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Best way to line up upper control arm bolts?

Old 10-22-2016, 12:22 PM
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Default Best way to line up upper control arm bolts?

Hey there, normally a Ford guy but bought my first ZJ/Jeep the other weekend. My ex-GF was from a jeep/Chrysler family and got me turned on to being a heep owner.

The ZJ has a 3 inch lift from the PO. Working on replacing the Control arm bushings and motor mounts with poly (this is not a daily and will only be for beating on the trail so I don't care about vibes) since motor mounts are shot and it has a death wobble from control arms being shot too. Already did the lower arm on the passenger side and got the energy suspension bushings in the upper but having a hell of a time getting it to line up. anyone have any tips? I only have the one wheel off and one side on a jackstand. Tried jacking on the trackbar to tilt back to where I need it to be but no luck so far.

Maybe pull the other wheel off too and get the heep level?

Last edited by 96ZJguy; 10-22-2016 at 01:26 PM.
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Old 10-22-2016, 12:54 PM
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I am a visual kind of guy so here are some pics for you.







I did leave the bushing in the axle alone since rubber was good and solid on it and looked like would have been a PITA to try and press old out and new in.
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Old 10-22-2016, 01:20 PM
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When I did mine I used ratchet straps to pull the parts into alignment.

Others put the wheels on the ground and use the engine / transmission to move the vehicle forward or back to attain alignment.
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Old 10-22-2016, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by wingless View Post
When I did mine I used ratchet straps to pull the parts into alignment.

Others put the wheels on the ground and use the engine / transmission to move the vehicle forward or back to attain alignment.
Holy crap. I will admit I didn't comb the forums but I would have never thought to put it on the ground with the upper loose and move it forward and back but that might work..... I am definitely going to try a ratchet strap first. - I did not think about that I appreciate you.
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Old 10-22-2016, 08:13 PM
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You have learned that the upper arms are a pain in the butt to get lined up. They look so simple, but will kick your *** every time. Especially with poly bushings.
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Old 10-22-2016, 10:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Bustedback View Post
You have learned that the upper arms are a pain in the butt to get lined up. They look so simple, but will kick your *** every time. Especially with poly bushings.
Yeah I tried ratchet strapping it and when my buddy was over earlier we put it on the ground and still can't get to line up.

I was going to wait to put on new springs but considering I can't get it lined up anyways looks like I am swapping front springs early so ordered some today. It's an Orvis ZJ (so sits around a 1 inch higher than stock when new) and PO just did a 3 inch budget lift so bought 4 inch lift rubicon express springs for front and going to rotate fronts to rear and remove the budget blocks all around.

Sucks tho since springs won't be here until next weekend (was only $78 open box shipped on amazon if any need any). Going to go ahead and swap the bushings on the lower drivers side control arm tomorrow and let it sit until I get the spring off that side so I can get it in easier hopefully with shock and spring removed/disconnected.

Last edited by 96ZJguy; 10-22-2016 at 10:48 PM.
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Old 10-23-2016, 09:00 AM
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Get one of these:

http://www.harborfreight.com/1-4-qua...ist-67144.html

Works like a charm. Had mine done in a few minutes.
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Old 10-23-2016, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by roninofako View Post
Get one of these:

http://www.harborfreight.com/1-4-qua...ist-67144.html

Works like a charm. Had mine done in a few minutes.
I don't have one of those but do have a come along I can try. Should I be able to get it to line up fairly easier once I have the spring and shock disconnected on that side?
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Old 10-23-2016, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by 96ZJguy View Post
I don't have one of those but do have a come along I can try. Should I be able to get it to line up fairly easier once I have the spring and shock disconnected on that side?
Come-along will work the same. Spring should be okay, I didn't have shocks installed when I did mine, so can't say if having it connected or not makes a difference...I would think you could leave it in. Hook up your come-along and give it a shot before you start ripping things out. Can't hurt to try first.
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Old 10-23-2016, 10:24 AM
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Originally Posted by roninofako View Post
Come-along will work the same. Spring should be okay, I didn't have shocks installed when I did mine, so can't say if having it connected or not makes a difference...I would think you could leave it in. Hook up your come-along and give it a shot before you start ripping things out. Can't hurt to try first.
Roger that. I was working on the other side this morning but one of the bolts is being stubborn. Letting it soak in some fresh PB blaster. Once I get the other side lower back in I'll try to come along the passenger side back in place.

The rubber looks solid in the other upper on the axle. After going through heck on this one I may just leave that one be too.

Last edited by 96ZJguy; 10-24-2016 at 08:40 AM.
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Old 10-23-2016, 11:24 AM
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FWIW, changing all the bushings, control arms and steering bits restored the handling on my ZJ to new condition.
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Old 10-23-2016, 04:18 PM
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Don't just leave the one! You'll live to regret it.
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Old 10-23-2016, 05:51 PM
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Originally Posted by wingless View Post
FWIW, changing all the bushings, control arms and steering bits restored the handling on my ZJ to new condition.
That's what I have been reading. Main concern is motor mounts and control arm bushings on these 5.2 ZJs which seems true in my case. I didn't post the pics of the old control arm bushings but no doubt they were the main cause of the death wobble (which isn't a bad thing since I got the ZJ dirt cheap b/c of the death wobble).

Originally Posted by dave1123 View Post
Don't just leave the one! You'll live to regret it.
The rubber in that one looks really really solid (haven't checked drivers side yet) it literally looks new, no rotting or deformation at all. Think I should press it out? My concern is I have been using a ball joint press to press old rubber out and if there is rubber remaining I have been burning it off/out then cleaning the sleeve up with a wire brush. I am way to sketched out to light a fire on an axle directly under an oil pan. I guess I could go buy a new bushing with sleeve and beat the old one out and put my energy suspension bushing in the new sleeve and press/hammer it in.


I couldn't find my come along. I think my buddy borrowed it and he is the worst kind of friend when it comes to returning stuff.... I decided to just wait until the springs come in. Figure it will be much easier to get the front end in place when I have shock unhooked, sway bar unhooked, and old coil spring out. I wanted those springs in for more articulation anyways.
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Old 10-23-2016, 05:54 PM
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Man sure learning a lot on my first solid axle 4x4... all my fords are all TTB. only pivot bushings and radius arm bushings on those and only one to each side. This control arm/track bar stuff is all new to me.
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Old 10-23-2016, 06:07 PM
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Follow the FSM, especially the part about torquing the bolts while the wheels are on the ground w/ a normally loaded vehicle.

This post shows that the front axle uses a machined cast iron bore for one bushing and a formed sheet metal part for the other bushing.

When I aligned the bolts for my axles I used ratchet straps.
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