Anyone change their own caster, camber, and toe in? - Ford Mustang Forums : Corral.net Mustang Forum
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post #1 of 40 Old 07-18-2005, 11:58 AM Thread Starter
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Anyone change their own caster, camber, and toe in?

I was reading an old issue of MM&FF, about how to change your front end alignment. I was wondering what would be a good gauge to buy? I found a Longacre gauge, is it any good?
What is the correct way to adjust your caster, camber and toe-in?

Thanks.

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post #2 of 40 Old 07-18-2005, 12:26 PM
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alignment

I'll eyeball some specs but if I am taking a car to a road course and seeing triple digit speeds I don't trust my do-it yourself alignment. My advice is take it to a good shop that has a computerized alignment rack. Its kind of like building your own airplane just because you can do it does not mean its a good idea.


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post #3 of 40 Old 07-18-2005, 01:01 PM
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MFE has a good write-up. A search will yield great results.

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post #4 of 40 Old 07-18-2005, 04:36 PM
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With a reasonable set of tools and patience you can get results comparable to computerized machines, and better than many shops will do. I do triple digits comfortably while cornering at 2-3g in my formula car with a DIY alignment. The big difference is you can do it much quicker with a real rack.

Justin
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post #5 of 40 Old 07-18-2005, 05:44 PM
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Although I have very limited experience, I often wonder how much a .01 degree difference really matters. At least with autocross Mustangs. I can see it on a really precise car like an open-wheeled formula car.

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post #6 of 40 Old 07-18-2005, 10:29 PM
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I have the longacre gauge and really like it. With that and a home-made toe gauge I've been doing my own alignments for 8 or 9 years. At about $135 it pays for itself pretty quick.

David

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post #7 of 40 Old 07-19-2005, 12:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TennGT
I'll eyeball some specs but if I am taking a car to a road course and seeing triple digit speeds I don't trust my do-it yourself alignment. My advice is take it to a good shop that has a computerized alignment rack. Its kind of like building your own airplane just because you can do it does not mean its a good idea.
I have to disagree with everything above. While a shop may have quicker equipement, the technicians are not all the same. Most dont even spend the time required and just "Toe and go" or have the knowledge of how alignment changes affect the car. I have had shops that would refuse to do alignments when they saw the C/C plates or if I told them I wanted to use my specs and not their listed specs. I would rather spend my money on equipement than repeated services. With my car going on the track I feel safer knowing that everything is done correctly than trusting someone else.

As for equipement at home I use the SmartCamber gauge. It is really quick for caster and camber. Works very well on none level surfaces (great for the track).
http://www.smartracingproducts.com/alignment.htm
For toe I would suggest the same thing MFE uses to set toe. A quick search for posts by MFE with "alignment" in them should come up with his DIY writeup.

Also, what is wrong with building an airplane? Why isnt it a good idea? Seems like a judgement with little information. Homebuilt aircraft aren't that hard to build. Sure it takes some knowledge but many people build. I am building a Van's RV8 right now.
http://www.vansaircraft.com/

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post #8 of 40 Old 07-19-2005, 09:06 AM
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With about 60 bucks in tools (toe gauge is home made), I do all my alignments at home. My tire wear is much better than any shop alignment I have ever had. It is really pretty easy, but takes a bit of time and repeat checking. I also set the car up more agressively for an auto-x, and don't have to worry about having to pay someone to change the alignment back and forth. Pretty soon we will have a brand new alignment rack at work however, so I will likely take advantage of that.

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post #9 of 40 Old 07-19-2005, 09:10 AM
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Found this while looking for a digital level. Anyone ever used one?
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post #10 of 40 Old 07-19-2005, 09:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TennGT
Its kind of like building your own airplane just because you can do it does not mean its a good idea.
Tell that to the Wright brothers, Donald Douglas, Glenn Curtis, Larry Bell, Burt Rutan and the rest of the aviation pioneers. Maybe Burt Rutan shouldn't go to space with his carbon fiber airplane. It's just "not a good idea".


particularly non-stock 99 Cobra w/brand C motor...

