Feels like I'm driving on jelly


Hughesy

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Oct 9, 2020
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Brisbane, Australia.
So ever since I bought my TJ its felt really wobbly (not at speed, not death wobble), just like floppy and loose over bumps and around corners. I still have never been in another TJ so have no idea what they're supposed to feel like haha. Bought the only one I could get my hands on where I lived at the time. Got a great price and was never meant to be a daily driver anyway.

So yeah I got the thing cheap and knew I'd be in for some work, and am finally getting around to it. This is what i've noticed whilst driving:

-Bounces a bit after a corner
-Rolls into and out of corners a lot
-Theres a loud audible click from the passenger side front corner on any bumpy cornering (any ideas what this could be??)
-Rattles and bounces unevenly going over bumps

This is what I've noticed while having a look and a feel underneath the tj:

-rear sway bar is loose (bolts are tight but bushings are old)
-all sway bar link bushings are perished and old....also has a 3" lift but stock sway bar links all round :/
-control arms all seem solid and don't move or rattle (but likely have never been replace (2005 MY)
-all the tie rod ends and drag link ends are looking pretty squashed (so assuming the ball joints are also average).
-steering damper/stabilizer is old and rotten

Haven't checked the suspension rubbers (don't know how yet, away at work).

I basically have planned to replace all of the rubber suspension/steering parts, starting with the control arms and then the sway bars, but before I do can anyone point me in the direction of anything else I need to check?

Also if you were diagnosing and fixing this issue, where would you start?

Cheers,
 

jmbstudios

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Dec 15, 2020
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ARIZONA
I'd say it's a broken stereo.

J/K

Sounds like you have found some issues already.
I'm sure the suggestion would be to video a dry steering test. And pics of the underneath components.
The folks around here will be able to watch that and help you out.

My only suggestion is new shocks.
But I'm a musician, not a mechanic.
 

TWiG01

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If it was my Jeep, and you can see that much wear at a glance, I would probably overhaul the whole steering system and then replace the shocks and and any other worn bushings, end links, etc. Followed by an alignment. The clicking could be a A lot of things. Check your u joints.
 

Goatman

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Sounds like a new steering setup is needed. Soup to Nuts. Look into a ZJ 1 ton steering upgrade.
Having the antisway bar sloping around can definitely make it feel unstable (because it is).
Steering, brakes, antisway bar are the most important parts of a vehicle. Even tho I didn't have any "bad" issues when I got mine I still went and replaced all those parts as soon as I got it. Safety on the road is paramount. Especially when in winter conditions. Get those straightened out and then zero in on the rest.👍
 

RMETeeJay

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Sounds like a new steering setup is needed. Soup to Nuts. Look into a ZJ 1 ton steering upgrade.
Having the antisway bar sloping around can definitely make it feel unstable (because it is).
Steering, brakes, antisway bar are the most important parts of a vehicle. Even tho I didn't have any "bad" issues when I got mine I still went and replaced all those parts as soon as I got it. Safety on the road is paramount. Especially when in winter conditions. Get those straightened out and then zero in on the rest.👍
This is great advice.

Based on the symptoms you describe, I'd start with making sure all of your sway bar rubber is new and tight.

Next, grease all suspension components.

Finally, do a dry steer test and use that to inform your next steps instead of replacing everything.

If the shocks look stock/old, ask yourself if you're going to do a lift and/or add heavier items (bumpers, winch, big spare, rack, etc) to the vehicle before deciding on which model to get.
 

JEEPCJTJ

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This is what I've noticed while having a look and a feel underneath the tj:

-rear sway bar is loose (bolts are tight but bushings are old)
-all sway bar link bushings are perished and old....also has a 3" lift but stock sway bar links all round :/
Using my English I see "perished and old" as being almost the same thing and referring to the rubber parts being cracked or ripped, but not what happens to anything made of metal. Whether or not our English matches perfectly, the lift probably did help to wear out the metal parts AND the rubber parts related to the stock sway bar so I'd do this before anything else:

I'd replace all the sway bar related stuff and the shocks. The shocks will help with the previously mentioned bouncing and with all new sway bar parts that may be enough to turn your jelly into jam. Rancho RS5000X shocks seem to be the most popular around here.


