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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I've been doing this longer than some of you have been alive, so have tried a lot of stuff. Should make for an interesting thread. It's aimed at stock class autocrossers, but I've done a little club racing in my day too.

Way too much for one post, so I'll just start with WHY? I mean you can drive your car down to the nearest big box, hand them your credit card and drive away with a computer print-out showing lots of decimals. What's not to like?

With more experience you'll come to find out that everytime you check your alignment, the numbers vary a little. Rubber bushings, wear causing slop, friction causing slight ride-height changes etc all cause the tires to come to rest slightly differently. Having three decimal laser accuracy seems kind of unimportant.

Better to check the car several times, driving around the block in between. And then average your data. This makes doing it at home much more practical than paying at the big box.

Secondly, settings change with use and abuse. How often did you want to visit that big box just to verify nothing changed?

Thirdly, in stock class alignment is one of the few things we get to play with. Can't experiment freely if you don't do your own measurements.

Fourthly, most of you race daily drivers and drive to the track. With DIY you can set aggressive race alignments at the track and restore to street settings for the trip home.

It's not expensive. I can do a whole racecar with bits of string, tape measures, carpenter squares and some water pipe. But I also own some nice upscale digital alignment gear...just don't use it as much as when it was new.

In later posts I'll describe how I measure camber, caster, toe and corner weighting if you wish, both in the shop and at the track.

-- Bill
 

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im too low for an alignment

tried 4 shops this weekend

ramps? forget it

i even tried 2 with a pit


theres a cross beam on the machine that i cant clear


no alignments for me anymore
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Toe Measurements

Well Dojaguy then you're a natural for DIY.

There are lots of techniques for toe. String methods are popular, but I've never liked them so I'll leave that for someone else to champion. I like trammel bars and toe plates.

The trammel bar is my favorite. Take a length of threaded water pipe slightly wider than your car, thread on two 90* elbows. Then two risers about 10" long, and two more elbows, aimed towards each other. I grind the faces to make for better measuring points, but not necessary.

Set the bar in front of the tires and push one elbow against the sidewall. Walk to the other side and measure the gap. I tug lightly first to be sure any slack is out, and write the gap in chalk on the ground. Then move the bar to the rear side of the tires and repeat. Subtract the two gap measurements to get total toe. Remember if the gap is wider at the back of the tire, you have toe out.

There are some tricks to keeping the steering centered. I like to drive down the center of the street for a couple hundred feet and place a piece of masking tape at 12 O'clock on the steering wheel. If the tape winds up in center of the wheel, I change toe equally on both sides. If the wheel runs at a slight angle, I compensate with my adjustments. Takes a little thought but you'll figure it out. The tape is so I don't have to rely on my crappy memory.

The trammel bar is maybe six feet long, so not likely to accompany me to the track. A more compact method is toe plates. I bought these:

http://www.longacreracing.com/catalog/item.asp?id=152&catid=5

I paid about $50 for them. You could make something for free. Look around on their site for instructions and technical discussions on how they set toe. They're somewhat more serious about it than I am.
 

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Yeah I dont think I get anymore free alignments, My hook up got transfered. :(. Still havnt gone back so I dont know.
 

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alignments? i went to firestone within the last year and got 3 with the suspension and everything i did. need to go back this weeks with the coiliovers im about to install
 

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Fine... How much camber are you guys running in the rear for GS???? Want to try something different but dont want to sacrafice DDing the car with lots of camber.
 

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Well Dojaguy then you're a natural for DIY.
no time man

too busy workin on other peoples cars

what part of cali are u in? ill pay you top dollar to do mine. :money:

also all the beer you can drink and we can grill up some asada and grilled veg :smoke:
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Adjusting Front Toe

Back to the thread topic. In post 1 we discussed how to measure toe. Now how to adjust it. Toe adjustments aren't difficult, but it's easy to get confused and adjust the wrong way. Just pay attention and check your work.

