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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally Posted By Autocrosser:

Camber : -0.25 degrees each side, +/- 0.25 (aim to make this equal)
Caster : +4.0 degrees, +/- 0.25
Toe : 1/16" toe in, +/- 1/16"

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UUuuhm, Can sombody explain all of the above, but when you get to the part that says +/- ).25.. explain what that means according to left front or right front, right back etc... I dont know what to tell the man reading the above... but then, I'm a dummy :rolleyes:

ElviSS
 
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Short Answer : find someone who knows alignments, cause this stuff is really better explained visually


Longer Answer : the +/- is the margin of error. A DAMN GOOD alignment guy/gal will be able to nail the numbers I listed dead on correct (i.e. zero error). Most alignment techs to NOT fall into the "damn good" category though, so you gotta give them some error to play with and still have the car be aligned within reason.
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by ElviSS:
UUuuhm, Can sombody explain all of the above, but when you get to the part that says +/- ).25.. explain what that means according to left front or right front, right back etc... I dont know what to tell the man reading the above... but then, I'm a dummy :rolleyes:

ElviSS
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Are these alignment specs for the front suspension only or for the rear suspension also? So caster, camber and toe-in applies to front and back?

sean
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Sean Combs:
Are these alignment specs for the front suspension only or for the rear suspension also? So caster, camber and toe-in applies to front and back?

sean
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Caster and Camber are adjustments and settings for the Front Control Arms. Primarily the Upper Control Arm. If you look at the top of your front control arms, you can see the Shaft running between the upper bushings. And the Shaft is bolted to the frame of the car with 2 bolts. If you look close enough you can usually see shims placed between the Control Arm shaft and the Frame, on the bolts.
The techs add and remove shims to the front or back to adjust the Caster of the Wheel / Upper Control Arm. And they add/ remove shims to both bolts at the same time to adjust the Camber.
Camber moves the Top of the Wheel in or Out
Caster moves the top pivot point of the Wheel front or back.

There are no Caster Camber adjustment for our rear wheels, because of the solid one piece axle tube.
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Caster and Camber are adjustments and settings for the Front Control Arms. Primarily the Upper Control Arm. If you look at the top of your front control arms, you can see the Shaft running between the upper bushings. And the Shaft is bolted to the frame of the car with 2 bolts. If you look close enough you can usually see shims placed between the Control Arm shaft and the Frame, on the bolts.
The techs add and remove shims to the front or back to adjust the Caster of the Wheel / Upper Control Arm. And they add/ remove shims to both bolts at the same time to adjust the Camber.
Camber moves the Top of the Wheel in or Out
Caster moves the top pivot point of the Wheel front or back.

There are no Caster Camber adjustment for our rear wheels, because of the solid one piece axle tube.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


So then all I need are the specs Elviss posted, but what if the alignment mechanic questions me about where I got the specs and if they arent right they wont warranty the work? For example, suppose I take these specs, and the technician phucks up the job and the car pulls, but then claims the specs are bad...what would I do then? I am just trying to understand the numbers and terminology so that when I get the work done, I will be ready for a lazy azz trying to get out of some work.

sean
 
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
i went to a place to get my alignment done...had to go back three times because of toe-in/out problems....pulled to one side. The pulling is not a matter of caster nor camber...but of the toe-in/out adjustment. Make sure they do a slight toe-out for road handling (ie spirited driving).

I told them to do -2 Camber
+4 caster
.15 toe-out

They said -2 would wear the tires out...but a drastic noticibility in hadnling would occur. For the sake of my tires..i went with -.5 camber...the rst same. I think I will go -1 or -1.25 next time becuase my tires don't seem to wear that bad.

BTY...my cdar still pulls to the left...gunna adjust it myself...any hints/suggestions?

Travis
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by doubleuu47:

I told them to do -2 Camber
+4 caster
.15 toe-out

They said -2 would wear the tires out...but a drastic noticibility in hadnling would occur. For the sake of my tires..i went with -.5 camber...the rst same. I think I will go -1 or -1.25 next time becuase my tires don't seem to wear that bad.

BTY...my cdar still pulls to the left...gunna adjust it myself...any hints/suggestions?

Travis
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This totally blows my mind. I never knew that I could have some say in the alignment job... In the past I just brought my car in and they did the work. My part was only to avoid huge bumps... this is wild

Sean
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Sean

The alignment specs at the top of the page are within the limts specified in the Service manuals for our cars just to the Tight Side of the Range. I had my car aligned to those specs and it took the tech 2 hours to get it right.

