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Old 06-06-2014, 09:01 PM   #1
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caster question for swimmy steering

I had 04 TJ aligned today, the driving has been very swimmy.

The report he gave my wife shows the caster started out at 3.7" for each side and ended up 3.8" per side the spec sheet he gave her shows that it should be between 6 and 8" per side.

is this correct? my jeep is stock except tires 31x9.50 and recently I replaced the lower control arms (bushings were bad), installed Blisten shocks (5100 series I believe), and replaced the steering damper. All in search of reasonable handling. The ride is fine it just seems to drift around the road.

If I'm correct I'm way off on the caster and if so how can I get more Caster? everything else came up in spec.... will this amount off screw up the driving?

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Old 06-06-2014, 09:05 PM   #2
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~3.8° on a stock jeep is terrible. heck, it's bad on a lifted jeep. caster spec on a stock jeep is 7°.

do you have cam bolts? what control arms did you buy? Post some pictures of your steering, suspension and control arms.

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Old 06-06-2014, 10:14 PM   #3
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purchased from Morris 4x4
Item MOPAR Front Lower Control Arm part #52088654AB-M

so now I know how bad this reading is....what does a low caster reading mean as far as driving and how can I correct it?
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Old 06-06-2014, 10:26 PM   #4
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I have about a 3 hour road trip planned.....is it safe?
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Old 06-06-2014, 10:46 PM   #5
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First, low caster angle reduces steering stability, it would require more steering input to keep it tracking straight. Insufficient caster angle also reduces how well the steering returns to center on its own after completing a turn.

That said, you're running stock fixed length control arms on an unlifted TJ so I am wondering how it could possibly have that low of a caster angle. The caster angle is fixed and not even adjustable as the Jeep leaves the factory. I think I'd take it to another alignment shop for a second opinion.
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Old 06-06-2014, 10:53 PM   #6
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upper and lowers are fixed....not sure how tis is possible unless it's been wrecked at some point.

as it stands how or what can I do to correct? can I get adjustable control arms and get it straight?

the description of "require more steering input to keep it straight" sounds like what I'm experiencing....seems to follow the road
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Old 06-06-2014, 10:58 PM   #7
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I think I'd take it to another alignment shop for a second opinion.
Best bet.

If you find a good shop that'll do a front end shake down while it's in getting alignment checked that's a plus. I know that the guy I used to use for my track car would shake down and inspect other vehicles for free, but then he knew he had my business when they needed alignment. Worth a shot I guess.
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Old 06-06-2014, 11:01 PM   #8
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The only way to bring the caster up that much, if it truly is that low, is with adjustable length control arms. But, again, I'd get a second alignment shop to confirm the caster angle.
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Old 06-06-2014, 11:09 PM   #9
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does this "lower" than desired caster make the jeep unsafe?

I have a trip planned tomorrow, about 3 hours and all interstate?
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Old 06-06-2014, 11:18 PM   #10
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I'd drive it. The caster angle is low but I don't believe it's dangerous so long as you remain attentive.
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Old 06-06-2014, 11:24 PM   #11
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Jerry - that was my thought and all day I've been researching this, once I get the caster reading verified, if it is low, I'll get adjustable arms for the lower and replace....the ones I just put on were a snap so other than the bucks no biggie
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Old 06-07-2014, 12:49 AM   #12
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This may be a silly question, but are you getting a little lift out of your aftermarket shocks? I put in 3/4" spacers in the front recently and it threw my caster off. Dialing in the toe made a big difference. As long as your toe is dead nuts on, you should be fine IMO.
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Old 06-07-2014, 12:51 AM   #13
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When you hit bumps over 55 mph does your steering wheel seesaw a little, like you are pulling a trailer? That's what mine was doing.
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Old 06-07-2014, 01:13 AM   #14
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This may be a silly question, but are you getting a little lift out of your aftermarket shocks? I put in 3/4" spacers in the front recently and it threw my caster off.
3/4" of lift won't affect the caster angle enough to notice.
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Old 06-07-2014, 06:00 AM   #15
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I didn't measure the height before I replaced the shocks but don't think it made any difference in height. I replaced them trying to correct the drive/steering problem.

04 - I don't notice any difference at highway speeds,,,,,,just the normal floaty type feeling
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Old 06-07-2014, 07:05 AM   #16
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does this "lower" than desired caster make the jeep unsafe?

I have a trip planned tomorrow, about 3 hours and all interstate?
it doesn't make it "unsafe", but its not fun at all. it will wander, feel darty & squirrely, and the steering wheel won't return to center very well. FWIW, cam bolts are good for about 1.5° in either direction...

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Jerry - that was my thought and all day I've been researching this, once I get the caster reading verified, if it is low, I'll get adjustable arms for the lower and replace....the ones I just put on were a snap so other than the bucks no biggie
try to find the root cause of this problem. maybe something was installed incorrectly, maybe you have cam bolts and they are turned the wrong way, maybe something is bent.

trying to adjust 3.8° caster to 7° on a stock jeep with adjustable arms is going make it hard to achieve a suitable axle position to get steering and clearance issues resolved.

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I didn't measure the height before I replaced the shocks but don't think it made any difference in height. I replaced them trying to correct the drive/steering problem.

