What do alignment cams do? FAQ #3

What do alignment cams do? FAQ #3

A few frequently asked questions I get about Zone JK lifts go something like this:  Do I need the cam locks with a 3” JK lift?  Why doesn’t your 4” system have new control arms?  I’ve heard alignment cams are not very good for offroading, why?

All of these questions are related to the effects lifting your JK has on the alignment and how our engineers account for it with our suspension lifts.  What am I talking about here?  Keep reading.

First off, one of the answers is we do recommend our cam locks to regain caster on our 3” lift.  The alignment specification that is adjusted with our cam locks is the caster angle.  The caster angle is determined by the angle made if a line was drawn through the upper and lower ball joint in relationship to vertical as viewed from the side.  Here’s a diagram that should help.

When a JK is lifted, the geometry of the stock control arms inherently reduces the caster angle. This can affect handling and tire wear depending on how significant the change.  The geometry of the JK suspension is an improvement over the TJ and can handle more lift with minimal change to the caster.  3″ of lift approaches the limit where it becomes time to consider adding something to compensate for caster loss.  Having said that, we do have numerous customers daily driving our 3″ lifts without the addition of these cam locks.  You may notice, some other companies we are competing with don’t include them, so we offer them as an option.  The Zone 4” system includes the cam locks necessary to regain most of the caster lost from 4” of lift, hence why control arms are not necessary at this level on your JK.

Finally, to address the final question – what about cam bolts?  Chances are you won’t have to search long to find people complaining about JK cam bolts slipping when they went wheeling and hence threw off their alignment. The contact surface on a typical cam bolt is small because it is round for more infinite adjustment.  So what is different about our cam locks? Our cam locks are square, with much greater contact surface that cannot slip.  They are also made to fit more tightly between the stops on the control arm mount. Granted, you do compromise some adjustability with only 3 positions, but most guys will turn a cam bolt all the way back to minimize the chance of slippage and maximize the caster gain.  Here is a picture of the difference so you can see for yourself.

If this sparks any questions, feel free to comment and start some further discussion here.

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