By: Eric The Red
Early model Rangers (1983-1997) with twin I-beam (2wd aka TIB) and twin traction beam (4wd aka TTB) can be a pain to align when certain types of lifts are used. When the axle beams are dropped (truck lifted) the alignment result is positive camber. You can get an overview of camber and other alignment terms on the Alignment Page. Lift “kits” include drop brackets for the axle beam pivots so that the angle of the axle beam is the same as it would be at stock height, thus camber will remain in spec. Other more simple lifts such as leveling coils or spring spacers do not have drop brackets, therefore the angle of the axle beams will change, resulting in extreme positive camber. This is not good for tread wear or handling, and must be corrected. Ford’s method for adjusting camber with the TIB/TTB suspension is with offset bushings for the spindle’s upper ball joint. Utilizing this offset, and the ability to turn the bushings, camber and caster can be adjusted to a certain extent.
The most common concern when considering a leveling lift (1.5-2″ without drop brackets) is whether the camber can be brought back into spec with the factory bushings, or if aftermarket bushings will be needed. Using the graphic below, you can see three different ride heights with proper camber alignment.
If the camber bushing on your truck looks something like example A, you will likely be able to correct camber after a leveling lift with the current bushings, simply by turning them so the offset faces inwards as in example C. If your truck has bushings with only a slight offset as in example B, you may be able to obtain correct camber after a slight lift (1-1.5″) with replacement bushings with a large offset. If your truck looks like example C already, you will need to use drop brackets to obtain correct camber with any more lift.
When you turn your bushings to re-align camber after a leveling lift, you may want to point the offset towards the back of the vehicle as well as inwards toward the motor. This will correct the caster change caused by the lift. Failure to correct for caster in this manner can result in “looser” steering.
Note that the drawings and descriptions will only give you an approximate idea of the correct alignment. You should have the proper tools or a 4×4 shop to “fine-tune” the alignment. Also remember that every time you adjust the camber bushings, your tie-rods will have to be adjusted to correct toe.
NOTE: An alignment shop will be able to determine which degree of bushings you will need for proper alignment. Aftermarket adjustable bushings are available as well. These allow you to turn the bushing and ‘dial in’ the alignment. These are good for home mechanics but some alignment shops may or may not like them. These bushings adjust both caster and camber at the same time.