If you’ve done any amount of lift (even just replacing sagged springs with newer ones), you will need to do a basic alignment of your steering. If your toe in is not set up correctly you will experience uneven tire wear and odd on road behavior. Once you are done this write-up, have a look here to set your steering wheel straight.
- Tape measure
- 13mm ratchet
- 13mm wrench
- Pipe wrench (large is better. 18+” is good)
- A friend
- Floor/Bottle Jack (optional)
- Jack Stand (optional)
- 30 minutes
1: Park your Jeep TJ on level ground with the wheels straight. Leave it in gear, pull your e-brake and chock your tires. You may be doing some serious pulling on it and you don’t want it moving on you. Your tie rod is the one that goes from steering knuckle to steering knuckle. The length of this effects how your tires are aligned to eachother. Imagine walking pigeon toed or the opposite with your toes outwards; same idea here.
2: When setting your toe in there are two common ways to do it. You can do it with the tires on the ground or floating in the air. I find that setting it up with the tires o the ground works just as easy and takes less time so that’s how I do mine. If you would prefer to put the tires in the air go ahead and do so at this time. This supposedly helps you more easily see small adjustments to the toe-in… but I haven’t really had problems with it on the ground. Start off by grabbing your front bumper and pushing down/up on it a few times to let the tires settle and sit naturally. This will help with a more accurate setup. Loosen the bolts that hold the tie rod to the tie rod ends. You do not need to remove them, just loosen them so we can adjust the tie rod.
3: You will need to measure from the front most point on the tires, and the back most. Start by finding a lug on the forward portion of the tire to hook the tape measure on, and measure across to the same spot on the opposite tire. Write this measurement down. As an example, we’ll say it’s 42 3/4″ (42.75). Then you measure the back (THE SAME EXACT WAY). Hook the tape on exactly the same lug style (many tires have different sizes of lugs in patterns, the key is to get the same “spot” as the front). You also need to make sure you measure the back from the back most part! As an example, we’ll say the back is 43 1/4″ (43.25). In our example, your front is 1/2″ smaller than the rear. This means your tires are toed in too much.
4: Ideally you should have your toe in adjusted to 1/8″ of an inch shorter than the back. In our example, about 43″ for the front and 43 1/8″ for the back would be good. Whichever way you need to adjust will depend on your results of the measurement. Rotating the tie rod forward (as if it was spinning the same direction as the tires when moving forward) will DECREASE the length of it. Rotating it backwards will INCREASE the length. Grab your pipe wrench and grab the tie rod anywhere close to the middle, and rotate the tie rod in the desired direction. This may be *very* difficult depending on how rusty/old/seized it is. When I helped a friend with an ’05 Rubicon we needed two pipe wrenches and two guys to move it. We sprayed the ends down well with WD-40 and after we got it to move around a bit it loosened up considerably.
5: It will likely take you a few tries to get it right. Take a measurement, adjust a bit, take another measurement, etc. Once you are satisfied you have it at or very close to 1/8th of an inch, tighten up the 13mm bolts on each end of the tie rod and you’re done.
Now that you have your toe in set up correctly you can go out and test drive the jeep!