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Front Wheel Alignment (1983-1997 Ford Ranger)
Lifting the front of a TTB (Twin Traction Beam) coil sprung Ford any more than 2" requires new coils, lowering its 2-piece axle, and addressing the camber and caster angles.
For the mid size Ranger, Bronco II, and Explorer, lowering the arms involves brackets that drop the radius arm crossmember where it attaches at the frame rails. Replacement radius arms offer caster correction and additional benefits. The arms, considerably longer than stock, increase the amount of usable bind-free extension travel. This enhances the TTB action, making it easier for the tires to travel independently and stay in contact with the road or trail surface. Longer arms also lessen the degree of caster change the vehicle experiences as it goes through its suspension travel cycle. The longer arc of travel improves vehicle wheel rate as well. All of these factors combine to improve overall drivability and ride quality. You'll see a noticeable difference both "on and off" road.
Even in stock form, the TTB Ford steering seems somewhat vague. On an off-camber or less than ideal driving surface, it takes continuous corrective steering input to keep a Ford pointed straight ahead. These inherent tendencies are magnified when the vehicle is raised. When addressing this on a lifted vehicle, there are two areas of concern:
1) Minimizing tie rod angles
2) Keeping the tie rods arc of movement in phase with the axle halves arc of movement.
On the TTB Ford, these two factors "make or break" driveability. When incorrect, it will cause excessive toe-in\toe-out variations, as the suspension travels, resulting in the TTB Ford version of "bump-steer".
A "dropped" pitman arm alone which reduces some of the additional angle created by the lift and Superunner replacement linkage system (By Superlift) is recommended. Using the Superunner linkage in addition to the pitman arm addresses both problems. Use of a centerlink lowers the pivot point of the tie rods closer to the axle halves pivot point and allows the use of new tie rods that are proportional in length to the axle halves. The result is steering linkage that is in almost perfect phase with the suspension, yielding optimum steering response.
On most lifted TTB Fords, installing dropped pitman arm will result in satisfactory steering characteristics. With the Superunner upgrade though, steering traits will be noticeably improved.
The 1983-1997 Ford Ranger uses an alignment bushing on the upper balljoint to adjust camber & caster.
Depending on the vehicle, the alignment bushing is held in place by either a castle nut or pinch bolt.
(Removing the alignment bushing)
Alignment (Caster / Camber / Toe):
The reason for the alignment involved a tree stump on a dark trail in the middle of the night and the need to replace the drivers side axle beam. After hitting the stump it was difficult steering the truck home. After replacing the beam and doing the alignments here I was able to test drive the truck 400 miles to Kentucky, wheel it for the weekend and then drive it home. I was able to let go of the steering wheel and the truck would drive straight without wanting to wander all over the road.
I used the following specifications for aligning my 1983 4x4 Ranger as found in a 1991 copy of Chiltons Ford Ranger/Bronco II/Explorer 1983-1991 manual P/N 7338;
These are positive degrees. Following these guidelines should give you a pretty good alignment if you don't want to pay for a professional one, or need a temporary alignment after installing a lift.
Adjustable camber/caster bushings can be purchased through most any 4x4 shop. They are a very good investment. Remember to use anti-seize on them so you can readjust them later if need be.
Check your wheel bearings by raising the truck, grasping the tire and attempting to move it inward and outward. Make sure there isn't a lot of play here before doing the alignment.
NOTE: The assembly plant sometimes builds vehicles with adjusters that are not zero-degree type to control alignment. The table shows thealignment changes that will occur if the vehicle was originally built with zero-degree adjusters. Always check to see which adjuster has been installed (and its orientation) before making changes.
Install the new service adjuster. Orient the slot as specified in the chart.
Ranger Adjustable Camber / Caster Service Adjuster Selection Table: