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  #1  
Old August 21st, 2020, 20:14
tballer4596's Avatar
tballer4596 tballer4596 is offline
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Alignment help/Very poor steering

Hi everyone! I'll get right to the point. My steering sucks. I think I know why but let me share what I've done.

To start, when I got my jeep it had a 3.5" lift with 31s, stock steering and non adjustable control arms, everything was out of whack. It wandered like crazy, but a driveway tape measure alignment helped a bunch. Still not great though. My wheel also never returned to center on its own. I had to to physically turn the wheel back after a turn.

Fast forward to now, a year and a half later. Every single one of my steering components is brand new. V8 WJ steering pump, durango steering box, cafvab crossover steering linkages, brand new knuckles and ball joints on both sides. I also have a 5.5" rubi lift, adjustable upper and lower control arms, and 33s. The WJ durango swap is great, turns my 33s effortlessly. We are talking about a Dana 30 by the way, although I doubt that matters. After installing all this, I got an alignment, thinking my steering woes were finally over, now that my control arms could be adjusted properly. Heres the sheet:
(I cant attach images for some reason so I will transcribe)

FRONT LEFT:
Camber: -1.2
Caster: 3.6
Toe: .14

FRONT RIGHT
Camber: -0.2
Caster : 3.7
Toe: .14

Total toe: .28


My jeep still steers like absolute crap. The steering is incredibly unresponsive, and she wanders all over the road. It feels like it takes a large correction in the steering wheel to actually move the truck. Its not enjoyable to drive. The wheel also will not return to center, just like before. And like i said, everything is brand new, there is 0 slop anywhere, no bad joints, no worn out steering box, the usual. Everything is right and tight.

So first off, do those numbers look right in general? Specifically the toe. (I'm also not sure how its possible for the camber to be different from one side to the other, but I don't think I should worry about that) Second, I know you cannot adjust caster independently of pinion angle, and I know the mechanic favored pinion angle here (I cant show an image but it looks perfect to me. And when I picked up the truck he told me he chose to set the pinion angle perfect instead of the caster). Now after looking on the forums, it seems people recommend anywhere from 5-10 degrees of caster on a setup like this. Some say 1 degree for every " of lift (unclear if thats in addition to the stock caster), others say that plus some. So my next questions would be:

A. Would the difference of ~5 deg. account for such poor steering performance? Other than fixing the caster I don't see anything else that could be causing this.

and B. In order to maintain pinion angle but fix the caster, is my only option to remove the axle, cut the axle tubes and clock the C's at the ends of each tube? I'm not adverse to this option, as I'd truss and rebuild the axle as part of that project, but its a lot of work.

And finally, if we do all agree caster is the culprit here, what amount of caster would you guys recommend? How do your jeeps steer? Is responsive steering too much to ask for on a setup like this? Do your wheels return to center and do you have responsive steering? At the very least, I'd appreciate the ability to go straight down the road =) Thanks in advance
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  #2  
Old August 21st, 2020, 22:15
Agreen Agreen is offline
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Re: Alignment help/Very poor steering

Caster is the issue. The alignment guy is dumb.

And I believe the factory spec for caster is like 7 (+1.5/-1.75).

Mine is only lifted 3" on 31" tires but it rides like it's brand new and the steering wheel always returns to center, and it's aligned to factory specs.
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Old August 22nd, 2020, 05:46
RCP Phx RCP Phx is offline
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Re: Alignment help/Very poor steering

Caster "could" be a issue but I would focus on the toe-in number first. Your toe-in sounds excessive because larger tires need less toe-in. The caster is not bad, I've been running 3* for 20yrs now and it does not wander and holds it's course and I'm at 5.5" of lift. Are you on "short" arms?
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Old August 22nd, 2020, 06:47
RCP Phx RCP Phx is offline
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Re: Alignment help/Very poor steering

What I really was asking is do you have DB's? What track-bar are you running?
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Old August 22nd, 2020, 14:48
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Tim_MN Tim_MN is offline
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Re: Alignment help/Very poor steering

Fully describe and detail the front suspension and set-up and components. OTK steering ?

Is the Jeep wandering always, or is it following grooves pressed into the asphalt by big trucks ?

Caster affects your straight line stability especially with pavement camber changes or dips in the road etc. and also your return to center strength. So if you have these problems then it could be you need slightly more caster. Your u-joints will tell you if they are unhappy with the pinion angle.



I have always read that and set up my Cherokees to have less than ideal caster so the pinion angle is better, and to have slightly more than stock toe-in because large/wider tires have more weight and centrifugal force that reduces the driving toe-in very slightly.

My 2000 with 5.5" of lift, short control arms, control arm drop brackets, stock steering, and 31's, steers OK, not great but not bad. Steering wheel return to center is acceptable. Seems to me to be about the same as it was with 3.5" of lift. My 98 with 3" of lift and fixed length lower control arms steers pretty good. Steering wheel return to center is good. My 99 with 1" spacer lift wanders a good bit, the maintenance history is unknown and it has evidence of neglect, it will be getting all new steering and suspension bushings.
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Quote:
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Go ahead and slam the liftgate down on a blanket, and see how long you are laughing.

