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front end/steering questions


mjtjnj
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Just lining up a few projects, now that the drivetrain is taken care of:

 

1. I replaced all the ball joints, tie rod ends, really rebuilt the whole front end, but still get a "clunk" when turning the wheel at low speeds. A mechanic casually told me that it was the trackbar mount (I have a 3" lift and an adjustable track bar). Could that be it, since I've replaced everything else?

 

2. Speaking of steering at low speeds, the engine bogs down. I removed the PS sensor that, I assume, speeds the engine up when you put the drag on the PS pump. I jumpered the two connectors, and the engine doesn't speed up. So what now?

 

3. Last question: I did the 3" lift a few years ago, put longer shocks on, and kept the stock control arms. The front end has a real stiff feel to it (almost like a "bottom out") when I hit bumps. Would longer/adjustable UCA's/LCA's make it ride better? Do you need to do LCA's and UCA's? Totally ignorant on the subject.

 

Thanks!

Tom

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Just lining up a few projects, now that the drivetrain is taken care of:

 

1. I replaced all the ball joints, tie rod ends, really rebuilt the whole front end, but still get a "clunk" when turning the wheel at low speeds. A mechanic casually told me that it was the trackbar mount (I have a 3" lift and an adjustable track bar). Could that be it, since I've replaced everything else?

 

Yes, I would check the track bar at both ends and the frame end bracket.

 

2. Speaking of steering at low speeds, the engine bogs down. I removed the PS sensor that, I assume, speeds the engine up when you put the drag on the PS pump. I jumpered the two connectors, and the engine doesn't speed up. So what now?

 

Don't know...

 

3. Last question: I did the 3" lift a few years ago, put longer shocks on, and kept the stock control arms. The front end has a real stiff feel to it (almost like a "bottom out") when I hit bumps. Would longer/adjustable UCA's/LCA's make it ride better? Do you need to do LCA's and UCA's? Totally ignorant on the subject.

 

Yes, adjustable LCA's or longer aftermarket LCA's/UCA's will help, and will allow you to reset your pinion.

Thanks!

Tom

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Thanks, Jimmy - do I need just LCA's or should I do both??

 

Hi Pete - I just got some knockoff 3" lift coils, a RE adjustable track bar, and some Rough Country cheapo longer shocks (which I'm gonna replace with Ranchos when I get into this project). So, no kit, really.

 

Any idea about the PS - idle circuit??

 

Thanks

Tom

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Just lining up a few projects, now that the drivetrain is taken care of:2. Speaking of steering at low speeds, the engine bogs down. I removed the PS sensor that, I assume, speeds the engine up when you put the drag on the PS pump. I jumpered the two connectors, and the engine doesn't speed up. So what now?

Thanks! Tom

 

Check to see if one side of the power steering pressure switch connector is grounded. On the 2.5's, this switch closes under pressure and sends a ground to the computer to kick up the idle. Or apply a ground manually to your version of pin 2 on the switch to see if the fast idle circuit even works.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
I'd still get the longer lower arms, but it may not make a difference if the coils are stiff and the shocks are cheap. :dunno:

 

True! I'm definitely going to replace the shocks when I dig into this, whenever that is! Anyone recommend a brand of coils that will give a softer ride and a 3" lift? A brand of LCA's?

 

My plan is to get a heavy duty track bar bracket to get rid of the clunk, replace the shocks, damper, do the LCA's and now maybe the coils. I just want a little nicer ride up front, now that I'm driving it so much. Just moved to DC, so it's been a workhorse for me, moving things and driving 400mi/round trip every weekend back to NJ!

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Here is a list of some XJ/MJ Coil Spring rates;

 

OEM XJ Coil - 145

BDS 3" XJ Coil - 240

DPG 5" XJ Coil - 198

OME 930 XJ Coil (aprox 2") - 160

OME 934 ZJ Coil (aprox 3" on XJ) - 180

TeraFlex 3.5" XJ Coil - 170

TeraFlex 4.5" XJ Coil - 200

Rustys 3" XJ Coil - 150

Rustys 3" HD XJ Coil - 180

Rustys 4.5" XJ Coil - 150

Rustys 4.5" HD XJ Coil - 180

Rustys 6" XJ Coil - 180

Rustys 9" XJ Coil - 180

Rubicon Express 3.5" XJ Coil - 241

Rubicon Express 4.5" XJ Coil - 169

Rubicon Express 5.5" XJ Coil - 185

Rancho 2.5" XJ Coil - 235

Skyjacker 3" XJ Coil - 218

RockKrawler 3" XJ Coil - 180

RockKrawler 4.5" XJ Coil - 180

RockKrawler 6" XJ Coil - 180

Motion Offroad 3" XJ Coils - 115/160 (Progressive Coils)

Motion Offroad 4.5" XJ Coils - 115/160 (Progressive Coils)

Motion Offroad 6" XJ Coils - 115/160 (Progressive Coils)

 

 

REMEMBER THAT THE COIL SPRING RATE DOES NOT DETERMINE 100% OF RIDE QUALITY!!! IT VARIES GREATLY BASED ON THE SHOCKS YOU RUN!!! NOT TO MENTION CONTROL ARM ANGLES!

