Review & Install Video
I'm Ryan from extremeterrain.com, and this is my review and installation of the Rugged Ridge Heavy Duty Monster Complete Steering Linkage, for all 1997-2006 TJs. Today we're gonna talk through the installation of the steering linkage set up, which is a very simple one out of three wrenches, because it is designed to bolt right in place of your factory steering linkage. And then we're also going to talk about the construction and a few of the other features of this system.
Now this system is a knuckle to knuckle tie rod system, that also includes a drag link. The factory system in your TJ is what's known as an inverted-Y system, where the drag link actually connects the pitman arm to one of the steering knuckles, and the tie rod end connects from midway down the drag link to the other steering knuckle. Now, there's absolutely nothing wrong with an inverted-Y system. The TJs have been running them for a long time with almost any lift kit system that you would run that's an out of the box lift. The inverted-Y is absolutely fine and you're not going to have a problem with it.
So, the argument for upgrading to a knuckle to knuckle tie rod system is a heated debate. Some people will say that this system is better, but there isn't a lot of factual information for why this is better. Unless you're somebody who does have an adjustable height suspension system. If you have one of those air systems that are designed for off-road. If you have the inverted-Y, and you change your right height on the fly, it is going to change your tow. With a knuckle to knuckle tie rod system like this, of course you're not going to have that issue. However, if you're on a fixed-height suspension, there is a lot of debate whether this system or the factory style inverted-Y is better. So, I'll let you make that decision for yourself.
There are a few systems out there that are stronger, knuckle to knuckle systems and also some beefed up inverted-Y systems. So, regardless of what style of steering linkage you wanna go with, there are a lot of options for getting a system that's a lot beefier, that's gonna hold up to large tires in off-road scenarios.
This system is made of quarter-inch wall DOM tubing with really high strength tie rod ends. This does have a clamping style adjustment where the DOM tubing is split, this does come with a couple of clamps. So, you'll screw the tie rod ends in or out to adjust for length and to reset your steering wheel, and then use those clamps to keep everything held into place. The tie rod ends themselves are of course greaseable, as the factory system is and this is definitely going to be a lot stronger. You are not going to have an issue with this system bending when you're off-road.
Now one thing to note is that, this is still and under the knuckle system. A lot of people when they go to a knuckle to knuckle tie rod system, will want something that puts a tie rod on top of the steering knuckles to gain a little bit of clearance. However, that does require either aftermarket knuckles or modifying the knuckles. This will bolt into the factory location underneath the knuckles, so that is something to consider. This system is designed for TJs that have 2-4 inches of lift, and Rugged Ridge does caution against aftermarket wheels that have a lot of back spacing, and that's all they say they don't give you a number.
Now with the larger tie rod ends that are included with this system, there is the possibility of having an issue with a smaller wheel with certain back spacings. You could have some clearance issues, so that's something to consider, they don't give you an exact number, so I can't tell you that you will absolutely, will or will not work with this system. But, chances are if you're running a larger wheel or a normal amount of backspacing for a TJ, you should be just fine.
Like I said, this installation is a very simple one out of three wrenches. All you're going to need to do is remove your factory steering linkage, by removing the cotter pins and the castle nuts to get the tie rod ends out of the knuckles and out of the pitman arm. Now, these are a taper fits. So, things are going to be tight depending on the last time you had the system apart, it may be difficult. What's important to remember is, don't hit down on the top of the tie rod in order to get it out. Chances are, even if you leave the nut on there, you're just going to mess up the threads, mushroom the end of the tie rod end making it more difficult on yourself.
Where you actually wanna hit with your hammer would be perpendicular to the tie rod and threaded rod. Actually hitting on the side of the steering knuckle. There's usually a flat spot on there, if you hit that hard enough because it is a tappered fit, this will pop down. There are also a number of different pullers that you could use in order to get the tie rod ends out of there tapered holes, in both the knuckles and in the pitman arm. Once the system is out of the way, you can go ahead and bolt up the new system. You'll attach your tie rod end, making the adjustments so that the tie rod is long enough to fit in the factory knuckles and from there, attach your new drag link to the tie rod and back up to your pitman arm, again making your adjustments. From there, it's just a matter of taking down all of the clamps.
You can certainly change your tow and changes center of your steering wheel by adjusting the system further. The whole installation will probably take you around two hours by the time you get everything apart, back together and adjusted properly. But you won't need any specialty tools, just a good set of sockets.
Rugged Ridge is known for making parts that are generally less expensive than some of the others on the market. With this system here, DOM tubing is DOM tubing there isn't a lot to it. So, the only thing that you would really be looking at is from a quality perspective, would be the tie rod ends, and these are one ton styled tie rod ends that are going to be very very strong.
So in my opinion, if you're looking for an upgraded strength steering system, you want a knuckle that have got a tie rod system that is underneath the knuckles. This is going to be an economical choice that is going to add a ton of strength. So, if you have big tires on your Jeep and you've either damaged your steering linkage off-road already, or you're looking to upgrade your system so that you don't have to worry about it bending, this is going to be a great option. This is a tie rod system that keeps the tie rod underneath the knuckles, getting rid of the factory inverted-Y system. So, again if that's something you're after this is a system that is really fairly priced.
So, that's my review for the Rugged Ridge Heavy Duty Monster complete Steering Linkage, fitting all 1997 to 2006 TJs. That you can find it right here at extremeterrain.com.