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Drop Brackets to fix bent frame mounts?


NAXJA Forum User
I have a 96' with Iron Rock Off-Road HD Adjustable Upper/Lower Control Arms, which now likes to pull to the right, kind of as it pleases. I think I have it narrowed to the control arm brackets being somehow bent at the frame, not the more commonplace axle mounts, which I have replaced/reinforced.
Question is would a control arm drop box/bracket help "realign" the frame mounts and hopefully finally stop the erratic pulling, or is it time to drop $1300+ for long arms and cut the mounts off? BTW YES I have checked/replaced/adjusted just about everything I could think of in the steering system that could make it pull as such, I've even taken it to a few shops who were unable find any rational answers besides the obligatory "it's a Jeep". THX
Your barking up the wrong tree! Something else is wrong, there are multiple things that could cause this. Have you had it on a alignment machine?
A few things off the top of my head that have been replaced, adjusted, or intensely examined are; steering box, worm gear, spacer/reinforcement/braces, tie rod, ends, links, track bar, bracket/ends, steering stabilizer(S), pitman arm, no bent/cracked frame/welds, unit bearings, alignment, tires/tread/balancing.
How much lift? What size tires? Did the alignment shop use the factory specs?
Hopefully these show some of what I am seeing in person. As for lift, ~4" (actually lower than it used to be) 31X10.5 BFG A/T. We have tried a few different setups at the alignment shops.

Unless it is FUBAR, that could be handled be a length adjust. Drop brackets or labs would definitely help with the ca angles though. Post up some alignment numbers!
I don't really do a lot of wheeling with this one, she is mainly a daily/winter time vehicle. I am thinking because I don't drive it that often, I hurt it on an outing and didn't realize it until much later. After it had sat for a few months I went for a cruise and was like "something is off here WTH", then the hunt has been on ever since. This is something I have been chasing for years now, which is why I said I've replaced/adjusted/examined pretty much everything. I have "pushed/pulled" the CA's a few turns this way and that way to no avail. As for specific alignment numbers, I honestly can't remember off hand, but we have tried a few different toe settings without much change.
Another possibility would be a bent axle. Without numbers this is not going anywhere! It could even be a rear alignment issue.
Btw, what year is it? You might also try rotating the tires.
96' I have switched tires, I've even went so far as to buy new tires! No the rims aren't bent/warped in any way as they balanced out with a small amount of weight on the backsides only.
I have never been impressed by an alignment shop. And I have tried multiple shops that are supposed to be good.

The first thing I would check is the actual distance from centerline of axle to centerline of axle on each side of the vehicle. And I would check that myself. I would not trust a shop to check it. I bet a dollar to a donut the right side is shorter than the left. Depending on how much difference there is you may be able to fix it by adjusting control arm length.
I have checked those distances a couple of times, esp while I was adjusting the arms "a few turns at a time". Not sure where my alignment papers flew off too, but we have tried a few different setups with the front toed in and out by as much as 3/4", with no positive results. The really weird thing is that when I initially put the lift on there wasn't any problems at all, it didn't even need an alignment as I was pretty careful when measuring the control arms. Like I said previously, I probably hurt it on an outing and didn't notice it as I was doing a lot of interior mods, and then a few months later when I went for a cruise it was way out of whack. I don't think the axle could be bent as I don't remember hitting anything remotely hard enough to jar it like that.
Do you guys see the "bow/bulges" on the frame brackets, or am I just seeing things?
Aligment numbers are just to see what your dealing with. The frame mounts might bent but the adj arms would compensate for anything there.
Also, when does it pull, on accel or decel or both? Does it always pull in the same direction and do you have a locker? Was the steering adjusted with the steering box in its neutral position? Have you checked the rolling resistance at each wheel?
Aligment numbers are just to see what your dealing with. The frame mounts might bent but the adj. arms would compensate for anything there.

I have to agree.

When I plated my frame after ripping a LCA mount out of my uni-frame, I drilled them with a single hole in my drop brackets at the rear most location. I drilled a pilot hole at the center of the forward most adjustment location just in case I needed to make them adjustable. Took the XJ down for a free alignment check after installing my Adj. upper and Adj. lower arms. Came home and placed a magnetic, digital angle finder on the front axle and used the adjustment in my arms to correct my error in the caster and have had no issues at all. I took it back to the shop and everything was dead on. To prevent what is shown in your (OP) picture I put 3/8" skid plates on the bottom of my brackets, but such a bend as yours would not cause any issues.

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You keep mentioning toe. What the others are asking is if the axles are square to each other? Measuring the wheelbase on each side and then a diagonal would give you more info if your axle positioning is off. I would also check the rear. Is a center pin busted, or not in the hole for the axle perch? Once you have an idea of how square it is you can use the adjustable control arms to remedy the possible alignment issue.
Sorry i haven't replied in a little while. I do appreciate the help/advice that is being given!!! We are dealing with a family death/insurance/hospital B.S. that is unreal. I have looked in a few spots, but cannot find my service records folder for my Jeep. It's even more frustrating as I am the third owner (my uncle was the second) and everything from the window sticker-origional BoS on is in there, so its a large folder that is now M.I.A..

No locker just yet, but there will be eventually. Attempting to describe how it pulls is somewhat difficult. Over 30 MPH is a constant, although varied, amount of tension and always to the right. When it hits a bump or with rebound bounce, it will kind of hop up, come to center-release tension, settle, then pull.

According to the alignment sheets by memory there hasn't been anything that actually needed adjusting unless I specifically asked for it, ie toe adjustments, to try and get rid of the pulling issue. Even after I've had the axle completely disconnected from the suspension for the various lifts/mods I've done over the years. As far as the squareness between axles, they have always been perfect, “on paper”.

I have adjusted the CA's by hand, counting each half turn, and push/pulled both sides independently up to 4 full turns in/out without making any IMPROVEMENTS. It absolutely made negative changes in the drivability but nothing that lessened the amount of pull.

When I adjusted the worm gear the first time it was on flat concrete and the second time I put the axle on jackstands to get the weight off the tires. I did end up backing it off a smidge as the “center breaking point” was a bit too stiff then it would turn way too fast. This was after the new steering box, spacer, and welded frame stiffener was added.

Those "DIY brackets" are what I was originally thinking about doing, but I just don't know how it would work out in the end IF one of them is bent/tweaked. Which is why I am thinking the “boxed” drop brackets might help realign that metal. They would be considerably cheaper and less involved than long arms.
There's nothing wrong with DB's, but considering that LA'a don't use any of the factory ca mounts might end up being a plus.
Im fairly certain that LAs will get rid of the problem, unless it actually is a bent axle, which I have no clue how that could've happened unless someone took my jeep without me knowing. (IMPOSSIBLE with GPS tracking in the alarm system).
It was supposed to be a question of a $200 fix Vs. $1300+ I'm content with how it rides, I just can't control it @ 80+ MPH for 300+ miles.