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Alignment Opinions

7411 Views 38 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Wardens Worry !
Hey all!
I bought a 2015 Wrangler Unlimited Sport with what I think is a 4" teraflex lift with control arm drop brackets, TF HD tie rod, HD track bar, falcon adjustable steering stabilizer, Teraflex HD balljoints. New tires (285/65R18) and I have tried psi from 26-37. The issue I have is incredibly flighty/wandering steering. If I am driving I can be thrown into the next lane. I need a ton of micro corrections to stay in my lane. Going on the highway is extremely sketchy. Does my alignment look ok or is there any area that looks like it can contribute to my issues? Any comments or questions are welcome!

I believe this is the lift kit that was installed before I purchased:

Would dropping to a 3" lift help out?
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Check the bj's/may need to be tweaked. My dynatrac were floaty and the torque was way off-lol. Set em to the proper setting and it is much improved

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Forgive my ignorance but how would I adjust and know about the ball joints? I know they gave me the tool to tighten them but the alignment shop didn't mention anything about it.
Toe is a bit low on the right, but not enough I would think to cause what you subscribe. The lower the lift the better as long as its tall enough for your tire needs. Those tires are 32.6" tall so you could get away with a 2.5" lift easily. How many miles on the lift, maybe it has some worn parts up front? I would get underneath the front and check for worn ball joints and tie rod ends, loose hardware on the track bar specifically. Make sure it is all torqued properly. Shocks. That is all free to do. Are you used to driving a lifted 4wd vehicle? It will never be car like. Are the sway bars connected? Are they there? I would check it all out and then there are recommendation to help if all is up to par. If the lift is new it could be the mechanic torqued everything while wheels were hanging. this would cause bushing bind. All has to be torqued with wheels on the ground with vehicle weight. Good luck. It certainly sounds like it can be better.
All front ends components are teraflex HD and have about 2000 miles on them. I replaced them late last summer to try to help this issue as I noticed the stock ones were really loose and I had to replace the front axle seal so I did the tie rods, the drag link, and the track bar while replacing the ball joints as well. Yeah I have had a history of lifted 4x4s and this is just a little crazy. It was originally the wifes but she is commuting more for work/school so we picked her up a grand cherokee and I took this one over because I liked the look. Her commute was close and she never mentioned anything like I am noticing.