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post #11 of 40 Old 07-19-2005, 02:10 PM
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I whole heartedly agree with the above. For less than the cost of two shop alignments, you can buy what you need, to do as good or better than most zit poppen alignment jockys.

For the cost of three, maybe four, you can set yourself up with some really nice digital stuff. Plus you can make it back helpin your friends doin their cars.

The first time you try, you'll spend some extra time learning how to get consistent mesurements ect. After that you'll wonder why you ever paid some one else to do it.

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post #12 of 40 Old 07-19-2005, 09:56 PM Thread Starter
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I bought a Longacre Gauge, which wasn't a bad deal, for a $120.00 shipped to the house. But, now I got to looking at my truck and wife's car, I don't see how I can use it, can not mount it to the bearing hub, or disk rotor.
Any ideals?
I plan on making my own toe-gauge, and I found MFE's alignment.

Thanks Chad.
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post #13 of 40 Old 07-20-2005, 08:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Micha
After that you'll wonder why you ever paid some one else to do it.
And won't have the hassle of smoothtalking some rack jockey every time to set it up to YOUR specs and not Ford's.
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post #14 of 40 Old 07-20-2005, 11:24 AM
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Oktavius,

I built an RV-8 5 years ago now and love it. Have almost 400 hours on it. I'll shoot you a pic or 2 if you like. PM me on where you are at in the process.

Others contemplating the home DIY alignment. It isn't difficult or even very time consuming after you have done it once or twice. You can do lots after reading MFE's post and it gives you the ability and confidence to easily change the car to your tastes even while at the track between sessions. I've seen toe set at alignment shops using chalk marks and a tape measure. Measure with a micrometer, mark it with chalk, and cut it with an ax is others moto. I use tight tollerances and precision all around and get amazing mileage out of my tires both on and off track.

Scott

edit typo

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post #15 of 40 Old 07-20-2005, 12:16 PM Thread Starter
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I plan making adpters for my other cars, but I was wondering would it be a good ideal to use two gauges, when measuring toe, one in front and back, to speed up the process and to be more precise?

Thanks.
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post #16 of 40 Old 07-20-2005, 02:56 PM Thread Starter
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Does anyone know where to find a WHEEL ADAPTER FOR CASTER A CAMBER GAUGE?

Thanks.
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post #17 of 40 Old 07-21-2005, 10:08 AM
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Which guage do you have?

-Bill

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post #18 of 40 Old 07-21-2005, 11:58 AM Thread Starter
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I bought, not recieved, a Longacre Caster Camber Guage, with the magnite a base, I plan on machining a mount for the magnite adaptor, or machining an adaptor for the gauge itself. Would this work as intended?

Thanks.
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post #19 of 40 Old 07-21-2005, 12:50 PM
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Do you have any links to the guage in question? I am having a hard time visualizing and therefore understanding what you are getting at. I am sure though if you can machine something you'll be able to get it to work.

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post #20 of 40 Old 07-21-2005, 01:38 PM Thread Starter
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http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eB...spagename=WDVW


Check this out, it's on E-bay. (Caster Camber Gauge).

Chad.
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post #21 of 40 Old 07-21-2005, 03:22 PM
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Here is the Longacre website. You may check to see if they have the adapter that you need.

http://www.longacreracing.com/catalo...st.asp?catid=5

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post #22 of 40 Old 07-25-2005, 11:55 AM
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Now TennGT, let's be fair...some of us are also running triple digits on road courses and doing it on conventional suspensions with full interior fox bodies on Kumho MX's (and keeping them on the track LOL) with DIY alignments. I haven't paid a shop to do an alignment in at least 7 years. The precision afforded by hi-tech machines is no match for the lack of accuracy caused by sloppy setup of the equipment, sloppy equipment, and sloppy operators. Clearly a race shop is going to give you the best of the best, but for the average joe, it's just not worth it. And for me, who changes my alignment damn near weekly depending on what I'm doing, I'de be in the poor house.

