TXWRANGLER20

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In case you haven't seen the newest issue of Motor Trend, they have positive news on the steering issues:

"I dedicated our previous 2019 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon update to discussing the pros and cons of owning and driving a Wrangler every day. Having spent some time recently in a 2020 Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon EcoDiesel, it appears that one of my chief complaints about our Jeep's steering has been addressed.​
One of my biggest issues with our Wrangler has been its steering feel. Its heavy steering has a tendency to wander ever so slightly back and forth while driving in a straight line, which means the driver has to make constant little corrections to the steering wheel. In small doses, it's not much of an issue, but if you're spending more than an hour behind the wheel per day—as I do sitting in Los Angeles' traffic going back and forth to MotorTrend HQ—it gets tiring. It gets even more exhausting on long road trips.​
And then, a bright yellow 2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon EcoDiesel showed up to our offices for a test, with my name on it. I could tell something was different by the time I'd exited the parking lot—its steering feel was significantly lighter and lower-effort while still retaining feel of the road. After an hourlong drive home (an hour in which I wasn't constantly chasing the Jeep's steering), I fired off a quick email to Jeep's PR reps to see if there was something mechanically different between our 2019 Wrangler's steering and this newer 2020 one, or if I was just going crazy and clearly needed to find a new career path.​
Unlucky for you, I was right—Jeep's reps helpfully confirmed that Wrangler engineers had made both steering gear valve tuning and pump calibration changes that would result in lighter, lower-effort steering. The change definitely made it harder for me to get back into my 2019 long-termer."​
In case you haven't seen the newest issue of Motor Trend, they have positive news on the steering issues:

"I dedicated our previous 2019 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon update to discussing the pros and cons of owning and driving a Wrangler every day. Having spent some time recently in a 2020 Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon EcoDiesel, it appears that one of my chief complaints about our Jeep's steering has been addressed.​
One of my biggest issues with our Wrangler has been its steering feel. Its heavy steering has a tendency to wander ever so slightly back and forth while driving in a straight line, which means the driver has to make constant little corrections to the steering wheel. In small doses, it's not much of an issue, but if you're spending more than an hour behind the wheel per day—as I do sitting in Los Angeles' traffic going back and forth to MotorTrend HQ—it gets tiring. It gets even more exhausting on long road trips.​
And then, a bright yellow 2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon EcoDiesel showed up to our offices for a test, with my name on it. I could tell something was different by the time I'd exited the parking lot—its steering feel was significantly lighter and lower-effort while still retaining feel of the road. After an hourlong drive home (an hour in which I wasn't constantly chasing the Jeep's steering), I fired off a quick email to Jeep's PR reps to see if there was something mechanically different between our 2019 Wrangler's steering and this newer 2020 one, or if I was just going crazy and clearly needed to find a new career path.​
Unlucky for you, I was right—Jeep's reps helpfully confirmed that Wrangler engineers had made both steering gear valve tuning and pump calibration changes that would result in lighter, lower-effort steering. The change definitely made it harder for me to get back into my 2019 long-termer."​
Motor Trend needs to drive my 2020 JLU, Change must have been on there Jeep only.
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RagTopDeluxe

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Has Jeep ever admitted that there was a problem with yours? I can't remember from previous posts. I called a few lawyers that deal with lemon laws and they said that if jeep claims that there isn't a problem, they didn't want to take the case. Now those were lawyers that don't require a retainer up front. I may just need to bite the bullet up front. might be money better spent than covering the loss when trading it in.
I’m so sorry you’re still dealing with this. It’s so wrong.
 

Cyclrder

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I have a 2020 rubicon and it drives terrible compared to my JK....
 

Aceman

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Has Jeep ever admitted that there was a problem with yours? I can't remember from previous posts. I called a few lawyers that deal with lemon laws and they said that if jeep claims that there isn't a problem, they didn't want to take the case. Now those were lawyers that don't require a retainer up front. I may just need to bite the bullet up front. might be money better spent than covering the loss when trading it in.
Nope, it just spent a couple weeks at the dealer. When I picked it up, nothing had been done to it.
Has Jeep ever admitted that there was a problem with yours? I can't remember from previous posts. I called a few lawyers that deal with lemon laws and they said that if jeep claims that there isn't a problem, they didn't want to take the case. Now those were lawyers that don't require a retainer up front. I may just need to bite the bullet up front. might be money better spent than covering the loss when trading it in.
nope. Never admitted a problem. Created a STAR case that was quickly closed once a Chrysler engineer supposedly got involved.
 

drvn

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Mr Seabaugh, I read all your articles and think you do a great job but Jeep snowed you when they told you they fixed all 2020 models. I got my 2020 in December and it wanders about like the TJ's that I have owned. It steers nice and light but has a dead spot and wanders.
I second that.
My 2020 JLU wanders something fierce. It requires near continuous steering inputs. So irritating and frustrating.
 

