Removing Pitman Arm and Reducing Wander

TrueChar

New Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2021
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11
Location
Michigan
Good Evening,

I purchased my first TJ a couple weeks ago, and it has an annoying amount of steering wander at 50 plus. I had some work done to it to try and resolve this, and it's a little better but still very uncomfortable over 50.

Recently done:
-Tie Rod Ends (Inner and Outer)
-Ball Joints
-Alignment
-New Shocks

About the Jeep:
-Told it was a 4" Sus lift with 2" Body lift
-Stock control arms (I know this can contribute to the sway)
-Dropped Pitman arm
-I'm not sure if the track bar mount is considered a "dropped mount"
-Looks to have about 5-6 degrees of positive caster, please see the photo.

My question/questions:
After reading other forums, I want to remove the dropped pitman arm in hopes it resolves most of the swaying, and make the jeep more comfortable to ride on the freeway (I understand lifted Jeeps drive differently, but this is ridiculous and exhausting). However, does the track bar mount look like it would be dropped too much that it would cause more issues with an OEM pitman arm? If I do remove the aftermarket bracket, would the drilled hole left over from the bracket cause an issue down the road (integrity wise)? If so, what's the best way to repair the hole, could i just put a bolt back in the spot?

I plan on doing the control arms eventually, but am hoping just replacing the pitman arm will resolve most of this issue.

Side question:
What in the world is going on with the two front shocks on the steering linkage? I've never seen it before, would this contribute to the Jeep wandering all over the road?

Thank you

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Man, there is a lot going on with that steering. Looks like a drop bracket on the frame side track bar, weird attachment spot for the axle end (it normally goes in the hole above that is empty), drop pitman arm possibly?

I’m not familiar with that exact setup but it seems counter intuitive to drop the axle side of the trackbar.

Hopefully more knowledgeable people than me can help out.
 
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Man, there is a lot going on with that steering. Looks like a drop bracket on the frame side track bar, weird attachment spot for the axle end (it normally goes in the hole above that is empty), drop pitman arm possibly?

I’m not familiar with that exact setup but it seems counter intuitive to drop the axle side of the trackbar.

Hopefully more knowledgeable people than me can help out.

His track bar is in the right spot, on the axle side. That empty hole is where the single steering damper should connect.


Good Evening,

I purchased my first TJ a couple weeks ago, and it has an annoying amount of steering wander at 50 plus. I had some work done to it to try and resolve this, and it's a little better but still very uncomfortable over 50.

Recently done:
-Tie Rod Ends (Inner and Outer)
-Ball Joints
-Alignment
-New Shocks

About the Jeep:
-Told it was a 4" Sus lift with 2" Body lift
-Stock control arms (I know this can contribute to the sway)
-Dropped Pitman arm
-I'm not sure if the track bar mount is considered a "dropped mount"
-Looks to have about 5-6 degrees of positive caster, please see the photo.

My question/questions:
After reading other forums, I want to remove the dropped pitman arm in hopes it resolves most of the swaying, and make the jeep more comfortable to ride on the freeway (I understand lifted Jeeps drive differently, but this is ridiculous and exhausting). However, does the track bar mount look like it would be dropped too much that it would cause more issues with an OEM pitman arm? If I do remove the aftermarket bracket, would the drilled hole left over from the bracket cause an issue down the road (integrity wise)? If so, what's the best way to repair the hole, could i just put a bolt back in the spot?

I plan on doing the control arms eventually, but am hoping just replacing the pitman arm will resolve most of this issue.

Side question:
What in the world is going on with the two front shocks on the steering linkage? I've never seen it before, would this contribute to the Jeep wandering all over the road?

Thank you

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On a four inch lift, there isn't any reason for a dropped pitman. However, you also have a dropped track bar, so it's in better shape than most lifts with a dropped pitman.

When you say it wanders, do you mean it moves around when hitting bumps? Or is there a lot of play in the steering wheel? A trackbar that is not parallel or the same length as the drag link will cause bump steer. You'll feel the Jeep and the steering wheel wanting to move when you hit bumps. The bigger the bump, the worse the bump steer.

You might have some worn out bushings too. A dry steering test will help identify that. Get a helper to turn the steering wheel back and forth, while you watch the linkages and joints for movement. You're looking for movement that is "extra.". For instance, if you notice the pitman arm moves with out immediately making the drag link move, chance are good you have a bad TRE in the pitman arm.
 
His track bar is in the right spot, on the axle side. That empty hole is where the single steering damper should connect.




