Adding a Steering Stabilizer Short Cuts

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By: Powell Smith - 07/29/02

Installing a Rancho Steering Stabilizer on a Gen I Montero

In the effort to continue modifying my 1989 Mitsubishi Montero LWB for offroad use, I am now ready to install a steering stabilizer to help with steering during serious four wheeling.

What Do Steering Stabilizers Do?

Steering stabilizers do not improve steering behavior onroad, nor do they remedy steering problems such as loose joints, etc. They prevent the dangerous jerking of the steering wheel when traversing rough terrain. The stabilizer dampens the movement of the steering wheel preventing serious injuries to drivers. Without a stabilizer, thumbs can be dislocated or fractured from the violent spinning of the wheel when drivers hook their thumbs inside the steering wheel while navigating offroad.

Parts Needed

Rancho RAN5402 and RAN5508 - The first Rancho part is an RS5000 gas shock absorber/steering stabilizer. The second part is a bracket kit for a Jeep. This is the same as for the Montero (no wonder it was in stock).

Required Tools

Removing the skidplates

Skids are removed!
The skids are taken off, and the truck is ready for the procedure

The first step is to remove the front and rear skid plates to get access to the front axle and tie rod. If you haven't done this before to change your oil, I've found that the following procedure works well.

1. Loosen the two front 14mm bolts on the right and left hand side just below the bumper. Do not remove them completely. (they will serve as a hinge once the rear bolts are loosened)

2. Remove the two rear 12mm bolts from the rear skid plate being careful to support it with your hand just before the last screw is removed. This will prevent the front mounts to bend or break depending on their condition. Release rear skid plate gently and it will sag down.

3. Remove the two 12mm bolts connecting the front and rear skid plates to the truck being careful again to support the rear skid plate to keep it from dropping on you or the ground. The front skid plate will swing forward on the loosened front bolts.

4. Once you have removed the rear skid plate and put it aside, you can now remove the front bolts from the front skid plate and remove it. You may have to move it back and forth to get the front edge out from under the front bumper.

I like to use a good "grease cutting" detergent soap on the skid plates to remove any oil/dirt from both sides of the plates. This helps with monitoring leaks if you do this each time you remove these plates.

Getting Down to Business

Image courtesy of Powell Smith
The parts are laid out, prior to being installed

1. Make sure that your front wheels are in the center forward position for proper installation (not turned to left or right)

2. Attach larger bracket to passenger side of front axle using the two largest U-bolts, washers and locknuts. Do not tighten... you will need to be able to rotate and slide this bracket to adjust the position of the stabilizer for proper clearance. Refer to my photo or the photo included with the stabilizer for proper orientation of the bracket to the axle. (there is only one right direction to install this)

3. Attach smaller bracket onto the driver's side of the steering relay rod. The stabilizer comes with a small and medium set of U-bolts for use on different model trucks. I found that the smaller bolts left a small gap between the bottom of the "U" and the relay rod, so I used the bigger set. This kit works on older jeeps, Troopers and Samurai's as well. Once again, do not tighten the locknuts... you will need to be able to slide and rotate the bracket to adjust the position of the steering stabilizer for proper clearance. Refer to my photo or the photo included with the stabilizer for proper orientation of the bracket to the relay rod. (there is only one right direction to install this)

4. At this point, you need to decide whether you want to include the red plastic boot on the stabilizer. I tried this, but it seemed to get in the way when turning the steering wheel either direction. It would rub on the steering relay rod. I installed mine without the boot for this reason.

5. You will now need to refer to the instructions that come with the stabilizer to properly extend the stabilizer for proper positioning on the axle and relay rod. I contracted the stabilizer completely and then extended the stabilizer so that the shaft extended between 4-6" from the shock housing. This allows the shock shaft to travel evenly when rotating steering from "lock to lock" without having the stabilizer limit this travel.

6. Now place a washer first, then a rubber bushing on the shock housing end of the stabilizer.

7. Place the shock-housing end through the large bracket attached to the front axle.

8. Place another rubber bushing, then washer, then nut on the bolt extending from the shock housing. Do not tighten completeley since you will be adjusting positioning of the stabilizer.

9. Place a washer, then rubber bushing on the other end of the stabilizer and place the bolt through the bracket attached to the relay rod.

10. Place the last rubber bushing, washer and nut on the stabilizer and attach but do not tighten.

11. Now you are at an important part of the installation: positioning the stabilizer to allow for proper clearance when steering. This is not something that is easily described. You will need to play with position of the brackets by both rotating and sliding them until you find a position where the stabilizer does not make contact with the relay rod and will clearly have free movement when turning the steering from "lock to lock." Once you have identified this position, memorize location and orientation of brackets so that they remain in that position when you tighten them.

12. Now tighten brackets until you are certain they will not slip or slide during regular use.

13. Tighten both ends of the stabilizer to the brackets.

Putting it Back together

Image courtesy of Powell Smith
The finished product...

Your installation is now complete! I left the skid plates off for a week and drove the truck regularly. I then checked the brackets and stabilizer to make sure that it did not slide or loosen after a week of use. At this point, you can re-install the skid plates using the following procedure:

1. Attach the front skid plate just below the front bumper using the two front skid plate bolts. Do not tighten. Let the skid plate swing freely from these two bolts.

2. While holding the rear skid plate in position, place the rear bolts in place and tighten.

3. Push the rear skid plate up against the bottom of the truck and then place the front skid plate over top of the rear skid plate, insert bolts and tighten.

4. Now tighten the front bolts on the front skid plates.

Now you're ready for an offroad test of your new steering stabilizer!! Happy trails...

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