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post #1 of 18 Old 08-28-2010, 08:44 PM Thread Starter
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JK Pitman Arm Alignment Question

As part of my Spyntec hub install I needed to check the left & right steering stop adjustments to be sure I wouldn't get the new front axle shafts & CTMs bound up at full lock. Had to adjust the right side out a bit and in the process of measuring things discovered that from the factory the stops weren't adjusted the same left & right. The big surprise came when I discovered that the left side wasn't contacting the stop at all at full left lock. The left side "stop" turned out to be the end of the pitman arm hitting the sway bar! When I put the wheel back to center I discovered the drag link end of the pitman arm was offset about 1/2" to the left of center, that is, it wasn't in line with the pitman shaft on the steering box in the dead ahead position. This is the way it was shipped from the factory, folks, I've never touched it.

I then decided to refer to the (cost $125 and is the worst I've ever seen) factory service manual to see what sage advice Jeep had to offer for the proper indexing of the JK pitman arm. Nothing. All it says is "align the pitman arm" or some such generic crap.

So, does anyone know how the damn thing is supposed to be oriented in the dead ahead position? I'm pretty sure it's not supposed to be offset to one side or the other. Boy, I just can't WAIT to pull that thing off of there.
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post #2 of 18 Old 08-28-2010, 11:21 PM
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Whoa! Deja vu man… I just checked mine today as part of my post-Rubicon maintenance and I found the exact same as you. Right stop was fine, but driver's side full left stop was not even touching before the pitman arm bashed into the sway bar. This is how it was from the factory! My pitman arm is straight ahead with wheels straight ahead and steering wheel centered, for what it's worth...

2007 Jeep Green Rubicon 4-door with various bits 'n pieces... broken in but not even finished!
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post #3 of 18 Old 08-29-2010, 07:15 AM Thread Starter
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Apparently the pitman shaft & arm are indexed, so it can only go on one of four ways. Obviously they put it on straight, but mine at rest is about 1/2" to the left of the centerline. The only way I can figure it could be corrected, if this is even possible, is to pull the coupling shaft off the steering box and reinstall it with the pitman arm set dead ahead. After adjusting the drag link you'd have to reflash the ecm to set the steering wheel on-center.

Worst part of this is I've discovered the boot on the drag link end is torn & oozing grease from interfering with the sway bar. I've had time on the trail where I've thought the steering was locked, but it was so momentary I though it was just the wheels being bound up by the rocks.

I'm going to run over to the dealer today and check his inventory. This may actually be something for the warranty man to fix.
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post #4 of 18 Old 08-29-2010, 10:07 AM
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To correct this problem on My 4 door I had to adust the drag link so the wheels would turn from stop to stop on each side. Then to center the wheel, I had to remove the coupling shaft and cut the clamp on the boot and reindex the shaft to center the wheel. after this you can fine tune the wheel the drag link adjustment. I hope this makes since.

2014 Rubicon on the build!
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post #5 of 18 Old 08-29-2010, 12:01 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, Rodicon, that makes perfect sense.

I went by the local dealer today and checked several in stock new JKs against my own. I didn't find much difference in the basic setup on any of them, all would potentially have the same issue.
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post #6 of 18 Old 08-29-2010, 06:57 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RODICON View Post
To correct this problem on My 4 door I had to adust the drag link so the wheels would turn from stop to stop on each side. Then to center the wheel, I had to remove the coupling shaft and cut the clamp on the boot and reindex the shaft to center the wheel. after this you can fine tune the wheel the drag link adjustment. I hope this makes since.
Rod, anything tricky about pulling and separating the intermediate shaft? Looks pretty straight forward. Mine doesn't have an ignition lock, so I'll have to rig something to hold the wheel on-center when I put the shaft back on.
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post #7 of 18 Old 08-29-2010, 07:31 PM
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Yes, retain the steering wheel with a bungy cord or two. Decide witch way you need to go with the shaft and mark it. I put the shaft in the vice and tapped the end to remove from the splins and reindexted it. Real easy. Rod

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post #8 of 18 Old 08-30-2010, 05:31 PM Thread Starter
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This one had me by the short & curlys for a while this AM but I got it done. Once I figured where the center of the pitman arm's travel was I had to index the intermediate shaft over 1/8 turn to the left. Still needed to shim the steering stops on both sides. Turns out that neither of them were adjusted right, so the "stop" was the sway bar on the left, and the steering box travel limit to the right. Road testing didn't show any reduction in turning radius either way, so all I've done is center things up and properly adjust the stops...way to go Chrysler! Or, should that be Dana?

Actually, the right way to do this is to remove the drag link all together, determine the unrestricted length of the pitman arm's travel left & right, find the center point, index the intermediate shaft / steering wheel to that, reinstall the drag link, center the wheel and set the stops. Maybe next time.....

BTW, getting the damn shaft out was one wrestling match, getting it back in was another. The splines were pretty tight (that's a good thing) and wouldn't cooperate. Total PITA.