On a four inch lift, there isn't any reason for a dropped pitman. However, you also have a dropped track bar, so it's in better shape than most lifts with a dropped pitman.

When you say it wanders, do you mean it moves around when hitting bumps? Or is there a lot of play in the steering wheel? A trackbar that is not parallel or the same length as the drag link will cause bump steer. You'll feel the Jeep and the steering wheel wanting to move when you hit bumps. The bigger the bump, the worse the bump steer.

You might have some worn out bushings too. A dry steering test will help identify that. Get a helper to turn the steering wheel back and forth, while you watch the linkages and joints for movement. You're looking for movement that is "extra.". For instance, if you notice the pitman arm moves with out immediately making the drag link move, chance are good you have a bad TRE in the pitman arm.
It wanders most of the time and I have to constantly give steering input, there isn't a ton of play but what you would expect with it being a 98. It doesn't help when I hit bumps for sure, it seems to be slightly enhanced after I go over a larger bump or dip in the road. For example, when I finally get it going straight I can hit a bump and it gets loose and squirrelly all over again until i focus hard enough to keep it steady. I hope that helps.
 
It wanders most of the time and I have to constantly give steering input, there isn't a ton of play but what you would expect with it being a 98. It doesn't help when I hit bumps for sure, it seems to be slightly enhanced after I go over a larger bump or dip in the road. For example, when I finally get it going straight I can hit a bump and it gets loose and squirrelly all over again until i focus hard enough to keep it steady. I hope that helps.
If it was me, I'd start with the dry steer test. It sounds like you have some worn out components. I also think you're getting bump steer. Try to fix one thing at a time though. Look for the worn out stuff first. Get that replaced and see what happens.

I'd bet you're still going to get bump steer, but at least you'll be able to control it better.
 
His track bar is in the right spot, on the axle side. That empty hole is where the single steering damper should connect.




On a four inch lift, there isn't any reason for a dropped pitman. However, you also have a dropped track bar, so it's in better shape than most lifts with a dropped pitman.

When you say it wanders, do you mean it moves around when hitting bumps? Or is there a lot of play in the steering wheel? A trackbar that is not parallel or the same length as the drag link will cause bump steer. You'll feel the Jeep and the steering wheel wanting to move when you hit bumps. The bigger the bump, the worse the bump steer.

You might have some worn out bushings too. A dry steering test will help identify that. Get a helper to turn the steering wheel back and forth, while you watch the linkages and joints for movement. You're looking for movement that is "extra.". For instance, if you notice the pitman arm moves with out immediately making the drag link move, chance are good you have a bad TRE in the pitman arm.
Oops! Right. Thank you.
 
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Rotate the tires see if its in the tread wear
Check all your control arm bushings 8 in all 4 uppers 4 lowers
you may have some track bar / pit arm relationship issues Mr Blaine is the guru in that dept
dual stabilizer are not required from what I ve read on this forum
Check your front drive shaft make sure the slip joint is not seized up mine was and that cause major issues
do the dry run steering test
 
I would get rid of that steering stabilizer and put a stock one back on.

I would also remove the drop pitman arm and the track bar bracket.

You want to get your caster up to 5.5, which will require adjustable arms

What is the rear thrust angle at?

I was having a very similar issue with mine. I had it up on the rack numerous times tweaking it.

Once I removed the drop pitman arm and trackbar bracket.....the vehicle handled like a totally different animal.
 
From what i have been told on this forum the left hand track bar mount needs to be lowered the SAME amount as the lift.
From the photos it doesn't look like a 4" drop from stock.
The dual stabilizers seem more than a little weird also.
Going to a no drop pitman arm is the path forward.
But hey, on the bright side I appreciate the many photos of the front end, and from the icicles you were
freezing your butt off while washing and taking photos!:ROFLMAO:
 
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Rotate the tires see if its in the tread wear
Check all your control arm bushings 8 in all 4 uppers 4 lowers
you may have some track bar / pit arm relationship issues Mr Blaine is the guru in that dept
dual stabilizer are not required from what I ve read on this forum
Check your front drive shaft make sure the slip joint is not seized up mine was and that cause major issues
do the dry run steering test
Mr. Blaine? Is he a member of this forum? (The only member is Blaine and he is not very active.)
 
Ok...

The dual stabilizers were used as a band aid for what you're describing.
It probably helps tame the wandering some but this isn't the answer.

You have a drop bracket for track bar. Therefore you need a drop Pitman arm.

