Online Manual Jeep > Jeep Cherokee > Jeep Cherokee (XJ) > 1984 - 1991 > WHEEL ALIGNMENT THEORY/OPERATION


1988 Jeep Cherokee


Wheel Alignment Theory & Operation



NOTE: This article is intended for general information purposes

only. This information may not apply to all makes and models.



Before adjusting wheel alignment, check the following:

  1. Each axle uses tires of same construction and tread style,
    equal in tread wear and overall diameter. Verify that radial
    and axial runout is not excessive. Inflation should be at
    manufacturers specifications.

  2. Steering linkage and suspension must not have excessive play.
    Check for wear in tie rod ends and ball joints. Springs must
    not be sagging. Control arm and strut rod bushings must not
    have excessive play. See Fig.


Fig. 1: Checking Steering Linkage

* Vehicle must be on level floor with full fuel tank, no passenger load, spare tire in place and no load in trunk. Bounce front and rear end of vehicle several times. Confirm

vehicle is at normal riding height.

  1. Steering wheel must be centered with wheels in straight ahead
    position. If required, shorten one tie rod adjusting sleeve
    and lengthen opposite sleeve (equal amount of turns)
    . See
    Fig. 2.

  2. Wheel bearings should have the correct preload and lug nuts
    must be tightened to manufacturers specifications. Adjust
    camber, caster and toe-in using this sequence. Follow
    instructions of the alignment equipment manufacturer.

CAUTION: Do not attempt to correct alignment by straightening parts. Damaged parts must be replaced.


Fig. 2: Adjusting Tie Rod Sleeves (Top View)


  1. Camber is the tilting of the wheel, outward at either top
    or bottom, as viewed from front of vehicle. See Fig. 3.

  2. When wheels tilts outward at the top (from centerline of
    vehicle), camber is positive. When wheels tilt inward at top, camber
    is negative. Amount of tilt is measured in degrees from vertical.


Determining Camber Angle

Fig. 3:


  1. Caster is tilting of front steering axis either forward or
    backward from vertical, as viewed from side of vehicle. See Fig. 4.

  2. When axis is tilted backward from vertical, caster is
    positive. This creates a trailing action on front wheels. When axis is
    tilted forward, caster is negative, causing a leading action on front

Vertical Centerline of Wheel

Positive Direction


Fig. 4: Determining Caster Angle


Toe-in is the width measured at the rear of the tires

subtracted by the width measured at the front of the tires at about spindle height. A positive figure would indicate toe-in and a negative figure would indicate toe-out. If the distance between the front and rear of the tires is the same, toe measurement would be zero. To adjust:

1) Measure toe-in with front wheels in straight ahead

position and steering wheel centered. To adjust toe-in, loosen clamps and turn adjusting sleeve or adjustable end on right and left tie rods. See Figs. 2 and 5.

2) Turn equally and in opposite directions to maintain
steering wheel in centered position. Face of tie rod end must be
parallel with machined surface of steering rod end to prevent binding.

3) When tightening clamps, make certain that clamp bolts are positioned so there will be no interference with other parts throughout the entire travel of linkage.


Fig. 5: Wheel Toe-In (Dimension A Less Dimension B)


  1. Toe-out on turns (turning radius) is a check for bent or
    damaged parts, and not a service adjustment. With caster, camber, and
    toe-in properly adjusted, check toe-out with weight of vehicle on

  2. Use a full floating turntable under each wheel, repeating
    test with each wheel positioned for right and left turns. Incorrect
    toe-out generally indicates a bent steering arm. Replace arm, if
    necessary, and recheck wheel alignment.


Fig. 6: Checking Steering Axis Inclination

  1. Steering axis inclination is a check for bent or damaged
    parts, and not a service adjustment. Vehicle must be level and camber
    should be properly adjusted. See Fig. 6.

  2. If camber cannot be brought within limits and steering
    axis inclination is correct, steering knuckle is bent. If camber and
    steering axis inclination are both incorrect by approximately the same
    amount, the upper and lower control arms are bent.