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One wheel rubbing on new fenders


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So I just finished with a 97 front clip swap. As I went to turn around I heard a grating noise from the passenger side. My tire rubs on the back side where it is closest to the fender as I am turning. However, my driver side tire clears with plenty of space. This did not happen with my previous fenders, although the PO had installed after market flares and cut out the fenders. Any ideas why one side clears and the other does not? Also how can I correct this? I am a novice at auto work, so pretend I am a little slow when you explain something. Thanks in advance for the help.

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I believe it has a lift since 31" tires used to fit in the wheel wells just fine. However, it was done by the PO and I am not sure how much or what type of lift he put in. When you say "centered under the truck" do you mean from the passenger to the drive side? Or do you mean from the header to the bed? And what is the easiest way to check those things?

 

Here are a few photos of what is happening, hopefully that helps explain it:

Driver Side:

0vCKwvWm.jpg

Passenger Side:

wMsuWWzm.jpg

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Probably means more the side to side, as it is lifted the Trac bar will pull the axle to the driverside, pulling the passenger side tire further into the wheelwell. The axle will also pull slightly rearward on the passenger side as well.

 

This is why an adjustable Tracbar is always recommended when lifting, to correct the issue.

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Side-to-side.

 

Yes, you have a lift. As Rockfrog explained, the front end geometry is such that, as you lift the chassis away from the axle, the axle rotates around the track bar and gets pulled off center. The fix is to buy an adjustable track bar.

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Don't buy one until you check the axle centering. On level ground with the front wheels pointed dead ahead, place a straightedge (2x4, long level, etc.) across the LF wheel fore to aft across the hub center and measure the distance from the straightedge to the inside frame rails at the front and rear of the left wheel. Repeat for the RF wheel using common points on the frame rails to measure to. The wheels should be equidistant fore and aft from the rails within 1/4". If over 1/2" difference I'd get an adjustable track bar on to center the axle.

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Thanks for the replies. I did as Hornbrod suggested and came up with the following measurements:

Front side of the tires: 21 1/2" on the drive side and 21 7/16" on the passenger side.

Back side of the tires: 20 5/8" on the driver side and 20 1/8" on the passenger side.

 

Kinda confuses me since the front side of the tires matches up so well, but the rear side if off by 1/2". To my mind if the axle was shifted side to side it should be an equal shift, meaning that both measurements would be off.

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Kinda confuses me since the front side of the tires matches up so well, but the rear side if off by 1/2". To my mind if the axle was shifted side to side it should be an equal shift, meaning that both measurements would be off.

And that would be true ... IF the wheels were perfectly straight ahead when you took the measurements, AND if the wheels are aligned with exactly zero toe.. In reality, it's practically impossible to get them exactly

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Kinda confuses me since the front side of the tires matches up so well, but the rear side if off by 1/2". To my mind if the axle was shifted side to side it should be an equal shift, meaning that both measurements would be off.

And that would be true ... IF the wheels were perfectly straight ahead when you took the measurements, AND if the wheels are aligned with exactly zero toe.. In reality, it's practically impossible to get them exactly

 

What Eagle says is true. This measurement isn't super precise because of the factors mentioned above. It will only show if it's reasonably centered in the frame. And it appears your's is. I don't think I'd do a thing regarding an adjustable track bar. I was a bit over an inch shifted left after I lifted mine. 

 

Since you were fine with the original front clip and starting rubbing after installation of the newer style clip, I'd start checking the new clip sheet metal. How are the hood and fender seams lining up? Did you keep your original inner fenders?

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The body lines are all fairly close. Not a show truck close, but good enough for a DD. 

 

I did keep the inner fenders.

 

I believe the old fenders only worked because the PO had cut them out slightly. The fender flares had been put back on with sheet metal screws. I am kicking myself for not taking photos to see where the wheel was at in the old fenders.

 

Hornbrod, what should I look for on the new clip sheet metal? It appears to be straight and solid, and came off a still running cherokee. It had far less dings compared to my old fender.

 

Is this something I could/ should fix with adjustable control arms?

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Sounds like your clip upgrade isn't the cause since the original fenders were cut out by the PO. You now need to see where you are as far as alignment specs. The linked thread below will show how to check your caster yourself, or bring it to a reputable shop for an alignment. Recommend the latter. See where you are, then we'll go from there.

 

http://comancheclub.com/topic/45885-adjusting-caster/?hl=angle+finder

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Am I missing something or is the difference between rub/no rub the replacing of the trimmed fenders with untrimmed fenders? The trimming was probably done to clear the tires in the first place and that would explain this problem. The higher wheel well would also give the appearance of a lift. To my mind a budget boost is the best answer to the problem if that is the case

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Incommando: I have no problem with cutting the fenders slightly. What bothers me is that only the passenger tire rubs. If they were both the issue I would bring out the grinder. However, the driver side looks fine to me, not tons of clearance, but enough for now. I want to get the passenger side figured out before I go any farther. 

 

Shelbyluvv: Interesting. I hadn't thought about putting rear flares on the front. I am seriously considering the Napier V2.0 flares. I know that those open the wheel wells also. 

