These symptoms have plagued Jeep Wrangler owners for years without any real solution from FCA until recently. The design of the Wrangler’s suspension and steering components has made it notorious for multiple steering-related issues.
They have introduced an upgraded steering box which seems to solve the play in the steering, however, it does not eliminate the tracking and wondering issues.
So, exactly how bad is the Wrangler steering?
Let’s look at the loose steering symptoms in a bit more detail.
Table of Contents
Jeep Wrangler Loose Steering Wheel: Explained
Step into the Jeep Wrangler after driving any other make of SUV and you’ll immediately feel the difference in steering behavior. The steering is not as crisp and constantly requires minor adjustments to keep it straight. Drive it long enough and you might just get used to it, or it will drive you completely crazy.
Aside from that, we also have an excessive play with a ‘dead spot’ which results in very vague steering responses.
- Constant correction in the driving direction
- Steering slightly “twitchy” at times
- Loose steering sensation
- A Dead Spot
- Wondering steering
- Drastic Variations in steering responsiveness depending on your speed
While your Wrangler’s solid axle might conquer boulders, it can feel wobbly on the pavement. But before trading it in for a luxury sedan, consider these simple fixes!
The Wrangler “shuffle”:
It’s normal due to its design and off-road prowess. But too much wandering can become a concern.
- Check tire pressure: Uneven pressures exacerbate the sway.
- Steering damper: Adds stability, especially at highway speeds.
- Alignment tune-up: Ensure tires track properly for improved handling.
Remember: These tweaks won’t make your Wrangler handle like a sports car, but they will significantly improve on-road control and confidence. So, embrace the Jeep adventure, and wrangle that steering!
Let’s look into some of the fixes in a bit more detail now.
- Manually adjust the slop on the steering box
- Adjust Tire pressure. Many dealerships are infamous for overfilling tires.
- Adjust the alignment
- Fit an adjustable track bar
- Fit aftermarket LCA’s
Let’s now see how we can make manual adjustments to the steering box which will result in a significant difference in the centering feel and a decrease in the dead spot sensation.
Adjust Steering Box
Tightening Your Wrangler’s Steering: Proceed with Caution!
Disclaimer: DIY steering box adjustments come with a risk – Jeep advises replacement only. Attempt at your own peril!
Understand the Risks:
- Over-tightening can damage gears and wear out the box.
- Adjustments affect off-road behavior, making it twitchier.
- Play amount varies per vehicle, especially for off-roaders.
Proceed with Caution:
- Factory Settings: Green marks on the box show optimal alignment.
- Minor Adjustments: Turn the screw clockwise 1/8 of a turn at a time.
- Test and Repeat: Test the steering, adjust further if needed (or back off!).
- Maintain Play: Don’t eliminate all play – leave a slight amount.
How to make Jeep Steering tighter – Simple Procedure:
- Loosen the locknut.
- Turn the screw clockwise 1/8 of a turn (small increments).
- Tighten the locknut.
Remember: Start small, test often, and prioritize safety over a perfectly tight steering wheel.
You will need the following tools to complete the procedure:
- 1/2″ drive ratchet
- 16-inch extension
- 1/2 swivel
- 15mm socket
Most nuts will come loose without a struggle, however, there are reports of the threads being sealed with a Loctite, obviously to avoid the adjustable nut from working itself loose after it’s been assembled and set in the factory.
- If this is the case, you might have to use heat to loosen the Loctite and some extra force to break the seal.
- Be mindful not to strip the Allen head of the adjuster.
- Most boxes are exempt from Loctite and the screw loosens without much of a struggle.
Adjustable Front Track Bar
Fitting an adjustable track bar will improve the centering of the vehicle irrespective of the articulation and movement of other suspension components. If you fit an adjustable track bar, along with Mopar LCA suspension components, you essentially allow more adjustment options to alleviate the problem. This will also improve your Jeep Wrangler loose steering effect.
- 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 track bar with an adjusted steering box will dramatically improve the ride quality.
- Owners report its handling and steering like a new vehicle and on par with other SUVs.
To improve the Jeep JK loose steering effect, consider a replacement LCA. For improved caster angle adjustments and straight-line travel, the Mopar LCA is a fantastic solution. The LCA basically serves as a direct connection between wheels and steering. The LCA attaches the wheels to the chassis assists in handling, up and down travel, and keeps the axle centered when driving on uneven surfaces.
Fitting an Aftermarket LCA improves the following:
- Straight line stability
- Improves vertical stability and direction
Since an aftermarket LCA is designed from superior materials and more beefy build quality, it offers other advantages when going off-road as well as when fitting it in conjunction with an aftermarket suspension.
Wranglers may be built for adventure, but even a mountain goat stumbles on rocky roads with underinflated hooves. So before you blame your steering for every wobble, check your tire pressure!
Overfilled? Dealers love pushing high numbers, but that can make your steering feel like you’re piloting a marshmallow. Jeep owners recommend 32-37 psi as a sweet spot, adjust based on your terrain and weather.
Road warriors, listen up! Bigger tires mean less steering sensitivity. Embrace the change or consider downsizing if razor-sharp handling is your jam.
Tire pressure is a fickle beast. Temperature, terrain, and even your mood can change it. Don’t trust just the TPMS light—invest in a good gauge and check those tires regularly.
Wrangler steering play varies. To resolve the dreaded Jeep JK wandering steering fix some might need a nudge of the box, while others crave extra parts. But caution! Take it easy with your Jeep JL steering box adjustment as over-tightening will wreck the box and void your warranty. So, adjust wisely and find the fix that fits your Wrangler’s unique wobble.
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