The stock steering box and track bar bracket on any Jeep is a weak point when you start adding bigger tires and lifting the stock suspension. Production Jeep JK’s have a track bar bolt that is easy to install in the bracket – but if not kept at optimum torque easily oblongs the hole. That leads to a loose trackbar and invariably Death Wobble!
Most Jeep owners who plan to do any trail driving immediately install a lift, add larger tires, and maybe upgrade the front driveshaft. Thing is – if you can’t steer your vehicle accurately none of that matters. We previously detailed the Synergy MFG brace and reviewed how it works – so we wanted to offer our readers another option from JKS MFG.
A couple of quick notes about both setups. Neither will fit a stock Jeep and need a small lift to work. Neither is compatible with many other brand track bars or drag link flip kits.
The JKS MFG kit falls in the middle of the Synergy MFG price range. If you only buy the bracket and do not need the trackbar the Synergy kit costs less. If you need to buy their trackbar it is more – so on this point we will call it a draw.
The JKS kit requires welding while their competitor does not. That means you either need to be a welder or pay a bit more for the installation of the JKS kit. We will talk about the differences and why it may be worth it but for now the JKS kit is more work and more money.
How does it work?
Both kits we reviewed add support to the steering box and track bar bracket. They both start with a new bracket that clamshells over the existing bracket and bolts into the stock steering box location with several bolts. That’s where the differences start.
JKS adds a new mounting point that is located between the sector shaft and the frame. This block is welded in place and acts as an anchor point for the bushing that surrounds the sector shaft to support it. The bracket also has an arm that comes behind the sector shaft and that brace is bolted to that as well.
The brace has a cutaway to fit the tie rod for the cross brace as well. This additional tie in ensures there is no deflection in the steering box assembly under any load.
The Aluminum and anodized brace uses a bearing joint versus a ball bearing so it is sealed from dirt and debris. It also goes below the pitman arm to provide a double-shear strength. The bolt remains in contact with the pitman arm and the bearing rides on the new bolts finished end. That ensures the proper torque is applied to the pitman arm nut.
The other side of that cross brace is welded to the frame and connected via another tie rod end. Once you set the bar tension you lock the jam nuts in place and it prevents and lateral movement of the bracket. The result is extremely connected steering feedback. We found a lot less wandering on the road and the steering is more reactive to small inputs than before the installation.
Which is better?
Like most things this all comes down to preference and cost. The Synergy MFG kit can be purchased and installed for less if you have a track bar that is compatible. (Retail: $200.00) If you need their trackbar the price jumps up another $225.00. Install is a bolt in process.
The JKS MFG kit is more money ($312.09 on Amazon) and was compatible with our ICON Vehicle Dynamics track bar. The welding is the major difference in the installation between the two.
Here is our two cents on the two kits. We prefer the JKS MFG kit over the Synergy for one main reason. Strength – that cross brace adds significant extra strength and support to the steering box. Because the nut is directly supporting the pitman arm instead of pressing the brace into the arm for support it holds with maximum force where you need it and the bearing rides on the bolt with a machined fit. We feel both of these provide more strength and offer a longer service life for all the parts involved.
Special thanks to Paul Warren at World Tour Off Road Equipment for his install and welding expertise. As always check out our Featured Partners page to see our other manufacturers whose products we have reviewed.