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Old 02-01-2011, 11:16 PM   #1
RRauzer
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What causes an off center steering wheel?

Went wheeling this Sunday. Don't ever recall hitting the (stock) tie rod and cannot see a bend or scrapes on it. The drag link turnbuckle is tight and doesn't looked liked it moved at all. Aftwards, my steering wheel is off center - at about 10:00. The ESP and BAS lights are on, but on the drive back from the trail it drove basically fine other than the off center.

I know I can recenter by adjusting the drag link, but what I'm wondering is other than a bent tie rod, what can cause a steering wheel to get off center? What areas/components should I look at?

Should probably put in sig but have: TF drag link flip/TF 4" with adjustable arms/37s.
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Old 02-01-2011, 11:32 PM   #2
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If you let (and this is common and doesn't take much of a hit to do it) the tie rod make contact with a hard surfas it can distort your tow. Any change like that can pull the drag link to one side or the other. The good news is that the drag link is easy to adjust to re-center the steering wheel.

Other than that I can see a few other things that can cause this. Ball joints getting wore out from over flex. Or maybe suspension control arms getting bushings degraded. Any sort of component movement in the front end can cause this.
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Old 02-01-2011, 11:42 PM   #3
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Even a slightly bent tie-rod can cause your steering to be off center. Its hard to tell sometimes. You could have also tweaked it by pushing hard against a rock or obstacle......causing your toe and/ or drag-link to come out of adjustment.
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Old 02-01-2011, 11:47 PM   #4
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I don't think I've ever finished a trail and managed to keep my steering wheel center.
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Old 02-02-2011, 06:24 PM   #5
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I need help. I am very mechanical, but am very uneducated when it comes to suspensions. I put in a Teraflex leveling kit on my 2011 JKU a couple of weeks ago and now the steering wheel is off center. Where is the drag link, what does it look like, and how do I adjust it so that the steering is back to center? Pics would be nice.
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Old 02-02-2011, 06:28 PM   #6
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Old 02-02-2011, 06:39 PM   #7
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Pretty much every time I go off road my steering wheel is off center. Just adjust the draglink and keep going. If I notice odd wear on my tires I take it to get aligned. I still haven't figured out a good way to do the toe by myself.
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Old 02-02-2011, 07:24 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RRauzer View Post
Went wheeling this Sunday. Don't ever recall hitting the (stock) tie rod and cannot see a bend or scrapes on it. The drag link turnbuckle is tight and doesn't looked liked it moved at all. Aftwards, my steering wheel is off center - at about 10:00. The ESP and BAS lights are on, but on the drive back from the trail it drove basically fine other than the off center.

I know I can recenter by adjusting the drag link, but what I'm wondering is other than a bent tie rod, what can cause a steering wheel to get off center? What areas/components should I look at?

Should probably put in sig but have: TF drag link flip/TF 4" with adjustable arms/37s.
The answer is in red.
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Old 02-02-2011, 07:30 PM   #9
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Those adjusting the draglink are doing it wrong.

You HAVE to set the toe (takes a tape measure and 5 mins).

Adjusting the draglink compensates a centered wheel for improper toe. Toe will wear tires faster than any other alignment spec being out. Recommending solely adjusting the draglink is a sure way to eat up your tires and can promote poor drive-ability. Guaranteed.
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Old 02-02-2011, 09:03 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goodysgotacuda View Post
Those adjusting the draglink are doing it wrong.

You HAVE to set the toe (takes a tape measure and 5 mins).

Adjusting the draglink compensates a centered wheel for improper toe. Toe will wear tires faster than any other alignment spec being out. Recommending solely adjusting the draglink is a sure way to eat up your tires and can promote poor drive-ability. Guaranteed.
Not 100% true... at least in my case. My steering is off at least by 30-90 degrees after almost every wheeling trip and I adjust my drag link. I check my Toe at least monthly... My toe has never moved.
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Old 02-02-2011, 09:32 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goodysgotacuda View Post
Those adjusting the draglink are doing it wrong.

You HAVE to set the toe (takes a tape measure and 5 mins).

