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Old 08-28-2013, 09:01 AM   #1
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Alignment question about adjustable cam bolts and caster

I just lifted my '05 TJ Rubicon with the 4.25" Zone lift so 3" of suspension lift and I'm ready to take it in for an alignment. I was reading up about toe-in and caster, and worried that I haven't installed adjustable cam bolts. However, in the last posting that I read, it seemed like with just a 3" suspension lift and moving from 31" tires to 33" tires that I don't need to worry about caster because it will still be in the right range. Is this true and should I not worry about the adjustable cam bolts and just go ahead and take it to an alignment shop?

Advice appreciated.

Thanks!

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Old 08-28-2013, 09:21 AM   #2
Knows a couple things...

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Don't worry about your caster angle, it should be fine... it is the toe-in that really needs to be adjusted after installing a suspension lift. The camber angle isn't adjustable either, not that it usually needs adjustment.

Installing a suspension lift with stock fixed length control arms does two things... 1) It very slightly pulls your axles closer together, shorting your wheelbase a tad. 2) It very slightly decreases your front axle's caster angle by rotating the axle a tad. That slight reduction in caster angle is actually a good thing for larger tires since you don't want quite as much caster angle for a larger tire like you'll be running with your new suspension lift.

Besides, the caster angle isn't a critical angle... so long as there is enough caster angle to provide good return-to-center for the steering wheel after completing a turn, it should be fine.

Finally, setting the toe-in is WAY too simple to pay a shop to do it for you. You can set it yourself in your driveway more quickly than you can drive down to the alignment shop. Results will be every bit as accurate too.

Here is a good webpage for the basics of how to set your own toe-in and recenter your steering wheel. Basic Jeep Front End Alignment. It's truly an easy thing to do, the alignment shops hate it when people learn it's not black magic.

Set the toe-in so as explained on that webpage, the fronts of your tires are between 1/16" and 1/8" closer together than they are in the rear. All you need is a tape measure, a wrench to loosen the bolts that hold the tie rod, & a big set of pliers. With a small amount of care, your toe-in will be every bit as accurate as the latest whiz-bang laser alignment shop can produce. Hard to believe, maybe, but very true. Set the toe-in first, then re-center the steering wheel which is just as easy. No, you don't remove the Pitman arm to recenter your steering wheel, there is an adjustment link on the drag link that makes that job extremely easy.

Finally, here's a good way to do it where the distances between the tires are more easily measured. Nothing more than two 1" square pieces of alumumum tubing marked at points equal to your tire diameter, and held to the brake rotor by a spring clamp.
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Old 08-28-2013, 10:15 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wlindsey View Post
I just lifted my '05 TJ Rubicon with the 4.25" Zone lift so 3" of suspension lift and I'm ready to take it in for an alignment. I was reading up about toe-in and caster, and worried that I haven't installed adjustable cam bolts. However, in the last posting that I read, it seemed like with just a 3" suspension lift and moving from 31" tires to 33" tires that I don't need to worry about caster because it will still be in the right range. Is this true and should I not worry about the adjustable cam bolts and just go ahead and take it to an alignment shop?

Advice appreciated.

Thanks!
when you get an alignment after installing the lift, make sure they measure caster. for 33's, 6-6.5° caster is what I prefer. Some like 5.5-6° too, again, some of it's preference.

If your caster is within that range, good deal. My guess is you'll be less with the 3" lift, and you'll find the steering a bit crappy on road crown. Return to center will be less, and it may drive squirrely on the highway, wanting to wander and follow every little defect in the road. If you feel that's the case, then you'll need to adjust caster. You can get 1.2-1.5° MAX back with cam bolts. If that isn't enough, then you need adjustable lower front control arms.
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Old 08-28-2013, 12:50 PM   #4
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I feel a set of cams set to max caster or a more expensive and better route would be a good set of adjustable lower arms. Having the right amount of caster makes quite a difference when driving on the road . I split the difference and went with 6.2 degrees with 33.1" tires and a little over 3" of lift
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Old 08-28-2013, 12:57 PM   #5
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Finally, here's a good way to do it where the distances between the tires are more easily measured. Nothing more than two 1" square pieces of alumumum tubing marked at points equal to your tire diameter, and held to the brake rotor by a spring clamp.[/QUOTE]

I love this! Wish I had this info along time ago. Trying to measure from The same spot on a round aggressive tire front and back is a pain.
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Old 08-29-2013, 12:36 PM   #6
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Thanks for the info!

I started off last night with the toe-in adjustment using a couple of good 4' metal levels lying around in the garage and bungee cords around the entire tire. Had to apply heat to get the tie rods moving, but it was easy.

Then re-centering the steering wheel was super easy too. Now off to get new tires.

Thanks!

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