Are you frustrated from constantly fighting with your Jeep trying to keep it driving between the lines and in a straight line? Does your Jeep doge and dive all over the road? Does it make darting movements in the direction you are turning without any driver input? If you’ve answered yes to any of the above questions, then this article is for you.
Certain 2018-2020 Jeep Wranglers models are prone to steering problems which include excessive play, erratic lunging while cornering, hesitation, and resistance.
There are thousands of owners who’ve complained about the excessive play and significant pulling on the Jeep JL steering. The problem seems to manifest itself at speeds of 40mph and over as well as when cornering. Is there a factory solution, and what are your options in terms of a quick DIY FIX, aftermarket components, and warranty claims?
The next part of this article will cover the steering issues in more detail, explaining what the actual symptoms are in more detail. We then look at a few customer experiences, Aftermarket solutions, and if there is a DIY fix you can implement to tighten the steering of your Jeep Wrangler.
2020 Jeep Wrangler JL Steering Problems
Below are a few of the symptoms reported by JL customers.
Steering Symptoms include, but are not limited to the following:
- Loose steering & Excessive play
- Difficulty maintaining a straight line
- Erratic lunging when cornering
- Hesitation between steering response and wheels
- Drifting all over the road
- Dead spots
- Darting to the left into oncoming traffic without warning
- Constant driver input required, causing fatigue
- Steering wheel does not return to center when turning and requires driver correction after turning
- Resistance of the steering wheel that hold in a straight position
- 2 inch dead spot when traveling over 40mph
So, if you are experiencing any one or more of the above symptoms, your Jeep more than likely, is also part of the affected batch. Turns out there are thousands of happy Jeep Wrangler owners who don’t seem to experience any of these symptoms, even after installing bigger tires or any suspension upgrades. Yes, there is an alarming amount of those who have reported these symptoms to dealerships as well as the NHTSA in an attempt to get a factory fix.
Next, let’s look into some real examples of Jeep Wrangler owners who’ve experienced these symptoms.
I purchased the vehicle last Friday and shortly after that I have discovered a loose steering with a 2 inch dead spot when traveling over 40mph. I feel unsafe driving it on the highway especially on uneven pavement. Driving in the tunnel feels like I am fighting for my life. We did contact the dealer however, they denied the problem stating the vehicle is up to spec.https://www.carcomplaints.com/Jeep/Wrangler/2020/steering/steering.shtml
– Ridgewood, NY, USA
New 2020 Jeep Wrangler with 300 miles, wants to “wander” instead of going in a straight line while moving. There is about 1/2″ of play (left to right from dead center) that doesn’t move the car in either direction. Uneven roads makes the car wander even worse. Dealer checked on 1/21/20 and said nothing was found wrong (see attached jpg file.https://www.carcomplaints.com/Jeep/Wrangler/2020/steering/steering.shtml
– Georgetown, KY, USA
I purchased this new 2020 Jeep in December 2019; the Jeep now has about 800 miles on it. When driving the vehicle at any speed the Jeep will dart to the left into on-coming traffic with no warning and for no apparent reason. The faster the speed the more radical the swerve into traffic the incident. I have not been in accident but had lights flashed, numerous hand signals and horns blown at me in the Jeep for reckless driving. The dealership – cecil Jeep of burnet Texas has verified the problem and is troubleshooting potential issues with a factory engineer. Software and damper upgrades have been confirmed properly done and up to date.https://www.carcomplaints.com/Jeep/Wrangler/2020/steering/steering.shtml
– Spicewood, TX, USA
Unfortunately, there appears to be more than one problem. They all appear to exhibit similar symptoms, however, there are 2-3 underlying problems. With this weird steering issue, you’ll notice there isn’t a single one-fix-all solution. There are various issues that contribute to the wandering effect, however, they don’t all have the same solution. With that being said, bear in mind that some of the solutions mentioned below might solve some people’s problems while others are just happy to get some sort of relief and are satisfied to just live with it.