It handles and steers great, course I have the suspension to with it now too. :D
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Stand with your toes pointing straight ahead and imagine that your leg is a wheel.

1. Point your toes together (pigeon toed) and that's toe in or positive toe.

2. Point your toes out and that's toe out or negative toe.

3. Lift your leg and point your toes forward and that's positive caster.

4. Lift your leg like your going to kick like a mule and that's negative caster.

5. Stand like a cowboy with your knees bowed out and that's positive camber.

6. Stand with your knees together like Jerry Lewis (knock kneed) and that's negative camber.

Camber and toe are tire wearing alignments. Caster affects driveability. Imagine the bicycle you rode as a kid and if you could have turned the front fork/tire backwards (negative caster) you'd have a real squirley ride. Give the bike a real long fork and increase the fork angle (lot's of positive caster) and it'd be stable but you'd have a hard time making turns.
 
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
SS Aloha, could you explain that again but this time compensate for my natural pigeon toed-ness as a starting point? :D Sorry, I couldn't resist...
 
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Great visual SS Aloha, I wish my instructor would have used that one when I learned all that years ago!!! :cool:

Here goes more:

Toe: rwd cars need toe in, fwd cars need toe out. If these are messed up or drastically out of range you will TRASH tires quick, along with weird turn-in "feeling" and almost always tons of wandering. As the car gets pushed down the road by the rear drive axle the slop inherrant in any linkage will tend to open up, thereby spreading the wheels apart (toeing out due to force). As a car gets pulled down the road by a front drive axle(s) the slop inherrant in any linkage gets squeezed together (toe in due to pull force). That's why the difference between fwd and rwd cars.

Caster: My easy way to remember that is the wheels mounted under movable things are called casters. Big extreme are the front wheels on a shopping cart. The angle between the directional (left/right turning) pivot point and the axle of the wheel is called caster. More caster means the wheel is farther behind the pivot point. More caster (positive number)= great high speed stability (think Bonneville salt Flats cars!). Less caster means the car (steering wheel) needs less force to make the wheels pivot/turn. Too little caster (negative number) = cars is squirly at high speed but loads of fun cause it feels like it jumps into turns at lower speeds. An extreme of each is not good and can be very unsafe (especially neg. caster!) or impart way too much pressure on all the linkage "joints" when turning. There are other wierd things that happen but those are the immediate, recognizable, down-and-dirty ones. You can also think of the front forks on a bike but then neck angle also comes into play and that will totally screw you up (don't take that personally!).

Camber: Positive camber moves the top of the tire away from the car. Negative camber moves the tire toward the engine. This has an effect on many things, most noticable $$$wise, tire wear. Shops will usually want more (+) camber on the left and less (-) on the right; the smaller rolling diameter of a negative camber tire will pull the car to the other side (less camber on the right will pull the car to the left as it is driven down the road), thereby making a car go straight down the road (when you take your hands off the steering wheel) because of the crown (hump or slope) in the street for propper water run-off. The reason race cars run a lot of camber (alot always = more = positive #'s) is cause as the suspension (wheel/tire) moves up and down the amount of tire contacting the ground (contact patch) changes (along with toe unless, well lets just leave it at toe #'s change). When the car rolls over onto their side (leans hard in a turn) the suspension "sucks up", shrinking the contact patch to the inner part of the tire. Adding camber changes that while turning under a load, putting all of the tire down as a contact patch. Added bennefit is less conact patch going straight = less resistance due to less rubber to pavement. Bad side effect is DRASTIC inner tire wear and some jumping around or lerching on bumps and possible stability issues at speed.

I won't get into bumpsteer and other things like roll angles cause it's been way to long for me to remember it well enough to make sense, let alone be correct. Hopefully this helps, you'll hear many different ways of explaining it cause everyone has a different way of understanding it. None are better or worse as long as they are correct, whichever works for you is great!

A GOOD alaignment shop: have fun finding one! You may want to find out where the local dump trucks or delivery trucks go. Guys working there think of cars as play things and are used to doing "wild" things like heating front axles and dropping the truck to the ground in order to change camber. They will also be more apt to let you watch them. The shops are generally much dirtier, the guys look scruffier but don't let that turn you away, as long as they ARE a good shop. As for the chain alaignment stores (notice I did not say shop) are generally not a good place for the work you want done. Unless you have a number of people highly reccomending a particular guy at a particular chain store I would stay away from them. Most are company owened, if privately owned it is usually a much better sign of work quality. Other places to look/ask are: ask local speed shops who they reccomend; ask local SCCA/auto-cross/road racing guys who they use; ask your local club guys who they use; ask the police departments who they use; ask a known good shop in other services who they would reccomend, or; find a shop(s) that race a stock car and see if they will do it.

