If you're tired of replacing bent tie rods or tie rod ends on your JK Wrangler off-road rig, it's time for a Jeep JK tie rod upgrade. Overlanding is fun, but it puts your jeep's suspension in direct jeopardy. Hitting a rock or stump can easily bend and deform your tie rod, ruining your alignment even to the point where your JK is virtually unroadworthy. Thankfully, over the years the Jeep Wrangler has amassed a large number of aftermarket suppliers, many of whom design and manufacture upgraded, heavy-duty components to address some of the Wrangler's greatest weaknesses. Below we've compiled a list of the best Jeep JK tie rod options on the market, from affordable cold-rolled steel units to hardened, heat-treated chromoly units that will withstand an insane amount of abuse before failing, at a variety of price points every budget.
If you're tired of replacing bent tie rods or tie rod ends on your JK Wrangler off-road rig, it's time for a Jeep JK tie rod upgrade.
Overlanding is fun, but it puts your jeep's suspension in direct jeopardy. Hitting a rock or stump can easily bend and deform your tie rod, ruining your alignment even to the point where your JK is virtually unroadworthy. Thankfully, over the years the Jeep Wrangler has amassed a large number of aftermarket suppliers, many of whom design and manufacture upgraded, heavy-duty components to address some of the Wrangler's greatest weaknesses.
Below we've compiled a list of the best Jeep JK tie rod options on the market, from affordable cold-rolled steel units to hardened, heat-treated chromoly units that will withstand an insane amount of abuse before failing, at a variety of price points every budget.
Table of contents
- 1. Editor's Pick: Doetsch Off-Road Heavy-Duty Jeep JK Tie Rod Kit
- 2. Runner-up: Synergy Heat-Treated Jeep JK Tie Rod Kit
- 3. TeraFlex Jeep JK Tie Rod Kit
- 4. Rugged Ridge Heavy-Duty Jeep JK Lenkungssatz
- 5. TRQ Jeep JK Tie Rod Ends
- How do you adjust a Jeep JK tie rod?
1. Editor's Pick: Doetsch Off-Road Heavy-Duty Jeep JK Tie Rod Kit
While chromoly steel tends to be the material of choice for Jeep JK tie rod upgrades, aluminum alloy has its own unique merits that make it a compelling alternative. This tie rod upgrade for the Doetsch Offroad Jeep JK is made from 1.5-inch-thick 7075 aluminum alloy—a material Doetsch calls “memory metal” in the sense that it automatically returns to its original shape, even after bending . This makes it perfect for off-road use, where even a small miscalculation can result in a bent or deformed tie rod. The tie rod features 1-ton heavy-duty greaseable ends, and best of all is the price; This tie rod is over $100 less than other chromoly tie rod kits on this list and even comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
2. Runner-up: Synergy Heat-Treated Jeep JK Tie Rod Kit
This Synergy Heat Treated Tie Rod is a fantastic choice for a Jeep JK tie rod upgrade that really can take a beating. It is made from 1-3/8 inch 4130 chromoly steel which is extremely strong and resistant to deformation and also has excellent corrosion resistance. The bar is heat treated as part of their production routine, making it an amazing 200% stronger than the factory part and making it the strongest Jeep JK bar on the market, according to the manufacturer. No more bent tie rods caused by unfortunate brushing with off-road rocks. Neither the cheapest nor the most expensive tie rod upgrade on this list, the Synergy unit is one of the most famous, with numerous rave customer reviews.
3. TeraFlex Jeep JK Tie Rod Kit
When it comes to Jeep JK Wrangler tie rods, strength is the name of the game, and the TeraFlex Jeep JK Tie Rod Kit packs a punch, with heat treated 4140 chromoly steel construction and a seriously beefy 1.6 OD Customs service. Compared to 4130 chromoly, 4140 has a higher carbon content for even greater strength and hardenability. So while everyone claims to have the “strongest” Jeep JK tie rod upgrade on the market, TeraFlex might actually be right about theirs. Of course, with the added strength comes an additional cost; This track rod upgrade for the Jeep JK is among the most expensive we've seen and is reserved for only the most serious hardcore off-roader.
4. Rugged Ridge Heavy-Duty Jeep JK Lenkungssatz
Even if you're on a budget, upgraded Jeep JK turnbuckle upgrades are within reach thanks to deals like this one from Rugged Ridge. Rugged Ridge is a well known and respected brand in the off-road community and this combo tie rod/drag link kit is a perfect example of that. Costing less than any other tie rod upgrade kit on this list, the kit includes a heavy-duty 1-ton tie rod and drag link constructed from 1-1/4 in. ID DOM steel tubing - as strong as can be nails, and not as expensive to manufacture as heat treated chromoly tubing - with no seams or welds to fail. It's easily the best value on this list, saving you hundreds over a chromoly Jeep JK tie rod upgrade and comes with a five year manufacturer's warranty.
How do you adjust a Jeep JK tie rod?
After you have upgraded your Jeep JK Tie Rod, precise adjustment is required to ensure your front wheels have proper toe alignment, where "toe" refers to how far the wheels are pointing in or out. The JK Wrangler requires some toe-in, with both wheels slightly inward from back to front, to ensure proper on-road handling and even tire wear. (Front wheel toe-in is common on most RWD vehicles.)
The good news is that adjusting the Jeep JK tie rod ends is relatively easy. You should consult the experienced professionals at a wheel alignment shop if you are not 100% confident in your own skills, but as long as you have a great attention to detail and know how to swing a wrench, Jeep JK tie rod adjustment is perfect something you can do at home.
Adjusting your Jeep JK's tie rod involves three main steps: unlocking the tie rod end so it can be adjusted freely, turning either with a wrench or by hand to adjust its length relative to the tie rod, and locking the end in its new position. But depending on which Jeep JK Tie Rod you have, the means of locking and unlocking the tie rod end may vary. Some tie rod designs have a gap into which the end is threaded, with a fastener across the gap that draws both sides together, pinching the rod end and locking it in place. Others are a bit simpler, with a locknut that threads onto the tie rod end and must be loosened from the tie rod. In this case, you must be careful to apply counter-torque to the tie rod when loosening the nut.
Once the tie rod ends are loosened, they are adjusted by turning them in or out of the tie rod. Fine threads on the tie rod and ends mean that when turned, the rod end extends or retracts either by hand or with a wrench to adjust the overall length of the tie rod.
While we recommend taking your Jeep to a shop for final alignment after installing new Jeep JK tie rod ends or a brand new tie rod, you can get it in the ballpark yourself by measuring the distance between the front tires, both at the front of the tire and at the Rear. Enlist the help of a friend or family member and use a tape measure to measure the distance from the molding seam on the back of the passenger tire to that on the driver's side, and then measure the same distance on the front of each tire. Ideally, the rear tires should be spaced a little further apart - 1/16 inch, definitely no more than 1/8”. With the steering wheel at dead center, adjust each tie rod end evenly until this is achieved.
A word of caution: an improperly adjusted Jeep JK tie rod can have a drastic effect on the handling of your vehicle. An off-center steering wheel, for example, can confuse your Wrangler's traction control system, causing it to activate seemingly at random in a futile attempt to match wheel speed with steering wheel direction. But even if your steering wheel is nice and straight in relation to the front wheels, too much toe-in or toe-out can cause excessive tire wear, and toe-out can even make your Wrangler jerky and unstable at speed. If your Wrangler ever feels unsafe to drive after installing a new tie rod, see a professional.
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