressure to each user's preference. The kit also comes complete with a bracket and billet tie rod clamp that mounts the stabilizer on top of the tie rod and out of harm's way.
Poly was happy to supply these pieces for the 'Con, but recommended we upgrade the entire steering system with its Steering Correction Kit. Poly designed its Steering Correction Kit to correct the wandering steering that is sometimes felt on JKs after they are lifted and includes a new drag link that is made from 13/4-inch-thick, 0.188-inch-wall 1026 DOM material, and like the tie rod, has an exclusive double adjuster sleeve and pinch bolt setup for adjustment of the drag link with it installed on the vehicle.
The other major component of the kit is a new track bar bracket that is laser-cut from 3/16-inch steel for strength and raises the roll center by three inches to give the Jeep a more secure feeling, with less body roll, when cornering. Our version of the bracket uses an optional cam bolt adjuster and reuses the stock track bar, which Poly feels is a quality design. This lowers the cost of upgrading by not requiring an adjustable aftermarket track bar since the length can be dialed in at the cam bolt.
To ensure the best-handling setup possible, Poly also sent us its heavy-duty rear track bar bracket, which matches the rear roll center to the front by raising it the same three inches. It is also made from 3/16-inch steel for strength and has an optional cam bolt adjustment. The front and rear track bar brackets are designed for use with any 3- to 8-inch lift kit.
The highlight of this steering upgrade is that the entire setup is bolt-on for an easy, trouble-free installation, which we witnessed firsthand as we documented the installation by our friends at Off Road Evolution in Fullerton, California.
How It Works
After the install, we had the 'Con aligned and took it for a test drive. The new steering system was easy to align, and the improvements were instantly noticeable. Project 'Con Artist now tracks cleaner, with less bump steer while cornering nice and flat. Poly Performance says that they have designed their parts to work with anyone's suspension system, and we haven't had any problems or interference with the Rubicon Express Long Arm kit that we have installed on our JK. After experiencing the Poly Performance system, we'd recommend the upgrade for any JK owner looking for an upgrade in strength on the trail or looking to reduce bump steer and tracking issues on the road.
Poly sells all of these parts in kit form, or a'la carte. Here is the retail price of what we installed:
|Heavy duty front track bar bracket w/cam||$125.00|
|Heavy duty rear track bar bracket w/cam||$125.00|
|High Steer Drag Link Kit||$175.00|
|Hi-Mount Stabilizer Relocation Kit||$220.00|
|Chromoly Tie Rod||$325.00|