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  #1  
Old June 24th, 2022, 20:43
LHayward LHayward is offline
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XJ Tight Steering

Hello all, I'm new here and I have an issue that I need some opinions on.

Last month took my '99 XJ in for several new parts:

-drag link

-tie rod & ends

-upper and lower ball joints

-steering damper/stabilizer

-track bar


I bought a kit with all the parts and had a local suspension shop replace them since they were all original to the Jeep and pretty much every bolt was seized up and we don't have the tools to fight bolts like that. (as we found out with the nightmare we experienced while replacing the upper and lower control arms)

The shop also did an alignment after all the parts were replaced.

My issue is that now the steering feels really tight. Not *stiff* like I cannot make turns, but tight enough that the minor adjustments I make as I'm driving straight at any speed feel like the wheel wants to just stick in that direction, it's not as easy to re-center the wheel. I'm having to straighten myself out from every little turn of the wheel.

The steering box has not been touched.
The power steering pump does not whine or make any noises and there is plenty of fluid in the reservoir.

It's hard to compare it to its previous steering because the steering was so loose from all the old worn out parts.

I called the shop about it and the mechanic told me that it was "memory steer" from all the brand new parts and to give it a month or 2.
Well, it's been a month now and it's just as tight.

This is a reputable shop, they've been in business for a very long time, and in a small town a bad reputation would be well known, so I do not feel like he is lying to me, but this just seems odd to be so tight for this long.

All the parts are sealed, so they would have been pre-greased, but I still went around to all the boots and tried to spray a little silicone grease into them.
Nothing has helped.

Is this completely normal?

I've read on other forums that some ball joints need some breaking in time, or that perhaps the caster is still actually off.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.
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  #2  
Old June 25th, 2022, 08:42
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Tim_MN Tim_MN is offline
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Re: XJ Tight Steering

Normal. Should feel fine in a few thousand miles.
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  #3  
Old June 25th, 2022, 10:21
Unclewolverine Unclewolverine is offline
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Re: XJ Tight Steering

Or your clock spring may have broken and is getting bound. Disconnect the coupler at the box and try turning it, that will tell you if the bind is before or after the box. If the wheel turns free, then disconnect the drag link at the pitman arm and that will tell you if it's the box or not.
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  #4  
Old June 25th, 2022, 14:59
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Tim_MN Tim_MN is offline
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Re: XJ Tight Steering

Interesting speculations, but I would just drive it for a while and see what happens.
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  #5  
Old June 25th, 2022, 19:34
lawsoncl lawsoncl is offline
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Re: XJ Tight Steering

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unclewolverine View Post
Or your clock spring may have broken and is getting bound. Disconnect the coupler at the box and try turning it, that will tell you if the bind is before or after the box. If the wheel turns free, then disconnect the drag link at the pitman arm and that will tell you if it's the box or not.
Don't turn the disconnected steering more than normal, and make sure it's back in the same rotational position when you reconnect, otherwise you'll break the clockspring.
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  #6  
Old June 25th, 2022, 20:29
LHayward LHayward is offline
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Re: XJ Tight Steering

Thank you for the replies, but I don't see how the clock spring can suddenly be a problem when the only parts that were changed out or messed with were beyond the clockspring and steering box.

From other forums I've found, this seems to be a fairly common occurrence after the installation of such new parts, especially ball joints. The general consensus on those forums tend towards either caster being off, or just that the ball joints need to be worked out, ie, lots of miles or taking it off road for a day, but my Cherokee isn't lifted or equipped for such activities. It's only got a level kit that the previous owner installed so he could put ill-fitting tires on it and go horse around in a rock quarry. (He was a teenager, it was his first car) We are playing catch-up on all the neglected and abused parts. Everything we've replaced so far has been original parts.

I guess maybe that's what it boils down to?
Just keep driving it to loosen them up?

We live out in a rural area, so I can easily find some rough roads to go down to work them out a bit of that really would help. It's just not fun on the highway with such tight steering for any minor corrections at 70mph.
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  #7  
Old June 26th, 2022, 06:37
SlowXj SlowXj is offline
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XJ Tight Steering

For times sake just disconnect the drag link from the pitman. If it turns fine you know it's only due to the down stream parts .... if you want to refine the search for the "stiffness" reconnect the drag link and disconnect the title rod from the drag link. If it turns easy then you'll know it's only the driver knuckle. It is possible that the shop severely overtightened the ball joints I suppose.

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  #8  
Old June 26th, 2022, 08:27
RCP Phx RCP Phx is offline
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Re: XJ Tight Steering

Quote:
Originally Posted by LHayward View Post
Hello all, I'm new here and I have an issue that I need some opinions on.
Last month took my '99 XJ in for several new parts:
-drag link
-tie rod & ends
-upper and lower ball joints
-steering damper/stabilizer
-track bar

All the parts are sealed, so they would have been pre-greased, but I still went around to all the boots and tried to spray a little silicone grease into them.
That's hilarious but your first mistake was buying non-greasable parts!
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  #9  
Old June 27th, 2022, 13:07
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Rob Mayercik Rob Mayercik is offline
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Re: XJ Tight Steering

Quote:
Originally Posted by LHayward View Post
From other forums I've found, this seems to be a fairly common occurrence after the installation of such new parts, especially ball joints. The general consensus on those forums tend towards either caster being off, or just that the ball joints need to be worked out, ie, lots of miles or taking it off road for a day, but my Cherokee isn't lifted or equipped for such activities.
Just wanted to pop in and address this one bit here - you don't need to be lifted take your Cherokee off-road, I and many others have hit the trails with completely stock trucks over the years. You obviously can't do everything the modified ones can do, but what they're capable of bone-stock will surprise you.

The reason that you saw the suggestion to go off-road for a day was that doing so will cycle the suspension through its travel more frequently and more thoroughly than just cruising around on the street would do, and will get the new parts through the "break-in" period a bit quicker. I suppose you could find a parking lot with speedbumps in it and make a whole bunch of passes over them (both straight on and on an angle) to get a similar benefit to off-road, but it'd look really silly and wouldn't be near as much fun to do

As far as equipment, I'd say for a stock truck you really just need the following, so long as you're going with at least one other vehicle that has things like tow straps:

1. Full-size spare tire of the same diameter/size as the four on the axles
2. Jack and lug wrench (the OEM ones are fine, so long as they are in usable condition)
3. Fire Extinguisher
4. Cell Phone
5. At least one recovery point (tow hook, or trailer hitch)
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  #10  
Old June 28th, 2022, 10:02
LHayward LHayward is offline
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Re: XJ Tight Steering

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Mayercik View Post
Just wanted to pop in and address this one bit here - you don't need to be lifted take your Cherokee off-road, I and many others have hit the trails with completely stock trucks over the years. You obviously can't do everything the modified ones can do, but what they're capable of bone-stock will surprise you.
You're right, I did think of that too, these Cherokees are definitely capable of going off the beaten path with stock equipment. I suppose the person's use of the term to take it "wheelin' " is what made me think that that wasn't really an option for me.

We live out in a rural area, there are plenty of rough unpaved roads I can take her down to exercise those parts.

I appreciate the input.
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  #11  
Old June 29th, 2022, 22:41
xcm xcm is offline
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Re: XJ Tight Steering

Quote:
Originally Posted by SlowXj View Post
disconnect the drag link from the pitman. If it turns fine you know it's only due to the down stream parts .... if you want to refine the search for the "stiffness" reconnect the drag link and disconnect the title rod from the drag link. If it turns easy then you'll know it's only the driver knuckle.
This is so simple and brilliantů
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