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Old 09-11-2019, 04:54 PM
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Camber issue - most economical way to fix

I've got a 2003 Wrangler Sport. Last month while driving highway driving in Utah we had a near death experience when an opposing car lost control, swinging around and side swiping us with his rear bumper. We slid around and ended up in the opposing lanes of traffic headed in the proper direction - and fortunately were not hit from behind. All of this happened at highway speeds.


Damage to us - a very slight, hard to see crease starting just behind the door opening, a shattered drivers side flair, a blown tire (ripped a gash in it), continued crease under the gas cap, gas cap ripped off by the tether and slung to side of the road, and bent license plate holder.
After getting back to Texas, I took it to get a 4 wheel alignment where we found the driver lower control arm was elongated at one of the bushing holes, and the passenger side one was slightly twist torqued. We replaced those, along with the front track bar. We did this because the bushings were rotted - we didn't see anything that indicated front axle damage as a result of the wreck - except, maybe -

the tech also found a roughly 1/16" gap between the nut and the bottom of the "C" of the right front lower ball joint. Really weird because we all know that nut is cotter keyed and cant' come lose. At the same time, the Jeep didn't seem to incur any unusual loads in the course of the accident - the right front of the car did not hit anything, nor was it hit. We went ahead and tightened.
At the end of the alignment, we ended up with the following alignment numbers - and a right side camber problem -


Left Right

Front camber -0.2 -1.3
Cross Camber 1.1
Castor 5.9 5.0
Cross Castor 0.9
Toe 0.18 0.11
Total Toe 0.29

Camber 0.0 -1.2
Cross Camber 1.2
Toe -0.57 0.49
Total Toe -0.08
Thrust Angle -0.53


I find it hard to believe that if the camber issue was a result of the wreck, that it was that easy to bend something in the front axle.


So, after PM'ing someone on this and other boards who from all accounts is a front end guru - said to take it to a good axle shop to figure out what bent - I'm looking for others experience on what to do - take it to a shop and see if they can fix it ($ TBD), or just put a donor axle under it (that might also have issues). Craigslist today has one that looks in darn good condition for $350.



111k miles on it, never been rock climbing, not nor can I tell has it ever been lifted. Stock all around.


Thoughts anyone?

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Old 09-11-2019, 05:10 PM   #2
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first of all...why wouldn't the other drivers insurance be paying whatever is necessary to make your vehicle the way it was pre-accident (and hence negating the need for the most economical solution)?

But to answer your question, there are offset ball joints to correct camber. I had similar numbers on mine (driver side) with no idea how it happened; alignment shop offered to install the offset ball joints but I was working on another axle build so I left it alone.

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Old 09-11-2019, 05:24 PM   #3
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Just find a replacement axle. LP30 can be found in good shape for $200. You can install yourself in an afternoon using common hand tools.
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Old 09-11-2019, 05:49 PM   #4
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My bet is that you need new ball joints... maybe from wear and maybe from the accident... let the tech decide.
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Old 09-12-2019, 06:26 AM
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Originally Posted by freedom_in_4low View Post
first of all...why wouldn't the other drivers insurance be paying whatever is necessary to make your vehicle the way it was pre-accident (and hence negating the need for the most economical solution)?

But to answer your question, there are offset ball joints to correct camber. I had similar numbers on mine (driver side) with no idea how it happened; alignment shop offered to install the offset ball joints but I was working on another axle build so I left it alone.



Thanks freedom!


The tech did suggest the adjustable ball joints but that quite frankly he wouldn't do it - and would just keep the tires rotated.



