Review & Install Video
This Crown Automotive Heavy-Duty Steering Kit is gonna be for those of you that have a 1997 to 2006 TJ, and are looking for an upgraded and stronger steering set-up, however, you don't have the budget or the need for one of those much bigger, much beefier, and also much more expensive systems that are available.
In my opinion, this is gonna be for those of you that do some light-wheeling, maybe you don't have huge tires, maybe something like a 31 on your TJ, but manage to damage your steering set-up so you want a little bit of an upgrade, you want something that's gonna replace everything, the tie rod, the drag link, and of course your steering stabilizer itself, but you wanna do it on a little bit more of a budget. If you are going to be running a 35, a 37-inch tire on your TJ, you're probably going to wanna go with one of those more expensive, even stronger systems, however, this is still going to be a pretty good upgrade over your factory steering set-up.
This kit is built from one-inch solid steel rods. It is going to have greasable tie rod ends all the way around, however as I said before, these aren't going to be huge tire rod ends like on some of the other steering kits that you can get. This isn't going to be a completely oversized drag link and tie rod like on some of those more expensive kits that you can purchase. One of the nice features is that if you bent your tie rod, if you bent your drag link, there's a chance that you also bent your steering stabilizer, so this kit does come with one, and it's gonna be a pretty traditional 50-50 valve shock. It's going to work just fine regardless of your tire size and how you use your Jeep. Now, one of the nice things about this steering set-up is that, like a lot of the other ones, it is going to retain that inverted Y steering set-up, which is going to be, in my opinion, the best option for your TJ. There are some people that wanna change to more of a cross-over set-up, however the inverted Y does really work well for your TJ. So overall, this is going to be a very easy install. It's gonna be very easy to adjust. As you can see, it has two adjusters built right into it, so you're going to be able to make your length adjustment for tow and the center of your steering wheel very, very easily with this set-up.
As far as the install goes on this, I am gonna give it a one out of three wrenches. All you're going to have to do is remove your factory set-up from the Jeep, and go ahead and bolt this right in place. Now, anytime you're removing a tie rod end that is going to be a taper-fit, so you're going to wanna remove the cotter pin, remove the castle nut, and then strike the steering knuckle perpendicular to that factory tie rod. And that is how you're gonna pop that tie rod end out of it's taper-fit home. If you try and smash directly down on top of the tie rod end, there's a chance that all you're gonna do is mushroom that end, making it much more difficult to get it out of the steering knuckle. So again, have a big hammer on hand, strike perpendicular to the tie rod end. That's gonna be the best way to get everything apart. Now up at the pivot arm, when you're removing the drag link, I would recommend using a pivot arm puller. If you hit that in any way, you can damage your steering box, and you certainly don't wanna have to get into replacing that. So pivot arm puller is going to be something that I would recommend as far as tools for this job. It is gonna to make it a lot easier and a lot safer to do.
So, once you remove those components off of your jeep, you can go ahead and take some measurements from the center the tie rod ends and adjust this set-up so that it's going to be similar. That is going to give you the best chance of putting everything together and not having to change your tow or re-center your steering wheel. Once you've made your length adjustments, you can go ahead and tighten down your adjusters, put everything into their location, tighten everything down. You are going to wanna use an impact on these tie rod ends. If you try doing it with just a socket driver, chances are you're just going to spin the tie rod end and the ball inside of the housing here. So, use an impact, make sure you get them nice and tight, torqued down, make sure you use the castle nuts that come with them, and make sure you reinstall those cotter pins to ensure that the nuts aren't going to back out and nothing's gonna loosen up.
Now after that, I would check your tow, check your steering wheel center. If you're not comfortable doing that, you can always take your Jeep to an alignment shop and have then check that out, but it is something that's pretty easy to do in your driveway if you wanna save yourself a little bit of money and you have the time to do it. The final step in the installation is going to be bolting on your steering stabilizer. That again, very simple process bolted in place of that factory steering stabilizer. One end goes on the axle, the other end goes on your drag link, just bolt it up using the included hardware.
This whole set-up and including the steering stabilizer is gonna come in at right around $230, and I do think that's a good price for something that is going to be a bit of an upgrade over your factory system. Does include all of these components and all of this hardware. However, it is gonna be less expensive than the others for a reason. It's not gonna be quite as beefy, quite as strong as some of those more expensive upgrades. So, as I said in the beginning, I think if you're running a 31-inch tire, you bent something, you don't plan on putting yourself in a situation where you're gonna bend something again, then this is gonna be a good kit, a little bit of an upgrade from factory, but a fairly inexpensive upgrade. If you are hitting the rocks every weekend with 35s, I would recommend spending a little bit more money and going with one of those beefier kits.
So, if you're looking for an affordably priced steering upgrade kit for your TJ, I definitely recommend looking at this one from Crown Automotive that you can find right here at extremeterrain.com.