Last edited by Tim_MN; August 23rd, 2020 at 07:08.
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  #6  
Old August 22nd, 2020, 19:22
bridgerx bridgerx is offline
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Re: Alignment help/Very poor steering

Caster, yes more. And how much tread is on your tires? worn tires tend to follow grooves in the road more too.
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Old August 31st, 2020, 22:18
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tballer4596 tballer4596 is offline
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Re: Alignment help/Very poor steering

Hi everyone, sorry I was expecting an email when I got a reply to the thread but it never came. Ill try to answer all questions.

Yes I'm on short arms with drop brackets. My whole setup is as follows:

Dana 30 HP
Unknown if I have stock pitman arm or drop pitman arm, but my track bar and drag link are close to parallel and no real bump steer issues.
Rough country adjustable track bar with drop bracket (frame side.) Uses stock axle side mount.
Cavfab hiem crossover steering connected as follows:
Top of drag link attached below pitman arm, bottom of drag link attached above passenger side knuckle, passenger side of tie rod attached below passenger knucklw (they use the same bolt) and drivers side of tie rod attached below drivers knuckle.

Rubicon express adjustable lower control arms, rustys adjustable uppers, RC drop brackets.

5.5" Rubicon springs and bilstiens.

Quote:
Is the Jeep wandering always, or is it following grooves pressed into the asphalt by big trucks ?
I think its a good mix of both. Its hard to say. Sometimes she goes nice and straight, sometimes I feel like Im about to be in the next lane and have to make many many corrections. What is always present however is the extreme unresponsiveness of the steering. It feels like a sailboat. Its scary sometimes.

Quote:
And how much tread is on your tires? worn tires tend to follow grooves in the road more too.
Brand new 33" k02s

So it seems we all agree for the most part its the caster. RCP I see you mentioned the toe in, I can investigate that as well.

My question now would be, what should I set my caster to? Ive searched and searched and cant seem to find a solid answer for this setup. Do you guys have any optinions?

I think what Im going to do is completely cut and rotate the Cs on the axle housing. Im pulling the axle to rebuild and install a locker and truss. I bought axle sleeves as well, so I think what I wil do is cut the housing as straight as I can between the sway bar mounts and the Cs, and using the sleeves to keep everything perfectly aligned, rotate the Cs as many degrees as is necessary using the current alignment of 3.6deg as a baseline and re weld.
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Old August 31st, 2020, 22:27
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tballer4596 tballer4596 is offline
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Re: Alignment help/Very poor steering

Quote:
Is the Jeep wandering always, or is it following grooves pressed into the asphalt by big trucks ?
Thinking about this further, I'm going to actually say yes its always wandering. I think the rare times its tracking straight are a product of the road surface being just right.

I also want to include that I've seen some people suggest adding a degree of caster for every inch of lift over stock, and wondering if anyone has any opinions on that, and whether or not TOO much caster can be a bad thing. Im guessing tire wear would be the main concern.
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Old September 1st, 2020, 07:43
RCP Phx RCP Phx is offline
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Re: Alignment help/Very poor steering

Quote:
Originally Posted by tballer4596 View Post
I also want to include that I've seen some people suggest adding a degree of caster for every inch of lift over stock, and wondering if anyone has any opinions on that,
That's not correct, I would probably start by getting a new set of good heims before I did anything else besides setting the correct toe-in.
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Old September 1st, 2020, 07:45
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tballer4596 tballer4596 is offline
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Re: Alignment help/Very poor steering

Quote:
Originally Posted by RCP Phx View Post
That's not correct, I would probably start by getting a new set of good heims before I did anything else besides setting the correct toe-in.
Is cavfab not a trusted supplier? They seemed high quality. They have zero play or noise whatsoever, I'm not sure that the heims are contributing anything here.
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  #11  
Old September 1st, 2020, 07:50
RCP Phx RCP Phx is offline
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Re: Alignment help/Very poor steering

Most kits use cheap Chinese heims, and yes every bit of "loose-ness/play" will create a unstable steering.
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  #12  
Old September 1st, 2020, 07:52
RCP Phx RCP Phx is offline
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Re: Alignment help/Very poor steering

Also, get a pic of your steering angles!
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  #13  
Old September 1st, 2020, 08:57
RCP Phx RCP Phx is offline
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Re: Alignment help/Very poor steering

Quote:
Originally Posted by tballer4596 View Post
I think what Im going to do is completely cut and rotate the Cs on the axle housing. Im pulling the axle to rebuild and install a locker and truss. I bought axle sleeves as well, so I think what I wil do is cut the housing as straight as I can between the sway bar mounts and the Cs, and using the sleeves to keep everything perfectly aligned, rotate the Cs as many degrees as is necessary using the current alignment of 3.6deg as a baseline and re weld.
That's a lot of work, specially to get it right and not needed to fix the issue!
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Old September 1st, 2020, 21:28
gordonganders gordonganders is offline
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Re: Alignment help/Very poor steering

Sounds a lot like what i went though. I chased the wandering steering for years. I even did a full WJ swap, over the knuckle, custom track bar etc. Had it aligned with 5 degrees of caster and 1/16th toe in.

It still wondered all over the road and was generally tiring to drive.

It ended up being the durango steering box I had swapped in almost five years prior. I swapped back to a basic reman stock xj box and it was finally a pleasure to drive.

Yes, it was easier to turn the 33s with the durango box, but it also gave me a huge dead spot in the steering wheel.
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  #15  
Old September 2nd, 2020, 05:44
RCP Phx RCP Phx is offline
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Re: Alignment help/Very poor steering

Yes, if the OP feels everything else is in good shape he needs to look at the steering box.
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