Mechanics

WHAT DO I DO NEXT

1995 Jeep Grand Cherokee • 192 miles

I havea 1995 jeep grand cherokee laredo I have replaced tracking arm, pitman arm end, tie rod ends, control arm bushings, wheel bearing hub assembly, and the half shaft all on the drivers side yet when I hit a bump at 55 the whle left front end rattles all to heck and have to slow down to 30 befoire it stops only things I have not yet replaced on that side are ball joints, shocks, and struts I am at a loss as to where to go next
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Zarkotis
June 28, 2012.



Is that just the left side or the entire steering system? Do you have a steering damper? It looks like a shock absorber between the steering linkage and cross member.

Caradiodoc
Jun 28, 2012.
Ok replaced that but upon replacing that now it seems like thed right side is loose the whole pitman arm is rolling side to side now and I had replaced the front left side of it but more then likely I figure that the right side has loosened up from all the shaking and possibly messed the right side now too possible?

Tiny
Zarkotis
Jun 29, 2012.
With no punctuation I'm not sure how to read that but I do get that the pitman arm is loose. I can think of two things you could be referring to. The most common "loose" feeling is when the sector shaft is out-of-adjustment. You will be able to turn the steering wheel a noticeable amount before the slack is taken up and the steering linkage responds. Quickly moving the steering wheel side to side a few inches will produce no movement at all in the wheels. The sector shaft preload is adjustable with the screw and lock nut on top of the steering gearbox. You have to be very careful with that one and just go 1/8 turn at a time, then drive it. If you go too far, the steering will bind when you get close to centered, and that makes for miserable and irritating handling. The service manual spells out how to set that preload with a torque wrench but I've never had satisfactory results with that method.

There was a more common "loose" feeling on the '90s Dodge trucks caused by the pitman shaft bushing becoming hammered out creating a small gap between the bushing and shaft. That allowed the shaft to move sideways first when the steering wheel was turned, then once it reached the end of its travel, the shaft would begin to turn. You need a helper to identify that and the engine should be running. Have them quickly turn the steering wheel left and right a few inches as before, then watch very closely where the shaft comes out of the housing. If the bushing is worn you'll see that shaft move left and right a little. Seeing that can be tricky because if there is no play, the shaft will rotate back and forth a little and that can give the illusion of moving sideways. When excessive, that play can be as little as 1/64".

Both of those problems will cause excessive steering wander that you have to constantly correct for. Many people get used to the wander since it builds slowly over time so a common complaint with the pitman shaft bushing is a power steering fluid leak. A new seal won't solve that, at least not for long because the cause is the shaft moving away from the seal. The only fix for that is a rebuilt steering gearbox.

Also be aware that there is going to be a lot of play in the steering gearbox when the engine is off. That can make diagnosis misleading. That play is taken up with the pressurized power steering fluid.

Caradiodoc
Jun 29, 2012.
Ok i'm sorry that my puctuation was bad there. The deal is I have replaced now on the front of my 1995 jeep, grand cherokee, laredo the left side of the vehicle wheel bearing hub assembly, tracking arm, outer tie end, driver's side half shaft on the axle, now the steering dampener. After all this the pitman arm and inner tie rod arm on the right side now rolls from front to back. Anything over 40m.P.H. And the front end does as they call it the death rattle. Am hoping with the replacement of these two parts the problem is fixed because with all this the entire front suspension will have been replaced. All I can say is wow. So the question is; if this does not solve the problem where do I go from here?

Tiny
Zarkotis
Jun 30, 2012.
How are the swaybar links? And what about motor mounts? A combination of these will literaly take you off the road.

Tiny
Mikederouin88
Jun 30, 2012.
Anti-sway bar links will not cause this problem. Most older cars and trucks didn't even have them.

Caradiodoc
Jun 30, 2012.
Oops, missed one reply. What do you mean by "the pitman arm and inner tie rod arm on the right side now rolls from front to back"? If you mean you can grab it and rotate it, that is not only normal and correct, it is necessary so neither ball and socket binds when going up and down over bumps and when turning. If the person doing the alignment isn't paying attention, it is possible to have each ball and socket rotated a different way so that any movement during driving will cause them to bind.

Other than the steering damper, the track bar is the most common cause of that horrendous wobble. It had a very high failure rate on the Dodge trucks. I won't bore you with how to check it since you replaced it already. The Jeeps had less of a problem because if you look straight down, (or up), at the two control arms on each side, you'll see that they are not parallel. They form an "X". That prevents the front axle from wanting to shift left and right. On the Dodge trucks those arms are nearly parallel so there is nothing preventing the axle from moving sideways other than that track bar. Since the axle moves and the steering linkage doesn't, the relationship between them changes causing the wheels to turn. That results in very irritating wander but not the death wobble.