I can't post my writeup because I'm not on my own computer but as stated, a search for "home alignment" will turn it up.
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post #23 of 40 Old 07-25-2005, 12:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MFE
I can't post my writeup because I'm not on my own computer but as stated, a search for "home alignment" will turn it up.
Actually it doesn't. I just did the search.

particularly non-stock 99 Cobra w/brand C motor...
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post #24 of 40 Old 07-25-2005, 01:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by serpentnoir
Actually it doesn't. I just did the search.
Funny, well I know for a fact that if one searches for "struts alignment" it should bring up a thread titled "Struts & Alignment" that the write-up was posted in a while back.

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post #25 of 40 Old 07-25-2005, 01:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by martindc1
Funny, well I know for a fact that if one searches for "struts alignment" it should bring up a thread titled "Struts & Alignment" that the write-up was posted in a while back.
You are right. I found it. I thought MFE started the thread. My mistake.

particularly non-stock 99 Cobra w/brand C motor...
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post #26 of 40 Old 07-25-2005, 03:15 PM
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For anyone else looking at this thread that hasn't seen MFE's writeup, here it is:
Quote:
Originally Posted by MFE
I updated the tech article but here it is

Thanks to qwkcpe for the pics involving the red car.

If you need a refresher on what caster, camber, and toe are, see here: http://www.ozebiz.com.au/racetech/theory/align.html

On to the measurement. First, the caster. In my opinion, this setting is less critical than the rest, and since it's also considerably harder to measure, and often unadjustable, I usually recommend setting it as far positive (strut tops to the rear) as possible, within reason. If the car drifts to one side after all is said and done, remove caster from the side it’s pulling toward. Norm Petersen says "You can make a simple jig from strips of wood or metal to make steering to a specific angle easier and more accurate. I made one for 14.5 degrees (left and right) when I upgraded the homemade camber measurement apparatus to one with a pivot, two magnetic levels, and a dial indicator for easier reading and less math. For 14.5 degrees, caster = 2.0 x (camber difference)." In other words measure the camber with the wheels turned 14.5 degrees left, then 14.5 degrees right, and multiply the difference in measurements by 2 and that's your caster. I drive a fox body and I just set it all the way back. One of these days I'll measure it.

Next, the camber. Easy. You just want to measure how far out of vertical the wheels are. With the car parked on a level floor and with the wheels pointed so they’re straight ahead (regardless of steering wheel position, you can fix that later, just go where you know the car tracks straight ahead), place a construction level against the bottom lip of one front wheel. Hold it so the level indicates perfect vertical, then using a ruler or tape measure, measure the distance from the edge of the level to the top edge of the wheel. See the end for how to convert this measurement into camber degrees.

Note: If you can't get a level solidly against the wheel, here are two options:

1) Cut a length of straight 1x4 or 2x4 wood exactly the diameter of the lip of your wheel to use as a standoff for your level

2) as seen in the camber pic on the green car, get some 3/16-inch diameter “all-thread” at the hardware store (rod that's completely threaded, end to end) and cut a couple of 4-inch lengths of it. Drill holes in the frame of your level or in your standoff so that they match up with the diameter of the lip of your wheels, and tap them for the all-thread. Insert the all-thread in the holes to make leveling screws, and holding the level up to your wheel, adjust the screws so the level is perfectly perpendicular. Using a ruler or calipers, measuere the length of each screw. Subtract the shorter one from the longer one, and the result is your distance out-of-vertical. Use the chart at the end to convert to camber degrees.



Using leveling screws:



Now, onto the Toe setting, always done last because camber can have such a dramatic effect on it: You're measuring how far the wheels are toe-'d out or toe'd in, which means you want to compare the distance between the fronts of the wheels and the distance between the rears of the same wheels. Specifically between reference points halfway up the front of the wheels and halfway up the backs of the wheels. You usually can’t just measure across between these points because the car gets in the way, so you need a “caliper” of some sort to transfer these points down to the ground level for measurement. This is easy to make out of a nice straight 8-foot length of 1x2 lumber and a couple of shelf brackets. Or, a shelf bracket and a square.









