After the install of the Superwinch manual locking hubs I noticed a distinct "lightening" of the steering. I also noticed an increase in wander and bump steer. My '97 LS Sport now was driving more like an ES 2-wheel drive unit. This was NOT according to plan. I realized that unlocking the front hubs in conjunction with my 33" Yokohama Geolander M/Ts would probably mean I'd have to pay a bit more attention to the steering wheel, but this was obnoxious.
An unfortunate side effect of moving up to a 33" tire was the increase in leverage through the steering assembly into my arms. Besides the the basic geometry involved there's the added weight of the larger tire. A lot of force is transmitted through the steering every time I smack a rock a little too hard. I needed to add some damping in the steering assembly not just to take some of the load off my arms but also to control the shock through the assembly; to mitigate wear and tear and cut down on the chance shock related breakage.
The stabilizer and install kit I chose were from Rancho Suspension. It turned out that, like Superwinch, Rancho doesn't list the Montero Sport in their catalogs. However, this was not a problem because they DID list a steering stabilizer and installation kit for the early '90s Montero. I purchased the stabilizer and kit from a local four wheel drive shop called USA 4x4. These guys have been a big help with tracking down esoteric Mitsubishi part numbers. It was about $70 for the stabilizer and $20 or so for the kit. I know that is a bit more expensive then elsewhere but I can take parts back at this shop if it turns out they won't fit. Many shops won't accept returns if you're trying to fit parts on vehicles not listed in the parts catalogs.
RS5000 steering stabilizer PN# RS5402
Steering stabilizer install kit PN# RS5508
Two NY-Loc nuts for the ends of the stabilizer
9/16" deep socket
1/2" deep socket
6" 3/8" extension
3/8" drive metric socket set and a 3/8" ratchet
1' ruler or equally long strip of cardboard you can mark on
Besides the Rancho stabilizer itself the installation kit includes a boot, zip-tie, four rubber bushings and four thick shock washers, two silver nuts for the stabilizer, two small U-bolts w/ washers and NY-Lok nuts, one BIG U-bolt w/ washers and NY-Lok nuts and two brackets. For some reason there were two extra U-bolts in mine.
Step 1Park on a flat surface and line up the steering wheel so the wheel are pointing straight forward. Straighten the wheels now and you won't have to do it latter.:-)
Step 2Remove the front and lower skid plates. Remove the four bolts holding the two sway bar center link U brackets onto the center links so the sway bar can droop down. You don't need to remove it completely.
Step 3Take the large u-bolt, bracket, nuts and washers out. Find the differential and follow the axle tube towards the passenger side wheel until you get to the flange. Slide the u-bold down over the top (threaded ends pointing down) of the axle tube as close to the flange as possible. Take the large bracket and turn it so that the up-right part of the bracket with the big hole in it (where the stabilizer mount goes) is closest to the tire ...
If you looked at it mounted from the front of the truck it would face this way. Hold the u-bolt with one hand and slide the bracket onto the u-bolt. Have a second set of hands install the washers and nuts -- loosely! with the bracket facing straight down, slide it as far to the passenger side as possible and hand tighten the u-bolt nuts. Snug it down a bit with the socket wrench. Enough so it won't shift around while you're fitting the stabilizer. BE CAREFUL of the wires and steel tube running right there, too!!!!! The bracket should fit right between the two bottom, horizontal bolts on the axle tube.
Step 4Take the small bracket, two u-bolts with associated nuts and washers out. In the middle of the center link slide one u-bold over the center link. Slide the bracket onto the u-bolt and have another set of
hands install the nuts and washers. Install the second u-bolt and washers. LOOSELY. Now slide the bracket all the way to the driver side of the center link. Bracket facing down ...
... if viewed from the front of the truck.
Step 5I didn't follow the install instructions in the box. I followed install instructions from the a shop and a Rancho stabilizer install elsewhere. Pull the piston completely out. Push it back in 1/2". Measure what's left and divide by two. Push the piston back in that far. DO NOT pull it back out the 1/2" before you push it in the measured amount.
Step 6Put one shock washer and one rubber stabilizer bushing on each end of the stabilizer. NOTE: the stabilizer bushings go on a specific way!!! The SMALL raised ring on the bushings face each other. That ring fits in the oversized holes on the brackets. Fit the body end of the stabilizer into the bracket on the axle tube. Fit the piston end into the bracket on the center link sliding it left or right as needed to get the stabilizer mount into the bracket hole. If you have to compress the piston make sure you extend it back to where it was when you set it outside of the truck. THAT IS IMPORTANT!!!
Step 7Now to adjust the center link bracket. The bracket does not have to point straight down. In fact it won't. Move the bracket towards the passenger side until the stabilizer is snug -- without compressing the piston. Rotate the bracket until you end up with about 1/2-3/4 inch of space between the differential and the shock body. The bracket on mine actually ended up pointed towards the bottom of the differential a bit. This / angle if viewed from the passenger side. Make sure the piston end is elevated higher then the body end -- hence angling the bracket towards the differential. Tighten up the u-bolt nuts enough that the bracket doesn't move or slip. Do NOT completely tighten the nuts at this time. You may still need to do adjustments. Tight enough so it doesn't slip is good.
Step 8NOW the bushing. I trimmed one of the rubber bushings down by about a 1/4 inch since it was too thick on the outside end of stabilizer on the axle mounting bracket. TRIM the big raised circle end!!! I approximated the large raised circle by using a bench grinder to run a little notch around the outside edge after trimming the bushing down. That side fits in the cup of the shock washer. Remove the stabilizer from the center link bracket then slide the modified bushing onto the stabilizer mount running through the axle tube bracket. Put one of the supplied nuts on loosely to keep everything together and put the stabilizer end back into the center link bracket.
Step 9Re-check all the clearances. Again there should be about a 1/2-3/4" between the stabilizer body and the differential. Tighten the axle bracket u-bolt nuts down. Use a 3/8" ratchet and deep socket. Tighten the center link bracket snug enough so it doesn't slip while testing. Install the bushing on the outside end of the stabilizer on the center link bracket. Use supplied silver nut. Tighten down both ends of the stabilizer -- the silver nuts. Do not over do it!! I had about three or four threads showing past the nut. You don't need to squish the bushings out!!!!!!! You DO need flex in the mounts!
Step 10Get that other set of hands. Start you're truck and have them SLOWLY turn the steering wheel full lock both directions while you check clearances. The only place you can really run into a clearance problem is if you install the center link bracket at too much of an angle and it pushes the body to far towards the differential. Adjust if necessary by loosening the center link bracket nuts and rotating the bracket. I can VERY easily slide my all my fingers between the differential and the body with the steering straight.
Step 11If all the clearances are ok remove the stabilizer and make sure all the the nuts on all the u-bolts are tight. Install the stabilizer boot onto the stabilizer and zip tie the boot to the body. Reinstall the stabilizer exactly as you had it EXCEPT THIS TIME use the NY-Loc nuts on the stabilizer ends! This will keep the nuts from vibrating off. DO NOT just use the single supplied nuts as they will not stay on for long!
Step 12Re-install the sway bar -- make sure you line it back up where it was when you took it off -- and re-install the skid plates.
Step 13Done. Make sure you check ALL the nuts periodically to make sure they're still tight!