New to me Jeep and steering issues, please help.

jedi_jackson

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Hey guys, new to the forum, but not new to Liberty's. I recently purchased a 2005 Liberty Sport with the 2.4L and manual transmission, 4x4 with 162k miles. When I purchased it I noticed the handling/steering of the Jeep seemed off compared to others I have owned, but noticed the front wheels had wear on the inside of the tires, so I assumed it just needed an alignment. Had an alignment done and still having issues. I've checked the front end, ball joints, tie rods, and wheel bearings and can't feel any slack. When driving if you turn to the left it turns fairly quickly and turning to the right I get to about the 1 o clock position before it really does anything and it's hard to describe, but it just feels off to me. I've looked at the intermediate steering shaft and can't feel any slack in the joints in it. I have noticed too that the steering wheel doesn't really want to return to center very well. Also while driving when I turn the wheel left or right it feels like the Jeep wants to keep stay in that position and brute me to whichever position. Also it feels like, for lack of a better term, it is skating on ice or like it just floats around when you turn the wheel, just very unstable feeling. I've tried to check the rack and pinion by having someone turn the wheel and I watch the tires and they seem to be moving appropriately. The rear lower control arms look fine, no rust, and shocks and struts seem ok to me. Any suggestions on what else I need to check? I've read a lot from the forum before I joined and have already learned a lot, but I am scratching my head with this one. I don't want to spend a fortune replacing parts that aren't necessary. I honestly suspect its the rack and pinion going bad, but looking for any help. Thanks and sorry for the lengthy post.
 

sleazy rider

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Did you have the front end off the ground and frame supported to check the suspension parts for wear? A reputable alignment shop should have mentioned any issues with component wear. Did you change the tires out with new and still have these symptoms?

But, I'm pretty much onboard with either the rack or power steering pump being bad too. Check the level and condition of the fluid in the PS reservoir? Also, pull the PS cap and start the engine. Have someone slowly turn the steering wheel lock to lock both ways while you look into the reservoir for bubbles and fluid movement. Bubbles show bad seals passing air in the rack. No fluid movement is usually the pump.

Heck, the length of post is fine because it takes time to lay out what's been done and checked.
 

jedi_jackson

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Well I've been out this morning to do some more checking and when jacking it up this time I heard some popping and looked closer and both upper and lower ball joints in the front have the boots torn. No slack in them when I move the wheel. Also another great surprise was a puddle underneath it. It is clear oily fluid. Best I can tell it looks like it is coming from somewhere near the power steering pump. And I didn't put new tires on, but I rotated them and the rear tires that are now on the front look evenly worn.
 

sleazy rider

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Liked for the info.

If you're hearing popping, something is amiss in the suspension. I use a prybar sparingly when checking for loose suspension connections. Good flashlight and slide under to look at the power steering lines. I've seen several posts here where they go bad. Worst case, it's the rack. See if the CV joints are worn by *carefully* wiggling them. Don't go King Kong with the shaking. If those are bad, make sure to add the center CV shaft to the replacement list. Google this site for more info on that.
 

jedi_jackson

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Ok, ball joints are definitely shot. Alignment shop should have caught that. And the puddle under the Jeep is antifreeze coming from the drivers side of the motor. I can't tell if it's coming from the thermostat or just below it. It feels like the lower radiator hose guess into the side of the block.
 

sleazy rider

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Glad you got it figured out. Mopar parts are highly recommended for pretty much everything on these beasties by the old timers here.
 

LibertyTC

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So I'll say welcome to you & recommend that you pressure test the system, to find the coolant leak easier on your 2005 2.4 motor.
The ball joints should have been caught by the alignment shop, are you getting them installed now with an alignment?
Enter in your VIN Number just to check if there is a free recall on your jeep for the Lower ball joints: https://www.mopar.com/en-us/my-vehicle/recalls/search.html
Here is your factory service manual for your 2005 as well. 3.7. 2.4 + CRD info is also included: http://www.colorado4wheel.com/manuals/Jeep/KJ/2005JeepKJServiceManual.pdf
 

jedi_jackson

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Thank you! Called the place I had the alignment and they said that they looked at them and they looked bad but felt ok to them. I jacked up both sides under the frame and used a small bar and gently picked up under each wheel and could see the ball joints move up and down, especially on the lower ones. I also drove it again and went over a bump and could here since popping in the front end. I am going to fix them and take it back for a free alignment next time. I'll look into pressure testing the cooling system too.
 
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