Due to the nature of our sport, each of us probably regards breakage
as a common occurrence, but that does not mean we have to like it.
The fact is, that many of us are fond of saying that a shop would
have charged us $100 or more to make that fix we just did on the
trail. However, after a while, changing the same part still
becomes laborious - and I think we would all like to limit those
type of repairs as much as possible.
This is true
of my tie rod ends. Seen at the top right, is a picture of a stock
tie rod and tie rod ends from a Jeep TJ. The second picture is the
first attempt I made at resolving the issue of breakage - replacing
both the tie rod and drag link with after market DOM units that
also changed the stock inverted "Y" steering to a straight
this solution makes the tie rod and the drag link almost impervious
to breakage, which in turn puts all of the stress on the tie rod
ends themselves. In the last year I have replaced at least 2 tie
rod ends on 2 or 3 separate outings. The third picture is what happens
to my tie rod ends when the tie rod doesn't move and forces all
the pressure on to the tie rod end.
I started calling
around to various places and I got the typical replace the tie rod
bar w/either DOM or chromolly and use the stock ends or have someone
custom make a heim joint steering at a price that was out of this
world. I was pretty convinced that the system I was running was
already superior to any of the other manufacturers' heavy-duty tie
rods that still used the factory ends, so I kept looking.
Leave it to
the usual suspects at
Currie Enterprises to finally fix the TJ tie rod and drag link
problem(s). Dan Moses at Tennessee
Off Road was very helpful and called Currie to get one of their
systems drop-shipped to me.
The Currie "Heavy Duty Tie Rod System" consists of a new
drag link that is made of 1-1/4" chromolly with an oversized
1-1/8" threaded adjuster, huge 1-1/8" rod end with zerk
fitting, bolt-on steering stabilizer bracket that can be adjusted
for proper placement and a heavy-duty tie rod made of 1-1/4"
chromolly rod with 7/8" clamps and 7/8" threaded tie rod
ends with zerk fittings. All of the pieces are available separately.
As you can see
from the pictures, the Currie unit is MUCH larger all around then
either the factory stock unit or the previous aftermarket assembly
that was on my Jeep. In fact, the drag link end and threaded area
is more then twice as large as the stock rod end. This should solve
both the problems of bending the tie rod connector and breaking
the tie rod ends. And, it should return my steering geometry very
close to stock.
You will need
(at a minimum) needle nose pliers, 1/2 drive socket wrench and sockets,
torque wrench, small hammer, grease gun, and a few cotter pins,
depending on how many Currie included. Mine had only 3 and I needed
Start by driving
your Jeep into your work area so that the wheels are pointed as
straight as you can get them. Don't worry about centering your steering
wheel at this point. It is more important that your wheels are straight.
Remove the bolt
that holds drag link end of your steering stabilizer but leave the
other end installed.
the cotter pins from both outer tie rod ends and the drag link end
at the Pitman arm.
Loosen the three
castle nuts holding the tie rod and drag link assembly to the vehicle
(the drag link end where it connects to the Pitman arm and both
outer tie rods).
If you have
a tie rod separator (pickle fork), use it to loosen the drag link
end from the Pitman arm. If you do not have a separator then a small
mallet or a dead blow hammer will work, as well. Tap the hammer
against the rod end until it separates from the Pitman arm. Repeat
on each outer tie rod end.
Remove the three
nuts and lower the tie rod/drag link assembly.
With the front
steering assembly removed, now is a good time to make sure your
steering wheel is centered or close to it.
parts in reverse order. Start with the drag link to tie rod assembly
on the passenger side, making sure you adjust the assembly to fit
between the wheel and the Pitman arm without moving the Pitman arm.
This will help to make sure that your steering wheel stays close
to center. Keep in mind that you should turn the adjuster in
order to keep an even amount of thread on each side of the adjuster.
This will insure plenty of adjustment in the future.
drag link to tie rod end on the driver's side.
to the end of the tie rod that Currie has marked with a red tag
that says "Driver Side Only" (these are the only instructions
included in the kit) .
four castle nuts up to the factory specs The Currie drag link and
tie rod are shipped separated so you will need to put them together.
This is one place where you want to use the factory torque settings
- too tight and they could bind, too loose and your steering may
wobble all over the road.
to insert cotter pins to keep the castle nuts from backing off.
Remember to never loosen a castle nut to get the cotter pin in.
the drag link adjuster and both of the tie rod adjusters. Be sure
to take your time in checking to make sure that none of the adjusters
will interfere with any skid plates or other things you may have
hanging down around your steering.
Grease all four
new zerk fittings.
the new steering stabilizer bracket on the drag link.
steering stabilizer to the bracket (Note: depending on who's after-market
stabilizer you have, you may have to remove a sleeve from the eye
bushing to get the proper fit to the Currie adapter).
Turn your wheels
over to the passenger side as far as they will go. Slide the stabilizer
and bracket along the drag link until you have about 1" or
1-1/2" of the stabilizer shaft showing. Then tighten the stabilizer
and the bracket into place.
Be sure to turn
the wheels from lock to lock and make sure that the stabilizer is
I would then
recommend having a professional alignment done and from the massive
size, I would expect it to be the last one you need for a while
- at least from breaking tie rods.
Some may consider
this solution a little pricey, but if you have ever changed your
tie rods in the middle of a torrential downpour, in a four foot
deep pool of stagnant cold water in the middle of a river bed in
Oklahoma, the price is not really that bad. Except for the alignment
(which you should get), this really is an installation you can do
in your garage with basic hand tools.
Since I have
had my alignment done, the Jeep steers with ease. It works
great off-road and nothing binds. I am no longer worried about
breaking my tie rod ends and am very happy with the quality of the
parts. I look forward to testing this on the rocks in the
the alignment shop: They were much happier with the ease of
adjustment of this setup over the previous one I had. The only slight
issue they had was that due to the size of the adjusters and the
slots provided for the lock downs they had to pop one tie rod ends
out and turn it independently until they could get the adjuster
lined up so that it did not hit against anything during the lock
to lock turn or under compression.
Part Number And Pricing Information*
Duty Tie Rod System
Duty Drag Link (Complete)
Link End (Left Hand Thread)
Duty Tie Rod Set (Complete)
Duty Tie Rod (No Ends)
Duty Tie Rod End - Left
Duty Tie Rod End - Right
- Due to website articles touting the Currie Heavy Duty Steering
for Jeep TJ's, Currie's original stock of parts has been depleted.
While there is nothing technically wrong with the original design
(nor have they had any problems with it), Currie is is taking some
time to fine-tune the design prior to building more parts for general
Kent Anderson at Currie, they plan to improve the strength in the
connection area of the Drag Link and Tie-Rod Connector and to adjust
the angles of the steering components. Currie stock should be back
to normal mid-January.
Pagan is a staff writer for ROCKCRAWLER.com as well as Our
Land Use Editor. Shawn resides north of Houston, TX.
Shawn at firstname.lastname@example.org
Prices accurate at time of writing