Though I didn’t realize it at the time, I suppose it all started last spring — that’s when I first noticed Smokey jerking hard to one side whenever I drove over a substantial bump at speed. Since I travel the same roads going to and from work each day, I attributed the problem to poor workmanship during recent roadwork. Then I noticed the oil on the floor of the garage.
Looking under the Jeep, I was relieved to see to the source wasn’t the engine, but a blown seal on Smokey’s steering stabilizer. A little research and a few clicks sent a suitable Teraflex replacement on its way.
While the installation wasn’t quite the cake walk the company’s installation video suggested, it nonetheless was simple enough for a novice wrencher like me.
- Teraflex heavy duty steering stabilizer (Part No. 1513001)
- 18 mm box wrench
- 13 mm box wrench
- Torque wrench
- 18 mm socket
- Shop towel (optional)
Step 1: Remove the OEM stabilizer
Using an 18 mm box wrench, remove the track-bar-side bolt and tie-rod-side nut holding on the Mopar stabilizer shock. Retain the 18 mm nuts for use with the Teraflex unit. A quick inspection of the removed shock confirmed its obsolescence. A single finger could easily collapse and expand the leaky shock.
Step 2: Test fit Teraflex stabilizer
Remove the new stabilizer shock and hardware package from the box. Push the included sleeves into the bushings on the shock. Then, slip the Teraflex shock tube between the mounting tabs on the vehicle’s right side. (It might be necessary to pry open the tabs to fit the bushing between the tabs.) Replace the bolt and slip the shaft-side bushing onto the tie-rod-side stud. Before replacing and tightening mounting bolts, rotate the tie rod through its full range of motion to ensure the stabilizer shock does not come into contact with the bottom of the track bar bracket or that the tie rod bracket does not need to be notched for clearance.
Step 3: Adjust mount (if necessary)
In Smokey’s case, the larger-diameter Teraflex shock had substantial clearance issues which prevented installing the shaft mount on its stud without modification. To address the issue, loosen the four U-bolt nuts using a 13 mm box wrench. Next, rotate the stud downward until adequate clearance is achieved.
At this point, have a friend start the Jeep and slowly turn the steering from lock to lock in order to check the expansion and compression of the shock. If the shock is moving too far in either direction, move the stud mount toward or away from the shock body as necessary. I had to pull Smokey’s stud mount just under a half-inch toward the shock to keep it from over-extending.
Step 4: Verify clearance and torque bolts
With all clearance issues resolved, replace and tighten the 18 mm nuts and bolt. The Jeep torque specification is 50 ft-lbs. More important than that figure, however is that the nuts compress the bushing so they come into contact with the metal sleeves. Here is where an otherwise impressive Teraflex product loses a bit of it’s shine: The sleeves provided with the shock are about an eighth of an inch shorter than the original equipment sleeves, making it all but impossible to properly compress the bushings. I read on a couple of forums where individuals removed and reused their factory sleeves. I tried, but was unable to remove mine and, instead, cranked the bolts to about 65 or 70 ft-lbs in order to eliminate unwanted looseness during steering.
I had one other frustration, which wasn’t with the Teraflex shock itself, but rather with the instructions. The enclosed booklet mandates removing the outer inch-and-a-half of the shock’s dust shield on certain model years, including 2009 Jeep JKs like Smokey. Owners are assured the dust shield will remain long enough to protect the shaft from rocks and debris on the highway, but a simple left-hand turn reveals a shiny chrome shaft. In fact, I can see no logical reason to remove this material, as there is plenty of room for movement with the full dust shield in place. If I had the install to do over again, I’d definitely skip this step.
On the road, the benefits of the new Teraflex HD steering stabilizer are almost instantly apparent. Not only is Smokey’s previous bumpsteer completely eliminated, but the amount of road vibration transmitted to the steering wheel is dramatically reduced as well. During a test drive of approximately 20 miles over rough roads and highways, the Jeep’s steering felt much more tight and responsive. I look forward to seeing how the Teraflex shock holds up to daily highway and off-road use.
Total time to complete
About 15 minutes (30 if tie rod mounting point requires adjustment)
Total project cost
$53.99 (free shipping from Quadratec)