A top-notch alignment takes a while to do unless the guy as [email protected] an artist. I have had some vehicles fall right into place and I have struggled for so long on others it wasn't even funny. I never did enough of it to be considered top-notch due to the time it took me. Alot of guys get it close and in spec's and say that's good enough. That is passable, though questionably ethical, enough for ma's mini-van that stays in town and never sees high speed, high load situations. That's obviously not what we/you are after.

Hope this long-rambling post helps you out. :confused:
 
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by GunGuy:
A GOOD alaignment shop: have fun finding one! You may want to find out where the local dump trucks or delivery trucks go. Guys working there think of cars as play things and are used to doing "wild" things like heating front axles and dropping the truck to the ground in order to change camber. They will also be more apt to let you watch them. The shops are generally much dirtier, the guys look scruffier but don't let that turn you away, as long as they ARE a good shop. As for the chain alaignment stores (notice I did not say shop) are generally not a good place for the work you want done. Unless you have a number of people highly reccomending a particular guy at a particular chain store I would stay away from them. Most are company owened, if privately owned it is usually a much better sign of work quality. Other places to look/ask are: ask local speed shops who they reccomend; ask local SCCA/auto-cross/road racing guys who they use; ask your local club guys who they use; ask the police departments who they use; ask a known good shop in other services who they would reccomend, or; find a shop(s) that race a stock car and see if they will do it.

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Well doesnt the Chevy dealer do the alignment the right way? And is the factory alignment perfect?
 
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Well doesnt the Chevy dealer do the alignment the right way?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

You are kidding right? To put it bluntly, most dealers don't know their head from their @SS on doing an alignment right and that is being kind :D

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>And is the factory alignment perfect?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

From the factory, your car had what it called "toe and go" done to it. This means they quickly adjusted ONLY the toe (caster and camber be damned) to get it so it wouldn't pull too badly, then shove the car out the door. Seriously, spending only a couple minutes tops per car!

IN THEORY, the dealer would "fix" this before selling the car....see my above comment about most dealers and alignments


The specs I listed ARE factory specs, just to a tighter standard. If you get a place that'll actually do the work to get it RIGHT, your car will be aligned wonderfully....
 
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
OK, my time to rant. Here's how it's gonna shake out: Toe will affect wander and tire wear. If you have toe out, it will wander. A change to very slight toe in will do wonders for the wander, but if you go too far (more than 1/16") you start to get into excessive tire wear. Camber will affect rolling resistance and turn-in, and lots will make you a slalom champ. It will also wear your $150 tires out in 5000 miles. No more than .25 degrees is recommended for the street. Otherwise, say hello to inside tire wear. (Outside tire wear means your 9C1 cop car was aligned by Goober Pyle at the Mayberry police yard, and is waaay off). Caster is wide open. More makes your car self-align at speed, and the only excuse GM (and others) give for not recommending lots is high strain on components like ball joints. However, they used to only recommend 1 or 2 degrees on full-sized cars, but the SS gets 3 to 4, so they kind of figured it out. But the real issue is just how much can you dial in and still get the car to track straight. Interestingly, it is the side with less caster that pulls, so the trick here is to get as much as you can on the side that doesn't pull, and adjust the other for best straight-ahead tracking. But here's the most important point: alignment is not some big super-secret, and the guys who do it are not some rocket scientists. They only act like it is, because it is heavy, dirty, time-consuming stuff, that nobody else wants to take the time to understand or do. But you are really only talking about 4 nuts/bolts; 2 tie rod adjustments; and a handful of alignment shims. It just takes attention to detail and patience. The typical alignment place will listen to you spell out the specs you get off the internet here, and then go in the shop and dial in "factory" numbers, because they either: (1) don't give a ****; or (2) fear a lawsuit if they do something else. It is B.S. What you want to look for in a shop is a place that will: (1)actually drive the car before AND AFTER they adjust, (2) who will willingly agree to work with your specs, and (3) who will readjust it if need be to get the best result (as many times as is reasonable). Personally, I gave up and taught myself how to do it in my driveway with a Longacre Caster/Camber gauge, a toe-in gauge, and tons of patience. It takes me a whole Sunday afternoon to get a 1/4 degree change in caster or camber, and you have to reset the toe every time. Just painstaking trial and error. But I'm nuts and the chances are that you can and will find a good shop if you take the time to understand what it is they are doing, and really work with them in doing it. If I had to offer some advice it would probably be to ask the guy straight out if he will really put in WHATEVER specs you ask for NO MATTER WHAT THEY ARE. If he passes that threshold test, I would then want him to agree to show you just how he did it, show you how he measured it for the result, and most important, if he will make adjustments to suit your needs after the first dial-in. Tell him you're perfectly willing to pay what it takes, but be assertive and just don't let them take your money for crap work. There's a lot of feel-happy performance in fine-tuning alignment that is frequently ignored in favor of cams, heads, etc., but you really have to fight for it.
 