Before you do anything whatsoever...have a helper steer jeep left and right just a few inches. WATCH every single joint including the spline area of pitman, the track bar, all the rods, drag link. With helper steering and jeep on solid ground (not running) and bad joint you will see.
Do not rush this. Pay close attention to each one. One bad fitting will create wander. Two will be sawing at the wheel. Three...Fuhgetaboutit.


Now talk about your tire conditions.
Weirdly worn tires can create havoc. Extremely wide tires grab every high/lo spot on the road...

Looking at the front end though I'd focus on that...and it's a mess.

Check those joints. Bet you have some slop.
 
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Thank you everyone for your help!

Tires are in pretty good shape, they are 33x12.5x15 and not the ones in my profile picture. I'm currently running them at 26 ish PSI.

I would like to remove the bracket and the pitman arm, but will the remaining drilled hole in the stock mount cause any issues down the road integrity wise? or am I good to just remove the bracket and install the adjustable control arm in the stock mount?

Definitely cold here in Michigan this week, but I wanted some good photos because I know this forum works better with photos.
 
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When I see dual steering stabilizers like that, it tells me someone had some steering or death wobble issues they were trying to fix. Like others have stated a great way to check for steering issues is the dry steer test. Have a buddy/significant other/well trained monkey turn the wheel back and forth while you look underneath for play in any of the steering components. Get a big pry bar and check for play in the control arms and other front end bushings.
 
That looks like some half-azzed drop bracket.
You can remove the track bar drop bracket and replace with an adjustable one that will bolt through the hole you are worried about. BUT you will need to lose the drop pitman arm at the same time.
You seriously need to do a dry steering test on this rig. I suspect a lot of problems will show up.
How married are you to this lift? Or even to this Jeep? From the looks of it, it's probably in pretty rough shape in more than just the steering. But we're here now, so let's get it straightened out.
Going to a ZJ 1 ton steering upgrade will help with getting some new parts under there. And new is easy to make work. I personally like Moog parts. And they aren't overpriced either.

Is this your daily driver or a project vehicle for you? And how good are you at turning a wrench? I don't mean any offense but could you take some pics showing your frame rails from underneath and some of your rear suspension too? Is the Jeep nice and clean overall? How about rust? Helps us get a better understanding of the overall Jeep.
 
The jeep is my daily, and get washed almost daily depending on how much salt they decide to lay. Frame rails, body and most of the jeep is about 90% rust free. Very clean for it's age and being a TJ.

So far I have had ball joints, tie rod ends, shocks all replaced by a shop. Come to find out the shop doesn't seem to know much about these jeeps and wanted to just throw parts at it to quit the body sway. I decided to take a step back before throwing tons of cash at an issue I didn't understand (but am quickly learning about).

As for wrenching, I'm not a pro but I've redone entire steering systems in previous cars. Plenty of other wrenching to consider myself half way decent, and a quick learner. I plan to do most of the remaining repairs myself.

As for right now, I do plan to do perform the following in this order.
-Install single steering stabilizer (removing the weird dual stabilizer)
-Remove dropped pitman arm and track bar drop bracket.
-Install front upper and lower adjustable control arms (hopefully sooner than later)

It's a daily, but would like a weekend trail warrior as well.
 
Silly me. Thank you!
Anytime :)

On a side note, I noticed you're a Flagstaffer - Welcome aboard! The family and I are planning on relocating there in the Spring/Summer (we've been planning to relocate for ~1.5 years now, 15 years in the Valley is enough!) though the lack of solid options and fierce competition in our price range is remarkably high. There are a few cleared plots in the Mt Elden and Highlands area that we may start to focus our attention on as it seems that the most competition is on move-in-ready homes. Overall though, the market is bonkers - one of the houses we put an offer on was on the market for 3 days, got 25+ offers, including 2 cash offers for $50K over list price - it closed in 10 days at $55k over list price!
 
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Anytime :)

On a side note, I noticed you're a Flagstaffer - Welcome aboard! The family and I are planning on relocating there in the Spring/Summer (we've been planning to relocate for ~1.5 years now, 15 years in the Valley is enough!) though the lack of solid options and fierce competition in our price range is remarkably high. There are a few cleared plots in the Mt Elden and Highlands area that we may start to focus our attention on as it seems that the most competition is on move-in-ready homes. Overall though, the market is bonkers - one of the houses we put an offer on was on the market for 3 days, got 25+ offers, including 2 cash offers for $50K over list price - it closed in 10 days at $55k over list price!
Yes, we have lived in Flag for over 20 years. Love it in the north. And yes, the real estate market is insane here. There has been an increase from $225 a sqft., this time last year, to $350 - $450 per sqft.
 
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