Alignment shops getting on my nerves - Ford Mustang Forums : Corral.net Mustang Forum
 
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post #1 of 13 Old 09-24-2005, 12:43 PM Thread Starter
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Alignment shops getting on my nerves

I've been to four alignment shops and two of them will only align my car to spec? One of them won't touch the CC plates and the last one wants to take my plates off (WTF!!!).

Looks like MFE is going to save me again, (the first time it was taking me forever to get my front H&R race springs in and I used his method) Now I'm going to try my own alignment.

What tools are you guys making to adjust your toe?
What is a good agressive street setting? I drive my car about twice a week.
What settings are you guys using for the track?


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post #2 of 13 Old 09-24-2005, 01:03 PM
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Here is an alignment writeup MFE did:
Quote:
Originally Posted by MFE
First, the caster. I have no provision for measuring this, just remember on a Fox body car you can’t get enough so set each plate as far back as it’ll go and forget it. If the car drifts to one side after all is said and done, remove caster from the side it’s pulling toward. Edit: 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 (note: if this is not possible on your car, cut a length of wood to the exact lip-to-lip inside diameter, and use it as a standoff for the level), then using a ruler or tape measure, measure the distance from the edge of the level to the top edge of the wheel. 5/16 of an inch is essentially –1.0 degrees. 7/16 is just a hair over –1.5 degrees, my preferred street setting. It gives me hard cornering capability without chewing up the outside edges of the tires, and if you set your toe properly you shouldn’t have to worry about inner edge wear. Some people (weenies, LOL) find this setting a bit aggressive but IMHO under no circumstances should you go less than 5/16. You’ll probably find yourself at the outside edge of c/c plate travel at the –1.0 range but it depends on a lot of things so you won’t know until you try.



Now, onto the Toe setting, always done last because camber has such a dramatic effect on it: You want to measure the difference in distances between reference points halfway up the front of the tires and halfway up the backs of the tires. Unless you drive a swamp buggy you can’t just measure across 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. You could do it with a plumb bob and some chalk and measure inbetween, which I’ve done with success, or you can make a tool. I got a 6 foot rail of that shelving material with the slots cut in it, that you hook thick sheet metal brackets into for putting boards on top of. I don’t know what it’s called, maybe slotted-rail shelving or something. I got one rail and two of the brackets, locked one bracket on the rail so it won’t move at all, and kept the second one as a “slider” that will be used to actually take the measurement. Other people use square tubing and other kinds of bracketry. Get creative.

I set the rail under the car so it runs side to side, align the locked bracket with a specific portion of the tire tread halfway up the back of the tire, then positioned 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 so it corresponds with the portion of tread I’m using and make a mark on the rail. Now bring the rail to the front of the tires and make another measurement the same way. The distance between the marks 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. I set mine so it’s 1/16 toed in, meaning the front side measurement is 1/16th of an inch shorter than the measurement of the back side of the tires. Adjusting the toe is easy. 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.




My device looks like this, the bracket on the first photo is locked in place:





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post #3 of 13 Old 09-24-2005, 01:11 PM
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I do the same thing that MFE does for toe. I used to use his method for camber, but I am now using a SmartCamber tool for both caster and camber adjustment. The SmartCamber tool may look a little pricey, but if you consider the normal costs of alignments and how many times I re-align the car, it easily paid for itself.

For alignment, I use -1.5* camber, 4.5* caster (limited after X2s), and about 1/32" toe in. Before the X2's though, I was running -3* camber, 6* caster, and the same toe. With both settings I was getting even tire wear, but it also suited my driving.

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post #4 of 13 Old 09-24-2005, 02:32 PM
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jus wonderin where you guys find your info on what specs to run?
any good books or is it all trial and error?
if its trial and error, how do you pick a starting point?
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post #5 of 13 Old 09-24-2005, 02:44 PM
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Last edited by Oktavius; 09-24-2005 at 02:47 PM.
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post #6 of 13 Old 09-24-2005, 02:45 PM
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Yes, it is very much trial and error. Everyone's car is a little different and we drive our cars differently. A good starting point would just be like jeostang is doing, asking around to see what other people are using. Then when you have the info you need, choose a starting point. I suggest -1 to -1.5 degrees camber, maximum equal positive caster, and slight toe in.

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post #7 of 13 Old 09-24-2005, 03:33 PM Thread Starter
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I plan to start with -1 camber and go from there. I'm looking into buying that smartcamber tool.

One thing I just noticed it my toe is all messed up just by looking at it, one tire looks looks like it has a pretty good toe in the the other one tire is toe out. I can also see that one tire has some negitive camber while the other one looks like its at 0 camber.

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post #8 of 13 Old 09-24-2005, 03:35 PM
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I realize it may not be a big difference, but if you're measuring the toe at the edge of the tire, doesn't it matter what your tire size is? I mean 1/32" toe on a 16" tire is more toe-in than 1/32" on an 18" tire, isn't it?
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post #9 of 13 Old 09-24-2005, 04:31 PM
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I need to do this soon, I'm about to have my front end in a million pieces. Definately need to build the toe-rig, although I might pay for an alignment since I'm still not absolutely sure the precision in which I sqaured my rear end.

The MFE info is by far some of the best home-tech on here.

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post #10 of 13 Old 09-24-2005, 04:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oktavius
I suggest -1 to -1.5 degrees camber, maximum equal positive caster, and slight toe in.
here it would seem you agree with the info you posted from MFE. obviously this works as a good starting point as i see these specs listed often.
in research i have also seen recommended a slight toe out to help turn-in....any positives or negatives to this? or why you prefer toe in?

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post #11 of 13 Old 09-24-2005, 05:50 PM
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Don't quote me, but I think for street cars a slight toe-in will add to the car wanting to self center itself.

a slight toe-out would make sense, but i've never heard of it before on street/aggressive-street applications.

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post #12 of 13 Old 09-24-2005, 08:48 PM
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jeostang,
If you end up just wanting an alignment professionally done, I can do what ever settings you want (or would like me to recomend). Just shoot me a PM. I'm located in Rockville and can do it one day after work.
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post #13 of 13 Old 09-25-2005, 03:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gumby
here it would seem you agree with the info you posted from MFE. obviously this works as a good starting point as i see these specs listed often.
in research i have also seen recommended a slight toe out to help turn-in....any positives or negatives to this? or why you prefer toe in?
For the street, toe in will be desired as Chris_Red_V6 stated. Toe out would be good for autocross. Generally, whenever I would autocross, I would push the camber plates all the way in. When doing that it also toes out the front end.

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