Loose steering feels like it has play and drifts

SwissSteph

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I spoke with a guy at the dealership who definitely knows what he’s talking about. He’s actually the guy who did the YouTube video below. He said they fixed the toe and caster a bit and he also gave the steering box pinion a 1/4 turn to tighten (which he noted is not an FCA approved step but he noted it had worked better than anything FCA has recommended). I’ll pick her up on Monday and will report back.

Excellent video, many thanks to its author if he reads me! THANK YOU for these explanations and numerous tests ... made instead of FCA (in any case they do not bill by their efficiency to solve serious problems !).





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Robnfl

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That wouldn’t convince me either. Only a test drive comparing apples to apples would.
Unfortunately it looks like finding a wrangler on the lot that doesn't have steering play is rare. There was one Sahara on my local dealer's lot that didn't have any play. I finally had to have my service manager test drive mine in order for them to recognize the steering issue.
Even the loaner wrangler that they gave me had as much steering play as my JLU.

Just to be clear, when everyone says 1-3 inches of play, Is that measured standing still, or driving? In my JK, which drives just fine, when I am at highway speed I can quickly move the steering wheel back-and-forth about 1 to 1.5 inches...As long as I do it quickly and not too far, the vehicle still tracks straight if I go slower, I will swerve in the lane moderatel and the steering is more responsive.. So, my question is when we say play in the steering, what are the parameters at how it’s measured ?
I noticed the slack/play in my steering when driving on a straight road. The wheel can be moved about 1/2 each way, 1" total, and it will have zero effect on the direction that the jeep travels.

But, I think the best way to demonstrate the play is with the engine off and the steering wheel centered with wheels straight forward. Then move the steering wheel back and forth until you feel resistance, at that point the wheels will start to turn. I get the same result this way too, about 1" of steering wheel movement before the tires start to turn.

I did this same test on a '20 Sahara on the dealer's lot and there was zero play before the resistance was felt and the tires moved immediately.
 

JL Fan

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I’ve got a ‘19 JLU with 15K miles and have never noticed any play in the steering...highway or city.
 

c2m2h3

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I think it had more to do with the speed at which the wheel is turned back and forth..... If I quickly do it, while driving, and not too much....maybe 1/2 inch or a bit more in either direction back and forth quickly the Jeep seems to track straight. If I slow that movement down, it will swerve slowly to either direction... I’m guessing it has something to do with the mechanics of the steering box.... your description seems to be a better way to test... I wasn’t sure if what I am describing is standard for most steering applications. I had a BMW 5-series and I don’t believe that the steering was like that. But generally my JK tracks very true and straight and the steering is tight...
 

Nole_Dynasty

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Excellent video, many thanks to its author if he reads me! THANK YOU for these explanations and numerous tests ... made instead of FCA (in any case they do not bill by their efficiency to solve serious problems !).
He told me that FCA asked him to stop making the videos as it was “riling up the Jeep community.” He’s a service technician at the dealership I go to thankfully. Glad he’s working on my Jeep. He said the 1/4 turn improved my wandering but it’s still not 100% perfect, and never will be. The fact that FCA went cheap with the JL and made the steering box out of aluminum is the culprit for this issue he said. Hot weather amplifies the issue. He suggested i also go for the caster improvement he does in the video as well.
 

californiajeeping

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He told me that FCA asked him to stop making the videos as it was “riling up the Jeep community.” He’s a service technician at the dealership I go to thankfully. Glad he’s working on my Jeep. He said the 1/4 turn improved my wandering but it’s still not 100% perfect, and never will be. The fact that FCA went cheap with the JL and made the steering box out of aluminum is the culprit for this issue he said. Hot weather amplifies the issue. He suggested i also go for the caster improvement he does in the video as well.
If it is because the steering box is aluminum, then wouldn’t every JL have steering issues then?
 

Robnfl

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If it is because the steering box is aluminum, then wouldn’t every JL have steering issues then?
I'm with you, since every JL steering box is made out of aluminum, and aluminum is causing the issue, then I would think all JL's would have a steering issue.
 

Rudolph Hart

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I'm with you, since every JL steering box is made out of aluminum, and aluminum is causing the issue, then I would think all JL's would have a steering issue.
Are you going to provide some evidence to back that assertion?
 

Chubrocker

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If it is because the steering box is aluminum, then wouldn’t every JL have steering issues then?
100% agree on the aluminum steering box. Just look at the reports at launch of steering locking up in cold weather. Jeep obviously went to a more loose spec on the boxes to address this liability issue meaning shit steering in normal or hot weather for a lot of folks.

I've got a 2018 that was extremely hard to drive in warm weather. You can mask a lot of the play with a better track bar & more firm steering stabilizer, but the play in the box will still be there.

Aftermarket would make a killing if someone can release a conventional steering box/not aluminum and adjust them correctly.
 

Jeep&dogs

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Depending on the nature of the roads in your area the cross caster is incorrect.

Cross caster should be +.25*+.5* more on one side or the other. If most of the roads that you drive on are higher in the center and lower by the shoulder then there should be more caster on the right of your Jeep... there is less on the right and a quarter degree difference in cross caster can be significant. If the road crown is high on the center, more +caster on the left, as in this case, would produce a strong pull to the right that you would fight by turning your wheel to the left.

The more caster, over all, that you have the more feedback you will get from the road surface. So it’s a balancing act. Regardless +5* caster on a Jeep is not enough. Mine is at +7*L/+7.25R. The tracking and cornering is unreal! The trade off is that I have more feedback from the road surface perhaps a little more than some would like. If that is the case then I would reduce the Caster to +6.25L/+6.75R.

The other benefit that I have now is that the dead spot is still there but far more manageable. Far, far fewer steering inputs on a straight section (want’s to go straight now and self corrects much more readily than before). The feedback on cornering is tactile and precise. So if I there‘s a little more “roughness” as the front takes bumps, that trade off is more than OK with me.

As far as the dead spot... The stock Jeep steering system is... unacceptable. Eventually I will be replacing the system in my JLU if I decide to keep it long term. In the meantime, the adjustable LCA’s have bought me time and a pleasurable driving experience.
Cross caster is what it is in a Jeep. If you try to introduce more into the Jeep you will be putting one or more of the control arms in a bind and it will cause more steering issues
 

Nole_Dynasty

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Picked up my Jeep yesterday with the following actions performed by the dealer:
- Fixed the toe and steer ahead angles (which were in the "red");
- Gave the steering box pinion a quarter turn (not an approved FCA step);
- Aired down the tires to 34 psi.

Results: The handling is much better and oddly enough, it's much more responsive when completely stopped and on normal city streets. On the highway, there is still a bit of play but definitely better than it was.

I will say I'm not 100% happy with it but again I'm happy with the improvements and feel much more comfortable driving it on the highway now.
 

znakos

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I'm with you, since every JL steering box is made out of aluminum, and aluminum is causing the issue, then I would think all JL's would have a steering issue.
I'd like to suggest that likely all JL's have some sort of issue with "some" dead play in the steering box. If a particular JL tracks straight though, the dead play is much less noticeable (as mine is now). Also, I bet some people just deal with it (and say their steering is fine) and others are picky and complain about it.
 

Goosed

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I'd like to suggest that likely all JL's have some sort of issue with "some" dead play in the steering box. If a particular JL tracks straight though, the dead play is much less noticeable (as mine is now). Also, I bet some people just deal with it (and say their steering is fine) and others are picky and complain about it.
I thought the AE box wasn’t aluminum, but not 100% sure. Could be wrong, so don’t beat me up too bad if that’s not true.
 

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