We get a lot of questions about our aluminum steering. Many of which are, "What are the real benefits?", "Is it stronger than steel?", "Will it work with a hydro assist?". These are all valid questions that we get on a regular basis. So we're going to try to answer these questions as best as we can.
1) Is It As Strong As Steel?
We get this question quite often. Isn't steel just as strong? Isn't aluminum much more expensive? Not necessarily. Aluminum is a lighter weight alternative to its steel counter part. Steel is a much more dense material which means it doesn't have to be a solid bar or "link" in a steering application. Typically most 1 Ton Steering Kits that are made of steel use a 1.5"OD x 1"ID piece of DOM tubing. Where as aluminum is not as dense, so in a steering application it needs to be a solid bar with threaded ends. Different companies use different levels of aluminum like 6061, but we prefer to use 7075. It provides a harder material while retaining a very high deflection rate. So in summary, there's no real definitive answer to "which one is stronger?". It's more of a matter of what application and which kind of these materials are you using. But in the steering application, we believe that 7075 1.5OD solid aluminum is plenty strong enough to handle anything you can throw at it.
2) How much does it bend? Can it bend too much?
There's no real "measurement" on how much a aluminum tie rod can bend because technically if you tested multiple ones over and over until failure, each would fail at different points each time depending on what's pushing against it. But, these aluminum links have far more deflection than that of steel. Some of you are probably wondering, what's deflection? Deflection is basically a fancy word for "bendiness" or "elasticity". It is the amount of bend your steering can handle. Aluminum and steel both can bend under pressure and return to their original shape. However, Aluminum can be bent far more than steel and still return to being straight. As far as bending too much, that is always a thing. Aluminum is not indestructible, it can be bent to a point of no return. However, you run a far more unlikely chance of that happening. For example, we haven't seen any of our kits be bent and not go back to being straight. That's not to say it can never happen, but for selling thousands of these kits, we'll take those numbers.
3) Can I use a hydro assist with this?
We get this question more often than you would think. We've even heard of hydro assist companies say to not run a ram on an aluminum tie rod. All we know is what we've experienced. We run PSC's big bore hydro assist kit on our shop JK. We R&D our kits by going out and using the kit for what it was made for. We drove our JK all the way to Moab, wheeled the hardest trails while taking no by passes, and then drove 1800 miles back home. We have completely landed on the tie rod and saw no issues what so ever. Not only that but most hydro assist rams have a small heim joint on the end of the shaft which allows the ram to pivot when the steering is being bent. But we understand the hesitation behind thinking it could bend the shaft of the ram. But typically if you do flex your tie rod on a rock it won't be to the extent of damaging the ram. Don't believe us? Check out this video where one of our customers decided he was going to take quality assurance to the next level. Click Here to watch.