Old Man Emu Steering Stabilizer – Review

Feb. 23, 2012 By Jaime Hernandez

Does your truck have a case of the shimmies after equipping it with larger off-road tires? Steering feel a little shaky when you hit a bump or void on the road? If so, your rig may be in need of some suspension TLC.

Aside from doing a wheel alignment and making sure steering components are in good working order, one of the best upgrades to fix steering problems resulting from large off-road tires is adding a Steering Stabilizer (a.k.a. Steering Damper).

With larger tires and wheels adding stress to steering components, the steering stabilizer can help soften the blow and prolong the life of your tie rods and steering box—all while making it a much more enjoyable drive. 

Our Toyota Land Cruiser 80 series came equipped with a steering stabilizer from the factory.  It drove great, but after logging 100k miles on the factory stabilizer and adding larger Cooper off-road tires, it was time to upgrade to an off-road steering stabilizer better fit for the job.

View related article Cooper Discover ST Maxx – Review

For this mod, we looked to ARB’s Old Man Emu (OME) line of steering stabilizers.  Offering a full selection of vehicle-specific applications, the Old Man Emu steering stabilizer can make a real difference in any truck, 4x4, Jeep and sports utility vehicle.

OME’s steering stabilizer is constructed similar to their shock absorbers—rugged.  With special 50/50 valving, the OME steering stabilizer is designed to reduce the effect of wheel vibration and improve the feel, handling and control of the vehicle. OME also claims the steering stabilizers will reduce the aggressive rotation of the steering wheel over rough roads without affecting steering wheel return.
Some other features include:
• Nitrogen charged foam cell
• 9-Stage coil spring valving: for optimum performance
• 0.6" (18mm) Piston Rod: stronger than the original
• 1.4" (36mm) Piston & Bore: increased oil volume
• Multi Lip Seal: prevents oil loss
• Twin Tube Design: protects the internal components against stone damage
• Original Mounts: for ease of installation original stabilizer mounts are used where appropriate

With a few simple tools, adding a steering stabilizer can be done in your own garage.  In our case, all we needed was a metric socket set, wrench set and tie-rod puller to do the job.  For added safety, make sure to wear safety goggles when working on your suspension.

Bellow is an overview of what’s involved in swap out the old and worn steering stabilizer with a new Old Man Emu part.

Using a wrench or socket, loosen the bolt from steering stabilizer on the drag link, but don’t fully remove the nut. Use the tie-rod puller to detach the steering stabilizer from center link.

TIP: It’s better to partially loosen the nut on a tapered bolt than to fully remove when using a tie-rod puller or separator.  Leaving the nut on will ensure the bolt doesn’t separate violently.

The second side of the steering damper is attached to a bracket on the frame. Remove bolts and bracket to be able and separate this end of the steering stabilizer from vehicle. The steering stabilizer can be removed from the bracket once off the vehicle using the tie-rod puller.

Once the steering stabilizer is off the vehicle, use the tie-rod puller to remove from the frame bracket. Keep the frame bracket; it will be used again with the new OME steering stabilizer.

OME includes a very good illustration with instructions on how to assemble the hardware included for the new steering stabilizer. We put together both ends of our mounting pins before fastening the steering stabilizer to the vehicle.

Comparing the OME steering stabilizer (top) and Toyota Land Cruiser 80 series factory damper (bottom). The OME model is larger than stock and has a massive 18mm chrome plated shaft for added strength. Its larger 35mm piston bore adds more dampening power for large off-road tires.

Making sure that your Old Man Emu sticker is facing up, bolt up and tighten the frame bracket side of the stabilizer. Next, collapse the stabilizer rod so the second pin lines up with the drag link hole. The final step is tightening the self-locking nuts on the steering stabilizer mounting pins.

You’re all done!

The entire job takes less than one hour with the right tools at hand. If you have a tie-rod puller, you can either buy or rent one at O’Reillys Auto Parts (http://www.oreillyauto.com/).

The added dampening power of the OME is a welcomed addition to our adventure rig. Although the factory steering stabilizer wasn’t a bad design, it was worn and better fit for smaller tires (31s).

We didn’t notice any difference right away, and that’s good.  You don’t want to feel any added resistance or trouble returning your steering wheel to center.  Where the Old Man Emu steering stabilizer shines is off-road and at higher highway speeds.  We noticed less tire wandering and reduced vibration feedback coming up the steering wheel.

Another feature we really like is the burly outer metal shell armor.  The added protection trumps rubber boots found on other stabilizers.  We’ve logged over 2,000 miles since installing and have driven down to Baja, through the Mojave Desert and even done some rocky trails in the Sonoran with no damage to our stabilizer.

Overall, we like the Old Man Emu steering stabilizer and highly recommend it. 

Old Man Emu Suspension
ARB 4x4 Accessories
Toll Free: (866) 293-9078

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