Best Jeep Wrangler JL Steering Upgrades
Photos: John Cappa and courtesy of the manufacturers
There are lots of Jeep Wrangler JL aftermarket steering upgrades to help improve overall steering system durability, ground clearance, power as well as help avoid and eliminate handling issues such as death wobble. We’ve compiled the best steering upgrades available and organized them to help you decide what is right for you and your Jeep Wrangler JL. The type of steering modifications you’ll need will depend how you use your Jeep, your tire size as well as your overall steering performance expectations. Read on and we’ll have your Jeep Wrangler JL steering straight in no time.
Jeep Wrangler JL Steering Stabilizer Relocation
The factory Jeep Wrangler JL Steering Stabilizer hangs precariously low under the front of your Jeep. It’s actually probably the first component that will make contact with a trail obstacle when off-roading. It hangs down below the front axle tube and below the tie rod. It’s also made of thin sheet metal and it’s full of oil. Even the smallest of dings can cause the steering stabilizer to bleed out and become completely ineffective. Fortunately, affordable JL steering stabilizer relocation brackets are available to move it up and out of the way. If you off-road at all, this should probably be your first Jeep Wrangler JL steering upgrade.
Jeep Wrangler JL Replacement Steering Stabilizer
Your factory Jeep JL steering stabilizer is fine for up to 33-inch tires. Bumping up the tire size generally requires a little more steering stability. A basic aftermarket steering stabilizer is an affordable option to replace a worn or damaged factory steering stabilizer and give you a little more tire control. Many of the aftermarket steering stabilizers will bolt into the factory mounting brackets, while others include new brackets. Either way it’s an easy and completely bolt-on steering upgrade.
Jeep Wrangler JL Heavy Duty Steering Stabilizer
If your Jeep Wrangler JL is riding on 35-inch tires or larger, you should consider adding a heavy-duty aftermarket steering stabilizer. The high-performance steering stabilizers will do a better job of keeping wheel wobble in check. Many of these advanced steering stabilizers feature firmness adjustability so you can tune it to your specific vehicle steering needs. They typically include the brackets needed to mount the stabilizer to your Jeep’s steering system.
Jeep Wrangler JL Heavy Duty Steering Linkages
Owners of Jeep JL Wranglers that see large rocks, stumps and logs strewn about the trail should consider a heavy-duty tie rod and drag link upgrade made from heavy-wall steel or chromoly tube. Even though the stock steering linkages are quite robust, bumping them into trail obstacles can cause them to bend. Aftermarket aluminum steering linkages are another option. The aluminum is able to flex and rebound instead of bend when it makes contact with rocks and logs. Of course, the more ground clearance your Jeep has the less likely this contact is to happen. You’ll have to judge your own driving skill and ground clearance requirements to decide if heavy-duty steering linkages are right for you and your Jeep.
Jeep Wrangler JL Top Mounted Drag Link
If you’ve stepped into a 4.5- to 5-inch suspension lift kit on your Jeep Wrangler JL, then you’ll likely want to consider a track bar relocation and a top-mounted steering drag link. This combination helps alleviate the steering and handling issues caused by the lift. It also keeps the steering linkages from binding when the suspension droops. Beware, top mounting the drag link won’t work with all lift kits so make sure you refer to the manufacturer before making the modification.
Jeep Wrangler JL Heavy-Duty Ball Joints
Under normal conditions the ball joints on the front axle of your Jeep Wrangler JL should last 70,000 to 150,000 miles. However, with 35-inch or larger tires and aggressive driving on- and off-road that lifespan can be significantly reduced. When the plastic bearing surfaces in the ball joints wear out, the added slop can cause steering, handling and tire wear issues that are difficult to diagnose. Fortunately, the aftermarket offers heavy-duty ball joints and rebuildable heavy-duty ball joints to replace the less durable factory parts. The heavy-duty ball joints are better able to keep the larger than stock tires in check thanks to the metal bearing surfaces that don’t wear out prematurely under load.
Jeep Wrangler JL Sector Shaft Gusset
Most of us are aware that aggressive driving can take its toll on the durability and longevity of a vehicle. On average, the Jeep Wrangler JL probably sees more off-road use and abuse than any other 4×4 that drives off of the assembly line. If your Wrangler is rolling on 35-inch or larger tires and you tend to fall into that aggressive driver camp, you might want to consider a steering sector shaft gusset. The steering sector shaft gusset helps support the steering box and track bar when the tires and wheels deflect off of larger obstacles with momentum. An unsupported sector shaft could fail, leaving you stranded with no steering. The steering sector shaft gusset is simply a small preventative insurance policy that will also help your steering box live a long leak-free life.
Jeep Wrangler JL Big Bore Steering Box
The factory steering system on your Jeep Wrangler JL can handle general off-road driving on 35-inch tires. However, during really technical rock crawling through larger rocks and deeper crevices you’ll quickly realize that the steering system is woefully underpowered for 35-inch tires. This is especially true with the tires aired down and the front locker locked on Rubicon models. An aftermarket big bore steering box and pump kit can help you more easily steer up to 35-inch tires in technical rocky terrain. The kits come complete with the big bore steering box, pump, fluid cooler, hoses, fittings, mounting brackets and all the hardware needed for installation.
Jeep Wrangler JL Ram Assist Steering
When you step up to 37- to 40-inch tires on your Jeep Wrangler JL, the steering becomes extremely difficult at slow speeds both on- and off-road. With the tires aired down and the front locker locked in technical rocky terrain it’s usually impossible to steer unless the Jeep is moving forward or backward. If you’ve installed 37-inch or larger tires and frequently off-road in even marginally technical rocky terrain you’ll likely want to consider installing a ram-assist system on your Jeep JL. The kits come with a new ported steering box, a power steering pump, the ram assist cylinder, hoses, fittings, mounting brackets and all the hardware needed for installation.