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Unread 12-20-2011, 10:35 PM   #1
aBoyAndHisCJ
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do I need to align my CJ post-lift?

It's been somewhat of a mystery to me how an old CJ-7 maintains alignment anyway— seems weird to use computers & lasers & all to align the wheels on a vehicle built that way and intended to be used in that way. I put my lift springs on a few months ago, but it's now about to see a little highway and I was just wondering if there's any actual point to having the thing aligned. Is it necessary after a lift? Is it recommended?

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Unread 12-21-2011, 12:13 AM   #2
Matt1981CJ7
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Yes.

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Unread 12-21-2011, 12:25 AM   #3
ASteve
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The only thing you can adjust is Caster and Toe In/Out on a CJ...with that Dana 30.

When you lift your CJ the caster most definitely has changed and and alignment shop can tell you just how much in degrees on their computer generated print out. You then will have to shim your front end, or remount your spring perches to correct this. As for Toe In/Out they can do this easily by adjusting your tie rod...

SC
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Unread 12-21-2011, 02:34 AM   #4
aBoyAndHisCJ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ASteve View Post
The only thing you can adjust is Caster and Toe In/Out on a CJ...with that Dana 30.

SC
Exactly. So the thing is, everyone pretty much knows what toe-in is supposed to be on a CJ. And as far as caster goes, we already know that changes after a lift, & some people shim it, some who don't get driveline vibrations like myself haven't bothered to fix what isn't broken & add another piece of hardware in the form of shims— nor do I plan to. So after lifting a CJ, do a lot of CJ owners then go to the shop to get computer printouts? Do you see what I mean? I guess what I'm asking is: should I really do anything more than just check to make sure I'm still toed in correctly and call it a day?

What have you other CJ owners done, alignment-wise, after installing your own lift?
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Unread 12-21-2011, 05:15 AM   #5
Matt1981CJ7
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Setting your caster has nothing to do with driveline vibrations, it has to do with steering geometry. Specifically, caster dictates how well your CJ tracks and returns to center after a turn. On a CJ, caster should be between 5-7 degrees positive.

If you've lifted your CJ and haven't either shimmed or moved your spring perches, I can guarantee your caster is off and your Jeep probably isn't as drivable on the highway as it should be. Honestly, can you let go of your wheel at 60 mph on a straight-away and will your Jeep stay straight? Mine does. I bet yours doesn't.

You can measure caster at home, but it's not very accurate. That's why most guys take theirs to a shop, so they know exactly what they have, and what they need to do to correct it. My 2.5" lift required 4 degree shims to put my caster within spec. Once installed, they made a huge difference in how my CJ handled.

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Unread 12-21-2011, 06:29 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt1881CJ7
Setting your caster has nothing to do with driveline vibrations, it has to do with steering geometry. Specifically, caster dictates how well your CJ tracks and returns to center after a turn. On a CJ, caster should be between 5-7 degrees positive.

If you've lifted your CJ and haven't either shimmed or moved your spring perches, I can guarantee your caster is off and your Jeep probably isn't as drivable on the highway as it should be. Honestly, can you let go of your wheel at 60 mph on a straight-away and will your Jeep stay straight? Mine does. I bet yours doesn't.

You can measure caster at home, but it's not very accurate. That's why most guys take theirs to a shop, so they know exactly what they have, and what they need to do to correct it. My 2.5" lift required 4 degree shims to put my caster within spec. Once installed, they made a huge difference in how my CJ handled.

Matt
So do you happen to have a pic of these shims and where you installed them? Sorry I never messed with axles and driveline much so am trying to picture everything you are saying. I do know that my wheel does not return to center anymore after I turn. Thanks
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Unread 12-21-2011, 06:59 AM   #7
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Before you install shims... measure your caster.

Find some level ground and put the magnetic angle finder on the top of your ball joint using a socket to provide a flat surface if needed.
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Unread 12-21-2011, 07:04 AM   #8
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Not trying to install shims at this point just trying to get an idea as to where these shims are being installed.
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Unread 12-21-2011, 07:28 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bamasteeler View Post
Not trying to install shims at this point just trying to get an idea as to where these shims are being installed.
The shims install between the spring perch and the leaf pack.

Matt
shims.jpg   shimreversal.jpg  
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Unread 12-21-2011, 07:35 AM   #10
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Some came with my 2.5" lift on the back So I just left them on the lift kit when I installed it.
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Unread 12-21-2011, 07:56 AM   #11
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To answer the original question; if it's purely a trail rig then it's not really worth it. But if it's to be driven on the highway then it most definitely will help and should be done.
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Unread 12-21-2011, 08:15 AM   #12
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Unless longer leaf springs or longer shackles are used, caster should not change. A lift kit with the same length springs lifts each end of the spring equally and the axle does not rotate around either end of the spring, therefore caster remains the same.

Toe does not change as a result of a lift either. The draglink will need to be lengthened to keep the steering wheel centered, but toe does not move as the tie-rod length does not change via the lift.

If either of these is out of spec pre-lift, adding larger tires will heighten the effects of being out of alignment, but in that case an alignment would have been a good idea, lift kit or not.
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Unread 12-21-2011, 08:30 AM   #13
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By all means do it.

I would never drive on the streets without at least checking it yourself with a magnetic angle finder.

You can also set the toe with some buckets full of sand, 4 short sticks or pipe and some string.
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Unread 03-02-2012, 08:24 AM   #14
aBoyAndHisCJ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CSP View Post
Unless longer leaf springs or longer shackles are used, caster should not change. A lift kit with the same length springs lifts each end of the spring equally and the axle does not rotate around either end of the spring, therefore caster remains the same.

Toe does not change as a result of a lift either. The draglink will need to be lengthened to keep the steering wheel centered, but toe does not move as the tie-rod length does not change via the lift.

If either of these is out of spec pre-lift, adding larger tires will heighten the effects of being out of alignment, but in that case an alignment would have been a good idea, lift kit or not.
Either CSP is 100% correct, or I just got lucky man. I never had it aligned and I haven't changed a single thing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt1981CJ7 View Post
If you've lifted your CJ and haven't either shimmed or moved your spring perches, I can guarantee your caster is off and your Jeep probably isn't as drivable on the highway as it should be. Honestly, can you let go of your wheel at 60 mph on a straight-away and will your Jeep stay straight? Mine does. I bet yours doesn't.
It does indeed stay straight, look-Ma-no-hands style, on the freeway at 65-70 mph, for just as long as you dare to drive that way. I'm not sure what I did right with the build, but I sure am happy I haven't had any post-lift complications.

Thank you guys for responding. I was in the woods from the time soon after that post through January, and am just getting back to the forum. The CJ performs perfectly on the highways and in the woods, and I HIGHLY recommend Cooper Discoverer STTs- they have to be one of the greatest tires ever made.
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Unread 03-02-2012, 08:33 AM   #15
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Well I actually did use shackles that were a little longer than stock. But the key is a LITTLE longer, I guess. The 6-inch shackle guys probably couldn't get away clean like I did. No shims, no alignment. No vibrations.

I'll tell you what else I didn't do— drop my pitman arm. I bought the drop pitman arm because I was sure I'd have to, but there's obviously no need, based on the fact that it handles like any other passenger car. I've always believed my CJ was magical anyway though.
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