 

Let us know if we can be of any further help.

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Just moved to DC, so it's been a workhorse for me, moving things and driving 400mi/round trip every weekend back to NJ!

Cool.....we gotsta party now :cheers:

 

Jeff

 

Yeah, man, I'm only a couple hours away now. Ordered the motion offroad lift kit, it was $100 off, so I've got plenty of wrenchin to do, and beers to drink :thumbsup:

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REMEMBER THAT THE COIL SPRING RATE DOES NOT DETERMINE 100% OF RIDE QUALITY!!! IT VARIES GREATLY BASED ON THE SHOCKS YOU RUN!!! NOT TO MENTION CONTROL ARM ANGLES!

 

This is especially true when you have anything over 4.5" of lift. If the CA angles are steep, it won't matter if you had the best shocks and springs out there, it will still ride rough. This shouldn't really be a problem at 3" though.

 

I am running pretty soft springs (Rustys 4.5" + 1.5" spacer) but do have cheap shocks (Rough Country). Before I installed my drop brackets it was a bit stiff, but now it rides like stock again! All that changed was the CA angles.

 

Just installing longer arms won't help the ride at all, just the pinion angle. Long arms or drop brackets on the other hand is a different story.

 

Now in your case, it could very well be a combination of stiff springs and shocks. Oh and if your looking for a softer shock, Rancho is not the way to go. Even the adjustable ones on the softest setting are too stiff for our light uni-body trucks! My next set will probably be Bilsteins of some type, they make great shocks!

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Thanks for the advice; I will look into the Billsteins...I should have gathered all this information when I did the lift 5 years ago! I was on a serious budget then. Not that I'm "rolling in it" now! :brows:

 

So drop brackets relocate the control arms? Upper or lower or both? If I go to 4.5" of lift, you would recommend these? Anyone know about the popping while steering when going slowly? The track bar is only a few years old, I wouldn't expect the Heim joint to be worn out...can the bracket itself make that noise?

 

Thanks-Tom

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The brackets drop uppers and lowers about 4", and yes, I'd recommend them on a 4.5" lift. They can be used with anything 4" or more.

I actually built my own cause I had more time and materials than money (but not enough for long arms) and I wanted to make them real beefy, but they can be bought for under $200. If you take a look at my build thread, I have some pics showing the difference in arm angles before and after (link in sig).

 

As for the popping, the frame bracket can definitely make the popping noise. When I first lifted my old XJ I ran into this a lot with the crappy Rusty's TB and Mount. I'd recommend removing the bolts (can do one at a time), adding some locktite, and torquing them down. Just a tiny bit of play here will cause the popping.

 

I finally ended up building my own TB and mount, and added a brace that runs to the pass side frame. Out lived the XJ and I swapped to the MJ and haven't had any problems with it since.

 

On the other hand, 3 years is actually pretty good for a heim joint, and it very well may be worn out by now.

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Wow, thanks. You're a lot more handy with metal than I am, so I'll have to purchase my parts. It looks like you kept your stock UCAs/LCA's. Maybe I'll try the drop brackets before I buy anything else. Looks like they centered your front wheels better on the fenders. Mine, at 3" of lift, sit a little rearward too. I'll evaluate the ride then, and see where I'm at. I don't hate the 3" lift, I just figured if I'm pulling things apart, I'll just go higher -- it's dangerous! :nuts:

 

I PM'ed lead_not_follow, I didn't finish my order of his kit. I read some really nasty, unflattering things about Motion Offroad on NAXJA and Pirate4x4. Seems like here, he's done well, so maybe the business has smoothed out over the years. Can anyone give me some info about their experiences with Motion Offroad?

 

-Tom

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i've ordered some stuff through them maybe 6mo-1yr ago, took longer than i would've hoped for but i got what i ordered. they drop ship from the manufacturer on things like rock-krawler so it can take extra time. i think it took me about 3 wks. (not 100% sure)

 

not upset about it, but don't take your truck apart thinking you'll get the stuff next day!

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Wow, thanks. You're a lot more handy with metal than I am, so I'll have to purchase my parts. It looks like you kept your stock UCAs/LCA's. Maybe I'll try the drop brackets before I buy anything else. Looks like they centered your front wheels better on the fenders. Mine, at 3" of lift, sit a little rearward too. I'll evaluate the ride then, and see where I'm at. I don't hate the 3" lift, I just figured if I'm pulling things apart, I'll just go higher -- it's dangerous! :nuts:

 

I PM'ed lead_not_follow, I didn't finish my order of his kit. I read some really nasty, unflattering things about Motion Offroad on NAXJA and Pirate4x4. Seems like here, he's done well, so maybe the business has smoothed out over the years. Can anyone give me some info about their experiences with Motion Offroad?

