Help with ‘02 KJ Mystery Problem

2002_KJ

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Went to wash my KJ at one of those self power wash places. Took it for a spin after on some twisty mountain roads uphill. After some probably not-too-smart fast winding maneuvers and tight turns, all of a sudden I hear a noise while I’m driving normally like I just hit a pothole or something (maybe I did I dunno.)

My steering felt harder and the car was pulling to the right in addition to a noise I was hearing from outside like something was rubbing against something rhythmically. I thought I had done something to the suspension or to the control arms so I stop and take a look but nothing *seemed* out of place. I stop again because the car just felt off. Again nothing jumped out at me. Get back in and as I turn the wheel all the way to the right to turn around it feels like the wheels are going too far and the car wont move forward on its own. I straighten out and move forward and thankfully the road is downhill on the way back so I go slowly but I can still hear the noise...maybe from under the hood? Some cars are lining up behind me because I’m going slow so I turn onto the shoulder thats off the paved road and stop to let the cars pass, get out, and take another look around. I get back in and back on the asphalt and magically the car is driving like nothing happened. Steering goes back to being straight, no noise and the car doesn’t feel like it’s struggling as much as it was…like nothing happened.

All I can tell under the hood is that coolant is leaking a bit from the white plastic reservoir where the clipped-on tube goes into it (reddish liquid) but nothing else seems out of order.

Any thoughts? I did some aggressive-ish turning on the winding roads, engaged the part-time and full-time four-wheel drive a couple times (not 4lo) and thats about it. I’m guessing power steering issue? Pulley? I dunno…thanks.
 

lfhoward

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Check the bolts where the steering rack attaches to the jeep frame/cradle. This is a weak point on the KK’s at least, and the rack breaks there. I’d also be looking carefully at ball joints and tie rod ends for any play. Lastly I would jack up each front wheel and check the wheel bearing rotation.
 

rockymountain

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Once I took a ride with the mechanic that did my alignment and he didn't torque down the cam bolts all the way and I took a left hand curve at speed and heard a clunk/****. It had pushed the lower control arm all the way in and boy did it feel weird after that. Long story short, we rode carefully back to the shop and he aligned it again, (this time better) and torqued to spec and never had a problem afterwards. You can check the lower bolts on the cradle to see if they moved from the front. You would see an obvious clean area where the bolt once WAS if this was the case.
I've also shoved them in off-roading a time or two as well.
 

2002_KJ

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Thanks guys for these things to look out for. I'm starting to think that maybe it had something to do with the transfer case though...Is it possible that when I engaged part time and full time 4WD when I disengaged it maybe one of the axles didn't disengage properly. Meaning, is it possible that somehow something got stuck on part time or full time 4WD on one wheel making it seem like it was pulling to the left, then by continuing to drive it, it finally disengaged fully on its own and went back to normal?
 

rockymountain

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Thanks guys for these things to look out for. I'm starting to think that maybe it had something to do with the transfer case though...Is it possible that when I engaged part time and full time 4WD when I disengaged it maybe one of the axles didn't disengage properly. Meaning, is it possible that somehow something got stuck on part time or full time 4WD on one wheel making it seem like it was pulling to the left, then by continuing to drive it, it finally disengaged fully on its own and went back to normal?
The axles don't engage/disengage. It is the transfer case that does the engagement. One wheel can't be stuck.
 

2002_KJ

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The axles don't engage/disengage. It is the transfer case that does the engagement. One wheel can't be stuck.
Perhaps I used the wrong wording sorry. What I mean is that, even doing some research online, there does seem to be situations where the 4WD (perhaps part time, I think) can still be engaged, somehow, even after the lever is put all the way down and no dash light is on, causing the steering to pull to one side or another. Additionally, when stopped and turning the steering completely to the side where it pulls, the car wont even move forward as if it were stuck. From what I've read, it's not recommended to use any kind of 4WD on pavement (which I did) even though I thought that rule was more for 4LO.
 

rockymountain

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What transfer case do you have or specifically do you have part time and full time? Part time means fully engaged. full time means you have the second position on the shifter and can run it full time. If you have the two options, (look on the shifter), perhaps you are stuck in full time. I wouldn't know much else since I only have the command trac with part time. someone that knows more about the Selec trac (as you may have) can chime in. It very well could be stuck in full time, but that is only one thing that 'could' be wrong.
explanation thread I found:
 

rockymountain

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You can remove the front driveshaft to see if your issues go away, that's the sure test to determine or eliminate 4wd as the cause.
 