Front -- With the engine running, turn the wheel away from the side being adjusted. Look in behind the tire and you'll see a tie-rod which is screwed into a ball joint at the outer end and secured with a jam nut. The jam nut takes a 19mm open wrench and the tie-rod has a hex built into it that takes a 13mm. Both are normal right hand threads. So release the lock nut, back off two flats, and hold it there with the wrench while you screw the tie rod into or out of the ball joint. Screwing it in pulls the back of the wheel inward so gives toe-out. I like to put a piece of masking tape on the bottom of the tie-rod to help keep track of how far I've turned it. Lightly reseat the jam nut and do the other side. Measure the resulting toe after pushing the car back and forth about four feet to settle the suspension. When you're happy, tighten the jam nuts (not too much), take it for a short test drive and then remeasure. See post 3 about keeping the steering centered.

Rear -- Look under the car from the back and just inboard of the tire you'll see a nut stacked onto another larger nut. Look closer and you'll see the inner nut is built into a cam-washer which is the toe adjuster. Clean everything up with a rag and put a Sharpie mark on the cam washer at the center of a half-inch ridge the washer bears on. Release the outer nut about half a turn with a 17mm wrench or socket. I like a socket on a double-long extension so I can wrench it far enough back to have good tool clearance. After loosening the outer nut, put a deep socket on the cam hex and adjust your rear toe. I'm sure it's a metric size, but I happen to use a 7/8 because it fits well and is handy. There are inner and outer edges that guide the cam washer and they're part of the control arm. So the cam, bolt and nut are actually connected to the spindle/hub/upright ass'y. When you twist the cam to the outside, it is pulling the back of the tire inwards, creating toe out. Move the mark only about 1/4" and then recheck your toe. Repeat to your desired setting. Be sure to tighten the outer nut to finish. Haven't looked to see why, but on mine the "head" of the bolt does not seem to need a wrench on it.

How much toe out front and rear? There's no answer fits all. I'm needing about 3/8" out front and rear to get the car responsive. On other cars that might be totally unstable. Not every car wants rear toe-out. You need to do your own testing.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Adjusting Toe

BTW, for driving back and forth to the track, you can't go wrong with zero / zero.
 

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Thanks for posting this info WAM! It's great to see what others are doing differently from me or with different methods.

I've set my own camber and toe a few times, but caster is the elusive one... do you try to tackle it or do you just set the other two adjustments like me?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Yeah, I was thinking of not continuing this thread for apparent lack of interest. But to answer your question yes, I check caster and adjust it on some cars. On my Lola I just remove the wheel and measure the side view angle of the steering axis directly. But not so easy on most road cars, so I settle for just comparing left to right. A quick and dirty is just to measure the camber (both sides) with the wheels fully turned one way and again with the wheels turned the other. With positive caster, the camber will be highly negative on the outside tire and less negative, maybe positive on the inside tire. You simply subtract the "inside" camber from the "outside" camber each side and compare left against right results. Caution, many people too far removed from school math class will have trouble subtracting positives from negatives. If you don't know what I mean you probably shouldn't be doing it.

Some people say that if you turn the wheel left and right a certain precise amount, the answer when you subtract as above will be the true caster angle. I'd want to do some more reading before I took that as gospel.
 

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im too low for an alignment

tried 4 shops this weekend

ramps? forget it

i even tried 2 with a pit


theres a cross beam on the machine that i cant clear


no alignments for me anymore
Call around to a couple shops and find out who has an in-ground alignment rack. No car is to low for one of those. In fact I'm getting my car aligned on one right now and my frame is only an inch and a half off the ground.
 

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Wam do you have any tips for camber check and adjust?

What about leveling your garage floor?

I wish I had seen this thread when it was active..
 

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Discussion Starter #15
The thread on G Stock setup has some discussions on adjusting camber. You only need a level floor if you're using a bubble type device or inclinometer. I sometimes do that. More often I measure camber as the angle from the ground, so the surface needs to be flat but not required to be level...if you get the difference. Feel free to pm if I can help.
 
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