-all the tie rod ends and drag link ends are looking pretty squashed (so assuming the ball joints are also average).
If "squashed" is referring what the rubber looks like, as long as they aren't cracked, ripped or missing they're still doing their job. Even if they are doing their job though, everything they are protecting should be pushed/pulled/twisted/etc. to see if those parts are worn out and loose. Push/pull/twist the track bars too. Checking and replacing any of that would be next on my list after a test drive of the sway bar stuff and shocks even if the test drive showed a huge improvement.


-steering damper/stabilizer is old and rotten
A new steering damper always looks better and may help a little bit. I don't know what kind to suggest but IIRC you don't want anything fancy, just a basic stock replacement.


-control arms all seem solid and don't move or rattle (but likely have never been replace (2005 MY)...

Haven't checked the suspension rubbers (don't know how yet, away at work).
We don't know what kind of lift kit or how long it's been installed. Even if the control arms "have never been replaced" as long as they "all seem solid and don't move or rattle" they're probably OK. Checking the suspension rubbers would take some effort. Basically removing each control arm and checking that the bushings are still round with the bolt hole centered and no rips, tears or twists in the rubber. I wouldn't worry about any of that unless nothing else fixes your jelly issues.
 

AndyG

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That's one you will probably end up going all the way through it...it is roached underneath.

Not saying everything has to be replaced,. But there will be some "while I'm at it " opportunities as you do it...there are around 40 bushings under one , and I would really watch the rear control arm bushings as well ..you may have rear steer
 
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Gunnersmate

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Lads. Great info, thanks for the advice. Will have a proper look this weekend and report back with findings, pics and videos.

Keep your eyes peeled. 🥔
Rebuilt my entire front and rear suspensions do to poor handling, steering or broken / damaged or missing components here is the list, your needs may vary.
Ball Joints Dana Spicer
Tires - (worn front from bad Ball Joints)
Lower Control Arm Brackets - Bent welded new ones on axle
Control Arms - one bent replaced all stock Control Arms with Adj Control arms
Unit Bearing - Had the axle torn down replaced both because it was apart already
U-Joints - Had the axle torn down replaced both because it was apart already
Ball Joint Tools - had to purchase to put in BJs
Rear sway bar - was missing when I purchased the Jeep
Front Axle Seals - Easy to do because I had front Axle apart for new new bearings ect
Coil Springs and Shocks - Coil springs were trash and shocks were cheap went with OME
Johnny Joints Upper - Rubber Control Arm Bushings on top of front diff were junk replaced with these JJ
Brake Dust Shields - missing when I purchased the Jeep
Unit Bearing Bolts - did not want to re-use old hardware
Paint and Sand Blasting - well I spent all this money fixing all the worn out stuff and wanted shining like a diamond in a goats ass
JKS Bushings for front quick detach sway bar link - Poly bushing were worn-out
Sway Bar Bushings and Brackets - rubber one were worn out
Tie Rod Ends - Probably good but replaced anyway
Caster Bolts - Had to cut them off
Bump Stops and Coil Spring Isolators - again more rubber stuff that was worn out
Rear Axle Seals and Bearings - Had Axle seal Leak
Front and Rear disc brake Pads and Rotors and Parking Brake Shoes - The old stuff was worn out
Misc Metric Hardware
Rearened Oil
Front Diff Ring and Pinion rebuild - Had it apart for axle seals went all the way probably did not need it but its new now
Parking Brake - Junked from axle seal leaks
Front Driveshaft - slip Joint was seized ordered a new one

It drives, handles and rides so much better now, that it is fun to drive, before it was a make the sign of the cross, white knuckle, death trap
 
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Goatman

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Holy 💩 Gunnersmate! Add floormats to that list and you just built an entire Jeep.😉 Is is unlikely that OP's Jeep will require all of that list, but it is indeed possible. (Unlikely).
Do the dry steer test before you pump it full of grease. The grease can temporarily make a joint that has some slop in it feel as if it is in ok shape when it really doesn't. I live up in NY where the salt is spread often in the winter. So my general rule is (for a Jeep) to replace all the steering parts and pieces that are corroded up. They are cheap. Around $100 if I remember correctly. They will now be easy to install, easy to adjust, and now easy to maintain. Shocks, almost guaranteed to need replacement too. Again, at $50/piece is cheap insurance. The rubber for the antisway bars is cheap too (don't get polyurethane) and easy to do. End links? See if you actually need them. Tho important, not super critical at first. Ball joints, wheel bearings, again, inspect carefully and replace as needed. Go with Mopar ball joints is all I've heard on the forums. For the steering bits I like Moog. They are popular here too. You can do your own alignment. Ad good as a shop can do.

