Instead of having to install offset ball joints and shims to adjust camber and caster in the 2002-2010 Jeep Liberty, the adjustments are performed with the cam bolts in the lower control arms. The rear is not adjustable. Overall, the Liberty is an easy vehicle to align. But, pay attention during the initial inspection.
The Liberty’s front suspension uses upper and lower control arms. The replacement of the upper control arms can be tedious and require the removal of the battery tray, power distribution center and other components to get at the passenger-side upper control arm.
If serviced, the control arms should be tightened with the vehicle at normal ride height due to the bushings. It is important to have the springs supporting the weight of the vehicle when the fasteners are torqued. If the springs are not at their normal ride position, premature bushing wear may occur.
The control arms are robust, but the stock ball joints proved to be this vehicle’s weak link. Jeep issued five recalls concerning ball joint failure for various 2002-2006 models. Most of the recall documents cite corrosion of the joint as the cause of the failure. The culprit was water intrusion, which was often blamed on poor sealing of the boot and/or missing heat shield on early models that allowed the boot to be degraded.
In most of the recall documents, Jeep warns of accelerated failures in Rust Belt states that use salts and brines for deicing in winter. Make sure to check the VIN and production date to see what recall applies to the vehicle.
The upper joints should have zero play. The lower joints should have no more than 1.5 mm of end play. To measure the lower ball joint, the suspension needs to be loaded. Attach a dial indicator to the base of the lower control arm and align the dial indicator’s contact point with the direction of the stud axis, touch the machined flat on the knuckle and zero the dial indicator.
Use care when applying the load to the knuckle so the parts are not damaged. Be careful not to tear the boot. From the front of the vehicle, insert a pry bar to get it rested on the lower control arm and use the lever principle to push the knuckle up until the arm of the dial indicator no longer moves.
The rear suspension on the Liberty is non-adjustable, and the only specification is for the thrust angle. When taking the initial readings, pay attention to the thrust angle and suspension setback. If the thrust angle is greater than specifications, inspect the rear suspension for damage or worn bushings.
On 2002-2007 models, the single upper control link looks like a boomerang and utilizes a single ball joint mounted to the axle. There should be no play in this joint. If it is worn, it may not change the thrust angle, but it will make noise.
On 2008 and up KK models, Jeep changed the rear suspension and ditched the single upper control arm for a four-link setup with a lateral link.
Front ride height is defined by the vertical distance between the spindle and the rear pivot point of the front lower control arm bolt. When the car rolls off the line, the two points should parallel, -/+10 mm.
Rear ride height is defined by the vertical distance between the top of the lower spring seat strike surface and the bottom of the jounce cup (true metal-to-metal jounce travel). This is to be measured vertically inside the coil from the point intersecting the inboard edge and the for/aft center of the jounce cup down to the strike surface. The distance should be 97 mm -/+ 10 mm.
For the front and rear, the heights should not differ more than 7 mm side to side.
Jeep has gone back and forth on whether or not they should install cams on the lower control arms, but every Liberty has the fences for the cams. Before you quote the price of the alignment, make sure to check for the cams.
Camber and caster angle adjustments involve changing the position of the lower suspension arm cam bolts. Moving the rear position of the cam bolt in or out will change the caster angle significantly and camber angle only slightly. To maintain the camber angle while adjusting caster, move the rear of the cam bolt in or out. Then move the front of the cam bolt slightly in the opposite direction.
To increase positive caster angle, move the rear position of the cam bolt outward (from the engine). Move the front of the cam bolt inward (toward the engine) slightly until the original camber angle is obtained.
To adjust the camber, move both of the cam bolts together. This will change the camber angle significantly and caster angle slightly.
The torque spec for the lower control arm bolts is 125 ft/lbs.
WARNING: On 2008-2010 KK models, the front knuckles are aluminum and the ball joints and tie-rod ends need to be torqued and turned an additional 90 degrees. The upper ball joint and tie-rod have a torque spec of 30 ft/lbs. Lower ball joints have a torque spec of 40 ft/lbs. Failure to follow the proper torque procedure will result in damage to the knuckle.