Insurance did pay for the rear lower control arms - I didn't press for payment on the front end because the tech said it was indeterminate as to if that was caused by the wreck or the camber was always that way. I've pretty much exhausted my ability to extract more money from the insurance company considering the shop I used would not support me in saying this damage was caused by the accident.
But Thanks for thinking of that as a possible remedy.
Besides, if I can get an axle for a decent price (I found one local for $350 which I can negotiate with the guy, and you'll see someone on this thread said they could be had for $200) then I expect that would be about the same $ as adjustable ball joint band-aid would be - my only risk with another axle is if it has issues that won't be discovered until after installation.
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Old 09-12-2019, 06:33 AM
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Just find a replacement axle. LP30 can be found in good shape for $200. You can install yourself in an afternoon using common hand tools.

Thanks Blort!


Good advice. Am pretty handy with tools so to do an axle swap doesn't scare me.


Will keep the thread posted on what I do. Hopefully I can negotiate the axle I found on Craigslist down closer to your $200 price - although the axle as pictured is very, very clean. My only concern is how to tell if it might already have an undetectable until "after installed" camber problem, making my purchase a waste of money, not to mention lost time and the cost of what the next steps should be.
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Old 09-12-2019, 06:40 AM
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My bet is that you need new ball joints... maybe from wear and maybe from the accident... let the tech decide.

Thanks Gottagofast!


He looked the ball-joints over real good and didn't see an issue (neither did I). It was in his ball joint inspection that he found the loose lower ball joint nut.


In the end, the tech suggested adjustable ball joints could be installed, but he also said if it were his, he wouldn't do anything but keep the tires rotated.
I'm not an alignment guy - I don't know what impact that amount of camber will do in the shorter or longer terms with regard to tire wear, or or that amount impacts driveability.


I think I will get out this weekend with the wife and do the steer rocking, fingers on ball joints test to confirm ball joint condition.


Will keep the thread posted. Thanks again!
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Old 09-12-2019, 08:55 AM   #8
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In the end, the tech suggested adjustable ball joints could be installed, but he also said if it were his, he wouldn't do anything but keep the tires rotated.
I'm not an alignment guy - I don't know what impact that amount of camber will do in the shorter or longer terms with regard to tire wear, or or that amount impacts driveability.
In my experience the tech is probably right. I drove 13k miles on my axle with that amount of camber and never noticed any drivability issues and only noticed tire wear when I went 10k without rotating. If you go every 6k, you'll probably never notice the difference.

The tire rotation interval on my wife's 4runner is half the oil change interval!
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Old 09-12-2019, 09:30 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blort View Post
Just find a replacement axle. LP30 can be found in good shape for $200. You can install yourself in an afternoon using common hand tools.

Thanks Blort!


Good advice. Am pretty handy with tools so to do an axle swap doesn't scare me.
To say it can be done in an afternoon is making some assumptions. If your control arm bolts haven't been out in a decade they may require a reciprocating saw, which also trashes your bushings potentially leaving you waiting for parts. Even if they're not seized, they're likely a stover nut which requires a fair amount of torque the whole way off, so air tools will speed things up considerably.

The axle end track bar bolt likes to seize too, particularly if you have the older style torx head. The newer TJs had a hex head which is what you'll want to get because the torx is discontinued.

Your lower control arm bolts will be either a 21mm or 22mm head... These are larger than most common socket sets include... I have a mixture of both.

If you need to reuse your shafts and unit bearings you'll need a 13mm 12 Pt socket, and if you need to separate the bearings from the shafts it's a 36mm.

Not trying to scare you, just sharing some of my own experience to help minimize your interruptions and downtime.
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Old 09-12-2019, 09:43 AM   #10
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Remember to check what gearing is in the axle if you buy a used one. Don't want to go into 4wd and find out gearing is different front and rear.
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Old 09-13-2019, 07:42 AM
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Thanks for your advice and inputs freedom_in_4low and jeepers29!



Planning to do some more detail inspection of the front end today, particularly of that right side set of ball joints to make sure the tech didn't miss anything. I watched him the whole time, and he seemed to know his stuff as opposed to the goofus'es at Sears (where against my better judgement I took the Jeep soon after we bought it to have tires rotated, alignment checked, oil changed).
While drive-ability is "OK", I just think it could be tightened up a little more.

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