Once at this point you can take a breath and now start to evaluate the rest of your Jeep to see what is needed. Control arms, even when questionable can hold up for a bit. Track bar is higher up on the list. Pull it and check the bushings. They are pretty easy to replace or do the whole bar if you want (go adjustable for a spring lift).
Pictures (clear and well lit) can help us diagnose other problems you may have. Don't get discouraged by all these parts. They are generally inexpensive and will last many years for you.
 
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Gunnersmate

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Holy 💩 Gunnersmate! Add floormats to that list and you just built an entire Jeep.😉 Is is unlikely that OP's Jeep will require all of that list, but it is indeed possible. (Unlikely).
Do the dry steer test before you pump it full of grease. The grease can temporarily make a joint that has some slop in it feel as if it is in ok shape when it really doesn't. I live up in NY where the salt is spread often in the winter. So my general rule is (for a Jeep) to replace all the steering parts and pieces that are corroded up. They are cheap. Around $100 if I remember correctly. They will now be easy to install, easy to adjust, and now easy to maintain. Shocks, almost guaranteed to need replacement too. Again, at $50/piece is cheap insurance. The rubber for the antisway bars is cheap too (don't get polyurethane) and easy to do. End links? See if you actually need them. Tho important, not super critical at first. Ball joints, wheel bearings, again, inspect carefully and replace as needed. Go with Mopar ball joints is all I've heard on the forums. For the steering bits I like Moog. They are popular here too. You can do your own alignment. Ad good as a shop can do.

Once at this point you can take a breath and now start to evaluate the rest of your Jeep to see what is needed. Control arms, even when questionable can hold up for a bit. Track bar is higher up on the list. Pull it and check the bushings. They are pretty easy to replace or do the whole bar if you want (go adjustable for a spring lift).
Pictures (clear and well lit) can help us diagnose other problems you may have. Don't get discouraged by all these parts. They are generally inexpensive and will last many years for you.
Its Just my list he may want to check those items for wear and replace as needed also I only paid 3k for my jeep I had a lot of room to work with and still stay in the black and also I tend to go above and beyond when I take things apart to fix because I despise doing it twice
 
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Gunnersmate

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Holy 💩 Gunnersmate! Add floormats to that list and you just built an entire Jeep.😉 Is is unlikely that OP's Jeep will require all of that list, but it is indeed possible. (Unlikely).
Do the dry steer test before you pump it full of grease. The grease can temporarily make a joint that has some slop in it feel as if it is in ok shape when it really doesn't. I live up in NY where the salt is spread often in the winter. So my general rule is (for a Jeep) to replace all the steering parts and pieces that are corroded up. They are cheap. Around $100 if I remember correctly. They will now be easy to install, easy to adjust, and now easy to maintain. Shocks, almost guaranteed to need replacement too. Again, at $50/piece is cheap insurance. The rubber for the antisway bars is cheap too (don't get polyurethane) and easy to do. End links? See if you actually need them. Tho important, not super critical at first. Ball joints, wheel bearings, again, inspect carefully and replace as needed. Go with Mopar ball joints is all I've heard on the forums. For the steering bits I like Moog. They are popular here too. You can do your own alignment. Ad good as a shop can do.

