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Old November 11th, 2013, 10:50 AM   #1
mikesova
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3.5 Rancho lift / MT's cause jeep wandering?

I've been looking at some jeeps lately and I found a nice low mileage TJ with a 3.5 rancho short arm lift and 33" Micky Thompson tires. I took it for a drive and it wanted to wander A LOT. You had to correct the steering constantly. The jeep is super clean and has 15k miles. Later that day I drove a very similar jeep, except it was stock suspension. It drove down the road fine, straight and true.

The guy who owns the lifted jeep says that everything is nice/tight/aligned and what I was experiencing is normal.

I've driven lifted Sammie's, but I figured that a like new jeep with a much "better" suspension lift would go down the road nicer and not require so much extra steering correction.

Am I asking too much for a lifted jeep?
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Old November 11th, 2013, 11:25 AM   #2
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in my opinion there is a problem...my friend drives a 96 Cherokee lifted 6 in or so and it drive amazingly on the road...does it have/need a steering stabilizer or is there more wrong than the seller is leading you to believe? just my thoughts but good luck!
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Old November 11th, 2013, 11:33 AM   #3
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My tj lost some road manners when I put 35s with a 10" wheel on it, but it still drives damn straight. I'd say that this one needs to be looked at.
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Old November 11th, 2013, 11:42 AM   #4
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how about a sway bar with disconnects or a heavier duty tie rod end setup? I think that would help with the prob but a stabilizer is the most probable cause I can think of
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Old November 11th, 2013, 11:56 AM   #5
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needs more caster. If it can't track center, than that is your problem. Put it on an alignment rack and i'm sure you are at the low end or even out of spec (too low) on caster. I'm guessing the arms are fixed and the owner has no way of adding caster. TJ's don't have caster adjustment at the axle like the older ZJ's did with a cam washer. You can pick them up still I believe (dodge rams use them too). That or you will need adjustable lowers to correct the issue.

I'll put money on it that it's caster. If it is pulling one way more than the other, it is something else (bent arm/mount/something off with alignment) but if it's darting left and right at random with no real reason, its caster.

Lifted jeeps with bigger tires require more caster than OEM spec and most alignment shops don't understand this.
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Old November 11th, 2013, 12:04 PM   #6
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Quote:
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needs more caster. If it can't track center, than that is your problem. Put it on an alignment rack and i'm sure you are at the low end or even out of spec (too low) on caster. I'm guessing the arms are fixed and the owner has no way of adding caster. TJ's don't have caster adjustment at the axle like the older ZJ's did with a cam washer. You can pick them up still I believe (dodge rams use them too). That or you will need adjustable lowers to correct the issue.

I'll put money on it that it's caster. If it is pulling one way more than the other, it is something else (bent arm/mount/something off with alignment) but if it's darting left and right at random with no real reason, its caster.

Lifted jeeps with bigger tires require more caster than OEM spec and most alignment shops don't understand this.
Are you talking about Cam Bolts like this?



Because if you are you're incorrect. my 1997 TJ Most definitely had these bolts at the axle end of the front lower control arms which allowed me to adjust caster.

That said, I would say that wider tires (most 33's are 12.5 so I'm assuming the same here) will want to wander quite a bit. If the wheels are 10's instead of 8's it will make the footprint of the tire a bit wider, add in poor caster, incorrect toe in/out, and a loose part here or there and you'll wander all over the road.

Take it to a GOOD front end shop and see what's going on alignment wise, as well as how tight the front end parts are.
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Old November 11th, 2013, 12:21 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kickstand View Post
Are you talking about Cam Bolts like this?



Because if you are you're incorrect. my 1997 TJ Most definitely had these bolts at the axle end of the front lower control arms which allowed me to adjust caster.

That said, I would say that wider tires (most 33's are 12.5 so I'm assuming the same here) will want to wander quite a bit. If the wheels are 10's instead of 8's it will make the footprint of the tire a bit wider, add in poor caster, incorrect toe in/out, and a loose part here or there and you'll wander all over the road.

Take it to a GOOD front end shop and see what's going on alignment wise, as well as how tight the front end parts are.
my only input on this is to get the printout from them and understand the printout. From now on I prefer to do all the adjustments myself after going through the ringer with the xj. I would, however, take it somewhere to at least get the base measurements. Most shops only adjust toe, and like to say they can't adjust the others (some for good reason)

to add input to the OP; if it smells like fish, it probably is fish, or something more undesireable.
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Old November 11th, 2013, 12:26 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kickstand View Post
Are you talking about Cam Bolts like this?



Because if you are you're incorrect. my 1997 TJ Most definitely had these bolts at the axle end of the front lower control arms which allowed me to adjust caster.

That said, I would say that wider tires (most 33's are 12.5 so I'm assuming the same here) will want to wander quite a bit. If the wheels are 10's instead of 8's it will make the footprint of the tire a bit wider, add in poor caster, incorrect toe in/out, and a loose part here or there and you'll wander all over the road.

Take it to a GOOD front end shop and see what's going on alignment wise, as well as how tight the front end parts are.
The newer tjs dont come factory with those cam bolts. my tj is a 2001 and i had to buy the cam bolts separate.

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Old November 11th, 2013, 12:28 PM   #9
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The newer tjs dont come factory with those cam bolts. my tj is a 2001 and i had to buy the cam bolts separate.

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I didn't specify that all TJ's came with (or with out them) I just specified that Dylan was incorrect in saying that TJ's did not come with them. As some did. (I pointed to the 1997 I owned). That and mikesova didn't specify year, so it was possible it was an older TJ.

That said, I think my 2001 also had them, but I don't remember 100%.

Last edited by kickstand; November 11th, 2013 at 12:40 PM.
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Old November 11th, 2013, 01:08 PM   #10
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It's an 06 TJ. Nothing screams fishy to me about it at all and the guy seems like a good guy. There are some things that I would like to try, but it's not my rig. I would love to throw a set of smaller narrow tires and go for a ride, but I think that might be asking a lot.
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Old November 11th, 2013, 01:57 PM   #11
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Yes i forgot but Kickstand is right. I think it was till 99 that that used the cam bolts. My 2001 didn't have them and just had a large stamped washer (it was about 1/8" thick. I had to buy them as well. BDS sells them. I'm sure an 06 will not have them as well.

I was cheap and didn't bother buying them. I just made 4 1.25" square plates (i thin that was the size) and just drilled the hole offset to one side. Didn't need to adjust them, just wanted the axle pushed forward and the bolt in the rear part of the slot. I think all TJ's have a slotted lower control arm hole. I think the xi's where the only ones that didn't because their adjustment was shims at the body.

Yes wide wheels will also cause the vehicle to follow road imperfections more and feel like it is darting. Again this is why an increase in caster over OEM spec will help. It will give more return to center force.

Last edited by Dylan; November 11th, 2013 at 02:02 PM.
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Old November 11th, 2013, 02:18 PM   #12
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If the frame is straight, the price is right and nothing is damaged I wouldn't worry about the wander. It can be fixed. I have had tires as wide as 15.5 on my TJ's in the past and they weren't bad to drive when the alignment and front end parts were in proper order. Dylan's advice to consider castor is where I would start. with only 15k miles there shouldn't (in theory) be that many worn out parts.
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