Maxdestruction04

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I have selec trac, called it sensa trac in another post by accident. It automatically disengages your 4wheel drive as soon as you hit 50km/hr or if it notices allot of steering wheel input with little speed like in parking lots. That way your not fighting the 4 wheel drive when parking because it messes up your turning radius even though selec trac will let all 4 wheels move at independent speeds but as soon as it senses wheel spin it will enguage 4 wheel drive again. I believe it may also disengage the 4 wheel drive at speeds lower than 50km/h if there is no wheelspin. I usaully just run in this setting all winter because it seems to save me a fair amount of fuel compared to being locked into full 4x4 and Im not constantly yanking that lever all winter turning it on and off. Its there when I need it and not when I dont. Also I remember reading that it was safe to travel on highway with select-track 4x4 on because it automatically disabled after 50km/h and wheelspin will not reinguage untill you drop below 50km/h. Ive been using it on higway for 15 years like this with no issues but it dosent have any traction control or antilock brakes.
 
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Maxdestruction04

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If you are stuck in full time and have select track moving the wheel hard side to side should cut the 4 wheel drive which from what you say is the opposite of what you are experiencing. Maybe something is happening to make it work in reverse, it engages 4 wheel drive when it should be cutting it. Not sure what could possibly cause such a thing but try unplugging the sensor on your bottom hose of steering pump, if it has something to do with select trac this should disable it. You can also unplug the sensor from the top of your rear end which will also disable select track but also your speedo, might help you diagnose your problem by taking select trac off the table by disabling it to see if thats your issue. One last thing...if you just unplug the sensor on the power steering hose im not sure it completely disables select trac it might just disable the part to do with steering imput. But if you unplug sensor on rear end as well its completely offline.
 
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2002_KJ

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If you are stuck in full time and have select track moving the wheel hard side to side should cut the 4 wheel drive which from what you say is the opposite of what you are experiencing. Maybe something is happening to make it work in reverse, it engages 4 wheel drive when it should be cutting it. Not sure what could possibly cause such a thing but try unplugging the sensor on your bottom hose of steering pump, if it has something to do with select trac this should disable it. You can also unplug the sensor from the top of your rear end which will also disable select track but also your speedo, might help you diagnose your problem by taking select trac off the table by disabling it to see if thats your issue. One last thing...if you just unplug the sensor on the power steering hose im not sure it completely disables select trac it might just disable the part to do with steering imput. But if you unplug sensor on rear end as well its completely offline.
So I'm getting the notion that this is what happened. Bear with me for a little here since you sound like you know how this system works and bless your patience if you're willing:

To recap: while I was driving on twisty paved uphill/downhill roads I pulled the shifter lever which must first go to part-time then full-time (after this there's N and 4LO which I didn't try to mess with because I know that's for very slow speeds and "extreme" off-road situations.)

I put it in part-time and then full-time (at least that's what the dash lights showed) and didn't notice anything wrong with steering or noises; at first I actually couldn't tell right away if they had actually engaged (other than the dash lights coming on) because I couldn't tell much a difference in the feel of how it was driving.

I then put the shifter back down to normal 2WD and didn't notice any problems, kept going on the twisties, did some slow tight turns to make a u-turn..etc. When I put the lever in part-time and full-time a second time, drove for a few minutes, and then lowered the shifter completely to 2WD, after a very short time I felt/heard something like I had gone over a hole in the road (which may or may not have actually happened) and I noticed that all of a sudden the steering was stiff and pulling towards the right and there was a rhythmic kind of noise happening that I couldn't tell from where it was coming (at the time I thought I had done something to the suspension or control arms or something and that a tire was rubbing against something causing the noise, but a visual check didn't show anything out of the ordinary.)

I had a sneaking suspicion that engaging part-time and full-time had done something so I stopped the car, pulled the lever through part-time and full-time then pulled it back down (while stopped) which didn't fix the stiff steering and pulling to the right when I started moving again.

When I got to a part of the road where there was a big paved space to stop on the side, I checked the suspension, control arms, and tire-well height/space (thinking it may still be one of those issues) again and nothing seemed out of place, except this time when I got back in and tried to do a tight right turn to get back on the road (turning the wheel all the way to the right) the car wouldn't even move forward like it was blocked or like the tire had turned "too much" somehow. The only way to get the car moving forward again was if I straightened out the steering a little and then it would move forward.

I kept driving with the stiff steering/pulling-right, downhill on paved road (going about 50/60 kph) until I pulled off the paved road on to the right side of the road that was dirt to let the line of cars behind me go by. Turning the wheel left to climb back onto the paved road from the dirt, all of a sudden the noise was gone and the steering was dead on straight, like it was before anything happened.

Based on what you said about how the select-track works, now what happened *seems* to make sense, maybe... I guess I'm trying to understand though why the 4WD (whether part-time or full-time I can't tell) would still be going even with the shifter down, apparently pulling the steering right and making that noise. If the steering was being pulled to the right because one of the wheels (the right wheel?) was still engaged even with the shifter all the way down, does that mean it was "stuck" in part-time or full-time? I'm confused with that part...so sorry for being a pain with this novel of a description.