Once at this point you can take a breath and now start to evaluate the rest of your Jeep to see what is needed. Control arms, even when questionable can hold up for a bit. Track bar is higher up on the list. Pull it and check the bushings. They are pretty easy to replace or do the whole bar if you want (go adjustable for a spring lift).
Pictures (clear and well lit) can help us diagnose other problems you may have. Don't get discouraged by all these parts. They are generally inexpensive and will last many years for you.
Also I listed the reason why I replaced these parts worn, leaking, broken or missing or just because I had it apart and it was goodtime to do it. Frontend shop quoted nearly 2k for Ball Joints, Tie Rod Ends and alignment, so I did it all myself plus the extras for abount an extra grand or so
 
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Hughesy

Hughesy

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Oct 9, 2020
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40
Location
Brisbane, Australia.
Holy 💩 Gunnersmate! Add floormats to that list and you just built an entire Jeep.😉 Is is unlikely that OP's Jeep will require all of that list, but it is indeed possible. (Unlikely).
Do the dry steer test before you pump it full of grease. The grease can temporarily make a joint that has some slop in it feel as if it is in ok shape when it really doesn't. I live up in NY where the salt is spread often in the winter. So my general rule is (for a Jeep) to replace all the steering parts and pieces that are corroded up. They are cheap. Around $100 if I remember correctly. They will now be easy to install, easy to adjust, and now easy to maintain. Shocks, almost guaranteed to need replacement too. Again, at $50/piece is cheap insurance. The rubber for the antisway bars is cheap too (don't get polyurethane) and easy to do. End links? See if you actually need them. Tho important, not super critical at first. Ball joints, wheel bearings, again, inspect carefully and replace as needed. Go with Mopar ball joints is all I've heard on the forums. For the steering bits I like Moog. They are popular here too. You can do your own alignment. Ad good as a shop can do.

Once at this point you can take a breath and now start to evaluate the rest of your Jeep to see what is needed. Control arms, even when questionable can hold up for a bit. Track bar is higher up on the list. Pull it and check the bushings. They are pretty easy to replace or do the whole bar if you want (go adjustable for a spring lift).
Pictures (clear and well lit) can help us diagnose other problems you may have. Don't get discouraged by all these parts. They are generally inexpensive and will last many years for you.
Hey thanks man this is really helpful and reassuring haha. I wish I had access to the kind of prices you guys do in the states, but hey I guess I knew what I was getting myself into buying a US car on the other side of the world. Still love the thing, can't wait until it rides right.
 
OP
Hughesy

Hughesy

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Brisbane, Australia.

It drives, handles and rides so much better now, that it is fun to drive, before it was a make the sign of the cross, white knuckle, death trap
Mate this was also really helpful! Lol at that last line though, i reckon if half of you jumped into my jeep you would be holding on for dear life. So shameful! Thanks again. Dry steering test coming up this weekend.
 

Gunnersmate

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Id get the sway bars right first, then all the rubber stuff sway bar bushings, Control arm bushings, Coil Spring Isolator pads they are between the upper coil springs bucket and the top of the coil spring, good shocks, check the tires for pressure, cupping, bulging, and bad tread wear, also check your pinion/caster set -up if yours is adj that will make the steering feel really washed out, track bar is another item to pay close attention too. there is a really good thread on DIY front end alignment for a jeep. Once you have the Pinion/Caster set up the only thing left is toe in/out. That's pretty much the more inexpensive stuff, then off to ball joints and tie rods ect. Everyone will tell you to the Dry steering test and that's a good place to start first. but the rubber stuff is pretty perishable after a while. If you got a go-pro mount underneath and see what's going on
 
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Hughesy

Hughesy

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Brisbane, Australia.
Actually whilst I'm here. The jeep has a 3" lift, but stock sway bar links. This means the sway bars are poorly aligned right? Front is really obviously not good, the sway bar is tilted downwards pointing towards the rear of the car.

I'm not overly fussed about anything high-end, what I want is functional and not too expensive. Can i get away with sway bar links made for a 2" lift? Once i get into the 3-5" range it all gets very expensive.

Here are some pics I found on my phone that show my steering set up but I will get proper ones and a video this weekend.

Note: This is a RHD TJ! Weird!



Hughesy TJ Front Steering set-up.jpg


Hughesy TJ RHS Sway Bar Link.jpg


Hugheys TJ front end.jpg


Originally planned to leave it sitting with the bumpers off until I had done the majority of this work but ended up needing to drive it for a couple of weeks when my partners car broke down 🤦‍♂️