Last edited by SoK66; 08-30-2010 at 05:33 PM.
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post #9 of 18 Old 09-03-2010, 09:08 PM Thread Starter
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Checking this more closely today as I replaced the pitman/drag link joint, something just wasn't adding up. A bit of Googling found some threads that suggest the thing may have a twisted sector shaft. If so, makes sense that it can't be aligned right. This is apparent;y not uncommon, but it beats the crap out of me when It could have happened. Checking it out more closely tomorrow. (This is actually just the excuse I needed to get a PSC box!)
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post #10 of 18 Old 09-05-2010, 04:39 PM Thread Starter
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Something's definitely amiss with this steering box. I pulled the intermediate shaft off and reindexed it back to the stock location. At the end of travel to the left the pitman arm swings well past the sway bar, like 1/4-3/8". Setting the steering stops on the knuckles, it took 2 washers on the right, and FIVE on the left. It's needing them on the right because the range of travel has been sewed to the left, that is, the shaft is probably twisted to the left, maybe from turning hard right or from hitting an obstacle. Wonderful....
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post #11 of 18 Old 09-14-2010, 11:53 PM
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So I'm not fully clear on what exactly to even look for. Was able to see my Jeep on the lift as my PCV axles were being put on, and it looked at least like the bolts were barely making contact on the edge of the C's. So a friend who looked into this said I was likely good, but without fully understanding the issue to look for, not sure. Sounds like this is a problem with the factory, but hoping for additional help. (wouldn't be the first problem with the factory, as Monday I found out my axle shaft was weak tempered steel and a groove was worn in by the seal, making it non-sealable -- separate issue, but how on earth could a seal bore a groove, even if dirt was in it? -- warranty is void, but a whole lot not making sense.)

Thanks for any input. I was shown what to look for, but without pics, can't be sure.
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post #12 of 18 Old 09-15-2010, 08:06 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoovis View Post
So I'm not fully clear on what exactly to even look for.
Well, first, practically speaking the pitman arm can only really be installed one way as it's indexed in four places. What you're looking for is contact between the pitman arm and drag link end and the sway bar when the wheels are turned hard left. You'll likely see a rub spot on the pitman arm, possibly a torn drag link end boot, and contact on the drag link end. You also may feel it bind the steering when on the trail.

I mentioned in another thread that after I replaced the steering box on mine and the rig still had the issue. Turns out the sway bar can shift to the right, which causes the problem. I noticed last year the the sway bar was hitting the frame cross member on both sides. I used an angle grinder and removed some material from both ends of the cross member. This, of course, made the pitman arm contact problem worse. A suggestion to use a hose clamp as a "stop" to prevent the bar from shifting too far to the right looks to have solved the problem.

To see if you have the issue, with the vehicle in park / neutral and the parking brake fully engaged, wheels on the ground and the engine running, have someone turn the steering wheel hard left all the way. Look at the pitman arm from underneath and see if there's contact with the sway bar.

My JK's steering never reaches the knuckle stop on the left side. Misses by over 1/4". Not sure if this is the case on other rigs or unique to mine. As suggested above, "re-indexing" the intermediate shaft is a thought, but when I tried it it limited full right, so it essentially just transferred the problem from side to side. I may have gone too far with the reindexing, possibly may try just moving it one spline and see what happens.

Last edited by SoK66; 09-15-2010 at 08:10 AM.
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post #13 of 18 Old 09-15-2010, 09:03 AM
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Thanks for the added explanation. Much appreciated. Will take a look when I have someone to turn the wheel for me.
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post #14 of 18 Old 09-15-2010, 09:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sickchilly View Post
My pitman arm is straight ahead with wheels straight ahead and steering wheel centered, for what it's worth...
Total steering newbie here, but with the wheels facing straight ahead, the pitman arm should also be straight ahead too, right?
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post #15 of 18 Old 09-15-2010, 10:51 AM Thread Starter
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You would think so, but on a JK by the way the pitman arm is cast it's offset to the left for some reason. I just put on a new steering box, thinking my old one had a twisted sector (pitman) shaft. That tuned out not to be the case and the new one "centered" exactly the same as the old one. I noticed on all JKs that the factory dial out the left side stop about 2mm more than the right. There's a bunch of kludge-work at play here if they're having to do stuff like that.
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post #16 of 18 Old 09-15-2010, 11:15 AM
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On the lift I'm putting on, it came with a new drag-link piece (knuckle to coupler), and instructions to remove the old drag-link from the knuckle to the coupler.

It said to screw the new drag-link into the coupler until it had just about as much thread showing as the small part of the drag-link that connects to the pitman arm.

My wheels were straight forward when I was doing all of that, but I thought I had to move the pitman arm pretty far to the left (I'd guess way more than 2mm) in order to get the new drag-link to fit into the knuckle (the drag-link wouldn't screw into the coupler anymore).

I'm to the point with this lift where I just need to torque everything down. The wheels are still pointing forward. I'll have to check to see how which way the pitman arm is facing.
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post #17 of 18 Old 09-15-2010, 05:32 PM Thread Starter
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Something doesn't sound right about your drag link & coupler. You need to have both the drag link end and the drag link evenly threaded into the coupler for future adjustability. You can't have one threaded all the way in and the other not. Might want to balance the two out to begin with.

Always a good idea to have the steering wheel strapped down in the dead-ahead position when fooling around with the column, steering box, tie rod or drag link, etc. It has something called a "clock spring" that indicates the dead-ahead and if you get it off too far one way or the other it can cause issues with the ESP system. I use two equal lengths of bungee cord, one on each side of the wheel and attached to the seat track release. USMCDOC shows how to use a small ratchet strap lashed to the brake pedal, which works just as well.

With the wheel dead-ahead, since it is curved to the left a bit the pitman arm will be offset left quite a bit. Just thread in the drag link so the coupler's threads are evenly exposed on both sides and so the drag link end on the knuckle side just drops into the hole. Fine tune the steering wheel center after everything's buttoned up and tightened.
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post #18 of 18 Old 09-15-2010, 07:27 PM
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OK, this is how I've got it now. I didn't remember that the pitman arm itself is pretty curved.

Last edited by aristobrat; 08-18-2015 at 08:46 AM.
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