When I got my 4” lift and 37” tires and B.A.D. Wheels, Bob Jasper at All Seasons 4x4 told me that I really should consider getting hydro-assist steering. “Yeah, yeah I know, maybe next year,” I told him, “Let me see how it goes...” – thinking to myself that there couldn’t be that much of a difference between 35” and 37” tires out on the trail. Well, maybe there isn’t that much of difference, but the stock steering gear box set for the original tires sure knows a difference when out on the boulders on trail.
After the lift and tires upgrade was finished I set out to Moab the following week and found that there was a bit of a difference but on the slick rock it wasn’t that noticeable. Still, where I really started to notice the JKU was harder to turn was on the rocks garden of Iron Chest, but I thought, ‘This is doable; I can make it another year without getting the work done.’
Then came Holy Cross Trail and its renowned French Creek crossing.
That’s where my stock steering was put to the test and ultimately failed. I noticed that I couldn’t turn well with the front lockers engaged on the boulders at the crossing. Then, when I was more than ¾ across the creek I got hung up on a rock making the left hand turn up and out. I found that I could NOT turn the steering wheel at all with the lockers on or off while hung up on that last boulder. I tried and tried, I backed up, inched forward, but had the same results. I had help turning the wheel (ultimately probably what caused the steering gearbox to fail – yet I did not know it at the time) and got up and over the last boulder and out of the creek.
My JKU is not my daily driver and a week or two went by before I drove it down to Alamosa to do Mount Blanca and Medano Pass trails. On the way I noticed that I could NOT take my hands off of the steering wheel or I’d be all over the road. At first I just thought it was the crosswinds blowing me around but came to realize that something else was wrong with it. Upon my return to the Denver metro area I took it in for an alignment to see if that would resolve the steering issue. That’s when I found out that I had damaged the steering gearbox and the Synergy sector shaft bracket. The estimate to replace the steering gearbox and shaft was just over $1,200 and I knew I would just damage this setup again so I chose to have the PSC Hydro-assist steering system installed instead.
What does the PSC Hydro-assist do that the stock one doesn’t? Well, in layman’s terms, it basically creates true power steering for your upgraded rig instead of using your arm muscles to turn the wheel. It uses hydraulics to push and pull the steering mechanisms for you in a manner that helps dampen the effects on your steering system. I was worried about how this hydraulic system was going to impact my rig’s performance on the highway. Well, it really isn’t that big of a deal – you drive it a bit and get used to it very quickly – and you learn not to over-steer.
Next was to test it out on the trail... I was fortunate to be able to do the benefit run with Wheelers for the Wounded of Colorado and was able to do Eagle Rock/Saran Wrap trails with the group.
I was impressed by how easy it was to turn the wheel and maneuver up the trail. I was able to actually turn the wheels with ease, with the locker on, and made it up and over all the difficult lines. This trip sold me on hydro-assist steering once and for all – yes, it was worth the purchase and installation costs and it was an amazing difference! Now I want to go do Holy Cross again!
By Lisa P.
Lisa is a Colorado Native who loves to be outdoors and four wheeling. She has a goal to explore as many of the trails in Colorado as possible and she likes to combine her passion of Jeeping with photography and capture photos of Ghost Towns, Mines and, of course, Jeeps.