Rusty's Steering Upgrade -
TJ Tie Rod and Drag Link
write up, then the review! I will explain what I feel may be best after
we did my install the way we did it, however, this will probably
deviate from how we did some things to save embarrassment. It's
a simple install, but removing the stock setup is a freaking PITA!!
This setup takes you to a full tie rod that is much stronger than stock
as well as an upgraded drag link that is much stronger than stock and
is recommended for 35" tires and above and in my case, after a little
mishap with a guard rail! I recommend them for 33's and up as well
feeling the ride. I think the setup cost $225 +
$15 shipping compared to the stock setup at the dealership for about
Tools Needed (from memory,
if I lie):
- BFH - (Big Hammer, we
3lb. mini sledge, then a mammoth - maybe
a 6 lbs.)
- Socket wrench
- Torque wrench
- 3/4" socket
- 13mm socket
- 13mm open ended wrench
(spanner for you Brits)
- Big pickle fork
- Tie rod end puller (not
needed, but helps - but sorry, don't think I
got a pic, but I can if someone doesn't know what they look like.)
- Tape measure
- Grease gun and some
The kit includes:
- New Tie Rod and Drag
- 4 cotter pins
- Stabilizer mount and
- Maybe more, can't
of all, measure your
distance between your tires to see how you are toed before doing this
upgrade. You don't have to do this, but it's nice knowledge. Many
people have different ways, the most accurate is probably the nail way,
but with my MT/R's, I just went ahead and measured using molding on the
tire. Have someone place one end of the tape measure onto one tire at
the same point that you measure from on the other front tire, and
gather the distance for both the front of the front tires and the rear
of the rear tires. Now, subtract your front measurement from your rear
to figure out if you are toed in or out and by how much. I found out
that I was actually toed out 1/32" and the recommendation is 1/32" toed
in, according to Rusty.
the cotter pins on both the tie rod (2, 1 at each knuckle) and
drag link (1 at the pitman arm) and remove them by un-bending the thin
ends and then going to the other side of the nut and pulling them out
forcefully. You can cut these, the Rusty's setup gives you new ones to
Once those are
removed, remove the nuts on the tie rod (2 total, 1 at each knuckle)
the drag link (1 at the pitman arm).. At this point, you can jack up
front axle and put it on jack stands and take off both front tires to
make things easier... Now, remove the tie rod by placing the tie rod
puller on the end and cranking it until they pop out, if you don't have
one, you can hit the knuckle with your BFH, or use a pickle fork wedged
in there to remove it.
Now comes the only hard
and time consuming part - removing the
stock drag link from the pitman arm. I want to hear your suggestions
this, we tried everything but heat to remove it. The best way we found
was by putting your pickle fork in there to separate them and just
beating the living daylights outta it for a while and it finally just
popped right out!
Now it's time to
line up the new setup, first we went ahead and made the new tie rod as
long as the old setup.
Take the new setup and
up and finger tighten the tie rod ends
and drag link at the pitman arm. First thing first, measure your toe
now from the front and back of the front tires and get yourself as
close to perfect, but within 1/32" toed in. Once you have this, tighten
the nuts on the tie rod ends and drag link at both ends to 35 ft. lbs.
torque and tighten the jam nuts on the tie rod only.
Have someone watch
the steering wheel and turn your drag link by hand and have them yell
bloody hell when it's centered. Then you'll want to torque the drag
link nuts to 35 ft. lbs. as well as
tighten the jam nuts also.
need to locate the stabilizer bracket and attach it to the drag link
approximately where the old setup had it, I found it to be 21" from one
end of the steering stabilizer to the middle of the end on the drag
link. I ran into a snag here, the OME stabilizer bolt didn't fit well
on the Rusty's piece, so I used a 3/4" bolt (about 3 inches long), some
washers, and a nut to get that on there. I will be buying/investigating
a better way to set that up, but it's cool for now.
Now, take a test
drive, come back and measure up again to fix
wandering, etc. and to fix your steering wheel. I recommend getting a
professional alignment afterwards, but my setup right now runs great,
so I'm probably going to save the dough.
Now for the review. It’s been 2 days since the install, and I've loved
the setup from the moment I pulled out of PAJeeper's
garage. It rides
incredibly compared to the older setup - you can
definitely feel the beefiness and control! I absolutely love it. The
new setup is much thicker, more solid, and runs the length of the tires
compared to stock. I'll try to add more after a month has passed.
You can use these instructions however you choose,
but I am not liable for anything you do. Please feel free to link to
them from other sites, but you must get my permission first before
copying them off of this site to elsewhere.
Thanks and Enjoy!
P.S. Thanks so much
to the PA/NJ crew for the help, nothing like some
last minute wrenching with some good folks. Thanks to PAJeeper
for the use of his garage yet again
and thanks to JaySea
for the photos that I used!