Oh I forgot to add I did check all bolts and everything to make sure they are right and tight and I also upgraded front and rear sway bars to the rubicon express adjustables and have them maxed out. and that didn't make a difference.
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I'm not familiar with them , but this might help.
Thank you for that link. I remember seeing that. It looks like they are out of spec for the camber. They may need adjustment. I remember my original shop saying I needed adjustable ball joints. I am green with alignment components but I know a shop that deals with a lot of lifted jeeps. I will give them a call tomorrow and see if that makes sense and see if I can get it on their rack and see what they can do. I also read that preferred toe is 1/8"
Check the ball joints for play then and adjust if necessary. 2000 miles is nothing. We need someone to chime in on those specific springs and shocks. I know tf is known for softer spring rates, maybe combined with too soft a spring/shock and 4" lift might be the issue. I'm going to ask someone about those springs and shocks that has a shop and get their opinion.
I greatly appreciate that. I wonder if I can just swap the springs to go from a 4" to a 3". I know that a 4" lift is not needed for anything but 37s, but I do like the look. But if it helps drivability I would not put up a fight if I had to go down to 3" with a spring change. I did also note that the shocks are pretty worn but I don't think it would cause this sensation. The lift itself, I don't know how many miles are on it.
like 10 and 10 total of 20, nine is close enough though on the one side...............
I saw a lot of people having 10 and 10. I don' know what happened on that really low side. This shop has great reviews and has done me right in the past so I felt pretty confident taking it to them. Although, now i'm learning wrangler suspension is a whole different animal.
Depending on how you use your jeep the most is really how you set it up to enjoy it imo. I heard a guy who didn't have his pitman arm torqued properly and he had similar complaints. Drove him crazy because he didn't think to check the torque on it, but someone had it loosened up and never torqued it down. My jeep is a two door and they have to be spot on or the ride is a mess due to the short wheelbase. I run aev springs 2.5" and they're perfect for my mostly street jeep and light trails. Very competent. I taught my four kids how to drive on it and they all used it for their daily driver. Northridge sells the springs separate if you call them, and the AEV kits use Bilstein shocks. The rest of your parts should work fine with changing out shocks and springs. You sound competent with mechanical ability, you will get it figured out.
Thank you! Yeah, I broke my rule of never buying a used lifted vehicle. But the wife loved it, and she always comes first. Even if it means me banging my head against the wall a few times. I am going to check the pitman arm torque and also I am going to investigate the teraflex balljoint preload setting. I saw some guy said his didn't come preloaded and needed adjustment out of the box. Another guy adjusts his frequently. I posted in that thread about a further explanation and symptoms associated with that to get a grasp on that so I know what to expect and how to check it and get it in spec. I appreciate the kind words and all of the help so far!
I haven't done ball joints jet, but the dynatracs are allegedly the best. Real pricey though. Never thought there was a need for adjustable ones, but if you pound them off road I guess it can't hurt to be able to take slack out of them. Changed plenty in my 45 years of wrenching as a hobby, loose, put new ones in........ Always treat the wife right, I've been with mine since HS in 1979. Cheaper to keep em....... :)
That is awesome. We got married in the middle of the pandemic in 2020. It was stressful because the rules for the venue would change daily. Finally we found a few loop holes to get everything perfect. New to the jeeping world, I saw teraflex was king so I went with them, and my lift was already installed and was TF so I kept like with like. They make some good things. Maybe I will be lucky and it is just user error on my part and they just need an adjustment. It is going to be in the 30s here in Denver tomorrow so the weather should be good enough to check out the ball joints.
Track bar and draglink in parallel with each other? If not they will fight each other.
Yes they are! I am not sure if I qualify for a drag link flip.
That other guy is further out west, but he will chime in for sure. Colorado is beautiful country, I just lost my BIL in Aspen almost two years ago, but two of his stepchildren are in Denver, so I've partied there. You have a dry cold, in NY the humidity chills you to the bone. It probably is something minor. Get under it and have someone turn it lock to lock and look for play, Pry under each wheel to check the ball joints. Sometimes when the bj's are new they need to break in and will cause wandering, because they are too tight. Low caster is the usual culprit, but at 4.3 you should be good. Please let us know what you figure out so someone else can learn.
Im sorry for your loss. Denver is a fun town but it is getting crazy. I wish I didn't live so close to down town. I checked the ball joints and the passenger side was very loose while the drivers side was mildly loose. I got them torqued down but have not had a chance to drive. The telecom company is coming out to fix a line for the fire alarm system so I have to be ready if they need me to let them in. I checked one ball joint on the tie rod and it was perfect but I still want to get some time to check the other few on the steering linkage.
My dynatrac were "loose" not even really close to where they should have been but not a big deal and in retrospect should have checked the torque from the jump. My symptoms were exactly as you describe and some have experienced the "break in" flight ride.
Looks like the alignment is within range/isnt the culprit. My son and I did the alignment on mine in the driveway w a tape measure and it rides great.