Thanks!
 

rockymountain

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I would check the fluid level in the TC, it may just be getting stuck. Try also putting the transmission in N when you put it back down to 2wd. There are probably other threads around on here too. Fluid should be changed every year or two. There isn’t much electronic about select trac. Now select trac II, those are from what I gather which are in the KKs.
 

lfhoward

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It doesn’t sound to me like the 4wd mode is the cause of this issue, just a coincidence that you happened to be testing it out at the time. 4wd should in no way cause the right side to drag, or make it hard to turn in that one direction only. I think you have something going on with the front right wheel bearing or a brake caliper. Whatever it was, it popped back to normal, but something was definitely amiss with your right front wheel. Do you recall if the right front hub got hot on that day, when you were checking things out?
 

Maxdestruction04

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Im going to agree with the previous post now that you given a better description of whats happening, 4 wheel drive wouldnt cause drag on only one wheel. I missunderstood what u meant by drag on the wheel so a wheel bearing possibly and there is usually some noise to go with that as well. Also possibly a brake calliper just starting to seize, also a possibility and once uphon a time I got a small little pebble wedged in between brake pad and calliper that caused intermittent brake problems and pulling from one side. Like the guys above were saying select-track is very simple in the way it works with only 2 sensors and no traction control it cant cause just drag on one wheel thats not how it works, the newer select trac2 measures speed at every wheel and is integrated into antilock brake sys and traction control. Not sure if this is helpful
 
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2002_KJ

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It doesn’t sound to me like the 4wd mode is the cause of this issue, just a coincidence that you happened to be testing it out at the time. 4wd should in no way cause the right side to drag, or make it hard to turn in that one direction only. I think you have something going on with the front right wheel bearing or a brake caliper. Whatever it was, it popped back to normal, but something was definitely amiss with your right front wheel. Do you recall if the right front hub got hot on that day, when you were checking things out?
No, didn't notice any heat but to be honest all I did was a quick visual check those couple times. Only thing I noticed afterwards maybe (the next morning) is where the tie-rod end meets the knuckle was a little wet? Almost as if something had leaked there where the bushing is, I don't know. This made me think maybe there was an issue with the rack and pinion but then again, it went back to normal same day? Front rotors and brake pads were replaced couple months ago at a Jeep dealership...but I've been driving it for a while since then, albeit only easy driving. Coolant overflow tank was leaking a bit where the little overflow tube clips but engine temperature seemed fine. Other than that nothing weird I can think of.

So you don't think there's any way that 4wd not disengaging properly or some kind of transfer case issue or front drive would cause that kind of dragging/pulling or blocking? In my mind I was thinking maybe the 4WD was getting partially stuck on one side after going back to 2wd causing it to slow the wheel down... but obviously this is coming from someone who doesn't understand how that 4WD system works. What would cause the wheel to block when turned all the way to the right and not let the car roll forward unless straightened out a bit?

I did bring the car to a local shop and they also said they thought something was wrong with the transfer case after they had tried 4WD part-time/full-time but maybe they're just parroting what I said...shop is supposed to have a good reputation but they're not Jeep experts for sure.

Anyways thanks for the help guys, if something comes up I'll update.
 

Maxdestruction04

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No, didn't notice any heat but to be honest all I did was a quick visual check those couple times. Only thing I noticed afterwards maybe (the next morning) is where the tie-rod end meets the knuckle was a little wet? Almost as if something had leaked there where the bushing is, I don't know. This made me think maybe there was an issue with the rack and pinion but then again, it went back to normal same day? Front rotors and brake pads were replaced couple months ago at a Jeep dealership...but I've been driving it for a while since then, albeit only easy driving. Coolant overflow tank was leaking a bit where the little overflow tube clips but engine temperature seemed fine. Other than that nothing weird I can think of.

So you don't think there's any way that 4wd not disengaging properly or some kind of transfer case issue or front drive would cause that kind of dragging/pulling or blocking? In my mind I was thinking maybe the 4WD was getting partially stuck on one side after going back to 2wd causing it to slow the wheel down... but obviously this is coming from someone who doesn't understand how that 4WD system works. What would cause the wheel to block when turned all the way to the right and not let the car roll forward unless straightened out a bit?

I did bring the car to a local shop and they also said they thought something was wrong with the transfer case after they had tried 4WD part-time/full-time but maybe they're just parroting what I said...shop is supposed to have a good reputation but they're not Jeep experts for sure.

Anyways thanks for the help guys, if something comes up I'll update.
 

Maxdestruction04

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There is a very small possibility that you have a messed up bearing in the front diff on right side and when you turn the wheel hard one way its putting stress on bearing causing it to move slightly out of its races. And then giving drag on one wheel, could shift back into place and go away then return again under same circumstances. Right side has long drive shaft and is most likely to cook the bearings first as it experiences more stress than left side with short drive shaft. I had to replace right bearing in front diff myself but my problem was it kept desroying the right seal because the bearing had too much play, could also cause binding. Check to see if the seal on your front diff is leaking on right side, if your brakes are new and your sure its not a wheel bearing its all I can think of which might cause it 4 wheel drive related.
 
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