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Caster-Toe in adjustment on TJ Wrangler w/wo adjustable control arms: PART II

7)  Now adjust your control arms to obtain the desired caster settings. Somewhere between, about 3.5 and 8 degrees depending upon various factors such as lift, size of tire etc

8)  Now do a check of your front pinion angle. Bear in mind that front pinion angle is more important than caster

9)  Road test. During the road test, turn the vehicle both the left and right. Insure the steering wheel returns to the center position unassisted. If steering wheel does not return to the center position, a to low caster or negative angle is the probable cause

10)  Insure all is tight and you are almost finished

If suspension clearances are tight or there is a issue of touching then you can work with just the uppers, the lowers or split and do both

If you do not have adjustable CA’s, get the adjustable cam bolts available from DC Jeep.

11)  Setting Toe:  Check that toe is about 1/8-inch +/- 1/16-inch, toe in. When doing alignments, toe is always the last setting.

A)  Should you spend your bucks to get an alignment?  No, I can not see any reason to at all.  While their 'belt-fed, laser aimed, water cooled' alignment machine will spew out corrections down the the micro level...fact is not of that works much better than doing it yourself.

WHY?  You are dealing with:  2 tie rod ends, 4 ball joints and a rubber tire.  All of this has give, even if brand new, that is the way its made.  If you get and you can get accuracy to within 1/16th of an inch, you will do as well as any shop does.  (NOTE:  They use rotating pads to keep the tire from scrubbing and rebounding.  Putting the axles on jack stands as suggested is a good idea.)

Not saying that on occasion you should not spend your ducats to get an alignment.  I do about every 5 years or so.  Mostly to look for wear and looseness in the components.  These guys who do this every day have a better feel for that I I do.

B)  Setting the toe:  Viewing the tire(s) from the side some things are very critical.  Know the keys and success will be the result.

key:  where you measure on the front side of the tires NEEDS to be the same exact spot (height from the ground) on all 4 tires.  

key:  measure as high UP on the tire as you can get at on front, back and the same place on the other tire.

key:  the OPTIMAL point is the max forward leading and rear trailing point of the tire. Like this:  ' >0< '   WHY?  as you go DOWN and around the tire the front and rear points get closer together and in order to get you 1/8th toe in (+/- 1/16th in) you adjustments have to get larger meaning the wheel has to be moved more in order to get the 1/8th in difference.

After you have set your toe, drove it and then rechecked it, YES it will likely change some, but about 1/16th is within tolerance.

Now take a tape measure and measure from 1 grease fitting to the other grease fitting on your tie rod.  Using a 'silver' perm marker write it down on any flat surface underneath and annotate whether or not you measured from the outside or inside of the grease fitting.   Ever need to remove or replace your tie road or get a bent tie rod then just look at your measurement between the grease fittings and use that as a starting point.  It should be VERY close.

Remember you need to loosen BOTH jam nuts on the tie rod and on the drag link then turn the tie rod/drag link, then tighten your jam nuts.  TIP:  You want to note the amount of visible threads and try to get the tie rod ends at the same depth on each side.

Those are the principles or keys if you will that will insure you get as good a toe in as the shop does.


Readers question, from 'RockPig':  When the angle finder is attached to the bottom of the knuckle, the needle should be to the right of the 0 correct, and my Steering wheel will not return to center easily after a turn, what do you suggest?

Looking at your angle meter:  If the front LEFT tire is kicked out (forward towards the front of the car) this results in a + caster the needle will be to the RIGHT of the 0 degree mark.

Conversely (note, this is done while laying under your Jeep)

Looking at your angle meter:  If the front RIGHT tire is kicked out (forward towards the front of the car) this results In a + caster, the needle will be to the LEFT of the 0 degree mark.

That said, REMEMBER that the NEEDLE in fact is ALWAYS pointing UP as its counterweighted and meant to do so.  It is the angle meter that is moving. If your looks like the ones above then it is round.  THINK of it as the tire.  Since you want to obtain + caster then the tire/angle meter must rotate forward to the front of the vehicle.

TIP:  Hold the angle meter in hour hand and NOT looking at the needle, rotate the angle meter to give + caster, thinking of it as a wheel, now look at the needle.

What to set the caster at:

As we move to larger and larger tire sizes we inherently alter the caster due to the larger tires footprint.  Large tires give you more positive caster. To compensate, we need a new caster setting to offset the larger tires. The following are just suggested starting points for MTRs. Tire diameters will depend on air pressure and actual specs for the brand and model of tire.

OEM specs for '03 Rubicon TJ = +7 degrees +/- 1 degree

37 in: 5 degrees [I run 37 BFG KM2s, 36.8 in diameter tire, and 18 lbs of pressure]

35 in: 5.5 degrees

33 in: 6 degrees

<33 in: Adjust to factory specs

Adjustments +/- .5 degrees can be attained by using the above techniques.  Less than .5 degree are rarely needed for daily driving or off road.

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