 

-Tom

 

The brackets do help a lot as far as centering the wheels. As far as arms, the uppers are stock, lowers are Rusty's adjustable. They are their old style, and use acme thread for adjustment. These were crap and would clunk, so eventually I just welded them fixed once I had all the angles set.

 

If you just go to 4-4.5" and use the drop brackets, you can use your stock arms. If you do a lot of wheeling, you probably will at least want beefier lowers, simply to take the beating of rocks etc...

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a search for "motion offroad" should bring up info you seek. there are some passionate responses from both sides and I'd kinda prefer not to bring up the bad blood all over again.

 

if you don't need 4.5", don't do it. the higher you go, the more headaches pop up. all you need right now are better shocks (pretty much anything that's gas charged should be fine but the more you spend, the better they are) and longer control arms to get back your caster and recenter your tires in the wheel well. Oh, and I'd do something about the brake lines if you haven't already.

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Pete,

I was just coming around to that way of thinking. So at the 3" of lift I have now, I could get longer LCA's, skip the drop brackets, and get some new shocks, and see how she rides.

 

I'm an idiot with this geometry stuff in the front end - - are there a certain length of LCA's I should get for 3" coils, or are adjustables the way to go? Any brands I should be looking at?

 

I already did do the longer brake lines! :clapping:

 

Thanks-

Tom

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in theory, a 3" lift on any MJ XJ would need the same length lower control arms and so anything you see that says it's for a 3" lift would be the same length. in reality, the adjustable ones are really nice to dial everything in right. :thumbsup:

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in theory, a 3" lift on any MJ XJ would need the same length lower control arms and so anything you see that says it's for a 3" lift would be the same length. in reality, the adjustable ones are really nice to dial everything in right. :thumbsup:

 

:agree: Again, the LCAs themselves really won't help the ride since it's angle, more than length, that determines the ride quality. They will however help keep the arms from hitting the coil bucket during droop situations, limiting flex. This is why most aftermarket arms either have a bend in them, or an offset joint like RE arms have.

 

Adjustable arms are almost always the best choice if they fit your budget. You never know if you may end up going higher in the future. Plus, as mentioned, they give you more options on fine tuning the pinion/caster angle, although some adjustment can actually be made in the stock frame mount.

 

And yes, if 3" is all you need, you can start with shocks and see what that gets you. I will add that if you decide to go to 4.5", you can use the shocks for the 3" with BPEs and they will be long enough. In other words, don't fear buying good shocks :D

 

If it's still too stiff, it may be the "generic" coils. If they are like the Ranchos at around 235lbs, they are going to be stiff.

 

Also, looking at that chart, I believe the RE 3.5" coils are misprinted, and supposed to be 141, not 241. I know for a fact RE rides softer than Rancho!

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OK! Thank you.

So a reasonable plan would be:

get some good shocks

....see how it goes

if still too stiff, get coils with a lower spring rate

....see how it goes

if still too stiff, try adjustable LCA's.

 

That seems reasonable, and I don't open a can of worms that I don't want to, or blow all kinds of money for minimal or no improvement....I'll start shopping for some Bilsteins!

 

Tom

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OK! Thank you.

So a reasonable plan would be:

get some good shocks

....see how it goes

if still too stiff, get coils with a lower spring rate

....see how it goes

if still too stiff, try adjustable LCA's.

 

That seems reasonable, and I don't open a can of worms that I don't want to, or blow all kinds of money for minimal or no improvement....I'll start shopping for some Bilsteins!

 

Tom

No.

 

Step three is incorrect. As noted above, longer LCAs will re-center the wheels fore-to-aft in the wheel arches and will correct for the caster lost to the lift, but they will NOT reduce the stiffness in ride that is caused by the steeper angle of the LCAs.

 

In stock trim, the UCAs and LCAs are level, which allows them to swing upward without resistance when a bump is encountered. Once you lift, they point downward. This means when you hit a bump, in order for the tire/wheel to swing upward it also has to swing forward -- which is in opposition to the direction the road is pushing it. Result ==> stiffer ride.

 

The reason drop brackets solve this is that they maintain the stock geometry of level control arms. But, the commercially available drop brackets are made for a 4" lift. The effect of using drop brackets with a 3" lift is that the aft end of the control arms will be lower than the axle end. I found that the brackets were rick magnets even at a true 4" lift, so I would not recommend trying them at 3".

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You don't need drop brackets or adjustable LCAs for a lift 3" or below. There is plenty of adjustment behind the stock LCAs to add additional shims to effectively lengthen the LCA enough and get the caster angle back to specs. You can make your own like the pic below or get them at the dealer for cheap. All it took to get my caster spot-on after a 3" lift was an additional 4mm shim on each side.

 

HowtoAlignment.htm_txt_spacer.gif

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