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CJ Steering Wander -Seems Lose

#1 User is offline   Rollbar 

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Posted 24 August 2007 - 08:24 PM

One of the biggest issues with Jeeps is "wandering or loose steering".

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:
http://en.wikipedia....ki/Caster_angle

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 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 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 re-weld them in the correct position to give you proper castor.

The two easier ways are castor adjusting, upper ball joint 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 U-bolts out and get yourself 4 new ones. Reusing old U-bolts 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.

Here's an article that you may find helpful as well :
http://www.jeepfan.c...erCamberToe.htm


Some info provided by bustedjeep.com
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#2 User is offline   Brett Vogel 

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Posted 26 August 2007 - 10:52 AM

Thanks, Rollbar!

That's good info.

Also, TJ's have the same problem. Hopefully the fix for them will be even easier. My 4" lift came w/ adjustble control arms. I have no idea where my caster angle ended up after installing the lift kit. I've had the front end aligned 2 or 3 times trying to fix the bad steering. I've read in several places that I need 2-4 degrees positive caster. You would think/hope that this was checked/adjusted during the front end alignments; however, I'm not so sure. I wanted to check the caster myself but had no idea where to go to get something that could measure the angle/caster. Now, I'm going to rush to Home Depot (or equivalent) and get that thing to measure the caster/angle. I'm hoping that it's off and that's the cause of the problem. Then, I'll adjust the control arms to correct the angle/caster. Hopefully, that'll fix the steering!

Thanks again!

#3 User is offline   greenjeep 

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Posted 01 September 2014 - 05:51 PM

I can only add that my bone stock 1977 CJ 5 wandered very badly at highway speed.I am sure the fact it was over 20 years old was alot of the problem. I think the leaf spings were worn out as the rest of the jeep but the coils found in TJ and newer jeeps are just better off and certainly on the road. Just my 2 cents. I did love that jeep.

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