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Old 03-24-2015, 09:40 AM
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Drop Pitman arm...?

I Just installed the Zone 4.25 lift and everything went on well. Took it in for axle/steering alignment this morning. mechanic told me he couldn't get the steering wheel centered w/out a drop pitman arm, I know this isn't true, but I wasn't in the mood to argue... Can I center the wheel myself? right now its about 180 degrees off, upside down to go straight. He also told be he couldn't get it to track correctly, that the driverside camber was off by .2 degrees and couldn't get it in in the correct range. He told me my axle tube was bent... Im skeptical. Any advice for either one of these issues is greatly appreciated.

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Old 03-24-2015, 10:03 AM   #2
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#1, You definitely don't want a dropped pitman arm.

#2, you can do a toe in alignment and steering correction yourself. Here's a write up.

#3, The only way you are going to know if camber is out of spec, is have it put on an alignment rack and checked. I would not go back to the same guy.
Camber out of spec does not necessarily mean bent axle, it could also be ball joints or a bad unit bearing.
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File Type: pdf Alignment Write up.pdf (624.2 KB, 31 views)

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Old 03-24-2015, 10:38 AM   #3
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You can center the steering wheel yourself and i agree that you shouldn't go back to the same mechanic.

I've seen many people attempt to do their own alignments, but never seen one that was very accurate.
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Old 03-24-2015, 10:59 AM
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I won't be going back, I just don't understand why he insisted he couldn't center the steering wheel without a DPA... I guess I'll try centering the wheel myself... All the 4x4 and jeep shops around here are booked 3 weeks out
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Old 03-24-2015, 11:12 AM   #5
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Your mechanic doesn't know what he's doing if he says you need a dropped Pitman arm to center your steering. Most 4x4 trucks need dropped Pitman arms after installing a suspension lift but installing one onto a TJ will usually just create problems like bump steer.

There's nothing tricky or difficult to getting an alignment as good as the latest laser guided alignment rack can produce. I discovered that maybe 15 years ago after thinking front-end alignments were some kind of black magic.

On a standard TJ, the only things can can be done for an alignment is the toe-in and centering the steering wheel. Centering the steering wheel is a no-brainer, rotate the adjustment sleeve on the drag link until the steering wheel is centered.



The toe-in is only slightly more time consuming but if you can read a tape measure down to between 1/16" and 1/8", you can set your toe-in as accurately as a rack can produce. A tire shop didn't believe me when I said my toe-in was right on, that I had just set it. They said they'd check it for free and sure enough, it was right on the spec... they were surprised and said they didn't know it could be done at home and get accurate results either.

The only thing I have checked on a rack is the caster angle but I haven't needed to do that in probably 10 years. The camber angle is not adjustable without installing adjustable ball joints.

Here's the alignment writeup I think Water Dog intended to include.... Basic Jeep Front End Alignment which is includes how to center the steering wheel and set the toe-in. Setting the toe-in is nothing more than rotating the tie-rod so the fronts of the tires are 1/16" to 1/8" closer together than they are in the rear.

You can measure that between the tires, or get some 1" square tubing and do it like shown below which makes measuring a snap. Just clamp the tubing to the rotor and measure between the tubes at points marked equal to your tire diameter.

Take just the usual care and you'll produce a toe-in and centered steering wheel adjustment as good as the best alignment guy on the best alignment rack can produce
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Old 03-24-2015, 11:36 AM
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Thanks! So I can do the steering wheel without messing with anything else? They got everything else straight on the alignment rack... I guess I'll address the camber problem later, I've got tires and gears to worry about now. It's only a tiny bit out of spec
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Old 03-24-2015, 11:44 AM   #7
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Yep, you only need to turn that short sleeve on the drag link to center the steering wheel. You need to rotate it so it lengthens the drag link, since the drag link is now too short due to the suspension lift height you added. And IIRC, that means you rotate the drag link's adjustment sleeve so the front of it rotates downward... lengthening the drag link.

Adjust the length a little at a time, taking short test drives up & down your street between adjustments. You can leave the adjustment sleeve bolts loose for those short test drives up & down the street & make fine adjustments until it's centered. Then tighten the bolts. 3/4" wrench IIRC.

The camber angle can be taken care of with an adjustable ball joint, if it's truly out of spec.
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Old 03-24-2015, 02:26 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by 04unlimited04 View Post
Thanks! So I can do the steering wheel without messing with anything else? They got everything else straight on the alignment rack... I guess I'll address the camber problem later, I've got tires and gears to worry about now. It's only a tiny bit out of spec
wouldn't worry about 0.2 degrees .....
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Old 03-24-2015, 10:05 PM
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I'm not. But it still pulls right after an alignment this morning... I think I'll be calling them back...
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Old 03-24-2015, 10:43 PM   #10
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I'm not. But it still pulls right after an alignment this morning... I think I'll be calling them back...
That's not something that can be adjusted, nor is it related to camber.
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Old 03-24-2015, 11:02 PM
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So how do I get it to not pull?
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Old 03-24-2015, 11:17 PM   #12
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A few possible causes of pull includes uneven tire pressure, insufficient caster angle on the side it's pulling toward, or a dragging brake.
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Old 03-24-2015, 11:19 PM   #13
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First get your wheels pointed ahead and adjust your toe in to 1/16 to 1/8 toed in. Then center the steering wheel with the drag link.

Are you sure your axles are relatively square to one another? I did my own alignment. Never bothered to have it checked, having decided most professionals are not all that clever with Jeeps. My Jeep tracks perfect hands off and my wheel is most definitely centered. Just do it yourself and quit paying people to screw your machine up.

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