When I installed my lift and got new wheels and tires several weeks ago, I noticed that the passenger side boot on the factory tie rod was torn. I figure that it took place when it was at the dealership because they had disassembled my front axle to replace a faulty front axle seal.
You can’t replace the tie rod boot on the factory tie rod and you either replace the tie rod end or the entire tie rod.
Given that I had upgraded to bigger 35″ tires, I figure that upgrading the tie rod and drag link would be an eventual upgrade anyway. So I decided to acquire the Metalcloak HD Steering System for the Wrangler JK, which is basically just a package containing the Metalcloak tie rod, drag link, and (Rocksport) steering stabilizer.
I didn’t take any photos during the install, but I will say that while Metalcloak says it only takes one hour to install, I would allot 2-3 hours given that you might have trouble getting the drag link off the pitman arm. I had to use a fork to separate the drag link from the pitman arm because my pitman arm puller wasn’t getting enough grip.
Also, if you follow the instructions exactly, you will most likely have to backtrack a couple times to remove an item, adjust the jack height, and/or manipulate the steering in order to get access to certain bolts.
This is one tip that I have for anyone installing the Metalcloak HD Steering System on a JK is to install the drag link and the steering stabilizer relocation bracket before installing the tie rod.
The instructions indicate to install the tie rod and then install the steering stabilizer relocation bracket, and then install the drag link. You will have much easier access to the drag link mount points and the axle side track bar bolt (which you need to remove to install the relocation bracket).
So remove the factory tie rod, factory steering stabilizer, and factory drag link. Remove the axle side front rack bar bolt to install install the steering stabilizer relocation bracket.
Then install the drag link and then the tie rod and steering stabilizer.
Outside of that, the Metalcloak tie rod, drag link, and steering stabilizer are relatively simple to install.
The tie rod is definitely significantly beefier than the stock JK tie rod, with the Metalcloak tie rod having a 1.625 inch outer diameter versus approximately 1.375 inch outer diameter on the OEM tie rod. Both the Metalcloak tie rod and drag link have 1-ton ends for more strength.
It is important to note that the Metalcloak instructions don’t mention greasing the tie rod and drag link ends. It appeared that both the drag link and tie rod ends were not greased, so I hit all four ends with a grease gun after installing the Zerk fittings.
One other item to note is the benefit of the steering stabilizer relocation bracket. The bracket on the axle end places the steering stabilizer above the axle, whereas on a stock JK, the steering stabilizer is mounted such that it is below the horizontal center line of the axle.
This places the steering stabilizer in a safer position so it is less likely to get hit by rocks or other obstacles when off-road.
Anyway, that is a short write-up regarding another upgrade to my 2018 Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited Rubicon. I think the Metalcloak HD Steering System is a worthy and practical upgrade for a Jeep JK given that it is a relatively simple install to get higher quality and durable steering components.
About a month after I installed the Metalcloak HD Steering System, Metalcloak released a billet steering stabilizer mount. I thought the original u-bolt stabilizer mount wasn’t a great design so I decided to order the billet mount.
The billet mount is basically designed like a scope ring – two halves that act as a clamp with four bolts.
Install was pretty simple. Just removed the original mount and put the new on in it’s place.
There was no torque values provided, but the bolts are about 1/4″ in diameter. I tightened them down with a 1/4″ hex drive bit and a small ratcheting hex bit driver. I would hazard a guess that you can only tighten the bolts around 120 in-lbs (10 ft-lbs) or so, which is plenty given that there are four bolts total, which would give you around 40 ft-lbs of clamping force.
The new billet steering stabilizer mount is a lot better for more secure and even clamping around the tie rod. It is important to note that according to the current product page, the billet steering stabilizer mount (product number 7687) will only work with tie rods sold after July 2020 (which mine was).
Also, if you buy the Metalcloak HD steering system that comes with the tie rod, drag link, and steering stabilizer now, you will get the new billet mount as opposed to the u-bolt mount.