BrandonB00

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Nope, it just spent a couple weeks at the dealer. When I picked it up, nothing had been done to it.

nope. Never admitted a problem. Created a STAR case that was quickly closed once a Chrysler engineer supposedly got involved.

Ok That's what I expected. Please let us know what steps your lawyer takes. I'm guessing they will need some kind of expert to show that it doesn't steer well after jeep claims that it's supposed to be that way. Let me know if your lawyer practices in CA Ha ha!!!!!
 

drvn

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I just tested the on-center feel of my JK. I can move it 1/4"+ without actually impacting the front wheels. I'd never noticed it. My 10th Jeep - perhaps I've acclimated over the years, and I'm sure that my KM2s don't help. I know that a JK isn't a JL, but I think that it could be passenger car expectations by those new to the brand. At least I hope so as I wait for my 2021.
Definitely not passenger car expectations by those new to the brand. Many on here including myself have had multiple wranglers and some of the these JLs are simply bad.
 

roaniecowpony

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My 2018 JLUR had about 3" from one side to the other, at the steering wheel. The worse situation I noted was a winding road at high speed. When a reversal of steering input was needed, as in an "S" turn, I would have to pass thru the dead zone before any steering input to the opposite direction would occur. It could be flat scary in the right circumstances. It reminded me of an old large U-Haul box truck we rented when we moved to our house. The steering on that old truck was just like slapping it from side to side to keep it going in the intended direction.

I lived with it for about 8-9 months and finally decided either I was going to fix it myself or sell it. FCA was apparently not able or willing to address it, per others here.

I decided to attempt to fix it based on my mechanical experience.

I replaced the front trackbar first. This improved the steering drastically. The steering tighten up to maybe 3/4-1" of play. Not perfect, but huge improvement.

The next improvement came when I decided I didn't care if FCA wouldn't honor warranty on the steering box after I tampered with it. I loosened the steering box sector adjustment nut, used a torch to heat it to loosen the loctite between the nut and the screw. It came free with just a little heat. I have made 3 adjustments ever cautiously tightening and checking for binding with the draglink disconnected each time. I have about 1/4" of play at this time. I believe D007 is right about not getting all of the play out of the box due to some imprecision within the box tolerances. It's not perfect, but I accept it may not be possible to get it perfect without changing to a PSC system or similar. But, one member here had a PSC system/aftermarket trackbar and still had issues.

I'm about done with chasing the steering and will likely live with what I have. But I have no intention to let FCA work on it.

I will add that I think my steering is pretty good and others with the issue would likely be very happy with what my JL drives like now.
 
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Dano36

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As they were growing up, I would not let my daughters take either of my two TJ's out of town due to the steering and the constant attention it required. When I bought my new Rubicon, I let my youngest who is now in grad school drive it. Her first comment was " Dad, this drives just like your old jeeps".
 

EugeneTheJeep

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My 2018 JLUR had about 3" from one side to the other, at the steering wheel. The worse situation I noted was a winding road at high speed. When a reversal of steering input was needed, as in an "S" turn, I would have to pass thru the dead zone before any steering input to the opposite direction would occur. It could be flat scary in the right circumstances. It reminded me of an old large U-Haul box truck we rented when we moved to our house. The steering on that old truck was just like slapping it from side to side to keep it going in the intended direction.

I lived with it for about 8-9 months and finally decided either I was going to fix it myself or sell it. FCA was apparently not able or willing to address it, per others here.

I decided to attempt to fix it based on my mechanical experience.

I replaced the front trackbar first. This improved the steering drastically. The steering tighten up to maybe 3/4-1" of play. Not perfect, but huge improvement.

The next improvement came when I decided I didn't care if FCA wouldn't honor warranty on the steering box after I tampered with it. I loosened the steering box sector adjustment nut, used a torch to heat it to loosen the loctite between the nut and the screw. It came free with just a little heat. I have made 3 adjustments ever cautiously tightening and checking for binding with the draglink disconnected each time. I have about 1/4" of play at this time. I believe D007 is right about not getting all of the play out of the box due to some imprecision within the box tolerances. It's not perfect, but I accept it may not be possible to get it perfect without changing to a PSC system or similar. But, one member here had a PSC system/aftermarket trackbar and still had issues.

I'm about done with chasing the steering and will likely live with what I have. But I have no intention to let FCA work on it.

