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Got a question for the suspension experts here in the forum:


As you may know, my son recently converted his 89 MJ by performing the 99 conversion. In that conversion we swapped a Dana 30 into his front end from the 99 XJ. As we ran short of time rebuilding the axle was placed on hold...we changed the fluid, greased the ball joints and tie rod ends and had it aligned.


As he is home from college for a week, we ripped it apart and replaced the following:


Ball joints

Sway bar links

Track bar


U joints

Steering link (from Pitman arm to passenger knuckle)

Tie rod ends

Steering dampner


We used all MOOG parts. Now the problem: When we took the truck for alignment, the front tires are both toed out - about 1.75 inches on the passenger and 1 inch on the drivers side. The tie rod ends are completely turned in without any more threads available. We thought Rock Auto sent the wrong tie rod ends at first, but my son went to two different parts stores and measured the ones we have against their stock - all were identical in length (we even tried the ones from WJ's and Wranglers...the lengths are all the same with only small differences in diameter). When I retrieved the old ones from the scrap pile - they are both 1.5 inches shorter in overall length but the thread end length is still the same length @ 2.5 inches  - meaning the neck of the ball joints are different. We can find NONE that are the length of the old parts.


Then, we checked the 87 MJ's setup. The tie rod sleeve is 36" on both axles, and the tie rod ends are the same part number as the ones we received for the 99! That vehicle still has about .5 of threads available for adjustments.


How can this be? The knuckles are identical on both trucks... the ONLY difference is the axle on the 87 is 2WD and the 99 is 4WD...the hub is different but that is it (we had already rebuilt the axle on the 87...I went back and checked part numbers - they are all the same but the hubs).


We finally found a tie rod sleeve at O'Reilly's for (no specific year) Jeep XJ that measures 34 inches long but the salesperson could not explain why that exists as all the others we have are 36 inches...


Has anyone had a problem such as this? There are no marks or part numbers whatsoever on the old tie rod ends to identify them.



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The toe should be identical on the passenger and driver side. I'm guessing the shop didn't get the truck on the rack correctly.


In regards to the tierod and TRE's, that is baffling. I can't help but wonder if the draglink's tierod mounting point was placed too far up from the manufacture. This would position the tierod further to the driver side.

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Early tie rods are different from later tie rods

I haven't measured them but it sounds like you have different generations of parts mixed together.


I always keep the tie rods together as a set,

either all old style, or all new style.

The axle doesn't care as long as they are a set

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Is the new draglink identical in length to the old draglink?

No. With the ends turned all the way in, the total length center-to-center was 2 inches longer. However - the total length with the new ends is identical to the bar on the 87MJ. The mystery here is where the old (original) ends came from, as they do not seem to match any vendor's stock.


Ryan went to O'Reilly's and purchased the new MOOG drag link sleeve today and it does measure 34.68 inches long. When he installed the MOOG tie rod ends into it and put it on the truck, the toe changed to IN by 3.0 inches (total)!!!?


Help me with the math: First, we had a 36.0 inch sleeve with the tie rod ends turned in all the way, and it was toe OUT by (total) 2.75 inches. Second we have a 34.68 inch sleeve with the tie rods turned all the way in and its toe IN by (total) 3.0 inches. We reduced overall length by (approximately) 1.25 inches, and received an overall angle (horizontal plane) change of 5.75 inches?!?


I am stumped, but at least they can now get a straight alignment on the front end.....

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I'd guess that the tie rod hole on the drag link is in a different location old vs new,

and it needs the matching tie rod sleeve.


I've put newer tie rod sets on older axles in full sets, but never tried it piecemeal.

Either way, sounds like you solved it.

Good luck with the father son project :yes:

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Actually Don, Ryan did just that but used two 8 foot 2x6's down the side of the truck. Measured behind the rear tires from board edge to board edge, then measured at the front before and after the tire.. By the lack of marks on the new drag link it appears the shop didn't have to move it at all! :thumbsup:


Thanks for all your comments!

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I've found that most shops suck! My stepdad was a front end specialist for 20 years. And he swears by the tape measure method on all jeep xj, tj, and mj's.


The result, 50,000 on my last set of mud tired on my LJ. Mj currently has 15k and barely showing wear. Find a way to get it toed in slightly and never go back to a shop that can't align a rig on their first try. A lot of shops can't find the only bolt in a box if fit isn't stock and they can't call oreilys

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I had a similar issue when I did my 4x4 front end install with new steering parts. They werent Moog, though. They were improperly machined froim the factory and wouldnt allow proper steering movement. I had to swap them out for another set to get it right.

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Just saw your last reply. Only use measurements off your front end, like hornbrods photo

I am not doubting you, (as you obviously know more about aligning front ends with your dad's experiences and your own)...but please explain what problems are inherent in the board method I used? It did provide a fairly accurate toe setting...


or.... were we just lucky?

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Well, my .02 cents.

The rear while it need to be inline or aligned to forward motion has no correlation to the front end. It's actually narrower then the from on many vehicles so that alone could throw you off when measuring.


The front end should be measured alone. Who using a tape alone or a the method hornbrod showed you need to make sure that the flat edges your using are sitting on similarly placed lugs or spots on the tire. This is because being on a lug on the left and off the mud lugs on the the right can really throw off your measurements.


Additionally with the front end in regards to "toe" , your only concern is that the front of the tires and the rear of the tires are parallel to each other so your measuring the difference between the front and the rear. After getting close, most front end guys will recommend you toe then inward slightly on our front ends, and most for that matter.and when I do it with a tape I usually look for at least 1/4 of an inch when running mud tires. I do this because with tire maker build mud terrain they typically are not as perfect as a standard road tire on as a passenger car.


I just reread your post and realized you were not measuring off the rear axles, but past it, using longer boards. If that's the case you were good to go. May be overkill with that length. And I own a sawmill, and boards are not exactly straight so it can throw things off using but it sounds like it worked out fine for you

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