Several morphological defects in 4H SiC epitaxial wafers, including Comets and Triangles, may significantly impact on the yield and reliability of SiC devices. The formation of these epilayer defects is closely related to the substrate quality. This paper focuses on the study of the substrate quality and its relationship with defects in the epilayers. The crystalline quality of 4H n+ substrates has been characterized by x-ray diffraction, and the distribution of dislocations has been determined using etching in molten KOH. The relationship between Comet and Triangle epilayer defects and the dislocations has been established. A 10-fold reduction in the overall dislocation density in the 4H SiC substrates was achieved through technological improvements. The improvement was validated by the reduction in the number of the epilayer defects.