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Update: Just got it back from the alignment shop in town. They were super busy so I didn't ask for a print out or anything, but the owner told me everything was fine and within spec. I asked him about the difference in gap on the fenders and he said he didn't know what could be causing it.

 

At this point I am wondering if my vehicle was wrecked and the frame was bent slightly on the passenger side. Anything else I can check?

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Just something to look at as it can cause weird problems: 

Measure your wheel base center rear axle to center front axle on both sides.  At some time my MJ was hit in the front causing a 1 1/8" shortness on the pass side. Have never figured out where the shrinkage occurred at on the body/chassis. But it caused pass tire to rub on rear fender in turns and drove very sloppily. It was non-correctable with shims, so, I bought lower adj. CA's and forced the axle forward  (with a come-along)  to eliminate the wheel base 1 1/8" that was missing. Pulled out shims on both sides and  run at 8.1 + caster (no lift).  All is well. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I went with  deziped1's idea and starting measuring my truck. Front to back the measurements are with 1/8" or each other. Measuring for square (right front to left rear, and right rear to left front) showed a 5/8" difference. It was the right front to left rear measurement that was shortest, which makes sense since the right tire is set back in the wheel well. Since it is the unibody frame that is out of square somewhere/ somehow, I can't think of a way to fix it.

 

Therefore, I think I am going to get a set of adjustable control arms and cheat 1/2" or so pushing the right tire further forward. Then I plan on getting a pair of Napier flares and cutting out the fenders. Between these two mods I should be good to go. 

 

Thanks for all the ideas and suggestions. Also, if my ideas of solutions are completely wrong, let me know. Or if there is some way to straighten my unibody, please let me know that as well.

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I went with  deziped1's idea and starting measuring my truck. Front to back the measurements are with 1/8" or each other. Measuring for square (right front to left rear, and right rear to left front) showed a 5/8" difference. It was the right front to left rear measurement that was shortest, which makes sense since the right tire is set back in the wheel well. Since it is the unibody frame that is out of square somewhere/ somehow, I can't think of a way to fix it.

Exactly what did you measure that leads you to conclude that the unibody is out of square? That's possible, but extremely unlikely unless the truck was in a serious accident. The measurements as you report them suggests that the axles are close to parallel with each other (within 1/8"). For the 'X' measurement to be off by 5/8" while the axles are parallel means that BOTH axles are out-of-square with the centerline of the chassis.

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Eagle: I measured from similar points on the underneath side of the axles. My wife held the end of the tape against the tube of the rear axle next to the springs. I measured to the center of the knuckle. Then we switched sides and measured again. From there I just assumed that being 5/8" off meant out of square. 

 

It also seems like I am being stubborn trying to find out why one tire is sitting further back. To get it on the road again I am just going to cut the fenders and put new flares on, like people have been suggesting for a while. I don't want to give up on figuring out why its out of whack though. 

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Eagle: I measured from similar points on the underneath side of the axles. My wife held the end of the tape against the tube of the rear axle next to the springs. I measured to the center of the knuckle. Then we switched sides and measured again. From there I just assumed that being 5/8" off meant out of square.

It does mean that the axles are out of square, but that doesn't mean the frame is bent. It could be caused by one of the rear spring locating pins shifting in the spring plate. It could be caused by uneven shims on the front lower control arms. And, of course ... if the front axle is off center it's impossible for axle-to-axle diagonal measurements to be equal.

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Not to be critical, but with the measuring method you're using, I could see you getting a 5/8" difference on a perfectly square truck...  :)  It's really only possible to do that measurement on an alignment machine.  And quite often, the rear axle is NOT square to the rest of the truck anyway. 

 

If I'm reading correctly, with the tires pointed straight ahead, there is less room between the tire and the rear of the fender opening on the passenger's side by ~1/2" or so?  If that's the case, you've got something wrong with the front, and it isn't track bar centering related.

 

XJ's and Comanche's have caster adjustment on the lower control arm pocket at the frame, and that adjustment can slightly affect the wheel centering (fore-aft) in the fender opening.   You may just have the driver's side full forward and the pass side all the way back.   It is common for alignment shops to do that in an effort to "correct" cross caster.   It doesn't work at all (Can you say SOLID axle??)  but they sometimes do it anyway...  

 

Check the lower control arm pocket for some small shims, where the two little bolts go facing rearward.  You should probably have ~1/4" of shims on both sides.   Adding more to the pass side will move that tire forward a little.  If you have a crapload of shims in the driver's side, but none in the passenger's side, your fore/aft wheel offset will match what you're seeing.

 

If so, loosen the big bolt, then the two little nuts and take half the shims out of the driver's side and put them on the passenger's side.  That'll at least even it up, and take the bind off the bushings.  More shims = more caster, which is almost always good, and generally needed on lifted XJ/MJ's anyway.   You can also just loosen the two small nuts all the way up, pry the control arm as far forward as you can, and then tighten the big bolt.   Don't bother with the shims or small nuts after that.  :)

Chris

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