What makes matters worse is that there’s no way of telling which Jeeps are affected. These steering problems have been coming on since 2018 and two years later, there hasn’t been an official recall to rectify it. Because it’s such a ‘hit and miss affair, it’s hard to know which models to avoid when buying a used Jeep Wrangler JL. You’ll have to test drive it first to check for any of the above-mentioned symptoms.
So what is the cause of this phenomenon? Let’s look at a few possible culprits.
TSB’s (Technical Service Bulletin’s)
So there’s been one steering-related TSB (MC-10169248-9999), in 2020, which addresses a shimmy in the steering wheel after hitting an irregularity in the road. There is no additional information informing us about what the possible cause was or what the TSB fix entails.
Seems like Jeep are at their wits end on this one. We just can’t seem to get to the bottom of this since there still does not seem to be a recall or definitive explanation of the cause and a solution. Log onto Jeep discussion forums and the user threads are all over the place, with some claiming to have found the solution while others, after implementing all the recommended fixes, are still left unsatisfied.
Jeep sales reps, who are on the front lines, are now claiming the Wrangler engineers have found a solution. Their solution apparently involves calibration changes to both the steering gear valve tuning and steering pump, which results in lighter, lower-effort steering.
How to Improve Jeep Wrangler Steering (DIY FIXES)
So there have been quite a few owners who have experienced the steering phenomenon and after implementing one or even all of the below fixes, managed to get the steering to behave in an acceptable manner. Others not. There does not, unfortunately, appear to be any definitive way of determining which fix works. We have the wobble, dead spots, and wandering. The sensible approach here would be to start with the cheapest fix and work your way down the list.
Recommended Steering fixes include:
- Aftermarket Front track bar
- Aftermarket Sector Shift Brace
- PSC Hydraulic steering Upgrade
- Steering Box Modification
- LCA Upgrade
- Aftermarket Steering Stabilizers
Front Track Bar and Sector Shaft Brace
If you opt for a fully adjustable track bar, along with aftermarket adjustable suspension components, you essentially give yourself more adjustment options to eliminate the problem. A steering brace will take up the slack in the steering quite a bit. The factory track bar is weak and slightly under-engineered. A beefier adjustable aftermarket bar, and a centered steering wheel, drastically improve the ride quality making the ride more stable. This is a fix that can be pulled off at home, without any special tools.
PSC Hydraulic Steering
There are claims that a PSC hydraulic steering system may be the ultimate solution to the sloppy Jeep steering problem. The aftermarket kit is a reliable, powerful Full Hydraulic Steering System that feels very much like the factory OE steering feel, and greatly assists your steering by a claimed 50% when off-roading.
The kit is complete with everything needed for a successful installation including:
|1||Steering Control (Orbital) Valve|
|2||SCV Mounting Bracket|
|3||High-Performance Power Steering Pump Kit with Remote Reservoir|
|4||Dual-Ended Steering Cylinder with Clamps|
|5||Complete Hose and Fitting Kit|
|7||Tie Rod Link Kit.|
The PSC Steering Kits deliver improved handling characteristics without over-steer and a familiar level of road feel without increased driver effort, making it perfect for daily driven, on-the-road use
A beefier aftermarket steering pump, with heavy-duty components, promises to resolve this issue once and for all. Sure, it’s not exactly the cheapest fix, but all the evidence points to the steering box as the source of this issue. Those brave enough to fork out the cash to do a power steering upgrade to a mechanical one have all had the issues disappear.
If you have a wobble when driving over a bump and experience a wobble or shimmy then you might want to consider an aftermarket stabilizer. It won’t eliminate the side-to-side tracking, however, it will soften the impact considerably.
Upgrading to beefier Mopar Lower Control Arms has been widely reported to make the biggest and best difference. In terms of bang for the buck, probably the best thing you can do for your Jeep!
So, we’ve identified a few possible solutions to your jeep Wrangler steering woes. I refuse to believe this is a “jeep Thing” since there are many more happy Jeep Wrangler owners than unhappy ones and who have never experienced any of the above symptoms. For those that have/are, you can implement any of the above-recommended fixes and experience a greatly improved driving experience. Some of the suggested solutions might not truly “fix” it, but will probably disguise the problems with the JLs dodgy electric power steering.