Hypothesis on wandering (toe solution) - Chevy Impala SS Forum
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 02-25-2002, 01:05 PM
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I was looking over an old alignment spec sheet from the last time I got one. Besides noticing what the alignment guy told me he was doing (more positive caster and more negative camber on the right side, for crowned roads), I noticed my total toe was nearly zero. Now, this may not seem surprising, and may actually be impressive, considering the IGBA alignment specs call for zero toe.

I was recently reading through a book called "How to Make Your Car Handle" (copyright 1981 but, hey, the B-Body hasn't changed since then) when I stumbled into the toe section. What I read confirmed what I had already known about toe on cars - when rolling forward and ESPECIALLY while braking, the front tires have a natural tendency to toe-out. The book explains, in a nutshell, that toe-out is directly related to wandering (the explanation makes sense, and I can type it out if anyone is skeptical). It also says toe-out is a leading cause of high-speed instability.
Further, it goes on to explain that toe-in does the opposite - it creates steering stability and increases the car's "want" to continue in a straight line (something I personally think our cars could use more of). GM officially allows up to 0.2 degrees of total front end toe-in (0.1 per side) and I think somewhere in the range of 0.15 total might serve to make things a little better (maybe decrease braking pull and highway wander).

What do you guys think? I might give this a try next time I go for an alignment.

Other things to think about are suspension bushings (CA bushings) - are they stock? Mine aren't. They're stiff PST bushings, so theoretically, I would have less deflection under braking and while driving, so maybe 0.15 is too much. It's hard to say. Any ideas? Guinea pigs?
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 02-25-2002, 01:15 PM
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Kevin, after I get my 6 speed installed and gears in the axle, I think the engine and suspension are probably next in line, if you wanna try your specs on an allignment in my car, I'm more than happy too, you've driven my car (albeit when it was misfiring) in stock form, and I will let you drive it again with the 6 speed and my planned suspension underneath it, so if you wanna try it with a stock allignment, B-Body.net specs, and your specs, I'm willing. We should probably look around for a shop around here that would be willing to let us do that without paying too much additional cash to do so.

For those of you who don't know, Kevin and I go to school together. From the looks of the cars I see on campus at regular times, we are members of a very limited group of students driving 91-96 B-Bodies in the school, Kevins very respectable 93 L05 9C1 which is a very clean car, and my 96 LT1 9C1, which needs a bit of TLC, but is a good car.

AS it stands right now though, I've got 3 exams and a paper to get through this week then C-Term is finally done and I can get under my car to put the T56 in, if I can get my clutch here in time.

I think your best bet would be try progressively more and more until you figure out what is right for the bushings you have installed, I guess that different suspension setups would call for tweaked versions of the same allignment in that respect, while not drastically different, there would be certain differences due to less or more deflection while the car is in motion.
post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 02-25-2002, 01:31 PM
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Hey...as far as a reputable alignment shop, I did find one in this area. I went to Town Fair Tire up on Rt 9 in Shrewsbury and they recommended the alignment guy who works at their Auburn shop (Exit 9 off 290W, take a left, then left at the next major intersection - TFT is on the left). He has 20+ years of alignment experience, they said, and I watched him do my car. The machine wasn't as new as the one at Shrewsbury, but I think the tech makes more of a difference than the machine in some cases.

Funny story about that guy, actually. I had my car aligned back at a Firestone in CT when I first did the suspension and I wanted it done again a few weeks later here at school. After I found out the Auburn TFT had the guy I wanted to use, I went there, and they said he took the rest of the day off. So next day, I went there again - didn't show up. So then I called the 3rd time, instead of driving and they said, nope - still not in - he's got health problems (gall stones I think). Finally, the following monday, I went in in the AM and they said come back at 2:30 or so and he can do it for me. Well, I came back and he was finally there. He hooked it up to the machine and checked all the specs to make sure they were still correct from the last alignment. To my surprise, everything was dialed in extremely precisely, except toe. So he centered the wheel for me (thrust alignment). I took my print out to the main counter to pay and the guy I had been dealing with the whole time looks at me and goes "you're all set." They didn't even charge me for the thrust alignment! I thought that was a cool story...

Regarding the stock alignment...the B-Body specs aren't that big of a deal except for two things: the required precision (tolerance) is a lot lower numerically than GM's recommendation and the camber is spec'd at -0.25 instead of zero...I think those are the only differences. When I asked the alignment guy at TFT about the tolerances, he said "no problem, I'll get it exactly on" and I think he did.
post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 02-25-2002, 01:42 PM
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There are still some good people out there who will recognize that when somethng only needs a minor amount of work and not charge an honest person for it. I've had good luck a couple times in situations like that too.

Either way, I'll let you know when I have my T56 and my gears in the car and have saved up the money to do my suspension, maybe if you take a ride out to that alignment guy with me we can talk to him about the idea you had for different specs, see how it makes the car handle, its my suspension though, if I don't like it, I'm going with the B-Body.net specs.
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