Jeep Track Bar Install

TerryMason

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A track bar (also called panhard bar) is designed to keep the axle of your Jeep centered under your vehicle, so that you don't have more sticking out the drive's side than you do the passenger's. To accomplish this, the track bar is connected to both the frame of the Jeep, and to the axle. There is a front track bar as well as a rear track bar (on TJ & JK models). Here's an example:

200pxPanhard_rod-1.jpg


So, when you lift your Jeep, the distance from the axle to the frame of the Jeep grows, but since the trackbar is a fixed length two things happen:

- The axle is pulled farther over to the driver's side of the Jeep
- The front of the vehicle is held down by the trackbar

This will create a good amount of wear on the trackbar, but more importantly, it will through your steering geometry off, usually creating bump steer.
 
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Installing a new Jeep Trackbar

I decided to install a new JKS adjustable length trackbar. This bar is adjustable depending on the amount of lift you have installed.
For this project you'll need:

  • A socket set
  • Torque Wrench
  • Tie Rod Remover (optional, but it will make your life a lot easier)
  • Tape Measure
  • Wrenches
  • 9/16" Drill Bit
  • A Ratchet Strap (again, optional, but it helps)
  • Grease Gun (if your new trackbar is greasable)


JKS-Wrangler-Trackbar.JPG

trackbar_install_tools.JPG

new_jeep_trackbar_install.JPG

jks_trackbar_install_directions.jpg

jks_trackbar_install_directions2.jpg

jks_trackbar_install_directions3.jpg
 
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Before installing the track bar

As you can see from the photo below, the original trackbar runs from the axle to the frame. All we'll be doing here is replacing it with a new adjustable bar.
 

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Step 1 - removing the original track bar, axle side

At this point, we'll carefully remove the axle side of the trackbar. I say carefully because the trackbar can often be under tension. You can safely remove this tension by lifting the body away from the axle until the tension on the trackbar to axle bolt is relieved.
 

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Step 2 - removing the original track bar, frame side

Now, start with the frame side of the trackbar. Just remove the cotter pin using a pair of needle nose pliers (I held the pin with pliers, then tapped the pliers with a hammer.

remove-pin_jeep_trackbar_install.JPG

unbolt_jeep_trackbar_install.JPG
 
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Step 3 - removing the original track bar

The easiest way to remove the original trackbar is with a tie rod end removal tool (AKA a pickle fork). You simply tap it between the frame and the track bar, trying to avoid destroying your rubber bushing.

pickle-fork_jeep_trackbar_install.JPG
 
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Step 4 - drilling out the frame mount

Now you'll need to drill out the frame mount to 9/16th of an inch (this is specific to the JKS trackbar - yours may be different). Just take your time and make sure that you are dead-on the hole, to ensure the proper angle.

drilling_frame_jeep_trackbar_install.JPG
 
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Step 5 - mounting the frame side of the Trackbar

Now you'll want to mount the frame side of the trackbar. Youll need to assemble the pieces as shown in the picture below. Once you're done be sure to torque the nut down to 85 ft-lb (or whatever your trackbar manufacturer recommends).

trackbar-assembly.jpg

new-bar_jeep_trackbar_install.JPG

torque_jeep_trackbar_install.JPG
 
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Step 6 - centering the axle

This is the hard part in my opinion. You'll need to center the axle under the Jeep. To do this, you can either turn the wheel back and forth, or do what I did, and use a ratchet strap (AKA a come along). This will allow you to slowly move the axle into place.

I found that I needed to move the axle into place, then let the tension off. The axle then moved back a bit, and I corrected it a second time, and removed the ratchet strap. Once the axle is in place you can mount the other end of the trackbar, then tighten down the nut in the center of the trackbar. Make sure the trackbar nut is good an tight, or you'll end up with play in the trackbar.

centering_jeep_trackbar_install.JPG

centering_axle_jeep_trackbar_install.JPG

drivers_side_attach_jeep_trackbar_install.JPG

pass-side-attach_jeep_trackbar_install.JPG
 
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Step 7 - Measuring the axle location

The easiest way to measure where your axle is it to measure from the fender to one of the lugs on your tire. Once you get in the ballpark, measure from the knuckle to the frame on each side on your Jeep. When the numbers are identical, you can adjust your trackbar to fit, then bolt it up.

Wrangler_Trackbar 002_install.jpg

Wrangler_Trackbar 003_install.jpg
 
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Step 8 Wrapping up the install

Now you just need to go back and recheck your work, as well as grease any fittings that need it.

A helpful tip is to go back with a grease pencil and mark the positions of various nuts, so that you can tell if they loosen.

Wrangler_Trackbar 004_install.jpg

Wrangler_Trackbar 005_install.jpg
 
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Finished

You're done at this point. I ended up taking my Jeep to an alignment shop to have them verify the position of my axle (it was dead on).

Wrangler_Trackbar_install-finished.jpg

Wrangler_Trackbar_install-finished2.jpg

compare_jeep_trackbar_install.JPG
 
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Thanks, this tutorial was extremely helpful in deciding whether or not to do this myself.

It's not a bad install - you're really just unbolting each end and replacing the bar. The only part that may give you a problem is getting the axle moved into position for the new trackbar. It would probably be easier to jack up the jeep a bit in order to position the bolt holes, instead of using a come-a-long as I did here.
 
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