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Old 05-08-2015, 08:50 AM
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Default front end floating?

So I've got a neglected 1996 jeep cherokee country package. 2WD, 4.0 inline 6.

About two days ago my front end started floating pretty bad. I get to ~35 MPH and its like I'm driving drunk trying to keep my car on the road.

My steering has always had some play to it, but it seems to have gotten a lot worse. I have a few inches of slack, but when I get going I can barely ( like ¹/4" corrections) turn the wheels and I start drifting all over the place.

My first thought was a front end alignment, but in my mind that would make more of a pull and drag than floating.

So now I'm thinking it might be the shocks/tire rods. I'm not sure a bad bearing would make it float, I would think it would be more of a pull as well since it would be seizing up at that point.

Anyone got any tips or advice? Haven't had time to look at it yet but will tomorrow while I'm off. I'm not a mechanic by any means but for simple stuff like (i hope) this I think I can handle it with a beer and some YouTube.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 05-08-2015, 08:54 AM
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Iirc the steering Column on my dodge was bad and it would do that
Lots of play
I had about 1/2 a wheel turn before the truck would actually start to turn
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Old 05-08-2015, 09:17 AM
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I thought about that. Was also thinking about the gear box might need to be adjusted.
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Old 05-08-2015, 10:56 AM
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Idk I take my truck to belle tire or Midas and they tell me what's wrong with it for free. Then u can either take it home and fix it yourself or have them fix it for $$$$$
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Old 05-08-2015, 11:17 AM
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It's not gonna be a steering column there are no wearable parts on the column. I've seen bolts back out of the gearbox and frames crack by the gearbox on jeeps. But could be a wore out box or idler arm.
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Old 05-08-2015, 12:41 PM
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idler arm, rag joint, shocks, tie rod ends, ball joints. In that order is what I would inspect.
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Old 05-08-2015, 12:45 PM
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Thanks for the advice guys. Gonna see whats going on when I get home.
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Old 05-08-2015, 02:21 PM
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Southern I'm on my 5th cherokee, sound like what XJ owners call the death wobble? All the sudden the front end shakes violently at a certain speed? XJs are famous for the frame rail to crack where the steering box mounts. Other causes are caused when they are lifted, is your's? Other causes could be worn bushings on control arms whcih there are 4 of, also the ball joint on the end of the track bar could be worn out. Easy fix if you got tools. Too bad your not round here I'd take a look at it
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Old 05-08-2015, 03:03 PM
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Its not quite a death wobble, its more of a walking motion. The car goes where it wants to and keeping it on track is sketchy at best. Its not violent or shaky, just drifting. Best term I have for it is it seems like its floating.

Around 35 it starts drifting. Obviously the faster I go the worse it gets. Even the slightest correction drags it to the other side of the lane. I've had issues of it getting drug into grooves but I've always been told that's from worn shocks. Now my car just acts drunk. To keep it square I basically have to consistently swerve back and forth.

As far as lifts its completely stock. Sitting on factory 15" rims, 75/275/r15 iirc. Same thing that has always been on it. I'm about to start digging into it with my father in law. He's a mechanic so hoping we find an easy fix like a tie rod or the gear box.
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Old 05-08-2015, 05:00 PM
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while someone is turning the steering wheel watch the steering box to check for flex, if it's flexing look at the frame rail where the steering box mounts from the fender side and check for cracks also look at the drag link and track arm. Jack it up and put jack stands under the frame rails and grab one of the wheels and push, pull and shake the suspension and look for slop. The bushings in the front axle aren't the easiest to remove but are possible to do yourself. If it were mine I'd replace the all bushings in the control arms, axle and track bar, tighten up the steering box's gears. Then join the cherokee forum lot's of help for free
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