Fk Heim Joints: Performance You Can Rely On

Fk Heim Joints: Performance You Can Rely On

Fk Heim Joints: Performance You Can Rely On?

A tale as old as time or as old as off-roading is. As soon as an engine had wheels, the off-roading community was born. Fast forward to the current day and you’re blazing down a whooped-out trail having a blast. Living on the edge of control out on the trail with your buddies and you hear a loud pop!

 The situation becomes scary in an instant you come to a complete stop, heart racing because you dodged death this one time. As you exit the truck you look underneath you find the culprit…the factory ball joint.

Spherical bearings (uni-ball joints, rod ends, or Heim joints as they have been called) are the solution. The durability of this type of suspension component connection far surpasses the stock OEM hardware while running hard on off road terrain.

Why use a spherical bearing over the OEM design?

The spherical Heim joint bearing is designed with strength and movement in mind. Providing a definitive steering input with more control while under pressure and less deflection. Braking feedback and acceleration control will greatly be affected as well.

The improvement of the steering geometry is a crucial aspect of how we design our products here at Thuren Fabrication. The FK Heim joint plays a critical role in that development with regard to our track bar.

It goes without saying that your truck is a feat of engineering while having all the moving components work in synchronicity. Shifting gears, compression, flexion, extension, all while under torque from any angle. The Heim joint spends its duration in a controlled movement wherever it’s installed.

OEM manufacturers install ball joints because it’s designed with the Road life in mind and for that purpose, it is entirely competent. However, when offroading comes into play, the situation changes completely.

Let's breakdown the ball joint situation

During the life of the ball joint, it can work perfectly fine under normal on-road conditions. The design is flawed in a few ways though. Greasing a component can and does usually provide the necessary lubrication properties it should. Where this becomes a problem is when the grease touches the rubber.

The grease lubricates the ball portion of the joint but can actually break down the rubber around the joint itself. Letting in contaminants such as dust, dirt, debris, water, salt, etc. The life of the ball joint is drastically reduced by an aspect of the component that is well-intentioned at best.

A general-purpose component within the suspension assembly that is quite honestly designed to fail. It’s a low-cost part that over the course of the life of the truck is a small margin of error. Very few truck owners drive gingerly enough and even fewer stick to on-road only conditions. If you drive off-road at all it’s a good idea to look into a spherical rod end joint as a replacement.

The Heim Joint Rod End Design Characteristics

You can tell when a design is a good one by the number of varieties on the market. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery right? Within this flattery, you’ll find copies that don’t always measure up to the intended application. Be cautious when choosing a Heim Joint rod end manufacturer. Untested cheap manufacturers do exist and you’ll find out when it’s too late.

Choosing the FK Heim joint rod end was a no-brainer for our components. Established in 1983, FK Bearings brings over 35 years of experience to performance racing and off-road markets. Quality control and safety ratings give us the confidence behind using their components on our suspension products.

The RSMX12T is the variation from FK Rod Ends we have chosen for our Track Bar Design. With added material around the uni-ball, it gave us the confidence we were after with a robust suspension, steering track bar. The extra support of the RSMX12T will give you the assurance you’re looking for while out in high-speed whoops, bashing the sand dunes, or slow and steady rock-crawling. A head width measurement of .687 and larger thread width give all the beef you’re looking for in a race-proven complete package.

Polytetrafluoroethylene: PTFE for short but also known as Teflon

How does the rod end stay lubricated within its housing you might ask. The answer is PTFE. A dry film lubricant that is second to none and adds another aspect to the research and development from FKRE you’ll come to be thankful for.

A dry lubricant has many properties that are desirable but none more important than that of not attracting dirt and debris off road conditions into the bearing assembly. Additionally, PTFE can and will manage the heat caused by the amount of short but dynamic movements within your steering/suspension much better than alternative lubrication options.

How to manage misalignment

With the ongoing fight between the tires and steering components all the way through the steering wheel it is rarely mitigated by simply installing a high-performance rod end. So how do you control the performance? Simple, install Misalignment Spacers. We manufacture our own misalignment spacers in house to ensure the proper fitment for your vehicle.

With the misalignment spacers installed, it will directly affect the pivot angle of the rod end bearing. It transfers the load across the entire assembly instead of utilizing the bolt singularity for movement. Proof of this advantage in design can be found in the comparison of race trucks across the past 35 years. The off-road performance benefits are visibly measurable by watching how fast the racers of old are compared to the current top ten.

Maintaining endurance while driving at a high output

One of the high draws of installing the spherical bearings on your truck via our track bar is the minimal maintenance required to keep a high level of component health.

Driving on uneven terrain is highly suggested once installing our track bar to see the difference in direct steering input. We do recommend cleaning the bearing surface every so often just to maintain the unit. It is not required however because of the close tolerances of the rod end bearing relationship.

Look for contaminants after every trail run or weekend trip. Debris is what causes the bearing to wear out prematurely. Check for discoloration, even though the PTFE does dissipate heat, overheating can occur. If the PTFE liner is coming out of the bearing assembly, replace it as soon as possible.

As with any steering or suspension components, if the vehicle sustains a major hit while on the trail, check components for oblong wear. If found replace at your earliest convenience if not immediately.

The Wrap Up

At some point, the suspension of your truck will need component replacement in one form or another. Whether you’re a mall crawler, dune basher, or rock crawling beast, the truck will find all the weak points in your assemblies. The more you mob your truck off-road, the more you should inspect the underpinnings and steering components.

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact us and we’ll get you squared away.