One reason the Jeeps can have more trouble is the "caster" is extremely high compared to other cars and trucks. Think of caster as the rake of the fork on a bicycle or motorcycle. The fork goes forward as it goes down. Higher caster provides more stability at higher speeds but it causes much harder steering. That is why they added power steering to offset that hard steering. Caster is also what causes the wheels to want to return to center by themselves after going around a corner. With real high caster, the wheels try so hard to come back to center that they overshoot and keep on going the other way, then come back again. Road forces on the tires perpetuate that oscillation. If you need another alignment, ask the mechanic to set the caster lower than specs to see if that helps. Caster has very little effect on tire wear. What little effect it does have will be reduced even more with lower caster.

Caster is measured in degrees. Most cars and trucks call for 2 - 4 degrees. Most Jeeps call for 8 - 11 degrees. Mercedes is the only other vehicle I'm familiar with that calls for that much.

If you have tires with aggressive tread or if they're larger or heavier than the original ones, you may need to add a second steering stabilizer. "Rancho" is one company I'm familiar with that makes the original replacement and the add-on kit.

One thing to not overlook is tight brakes. If you stop on a slight incline, shift to neutral, and release the brake, the vehicle should creep ahead on its own. You already know the wobble doesn't stop, in fact it gets worse if you apply the brakes at higher speeds. The same thing can happen if a caliper isn't fully releasing. With the vehicle jacked up you should be able to rotate either tire with one hand. If one seems too tight, feel the center of the wheel after driving 15 - 20 minutes. If it's cool, the brake tightness will diminish from bouncing down the road and is likely no cause for concern. If a tight caliper is related to the problem, the wheel center will feel hot.

I should probably ask too since you didn't mention it, you did have it aligned after replacing parts, right? Did they give you a printout showing the readings?

Caradiodoc
Jun 30, 2012.
Ok update I have replaced the entire front suspension from left to right minus ball joints and passenger side half shaft. It still feels like its on the left side or drivers side shakes all to heck when hit a bump at anything above 40 m.P.H. I have not as of yet had it aligned no but as I took each tie rod end or tie rod off I marked each new one to the precise spot the old one was screwed into. That might not make a difference or maybe it doesn't mean that it doesn't need aligned i'm just very confused at the moment. I even replaced the shock absorber on the pitman arm to no avail of solving the issue. Once again I am definately no mechanic except for as you would call it back yard mechanic. I Just don't know.

Tiny
Zarkotis
Jul 1, 2012.
Oh and the Jeep has 197,000 miles on it I couldn't get that to go into the miles area coreectly or for some reason messed it up.

Tiny
Zarkotis
Jul 1, 2012.
Real popular misconception even among mechanics who aren't experienced in alignments. It is absolutely impossible to set the new tie rod ends correctly by any means other than an alignment computer. You were right to measure but that only will get you close. First of all, no two tie rod ends are exactly the same length, and they don't have their threads cut exactly the same, so counting the number of turns will only get you in the ball park. Measuring between two points is not accurate because the tapered stud can be tilted a lot throwing that measurement off. The third problem is that turning the outer tie rod 1/8th of a turn is a major adjustment that can take total toe from perfect to far out of specs along with causing tire wear.

The best you can do is to start with good tire wear patterns and a straight steering wheel, then replace just one part, then go out and drive it. Stop on the side of the road with a handful of tools and readjust just that one part until the steering wheel is straight again. That is what I did on my '88 Grand Caravan daily driver about 8 years ago when I replaced the first front end part at 207,000 miles. That was the right outer tie rod end. Last fall I replaced the left one and adjusted it the same way, but by that time I had ground off two pairs of used tires. The total toe specification for my van is 1/16" plus or minus 1/16" for perfect tire wear. The toe can be off by almost 1/2" on one wheel before you will notice that by the steering wheel being crooked. That 1/2 " is barely enough to notice but will just about have smoke coming off the tires from sliding sideways down the road. That's equal to about half a turn on the tie rod.

Eyeballing and measuring won't get you close to good tire wear. For most vehicles that will get you close enough for decent handling, but we aren't talking about a lightweight passenger car. We're talking about a truck that has a rather tough steering and suspension system but the trade-off is handling and comfort.

Once you replaced a second part, regardless if it was right away with the first one or if you did it later as I did, there is absolutely no way to know if the alignment is close without an alignment computer. You may have solved the problem already and just need the alignment to finish the job. If total toe is off enough, the vehicle is going to follow the tire with the most weight on it and that changes every time a tire hits a bump or pot hole in the road. With each little bump the truck will dart one way or the other and that can set up the wobble. You will not fix that by adjusting tire pressures, but you might notice a change in the characteristics of that wobble. Tire pressures affect how the tread contacts and sticks to the road. Sometimes changing pressures provides a clue that the alignment is related to the problem.

When you take it in for an alignment, the mechanic is going to perform a basic inspection if you don't give him any history or other information. Instead, once he knows you replaced parts, he will look a little closer to be sure everything looks okay. Next, when you tell him about the wobble, he's going to spend a little more time checking the things that can cause that. You might also request that he lower caster a little, but some mechanics get an attitude when customers tell them what to do, even competent do-it-yourselfers. If you should get someone with an attitude, that's his problem, not yours, so just make the request and we'll see how it turns out.

Caradiodoc
Jul 1, 2012.
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