I set the rail under the car so it runs side to side, align the locked bracket with a specific portion of the wheel (or, alternatively, the tire tread) halfway up the back of the tire, then position the other end of the rail to take a measurement. Before I measure, I go back and make sure the fixed end of the rail is still in position because it’s easy to move as you position the other end.

Then I place the slider bracket on the other end and match it up against the same part of the wheel or tire as the bracket on the other side of the car. Make note of the measurement.

Now bring the rail to the front of the tires and make another measurement the same way. The difference between the two distances, front and rear, is toe. I pre-marked the rail in 1/16th increments where the slider would go but in any case that’s how you do it. If you use this bracket device you’ll have to be precise about how the “slider” bracket sits on the rail to maintain accuracy.





Adjusting the toe is easy, at least on a Mustang. You probably don’t even need to raise the car. By holding the outer tie rod end with some vice grips or channel-locks, take a 7/8 wrench and loosen the jamnut. Then use pliers or a 14mm wrench on the tie rod itself to turn it inward or outward, then hold the assembly still while you tighten the jamnut. A little goes a long way, and if the wheel was crooked now’s your chance to fix it. One full turn of a tie rod should be 1/16th inch of toe change. If you need to toe the wheels in from where they are, start with the wheel opposite where the steering wheel is pointing. In other words if the wheel points to the left, take toe out of the right wheel. If you don’t need to make a toe adjustment but you do need to straighten the wheel, add a little toe to the wheel on the side it points to and take the exact same amount out of the other side until the steering wheel runs straight.

Here's a chart for converting inches of camber into degrees of camber, depending on the size of your wheels.



Here are some other threads and links for reference:

https://www.corral.net/forums/showthread.php?t=678440
https://www.corral.net/forums/showthread.php?t=536504
https://www.corral.net/forums/showthread.php?t=892244

Alignment tools for those who want to buy instead of make:
http://www.smartracingproducts.com/alignment.htm
http://www.soloracer.com/ccgauge.html
http://www.truechoice.com/prodinfo.a...r=SMA%20011371
https://www.corral.net/forums/showthr...ight=alignment

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post #27 of 40 Old 07-27-2005, 02:21 PM
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I drive my car on the street all the time now so I'm running much less negative camber than I used to when I drove less to help my front tires last longer. If I go to the track occasionally, is it ok to just increase the negative camber by a certain amount on both sides for the track or does this adversely effect the toe as well. I'm just trying to figure out if it's safe to do like this or if I have to do the whole alignment everytime.
I'm going to Texas Motor Speedway to run the ROVAL and I don't want it to be pushing like it does on the street with my mild front alignment and torque arm out back...

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post #28 of 40 Old 07-27-2005, 02:31 PM
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Just dump the camber in and run it. It'll toe out a little bit but that's usually OK, but if you're running a very mild setting (like less than 1 degree) and you can get more than 2.5 degrees then you might want to prepare to take one full turn out of each tie rod when you do. That'll toe the front end in about 1/8th inch and compensate for what you added by increasing the neg camber. 7/8 wrench for the jam nut, 14mm wrench or vice grips to turn the tie rod. I run 1.25 to 1.5 neg on the street and max it out to 2.5 neg for events and I don't mess with the toe anymore when I do.

Before you make any changes, measure how far each strut top is from its closest fender edge and write it down. When you're done with the event, move the plates so the struts are back in their original positions and it'll be like you never changed it.
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post #29 of 40 Old 07-27-2005, 03:14 PM
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Quote:
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Before you make any changes, measure how far each strut top is from its closest fender edge and write it down. When you're done with the event, move the plates so the struts are back in their original positions and it'll be like you never changed it.
Or another way to do it since he has SN95 MM plates is to scribe/mark where the place that the camber plate is for street alignment. At the track push them in all the way. When done push them back out to the markings. The benefit of the SN95 MM plate setup is that the Caster plate holds in the factory camber slots where the Fox MM plate setup uses the camber plates to hold in the factory camber slots. When the SN95's camber plate is moved there is no chance of the plates moving within the factory slots. With the fox plates though, there is a chance of the plates moving in the factory slots.

