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Unread 10-21-2008, 03:49 PM   #1
Muddeprived
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Caster issue?

I would like your opinion on this. I installed RC's drop brackets yesterday and went out to reconnect my sway bar links. I noticed the passenger side sway bar link hits the coil spring when connected. The coil spring looks "bent" forward. On the driver's side, the sway bar link is further away from the coil spring. I also noticed when turning fully to the right, the tie rod end where the drag link connects to the tie rod, hits the lower sway bar end link. Check out the pictures:

Drivers side sway bar:



Passenger Side sway bar:



Where it hits on the steering linkage:





Sound like caster?

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Unread 10-21-2008, 04:12 PM   #2
AZ Jeff
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For starters, if you have not done so already, you need to have a REAL alignment done by a shop with the right tools. They will be able to tell you if you have caster set properly.

Your visual inspection method may or may not point to caster issues, and trying to guess as to the cause is like shooting in the dark.
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Unread 10-21-2008, 04:18 PM   #3
Muddeprived
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AZ Jeff View Post
For starters, if you have not done so already, you need to have a REAL alignment done by a shop with the right tools. They will be able to tell you if you have caster set properly.

Your visual inspection method may or may not point to caster issues, and trying to guess as to the cause is like shooting in the dark.
Yes I am planning to get an alignment done professionally only if it's not possible to DIY. I love doing my own work and would like to learn how to adjust caster. I've read up on a few sites showing how to do it, and it doesn't seem that difficult.

But visually, it seems caster is the issue. I bought factory replacement control arms from q-tec. They are 1/4" longer than the stock ones. I ran those for a while before the brackets and then noticed one of the new lower arm bushings was torn up so i took off the new lower arms and put my old factory arms back on. So now i'm running with new upper factory arms that are 1/4" longer than the stock ones and old stock arms that are 1/4" shorter than the new ones i had on previously. This tilts the pinion up, and tilts the spring cup a little causing the spring to bend out like that. That's my guess based on my visual inspection. I could be wrong. I just don't know why the passenger side coil sway bar is closer than the driver's side though.
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Unread 10-21-2008, 04:25 PM   #4
AZ Jeff
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Muddeprived View Post
Yes I am planning to get an alignment done professionally only if it's not possible to DIY. I love doing my own work and would like to learn how to adjust caster. I've read up on a few sites showing how to do it, and it doesn't seem that difficult.

But visually, it seems caster is the issue. I bought factory replacement control arms from q-tec. They are 1/4" longer than the stock ones. I ran those for a while before the brackets and then noticed one of the new lower arm bushings was torn up so i took off the new lower arms and put my old factory arms back on. So now i'm running with new upper factory arms that are 1/4" longer than the stock ones and old stock arms that are 1/4" shorter than the new ones i had on previously. This tilts the pinion up, and tilts the spring cup a little causing the spring to bend out like that. That's my guess based on my visual inspection. I could be wrong. I just don't know why the passenger side coil sway bar is closer than the driver's side though.
It's not easy to measure caster as a "DIY" project, as you need to measure the angle through the theoretical center of the ball joints. Most alignment systems do this by inference as they measure the camber of the front wheels.

I do most of my own work, and I a smart enough to know that, to a get a GOOD alignment, you need a decent setup. I am willing to pay a shop the $50 for an alignment once every few years. It's cheaper than paying for new tires that get trashed by out of wack front end parts.
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Unread 10-21-2008, 04:40 PM   #5
Muddeprived
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AZ Jeff View Post
It's not easy to measure caster as a "DIY" project, as you need to measure the angle through the theoretical center of the ball joints. Most alignment systems do this by inference as they measure the camber of the front wheels.

I do most of my own work, and I a smart enough to know that, to a get a GOOD alignment, you need a decent setup. I am willing to pay a shop the $50 for an alignment once every few years. It's cheaper than paying for new tires that get trashed by out of wack front end parts.
Yeah that's what i read up on. The best way was using the ball joints but go-jeep used the differential bolts. I don't think that's accurate enough though and doesn't show caster on each side, just the center of the axle. They opened up a new off road shop near here. maybe i'll let them do it. i would rather trust an off road shop align my 5" lifted xj than a regular shop.
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Unread 10-21-2008, 05:35 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Muddeprived View Post
Yeah that's what i read up on. The best way was using the ball joints but go-jeep used the differential bolts. I don't think that's accurate enough though and doesn't show caster on each side, just the center of the axle. They opened up a new off road shop near here. maybe i'll let them do it. i would rather trust an off road shop align my 5" lifted xj than a regular shop.
Actually, I would not worry about ANY COMPETENT (key word) shop aligning ANY Jeep, be it lifted or not, as long as they have two brain cells to rub together.

Jeeps are VERY basic in their front end layout, and as long as the guy is not a graduate of the Jiffy-Lube "skool of front end wurk", it's pretty straightforward.
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Unread 10-22-2008, 03:39 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AZ Jeff View Post
Actually, I would not worry about ANY COMPETENT (key word) shop aligning ANY Jeep, be it lifted or not, as long as they have two brain cells to rub together.

Jeeps are VERY basic in their front end layout, and as long as the guy is not a graduate of the Jiffy-Lube "skool of front end wurk", it's pretty straightforward.
Well what i thought would happen did. I called up 3 shops that do alignments in the area, including Midas, where i've always taken my vehicle and none of them will touch the modified front end. Soooo...i have to look for an off road shop or do it myself. There is a shop in ohio and it's quite some distance. I hope i don't wear down my tires going there with the alignment and caster off as bad as it is.

