Tuesday, May 24, 2011

New Tom Wood's Drive Shafts on a 2008 Jeep Wrangler JK

A new front drive shaft fixed the vibration I was feeling through the steering wheel. Here's how. I have a 2008 Jeep Wrangler. I added some Warn bumpers, 35" BFGoodrich KM2 tires, American Expedition Vehicle wheels and a 4" SuperLift. The lift was done around the same time as the tires and and around that time I noticed that the front tires felt out of balance from 45-50 mph. My steering wheel was shaking. I went back to Discount Tire and they rechecked the balance and assured me the tires were balanced correctly. That was almost a year ago. I lived with the 45-50 mph vibration since then. I recently went to Moab and saw grease had slung out from the Rzeppa style CV (Constant Velocity) joint and the spline boot was breaking apart. This was on the front drive shaft only. Rzeppa joints are very strong and smooth, but don't hold up as well as U-joints when the drive shaft sees a steeper angle from a 4" lift or more. I just had Tom Wood's drive shafts installed at Bayview 4x4 in Silverdale, WA and something unexpected happened. Rich, the lead mechanic at Bayview 4x4, knew what the problem was and my 45-50 mph vibration in the steering wheel went away. Turns out the stock JK Wrangler Rzeppa style CV joint was at a steep enough angle to cause drive line vibration and a couple shops couldn't correctly diagnose the problem for me. Word of advice... watch out for so called "Professionals" with advice and question everything! While I was looking at the Tom Wood's drive shaft site I found Driveline 101 and it referenced the 45-50 mph vibration problem. Click here to check out the Driveline 101 page. The other problem with the front JK drive shaft with a 4" lift was that the stock drive shaft was resting on the transfer case skid plate with the axle dropped to it's lowest position. The new Tom Woods drive shafts came with low profile replacement flanges and a smaller diameter drive shaft and now there is no interference between the drive shaft and skid plate. Be warned that the new Tom Wood's drive shaft requires you to grease it on a regular basis. Mechanics will tell you that almost all U-joint failures are a result of the owner not greasing on a regular basis or not greasing after going through a lot of water and deep sand. Greasing is easy. Grease your drive shaft regularly to keep it working like new. Don't ignore DD (Driveline Dysfunction): It's Preventable.

Photo taken in Death Valley, CA at an elevation of... minus 190ft: Click on photo for full view

Two videos of my Jeep at Moab in mid May, 2011