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post #30 of 40 Old 11-17-2005, 10:13 AM
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Bringing this one back up from the dead.

I realize everyone's car is different due to different year and ride height and suspension parts, but is there a ballpark estimate of what distance to shift the strut top mount inboard or outboard to get, for instance, a 0.5ΒΊ change in camber?
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post #31 of 40 Old 11-17-2005, 10:27 AM
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This would really vary on each car, especially if measuring from the top of the strut. Most of us use C/C plates and have the strut shaft spacered at different heights due to differing variations.

One of the nice things about the Smart Camber gauge I use is that it can stay on the wheel. If I need to add -0.5* I will jack that side up, with the gauge still on there, and add -0.5* off of the measurement it has in the air. When I lower the car down, the ground measurement should read an additional -0.5*. Very quick and very easy. I can't say how much I love this tool. Now if I only had a quick way to do toe. Maybe I will build my own laser setup...

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post #32 of 40 Old 11-18-2005, 10:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oktavius
Now if I only had a quick way to do toe. Maybe I will build my own laser setup...
You might want to try my string method. After you get used to setting it up it works well and pretty fast to set up too. I've edited the toe section a little since I posted it a while back.
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post #33 of 40 Old 12-24-2005, 05:25 PM
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I'll bring this back from the dead due to a new revelation.

I started getting some inside wear on my drivers side tire. I was convinced I had fairly even camber on both sides with my angle finder. I had figured 1/2 degree negative on both sides. I recently bought a 24" Craftsman SmartTool level off Ebay. (got a heck-of-a-deal at 34+7= $41 shipped) Checking with the digital level it turns out I had 1.3 degrees negative on the drivers side and .7 degrees negative on the passenger side.

For those that cannot build their own stuff I'd highly recomend getting the SmartCamber tool. I plan to machine a precision telescopic holder to mount the module out of the level I bought so I can adjust for unlevel surfaces. I also plan to put a laser module in it so I can shoot forward off the rear wheel to measure toe angle. At the very least get one of these 24" digital levels and you can get accurate readings off the tire. As long as you have the car on a level surface and don't put the level on the bulge of the tire at the bottom. Read it from just in front of or behind the center of the tire to avoid reading the bulge.

I have the camber plates pulled all the way out for the street cause I drive like a grandpa on the roads and I have 30 miles of straight highway back and forth to work. If you have short distances and more turns in your normal driving you may be able to run more negative camber without wear but if you drive a lot of highway like I do it can wear the tires on the inside. I would have never thought 1.3 degrees negative would give me uneven wear but it is only on the LF so it is not misadjusted toe.

I've got to either replace my stock camber bushings or go back to CC plates to be able to get the alignment back to 1/2 degree.
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post #34 of 40 Old 12-25-2005, 04:29 PM
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I have a 96 Cobra that I auto-x, but have never done my own alignment. I am going to try this, however, I also want to start drag racing. My plan is to have a streetable car for city driving (to and from the races) that wont destroy my tires. I have a set of auto-x wheels / street tires (Cobra R & Yokahama AVS Sport) and a separate set of drag racing wheels / tires for the 1/4 mile track. I understand I want max neg camber (as long as it is even on both sides) and max positive caster for the auto-x. How will these numbers differ for drag racing? Hopefully with enough practice, I can check the alignments the day before the race (whichever type it is for that weekend). I am still reading up on the toe, so any information on that is greatly appreciated for auto-x vs. drag racing.

Thanks for all the information you guys "in the know" share with those of us that are still learning.
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post #35 of 40 Old 12-25-2005, 06:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trevman2
How will these numbers differ for drag racing?
I'm not a drag racer but I imagine you want as little drag as possible for straight line performance. I'd say you want zero toe, leave the positive caster, and maybe the camber too so to have the smallest contact patch you can get on the front tires. It might work better to have zero camber and pump the front tires to max pressure. Maybe a drag racer will chime in with better info or you could go to the drag race forum and search or ask.

Last edited by Han Solo; 12-25-2005 at 06:02 PM.
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