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Steering Setups found on many 4x4, 4WD Vehicles

A simple overview of Crossover Steering, V-Link Steering, Re-circulating Ball and Tie Rod, Rack-and-Pinion and Double Crossover steering systems found on 4x4 solid axle and independent axle setups.
Crossover Steering - Drag Link to Opposite Knuckle

This is a common steering setup in solid front axles.  The drag link to knuckle type crossover steering is also one of the most ideal aftermarket designs. With the drag link to knuckle type crossover steering, the drag link drops from the base of the pitman arm directly to the passenger side knuckle, either on top of the knuckle or below the knuckle's steering arm.  This setup minimizes radial drag link and tie rod play due to ball joint movement.  The tie rod connects the passenger side knuckle to the driver side knuckle.  With this type of steering setup, keeping the tie rod as close to parallel to the axle will minimize bump steer.

drag link to knuckle type crossover steering system



Crossover Steering - Drag Link to opposite end of Tie Rod

Drag link to tie rod crossover steering is one of the most common factory steering systems.  With a Drag link to tie rod crossover steering setup, the drag link connects the pitman arm and to a passenger side location directly on the tie rod. As the drag link controls steering by moving the tie rod, the tie rod serves to steer and maintain a parallel distance between the knuckles.  This design comes with some inherent play even if all the parts are new and in good shape.  To prevent binding , tie rod ends are sphere-shaped allowing rotation in all directions.  As steering forces are applied the tie rod is inherently allowed to twist a few degrees forward or rearward.  This twisting action allows forces that would have been applied as steering force to give a little and not steer the vehicle or allow the vehicle to wander a little.

Drag link to tie rod crossover steering system

V-Link Steering

The V-Link Steering configuration is another common factory steering system.  The V-Link Steering configuration is made up with a V style or V shaped design where the driver side tie rod is connected directly to the drag link the connects the pitman arm to the passenger side knuckle.  The drag link also serves as the passenger side tie rod.  Effectively forming a "V-Link" between the two steering knuckles.  The biggest disadvantage of the V-Link steering configuration is that the distance between knuckle steering arms changes as the suspension cycles into compression.  The net effect is that the tires will either toe in or toe out during suspension travel.  As suspension compresses up into the vehicle, the tires will toe out.  As suspension droops away from the vehicle, the tires toe in towards each other.  The effects of toe in, toe out with a V-Link type suspension usually as minimal with stock suspension systems but become more exaggerated with modifications, lifts and increased angles applied to the drag link and tie rod.

V-Link Steering System



Re-circulating Ball and Tie Rod
Common for Independent Front Suspension (IFS)

With steering box equipped Independent Front Suspension (IFS) systems where the wheels and steering knuckles move independent of each other, the re-circulating ball and tie rod configuration is commonly used.  The re-circulating ball and tie rod configuration uses a tie rod type connecting rod called a centerlink in between the pitman arm on the steering box and a rotating idler arm on the opposite side of the vehicle.   Two independent tie rods, one per side, connect the steering knuckles to the centerlink.  As the centerlink is moved by the pitman arm, the centerlink moves each tie rod, which move the steering knuckles.  This design is optimal for independent front suspensions due to strength over rack and pinion type designs.  One draw back to this type of design is the increased number of joints that wear over time.  With more joints linking the steering box to the knuckles, a small amount of wear can be exaggerated into steering play.  This type of design is also more difficult to lift while maintaining proper steering geometry.

Re-circulating Ball and Tie Rod Steering System




(IFS) Rack-and-Pinion
Common for Independent Front Suspension (IFS)

Rack-and-Pinion Steering systems are the more modern and advanced form of independent front suspension steering systems and are becoming more common in IFS 4x4's over (Saginaw) steering box configurations.  The rack-and-pinion steering configuration setup uses a pinion gear at the end of the steering shaft that mates with a geared rack (or track).  As the pinion gear is rotated by steering wheel, steering shaft movement, the rack is moved side to side.  The rack in turn moves the two tie rods that connect the rack ends to each steering knuckle.  Advantages of Rack-and-Pinion steering systems is precision of movement.  Disadvantages of the Rack-and-Pinion steering system is a lack of power and durability sometimes needed offroad.

Rack-and-Pinion Steering systems




Double Crossover

Similar to the drag link to knuckle type crossover steering, the purpose of the double crossover steering system typically is to get around obstructions to the steering components, gain lift while maintaining steering geometry or to remove feedback to the steering wheel or relieve stress to the steering box.

The double crossover steering system uses a tie rod and a bellcrank as the first from the steering box.  This first link between the pitman arm and bellcrank serves to redirect angles or relieve stress or feedback.  From the bellcrank, a drag link connect down to the driver side knuckle or sometimes to the main knuckle to knuckle tie rod, similar to the drag link to tie rod crossover type steering system.  This in effect allows the drag link to drop to the drive side rather than the passenger side of most drag link / tie rod systems.

Double Crossover Steering Setup






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