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Yeah I think I have the same mindset. Should have checked torque before the install/after and not assumed it was good. Hopefully that is all that was needed and is good. I have been looking at the alignment options at home so I can tackle it but I will see soon how it drives since the ball joints are torqued down correctly.
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Still taking it slow and driving to make sure it is not a false positive. I want to look into figuring out how to set toe in myself. One thing I struggle with is I want everything as precise as possible and I get hung up on the process I forget to carry out the action.
Hi all, just an update. I have torqued the ball joints to spec and the steering feels tighter under tension. However when driving there is still a good amount of dead spot. From 10 to 2 while driving I can move the wheel left to right within that angle and the jeep drives straight. While off I can move the steering wheel left to right the same and the pitman arm does not move. I think I have a worn out steering box. Here is a video of my wife moving the steering wheel left to right and the pitman arm static while you can see the steering shaft moving quiet a bit.
O.k., I agree with what you have said. Try adjusting the steering box, if it is a no go, then it will need to be replaced.
Going to go grab my tools and give it a run and see what happens. I hope this solves my issue! I am a little apathetic at the results because I have already put so much time and money into this but I will remain hopeful. I did get an eye on a 2014 Cayenne GTS earlier today though, I didn't stop as I may have traded it in lol
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I was looking into the drag link flip as well. I wish I would have known when I got the HD tire rods and drag link from teraflex. But I will know soon. My Redhead steering gear box came in last night so I will be replacing the steering box today.
Awesome! I will let you know. New Redhead steering gear is installed but when I was working I saw my oil cooler is leaking. So I am waiting on that to wrap everything up and give it a good test! Ugh, one thing after another it seems. However, during the initial bleeding of the steering gear I already noticed the difference in the feel of steering. So that may be a plus.
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So if you have the Teraflex heavy duty steering kit with the adjustable rod ends; your are in luck! The axle side rod end on the draglink can be flipped. It took me 10 minutes on a 10-ton shop press. Remove c-clip and press out and reverse it. Mark the clocking of the cartridge, I believe the rod end travel is limited by a slot to minimize flop. Make sure you re-install with the same range of movement. That what I did with my steering linkage because the whole non-flip version was way cheaper when I purchased it compared to now. You will just need to drill the knuckle and add a tapered sleeve. It you want Teraflex High steer knuckles I have a set I got from Amazon that was going to be used on another vehicle but I changed my mind. I would sell them for $375 plus shipping but shipping may be expensive.
I have read your post about the DL flip for lifts as little as 2.5"
Does this look like it would need a flip and the track bar bracket?
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Hm, that makes sense. I got the steering gear in and it marginally helped. Could it be my caster? I have been seeing a lot of things saying you need more caster for lifted vehicles. I have the 4" teraflex but with 33"s. I don't know why the previous owner went a 4" for 33s but whatever. Right now I have 4.4 degrees and my steering wheel does not return to center. I am a little at the end of my rope with this Jeep. I don't expect it to ride like a car but I still feel it is unsafe. I have the JKS drop bracket set for the 3" lift. I think I am going to try to drop it down one more hole to the 4" lift and see if there is any improvement.
Yes you want more caster; as much as you can get without creating front driveshaft vibrations. That will be somewhere in the 5.5 degree range. I have had anywhere from 6.5-8 degrees of caster in my various configurations with the Tera44 high caster housing. Once I install my 8 lug conversion with locking hubs I am going to go back up towards the 8 degrees of caster. You should definitely use the JKS hole for 4" lift if you don't get any front driveshaft vibrations.

If you don't have a raised rear track bar; that is something you should investigate. It won't change your steering feel but it does help improve handling. Most kits are 4" raised above stock, with a few at 5", and a discontinued Metalcloak was at 6" and so is the Teraflex weld on bracket listed for Dana 60s (It will fit stock rear axle with minor grinding.) Make sure you get a quality rear track bar bracket that mounts in multiple locations as you get higher above the factory location; as more leverage is applied to the axle side bracket/mount. Also make sure the track bar can go to stock or shorter length particularly if you bracket raises the location higher than the amount of lift on the rear of the Jeep. I don't know about the 4-door JKs but the 2-door JKs had a rear crossmember that could contact the 6" brackets if you didn't have enough rear bumpstops or grind a half-circle clearance into upper frame crossmember.

This is more clearance than needed on the rear crossmember for a 6" raised track bar on a 2-door but I try to have extra safety margin incase of a failure or unforeseen circumstances. The bumpstop in the picture is a reasonably price Metalcloak bumpstop before I switched it out for the SumoSpring bumpstops.
The kit the PO got actually did have a raised rear trackbar bracket but didn't have anything for the front and it was shifted over a good inch if I remember correctly.
If that other hole changes the characteristics to a more favorable drive I may have a hard look at dropping down to a 3" lift spring instead of a 4. TF sells both and they seem to have the same shocks and components. Maybe just sway bar links need to change and my trackbar and alignment and I may go adjustable lower control arms to really dial it in for the caster and not put too much of an angle on the drive shaft. I think my thinking is correct, that the springs dictate the height of the lift? I wouldn't mind getting some dual rate springs while im replacing, if that is the case.
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