I don't see why they can't do an alignment. I asked them just to do an alignment and set everything as close to factory specifications as possible. That's just like aligning a stock jeep. Oh well...
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Unread 10-22-2008, 05:29 PM   #8
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I would NEVER consider Midas Muffler to be a "competent front end shop" Their stock and trade is mufflers and brakes (maybe).

Go find a real "Front End Shop". The kind of place that aligns LARGE trucks and the sort. They will know how to align your XJ correctly.
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Unread 10-22-2008, 06:56 PM   #9
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yeah, go to a front end shop nearby (don't call) and say you need an alignment, don't tell them its lifted, or anything else. it a jeep cherokee. i need an alignment...
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Unread 10-22-2008, 07:06 PM   #10
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Nothing wrong with calling them or telling them it's lifted. In fact, you should. If they have a problem you should know to take your business elsewhere before they get their hands on your XJ.
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Unread 10-22-2008, 07:09 PM   #11
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The guy at midas is my dad's friend. I been going to him since i started driving. he said he can't align lifted vehicles. I didn't complain, i understood.

I'll find a place.
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Unread 10-22-2008, 08:40 PM   #12
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Isn't there a formula to figure the angle of the machined surface with the diff cover removed and how it coresponds to caster angle? I thought I saw it on GoJeep.com. My 2000 is right at 7.5-8* and drives great. The dealer thought I was crazy to be running that much caster angle...shows what they know.
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Unread 10-23-2008, 01:45 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by firehawk View Post
Isn't there a formula to figure the angle of the machined surface with the diff cover removed and how it coresponds to caster angle? I thought I saw it on GoJeep.com. My 2000 is right at 7.5-8* and drives great. The dealer thought I was crazy to be running that much caster angle...shows what they know.
This is from go-jeep:

Quote:
I check caster by using a bevel square ( adjustable square ) with a level on it against the diff cover bolt heads that are above and below the axle or use the flat round area next to this. Then use a protractor the read the degrees. I have checked many XJ's including one that was still on the showroom floor and providing you are on level ground then it should read 87.5 degrees if done as shown. This is not the true caster angle as the steering knuckles are at a different angle but they will always be relative to this angle so it is used as a reference point. But with these Dana 30 hi pinion's, you can work out the caster by the formula; 9 - diff angle = caster. This was very easy to work out as once you know what the true caster is from a alignment machine once, you only have to work out what to add to the diff cover angle ( in this case the diff read -2.5 degrees off vertical ) to get to +6.5 degrees, ( -2.5 + ? = +6.5 degrees of caster, = +9 ). You always start with 9 degrees and subtract the amount off vertical read on your protractor or angle finder. 9-2.5 degrees = a caster of 6.5 degrees.

If you have a standard pinion like that come on '00-'02 XJ's then the rule does not apply as Angus from NAXJA found out. He took the measurements and compared them to a stock late model XJ and found that they run 7 degrees of caster and after having an alignment done I was able to work out that on the standard pinion ( the front uni is near the bottom of the diff ) they have a 12 degree start value instead of the 9 degrees as used above. i.e.. if you measure 5 degrees off the vertical your have 7 degrees of caster ( 12 - 5 = 7). It makes sense that the start value is higher as the pinion still has to point at the transfer case yoke ( 3 degrees below it usually ) but with a low pinion it starts off quite a bit lower to start with so needs more angle to start with.

The nuts ( 1/2" ), should be loosened as well as the main bolt ( 13/16" ), until they are at the end of their thread. 6.5* is the stock caster but when you start getting over 4" of height then you can start to get vibes from the front uni being to steep so might have to back off from this angle until vibes are gone. I run 5.5 degrees with my 4.5" lift for instance.



You can do one side at a time after and the best way to get the spacers in is to put the jack under the coil mount on one side and the trackbar at the other ( don't forget that I have a RHD ) once the bolts shown above have been loosened on both sides. The main bolt is in a slotted hole and will move forward as you jack the front as shown. You will find that there are two 'U' shapes inside each other with the inside one moving forwards as the main bolt slides in it's slot. You then add the packers between the two. It is then just a matter of adding packers of different thickness until you have the 87.5* back after releasing the jack. Then tighten everything back down starting with the 1/2 nuts first before the main bolt. Do a final check of the angle to make sure it hasn't changed with the tightening. I found that with mine and a few others after a 3" lift that 3mm or 1/8" packer was required.
I am going to attempt this myself and then take it in for a print-out of the specs to see if it's close to what i need.

it's funny that my caster and alignment are so out of whack but the jeep still rides straight and true with no ill effects.
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Unread 10-24-2008, 09:57 AM   #14
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Ok NTB was able to do the alignment for me. I was running at 1.5 degrees of caster prior to the alignment. They could only get it to 3.4 degrees by adjusting the lower control arms forward. They were only able to move the lower CA frame bolt forward 1/2" because the caster bracket that the control bolts goes through only can be moved forward that far before there's no thread for the nuts on the backside of the bracket.

This is the bracket that positions the lower control bolt for caster adjustment:


The two nuts/washers at the bottom of the black RC bracket are where the caster bracket bolts on. With it moved forward 1/2", there's only enough threads to engage the nuts. If those threads were longer, i could move it forward more but they are not.


Can the main LCA bolt hold the arms without that caster bracket? If i can do without that bracket, i can move the arms forward another 1/2" or so and get within 5 degrees caster.

if there's no way around this, or if i cannot run without the bracket inside there, then my only option would be adjustable lowers i guess.
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Unread 10-24-2008, 11:36 AM   #15
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You CAN run the lowers without the adjuster brackets, but they MAY slip back over time.

If I were you, given that you have a fair amount of lift, I would run adjustable lower arms. I do, and I only have 3 inches of lift.
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