I will add that I think my steering is pretty good and others with the issue would likely be very happy with what my JL drives like now.
Good post with useful details. Thanks. Sounds like you got back to ‘normal’ for the JL/JT with the new track bar. Then, you made it tighter with the gear adjustment and reduced the play (lash). It appears FCA’s nominal spec on gear lash is too loose (possibly with a loose tolerance as well) for driver comfort. Either that’s unintentional or they intentionally designed it that way. If the latter is true, why would that be? In other words, is there some function that the slop/play/lash has? Two possibilities I can think of and would like everyone’s opinion:

1. The lash absorbs bumps in the road (like potholes on the payment) and obstacles on the trails without transferring the jerky motion to the steering wheel.

2. There is a risk of the gears binding, especially at cold temperatures, such that it’s better to err on the side of safety. (My Jeep has to work in -20 deg F.)

Trying to eliminate the possibility that the steering was supposed to be loose (1/2 to 1 in play). Thoughts?
 

RagTopDeluxe

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Trying to eliminate the possibility that the steering was supposed to be loose (1/2 to 1 in play). Thoughts?
The steering isn’t supposed to be that loose. My ‘19 had ~3” of play and was terrible to drive.

My ‘20 drives great with no discernible play.
 

EugeneTheJeep

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The steering isn’t supposed to be that loose. My ‘19 had ~3” of play and was terrible to drive.

My ‘20 drives great with no discernible play.
Not suppose to be 1/2 to 1 in or 3 in? Agree 3 in is very bad. All the JLs/JTs I’ve driven are in the 1/2 to 1 in range.
 

roaniecowpony

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Good post with useful details. Thanks. Sounds like you got back to ‘normal’ for the JL/JT with the new track bar. Then, you made it tighter with the gear adjustment and reduced the play (lash). It appears FCA’s nominal spec on gear lash is too loose (possibly with a loose tolerance as well) for driver comfort. Either that’s unintentional or they intentionally designed it that way. If the latter is true, why would that be? In other words, is there some function that the slop/play/lash has? Two possibilities I can think of and would like everyone’s opinion:

1. The lash absorbs bumps in the road (like potholes on the payment) and obstacles on the trails without transferring the jerky motion to the steering wheel.

2. There is a risk of the gears binding, especially at cold temperatures, such that it’s better to err on the side of safety. (My Jeep has to work in -20 deg F.)

Trying to eliminate the possibility that the steering was supposed to be loose (1/2 to 1 in play). Thoughts?
1. extra (back) "lash" creates added stress by allowing a "running start", if too much. It cannot lower stresses in the box.

2. There may be some merit here. So, lets run the numbers. (added: Sorry, I should explain. The prevailing concern is the JL steering box has an aluminum housing and steel internal parts. Aluminum expands/contracts at twice the rate as steel, which many believe may be FCA's reason for extra gear backlash setting from the factory and such concern about owners adjusting them.)

Aluminum expands/contracts at .00001244"/linear inch per 1 degree F.

Steel expands/contracts at .00000633"/linear inch per 1 degree F.

We're looking for the difference in the thermal reaction of the two different metals, so let's subtract the lesser (steel) one from the greater (alum) one.
.00001244 - .00000633 = .00000611" / linear inch per degree difference between steel and aluminum.

I believe the area of expansion/contraction we are concerned with is about 3" or less. Let's use 3" for our guesstimate. So, let's multiply 3 times the difference in expansion/contraction of the two metals.
3 x .00000611 = .00001833" / linear inch per degree of difference between the two different metals.

If we use 100F difference from the temperature we set the steering "lash" to the extreme cold or heat the box would see (example: set temp 70F, high operating temp 170F, Low operating temp -30F), you multiply 100 x .00001833 = .001833".

So what does .001833" mean to us in practical comparsion we can use? I think a comparison of "turns" on the sector set screw would be something we can understand.

I looked at the sector set screw and to the best of my eye, it appears to be about a 20 thread per inch pitch. So one turn moves the sector screw 1/20th inch in/out, or .050"
.050" divided by .001833 = 27.77 . That means 100F difference in temperature equals about 1/28 turn of the set screw. That comes to about 13 degrees of set screw rotation to equate to 100F difference.

(Added: To put 13 degrees of sector set screw rotation in perspective, my steering box went from 3/4-1" of play to 1/4" of play with approximately 1/4 turn or 90 degrees of sector set screw rotation. So, about .75" of steering wheel play was removed for 90 degrees screw rotation. 90 divided by 13 is about 7. .75 steering wheel play divided by 7 is less than 1/8 inch of steering wheel play per 100F change) I'm not too concerned about aluminum vs cast iron housings for thermal difference.
 
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