Adjusting the draglink compensates a centered wheel for improper toe. Toe will wear tires faster than any other alignment spec being out. Recommending solely adjusting the draglink is a sure way to eat up your tires and can promote poor drive-ability. Guaranteed.
That's good info. I always check my toe and then adjust the draglink.
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Old 02-02-2011, 10:34 PM   #12
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That's good info. I always check my toe and then adjust the draglink.
Ok ,so so far it seams like smacking the tie rod is about the only reason why steering wheel woud be offcenter. (Any one else feel free to chime in if there's other causes of it). No biggie, I recentered today.

Followup question, could you give me a reason why toe should be aligned before centering. Easy enough to do in that order, but interested in knowing the technical reasons why. Learning is a good thing!
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Old 02-02-2011, 10:40 PM   #13
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Ok ,so so far it seams like smacking the tie rod is about the only reason why steering wheel woud be offcenter. (Any one else feel free to chime in if there's other causes of it). No biggie, I recentered today.

Followup question, could you give me a reason why toe should be aligned before centering. Easy enough to do in that order, but interested in knowing the technical reasons why. Learning is a good thing!
Yeah, think of it like this. That tierod is a LONG bit of bar. I've wheeled and didn't even think that I made contact with mine to rock, earth etc. But its a fact that it doesn't take much. Just a bit of distorsion will pull the toe in (typically) and pull the stearing wheel off cneter. You could just adjust the draglink to center the s-wheel but then you are going to get more front tire scrub, due to them not being aligned, and that cost money. Anyone out ther who has had less than me who can explain this better? And yes, we are all learning - its a good thing!
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Old 02-02-2011, 10:47 PM   #14
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Oh, and I adjust my toe using a tape at home most of the time but I do get it in the prof shop for a real alignemt 2 or 3 times a year. The draglink adjustment is just and eyeball thing and is pretty easy.
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Old 02-03-2011, 03:44 AM   #15
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Hmmm,, ok here's my chime. I've had this problem after every trail run,, I'm still running the stock drag link an tie rod,, are any of you guys running Hydro Assist,, it seems after I put a PSC system on .. all my sterring centering problems have gone away,, I don't understand why,, but they have,, also,, I run some of the toughest trails in So. Cal,, an I'm running 37s,, ,, I too wana know wth is causing it. Also, does anyone that has had there jk alligned recently ,, know what the overall length is on the tierod ,,from the knuckle to knukle,, center hole to center hole,,, rod end center to rodend center,, that would be a helpfull number for all of us to consider to check!!! Thanks,, jus my chime
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Old 02-03-2011, 06:22 AM   #16
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Not 100% true... at least in my case. My steering is off at least by 30-90 degrees after almost every wheeling trip and I adjust my drag link. I check my Toe at least monthly... My toe has never moved.
Sorry but these things just don't come out of alignment for no good reason. Something is bending or slipping threads. Everything has a tapered ball joint, everything has a fine thread adjustment with jamb nuts/bolts, the things don't just "move". Out of, probably 150x I've been out, I've needed to adjust my toe four times from hitting the tie rod, steering wheel recentered itself like it should. When the toe is out of spec the tires do not sit flat on the road. It will favor one and the other will drag down the road.

You will have a mechanical miracle if just the drag link is coming off center and something else isn't moving. It's pretty hard to turn the adjustment with two tightened jamb bolts without off-road gremlins doing their magic. Vehicles become out of alignment due to impact/bending arms/tie rods, or wear in bushings

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Old 02-03-2011, 07:06 AM   #17
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I was having the same problem and then my trackbar broke. Since upgrading the trackbar (JKS) everything is fine. May have been just the original (JKS) trackbar was bad. It was a mystery with me also.
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Old 02-03-2011, 08:01 AM   #18
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"In a lot of cases, when the steering wheel is off center and nothing is bent, it is case of the plastic splines on the steering shaft jumping on themselves. Has happen a couple of times to me and have had to replace the intermediate shaft once already"
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Old 02-13-2011, 04:39 PM   #19
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has anyone had the steering box itself jump a tooth or two or even break internally?

my steering wheel is off center after a drive on some bumpy pavement and it has also started dumping its fluid out all over the pitman arm.

New steering box was ordered a few weeks ago - dealer diagnosed a clunk from the box.
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