<This should be a sticky topic>
Why your steering wanders or seems loose
One of the biggest issues with Jeeps and a topic that almost repeats itself in a new thread each week is "wandering or loose steering". As a forum contributor on JeepForum for close to 5 years now, I see it over and over.
I'll first volunteer that there isn't always a single factor contributing to all steering issues, but one prevails quite commonly and that's, Castor Angle.
If you have no idea what castor angle is, please see this link:
When you put a suspension lift on your jeep, you alter the steering geometry of the vehicle. There's no exception, if you lifted your jeep, your castor angle is wrong and your steering demonstrates one or more of the following characteristics:
1) The steering wanders, particularly at higher speeds.
2) The steering wheel has a lot of play, usually 1-2" before the wheels turn.
3) The steering wheel doesn't center itself after a turn.
4) When the vehicle hits a bump in the road, you are white-knuckled trying to correct your course.
People, including me, have spent hundreds of dollars in new ball joints, flaming river steering shafts, new steering boxes, steering box mounts and of course, the new steering stabilizer!!!
Sometimes one of the solutions above will ever so slightly improve the situation which sends you further down the rabbit hole with buying more new parts and away from the $45 plus shipping fix with adjusting your castor angle.
So how does one fix castor? Well first off, go to Home Depot and buy an Angle measurement tool, aka an Angleometer. Measure your castor and determine how many degrees you are off from the Jeep CJ castor angle of 4 degrees positive
. So if your measurement is 0, you have to correct it by 4 degrees positive. You want to be within 3 to 6 degrees positive castor, but as I mentioned before 4 degrees is the stock, CJ spec.
So there are two easy and one more difficult way to correct castor angle. The more difficult, but best way is to cut the spring perches off your Dana 30 axle tube and reweld them in the correct position to give you proper castor.
The two easier ways are castor adjusting, upper balljoint sleeves or steel degree shims. For this thread, lets focus on the easiest castor correction, that being the steel shims. It's also the cheapest.
Tom Wood (http://www.4xshaft.com/index.html
) sells 2 and 4 degree steel shim kits depending on your need. Most 4" of spring under lift require a 4 degree correction. If you lifted your jeep 2.5" you "may" not need to do a thing.
The shims are placed under your spring perches, above your springs with the fat end of the shim facing the front of your jeep. So facing your front driver's side tire, the fat end is to your left. These shims take about 25-30 mins to install and you will notice a 100% difference in the quality of your steering and general handling of your CJ. One note to mention is to toss your old, rusty ubolts out and get yourself 4 new ones. Reusing old ubolts is not recommended.
Seriously consider this as a first step in fixing a loose steering problem because you're fighting the laws of physics if you lift your jeep higher and expect the stock steering geometry to cooperate.
Hope this helps!!
Here's an article that you may find helpful as well :