1-Ton Steering Frequently Asked Questions
These are some of the questions we get asked on a regular basis, both when making a decision to buy, and when installing.
Q: Should I go with UTK or OTK?
A: That depends entirely on your usage, lift height and how much work you want to do. The UTK kit requires the least work to install, and does not require any changes to the track bar. Generally speaking it's good up to about 6" of lift. OTK steering will give you a flatter drag link at higher lift heights which is good for steering performance, and will get you more ground clearance. The down side is that you will need to change to an OTA track bar setup to keep the drag link and track bar aligned, otherwise you will have a lot of bump steer. In addition there are a lot of things that need to be clearanced, trimmed or removed to fit the OTK steering. This includes but is not limited to the sway bar brackets and spring buckets. OTK steering has benefits for taller lift heights, but is more work and more expense. We do not recommend OTK for lifts under about 4".
Q: If I order a UTK kit, can I convert to OTK down the road?
A: Yes. The only difference between the 2 kits themselves is how the hole in the passenger side tie rod end is machined. You would simply need to swap out that end with one of the ES2233L OTK ends. In addition the taper in your knuckles will need to be reversed. This can be done by getting a new set of knuckles and reaming them from the top, or by using the tapered knuckle inserts. You will also need an OTA track bar setup as mentioned above.
Q: Do I need the reamer? Or inserts?
A: Typically you will need one or the other. You will not need both. Many people are intimidated by the prospect of reaming their knuckles. The inserts allow you to simply drill a straight hole with a normal 7/8" drill bit. Many people think this is easier than using the reamer. We tend to disagree. The reamer centers itself quite easily, and as long as you take your time and don't go too far, it's a pretty easy job. The inserts allow you to use a standard drill bit, so some people feel they will save money this way, but if you don't already have a 7/8" drill bit the extra cost there will probably get pretty close to the cost of the reamer. In addition you cannot use an insert in the pitman arm, so your easiest option there is to buy one of our already machined pitman arms. If you have a reamer, you can re-taper your existing pitman arm. Note: the pitman arm is a MUCH tougher, forged material and is not as easy to ream as the knuckles, but it can be done. Many people choose to buy the pitman arm.
Q: I'm running a __________ diff cover, will the tie rod clear?
A: Maybe. In most cases, yes, but there are so many diff covers on the market it's impossible to say one way or another. The best way for you to find out is to run a piece of string between the center of the tie rod ends at the knuckles, simulating a straight tie rod like the one in our kit. Our tie rod is 1.5" diameter, so if you have 3/4" of clearance throughout the steering travel, it'll clear. If not, it won't.
Q: I'm in the middle of installing my kit and the tie rod is hitting the track bar bolt. What should I do?
A: This is covered a bit in the install instructions, but I'll offer more detail here. First things first, you need to get an alignment, and make sure the flat spot in the tie rod is facing the track bar bolt. If the toe is set too far in or too far out your knuckles will be at an angle which will bring the tie rod closer to the axle housing. You must have the steering aligned before going any farther. If you are still having a clearance issue you will need to adjust your steering stops on the knuckles.
Q: But if I move my steering stops aren't I going to lose steering angle?
A: Not necessarily. Jeep was incredibly inconsistent with setting the stops from the factory. Often we find that in a stock Jeep they will never hit the axle, the steering box runs out of throw first. Some vehicles don't need any adjustment, some need a significant amount. In the end, they all wind up in the same place. It's usually the starting point that varies.
Q: I'm having trouble threading in one of the tie rod ends, what should I do?
A: Again, this is covered in the Install Instructions. Because of variations in the tie rod end manufacturing it's not uncommon for the threads on one or more of the ends to fit quite tightly. You may need a wrench to turn them. Start by cleaning and inspecting all the threads and look for any damage or debris. Always use oil or anti-seize on the threads. If they require some leverage to turn that's not abnormal, but they should turn smoothly. If things are binding up or starting to gall, stop and investigate. Don't force it!
Q: I need to get some replacement tie rod ends, do you have the part numbers?
A: ES2234R and ES2027L are the standard ends you can get at any parts store. ES2233L is the long one with the hole in it, it's also available anywhere, but has been reamed to fit the ES2234R on the drag link. You will either want to order one of our machined ones, or if you have the reamer, you can ream one yourself.