Jeep Driveshaft removed fixes steering issues?

I drive a 1998 Jeep Cherokee 4x4. I lifted it with a Rubicon Express 3.5" lift and had some drive line vibrations. So, I decided to purchase a slip yoke eliminator and use a rebuilt front drive shaft for the rear. I also starting having steering issues. The pump was leaking and the gear box was shot. Other than it leaking PS fluid all of the time, it wasn’t a huge issue and was steering perfectly fine. I had a friend install the SYE, new steering pump and gear box in the same day.

When I drove away, there was a slight rumble from the rebuilt drive shaft and my steering was all screwed up. I could barely turn into a parking space. U-turns were completely out of the question. I assumed the issue was that the new gear box was off center and have been waiting for my friend to have the time to redo the job.

In the mean time, I decided to investigate the rumbling drive shaft on my own. So I removed the front driveshaft and swapped it with the rear. Problem solved! The rumble is gone! I am going to rebuild a different drive shaft for the rear and in the meantime, drive without a front driveshaft. Interestingly, my steering issue has completely disappeared. I can now do tight u-turns and park without a single issue. What the heck is causing the issue?

Are the shafts the exact same length? The u-joint could be binding and the shaft could need balancing.

When you removed the front shaft, did you do a test drive before swapping it with the rear? I’m wondering if the rear shaft is really an issue.

What is wrong is that you are driving around on dry pavement in 4 wheel drive and the lift kit just makes that worse.

Knfenimore, yes, they are the same length. It has a slip element (not sure of technical name) in the center.

insightful, Yes, I did test drive it after removing the front. I originally thought it was a u-joint in the front since the rear was rebuilt by a shop. Needless to say it is going back to that shop.

oldtimer11, I am not driving around on pavement with 4 wheel drive engaged. Hence why I am driving around without a front drive shaft in it.

Regardless, would a binding shaft cause limited movement in the steering?

Absolutely, if there’s some dimensional incompatibility. Binding is a common manifestation of slight dimensional incompatibilities in many applications. The difference does not even need to be readily apparent. A difference in the travel range of the slip element not discernable without measuring could be enough to cause binding.

I guess I should have been more specific…could a rear driveshaft that is binding up cause the limited movement in steering? The front driveshaft has never had an issue.

...could a rear driveshaft that is binding up cause the limited movement in steering?

No. Something else is going on. So you’re saying with the front axle shaft out, the steering binds up with the original rear axle shaft, but not when replaced by the front axle shaft, right?

I didn’t necessarily check for the steering issue with the bad drive shaft in the rear. I didn’t think the two were related. I only noticed the steering after driving a longer distance. I guess my next step will be to install the front axle to see if the steering binds up again. So, let’s say if it does bind up with a front axle, what is a possible resolution?

Perhaps your front driveshaft working angles are too severe, because of that lift kit . . . ?

Might need a different driveshaft . . . ?

I’ve had the lift on for a while and never had any issues though.

With the front end and steering that is. The only issues prior to the SYE installation and steering box/pump were:
-a slight vibration in the rear because of the driveline angles–> led to SYE install and driveshaft in the rear.
-the steering pump was leaking and gear box was popping at the pitman arm --> new pump and box.

All of the drive line angles up front were/are fine. The jeep steered perfectly fine. Could the guy who did the install possibly messed something up on the SYE that would cause the front shaft to bind causing a limitation in the steering?

Lift kits can place a great deal of added stress and dramatically accelerate wear even if they appear to be working well. Lifting the body increases the articulation angle on the U-joints, and U-joints do not accept that well. Torque is not transmitted in a linear fashion through a U-joint operating at an angle. The torque goes in as a constant, unwavering force and comes out in a sinusoidal-shaped wave, a wavering output. That means that wear is accelerated as the forces go up and down constantly and that the peaks of the output waves produce much higher levels of force than a constant torque output would. In addition, constantly bending and unbending universal joints greatly increases wear on the joints themselves.

Drivelines that need to transmit torque through larger angle joints use CV joints. Constant Velocity joints literally mean that the torque coming out of the joint is constant and follows the torque going into the joint, without the waves.

There’s no question in my mind that the lift kit was a major contributor to the failure of the U-joint. And I’ll bet your others will suffer a similar fate.

And I’ll bet the lift kit is a factor in the binding steering too. It changes all the geometry, and not for the better. And, as you already found out, cause vibrations. The lift probably caused undue stresses on the steering box and pitman arm joint too.

The guy that did the install of the lifting blocks should have realized this and recommended heavier duty parts. Or at least pointed out these weaknesses of lift kits.

oldtimer11, I misread your post originally. I was too stuck on thinking it was an issue with the steering I completely disregarded the fact it could be an issue with the SYE install on the transfer case. You nailed it. The transfercase is engaging 4x4 even though the shifter is in 2wd. Hence the kicking back and forth in the steering on tight turns!! Thank you for posting up!

This has a good video on the installation of one SYE version:

Thanks for posting back Shehulk, it is good to have feedback.