04 - I don't notice any difference at highway speeds,,,,,,just the normal floaty type feeling
floaty type feelings on the highway aren't normal at all. I can go 80mph in my lifted Jeep with two fingers on the steering wheel. It's all about understanding these parameters and setting your jeep up correctly. But for you, at stock height, you need to find out what is bent/damaged/worn, and why the caster is so bad. the other thing is at 3.8° @ stock height, your front pinion angle should be very noticeably off axis. Again, post the pictures I requested of the front end. Maybe we'll be able to identify some issues.
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Old 06-07-2014, 08:03 AM   #17
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Quote:
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~3.8° on a stock jeep is terrible. heck, it's bad on a lifted jeep. caster spec on a stock jeep is 7°. do you have cam bolts? what control arms did you buy? Post some pictures of your steering, suspension and control arms.
Ha !!! That's stock for a JK. Then add a double carden DS. Guys riding around with 2-3*

OP .. Was toe adjusted back to stock ?
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Old 06-07-2014, 08:09 AM   #18
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Ha !!! That's stock for a JK. Then add a double carden DS. Guys riding around with 2-3*
Are you talking about the rear or front? The front axle whose caster angle we are discussing comes with a factory installed double-cardin DS.
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Old 06-07-2014, 08:17 AM   #19
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Are you talking about the rear or front? The front axle whose caster angle we are discussing comes with a factory installed double-cardin DS.
Just saying 3.8 is stock on a JK. You TJ guys are graced with higher caster from the factory.
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Old 06-07-2014, 08:19 AM   #20
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Are you talking about the rear or front? The front axle whose caster angle we are discussing comes with a factory installed double-cardin DS.
he's comparing to a JK. they have ~4° caster stock, and the stock front driveshaft uses Rzeppa joints. an common upgrade for JK owners is to swap their front and rear driveshafts to Double Cardan style with fixed yokes, requiring new pinion alignment.

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Just saying 3.8 is stock on a JK. You TJ guys are graced with higher caster from the factory.
you can always cut the inner C's off, rotate and reweld
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Old 06-07-2014, 02:29 PM   #21
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I did a car fax and it shows to have been in an accident, side swiped, in 2008 so may have screwed up the front end.

the best option I know is A) have the reading verified B) if correct install adjustable lower arms and get as much more positive reading as possible , maybe 1or 2", without screwing up anything else

thoughts?
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Old 06-07-2014, 02:58 PM   #22
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Having been hit in the side, I would check the gaps and fitment of body panels, as well as laser and string the frame for square. I would still have a second shop check the caster to verify that the first shop had an accurate baseline.

I would then proceed very carefully depending in the results of the investigation.
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Old 06-08-2014, 07:04 AM   #23
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JKEEPER10 - yes the tech got everything else within spec's.

I had it aligned after putting in the new lower control arms on about a month ago but since I still had a floaty feeling I decided to try a new tire shop.
The shop I used at first didn't print a report or for as far as I know even read the caster angle. My point is the toe and wheel alignment were right at spec when I took it to this new shop. The caster angle is the only thing that is out of spec.
With the new shop the caster started at 3.7 and when he was done making minor adjustments it read 3.8. That's as far as he could get it as is.
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Old 06-09-2014, 07:32 AM   #24
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question - the more I think about this maybe I should try the cam bolts and try to get the 1.5 or so and just live with it. (That would get me a total of around 5.3) If I get the adjustable control arms try t get an additional 3.0 it may screw up other angles?

thoughts?
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Old 06-09-2014, 09:04 AM   #25
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Pinion angle takes precedence over caster angle. The usual drill on this is to increase the caster angle until you get front drivehaft u-joint vibrations and then back off a degree to get rid of the vibes. Cam bolts work up front, there would be no harm in trying them to increase your front caster angle.
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Old 06-09-2014, 09:12 AM   #26
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I'd still want to know what the cause of the issue actually was if it were my rig.
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Old 06-09-2014, 09:59 AM   #27
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Jerry - can you explain the vibration your speaking of.....when would I feel it? at road speeds or just around town? That's a good recommendation and a big help in me trouble shooting this issue

UFO - I would like to know what caused the problem but since it's 10 years old not sure I'll every know.

Once I get the measurement verified, I guess I'll go ahead and get the adjustable control arms and like Jerry recommended I adjust it to try and get the most caster increase I can without causing other problems
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Old 06-09-2014, 11:19 AM   #28
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I'd still want to know what the cause of the issue actually was if it were my rig.
me too. like i said, if the caster is in fact that bad, it should be apparent on photos. Pinion angle should be crap, the inner C's could have been incorrectly reinstalled if the axle housing was repaired after the accident, something could be bend/damaged, etc. But he doesn't seem to want to post pictures to get some real help, so all I can say is good luck I guess....
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Old 06-09-2014, 11:22 AM   #29
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Could the frame have been slightly bent right at the point where this could affect caster? Could it have been tweaked evenly, right to left, up and down, so that it would not be apparent without being put up on a rack to check it?

I am not offering this up as a possible solution to this particular problem. I am genuinely asking if such damage could cause a caster reading that is this far off with stock arms on a stock suspension and go unnoticed at a shop after an accident.

This is weird.
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Old 06-09-2014, 12:19 PM   #30
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Unlimited - the reason I haven't posted a picture is I don't have the jeep with me......in an earlier post I said I needed to take a "3 hour road trip".....well I decided not to drive the jeep. I'll be back home Thursday and will be glad to post any picture you want....is there a particular angle or part you want a picture of?? oh never mind you just offered a "good luck"

maybe I'm off base but I know the jeep was in an accident so I'm approaching this from the angle that something happened so what can I do to make the best of it. What can I do to get the caster as close as possible to spec without effecting other areas....period just looking for the best possible solution

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