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
SSSnyder: How do you like the results you get doing this yourself with the Longacre equipment? I was looking at the caster/camber gauges and the toe gauges recently and contemplating doing exactly what you described. I watched my alignment guy do the last alignment (the one that was finally done right and took him almost 2 hours) and I KNOW I can do it myself if the equipment is worth a damn.
 
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
ABSOLUTELY!!!!!

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by SSSSnyder:
OK, my time to rant. But here's the most important point: alignment is not some big super-secret, and the guys who do it are not some rocket scientists. They only act like it is, because it is heavy, dirty, time-consuming stuff, that nobody else wants to take the time to understand or do. .<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

And that, in a nut shell is why it is so hard to find a good alignment shop, discounting the obvious drive testing and liability issues. When I did turn wrench I hated doing alignments, unless if the guy had a high tech or enthusiast car and I wasn't being paid flat-rate. If the book gives .8 hours to do an alignment the tech gets pasi .8 hours. Sometimes the thing falls in place and it take 20 to 30 minutes, sometimes the car fights you and you hope to get it done right when you get back from lunch. You guessed it, I've had my share of four hour alignments. The only good thing was the customer was happy as could be and sent more folks to the shop, innevitably for alignments! The boo time doesn't take into account such wonderful things like rust. On a new car, bring 'em on, I'mm do alignments all day long! On anything more then three years old, no thanks, I'd rather do brake jobs (about the easiest thing to beat rate on for me).

Don't discount the liability issues, especially depending where you live. Also, most people think that after an alignment there car will ride like a Caddy and that just ain't true, so: more uncalled for come-backs that do nothing but tie up the tech's time. If the tech, NOT the service manager/writer/owner, that is going to do the alignment doesn't test drive your car before he pulls it in tell the shop you changed your mind and leave.

Most shops will do the alignment with a computer reader. Tell them you want ALL of the print-outs from it: pre-alignment readings; spec's (should be input manually from what you told them you want- NOT what the computer spits out), and; final readings. BEFORE the tech starts the alignment make sure he checks and adjusts the tire pressure, I don't know how many I've had to re-do after it was at a store for an alignment six months earlier and was then at the shop I worked at 'cause the mechanic didn't check and adjust tire pressures. Also, if you are more than 150 to 185 pounds or so, sit in the car while the tech is doing it. Yep, it DOES make a difference.

I don't think I have anymore to say on it now. Imagine that!!!
 
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
SSSSnyder and Gunguy : y'all said more eloquently what I've been trying to say here ;).

Out here, I'm fortunate to have a shop that WILL do it right (for the locals, it is Custom Alignment on Wyandotte in Mtn View). They'll put in whatever specs you want (and suggest specs if what you hand them is wacked), nail them exactly (WITH lead weights in the driver's seat to simulate the driver's weight), and test-drive the car (multiple times if necessary) to be sure the specs work.

They cost about $100 to do an alignment on an SS, and usually take about 2 hours.

Is it possible to find one of those "$39.95" alignment places that'll do it right? Sure. Is it likely to happen if you randomly choose a shop? Umm, nope
 
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
TTT

SSSnyder, how do you like the results you get doing this yourself? Are you able to do as precise a job as a good tech using good equipment, or something close? I don't really have a feel for how accurate the gauges are that are available. Thanks.
 
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Seams like money well spent Ed. I'd be happy to pay that for a shop with that ethic and attitude! I haven't searched around here, other than the truck alignment and frame shop, but seeing as I used to turn wrench there are a couple of shops that I trust. Even then I WILL be standing next to the car, watching, while it gets done. I figure I may have to pay actual labor time though.

Now, if I could only decide which springs to run all year round..... I may have to mount up the Khumos and take a picture of it, then take them back off. I figure that way I'd have the best of both worlds-- 22" rim look with out the expense! HEHEHE
 
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