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Countersteer forever
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well after doing some reading about suspension theory and alignment DIY articles I decided I trusted my abilities enough to tweak my own alignment settings. I'm not sure if it was a good idea or not. And I'm hesitant to write a DIY on it because it's a hard thing to do accurately and I don't exactly have my methods perfected yet, haha. Oh, and all I did this time was measure the toe settings and I changed the rear to 1/16" toe in.

But here are some pictures for anyone who is interested...

(weedeater line, speaker stands, and weights -- had to get resourceful. ;) )




(that's the adjustment in the rear -- you have to loosen the two nuts on both ends, and then turn the nut in the middle to make the toe adjustment)


(if the tires are resting on something that will slip, then you can easily see the toe change as you make the adjustments)
 

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What would be interesting if you could actually take it and have it put on a machine to see how you did.
 

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Countersteer forever
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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
The alignment shop I had taken it to didn't do exactly what I had told them. I wanted 1/16" toe-in at the rear and after the 'computer alignment' I measured 1/8" toe-in at the left tire and 3/16" toe-in at the right. Those measurements seemed to line up pretty well with the spec sheet I got from them which said .12 degrees left / .16 degrees right.

So, I think my measurements were fairly accurate. But I can't tell if it's an improvement or not. Less toe-in at the rear will help tire wear and improve maneuverability but it can also make the car feel less stable at highway speeds. It's hard for me to tell though since my car has some vibration. I discovered yesterday that my wheels weren't balanced properly when I bought new tires. So I've gotta get that fixed.
 

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A simpler method

All you need to check toe is an expanding curtain rod. Check it at the front of the wheels and again at the back of the wheels. Or you can buy a toe gauge that's essentially a heavy duty version of a curtain rod.

BTW, checking toe should be done on a floor that's flat and preferably, the car should be rolled into place without using the brakes, as that can affect the toe measurement when the wheels are not on rotating plates, such as on an alignment rack.
 

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Countersteer forever
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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Re: A simpler method

Bnystrom said:
All you need to check toe is an expanding curtain rod. Check it at the front of the wheels and again at the back of the wheels. Or you can buy a toe gauge that's essentially a heavy duty version of a curtain rod.
Good idea, haha, everyone seems to have different methods. It would certainly be easier with a curtain rod though.


Bnystrom said:
BTW, checking toe should be done on a floor that's flat and preferably, the car should be rolled into place without using the brakes, as that can affect the toe measurement when the wheels are not on rotating plates, such as on an alignment rack.
If I only had some rotating plates... I just used two pieces of cardboard underneath the wheels to help to allow them to rotate. Two sheets of masonite would've been a better alternative. Also, it would be a lot easier if you could get the tires up on blocks so you have more room to work underneath the car. You could even level the blocks with shims while you're at it. It can be a pain to work under a car that's been lowered.
 

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Super Hero
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Good Stuff. I think you will find that your tolerances are about the same as thiers. The way you did it should produce good results.

Now for the camber
 

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Countersteer forever
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The camber seems to be fine for now. It's at -1 degrees at all 4 corners and the car feels pretty well balanced like that.
 

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Countersteer forever
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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Well I was up until 4 AM lastnight building slip plates and doing my alignment up front. I did have almost 1/16" toe out up front. Now I've got 1/16" toe in front & 1/16" toe in rear. The car feels much more stable. It's funny because toe in will actually decrease the car's handling abilities yet it increases confidence because of the added stability and predictability.

I think I've learned my lesson though. Unless you're going to be setting up a car for something like autocrossing, there is no need to modify the toe settings. I thought toe out might be a good idea... it wasn't. You can stick with the factory toe settings, and the only thing you can adjust without affecting drivability is camber. Just my 13 cents.

Oh, and it's a whole lot of work doing the alignment yourself! I'll take some pictures of the slip plates I built.

Here's one of the slip plates:




Each one is made up of just two pieces of wood with sheet metal stapled on and a bolt running through it. The bolt is loose-fitting and it's there just to allow the tires to rotate around a point and not slide off. And I used WD40 to lubricate the metal-to-metal surface which allowed it to slip pretty easily.
 

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Those look pretty good. Just one thing I would like to say. WD-40 has absolutely no lubricating properties in it. The "WD" actually stands for "water displacement". I would find some Liquid Wrench with Teflon. It is in a teal can and costs about 1/3 the price of WD-40. This stuff actually does have a lot of lubrication. It will work a lot better for anything in the long run.
 

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Toe-in on the front will cause excessive tire wear. That's one of the reasons why the factory specs toe-out on the front. The point is that with a small amount of toe-out, the wheels will be pulled into relatively neutral alignment by the pressure of the drivetrain. If you start with toe-in, it will toe inward even further when you drive it, scrubbing the tires.
 

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SWortham said:
Here's one of the slip plates:




Each one is made up of just two pieces of wood with sheet metal stapled on and a bolt running through it. The bolt is loose-fitting and it's there just to allow the tires to rotate around a point and not slide off. And I used WD40 to lubricate the metal-to-metal surface which allowed it to slip pretty easily.
Nicely done!

WD-40 is a piss-poor lubricant. For high pressure applications, grease containing molybdenum disulphide (ball joint or CV joint grease) or graphite would be a better choice.
 

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Countersteer forever
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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
WD40 actually did the job pretty well. It's a lot better than no lubrication at all, and it did much better than both the white teflon grease and regular automotive grease I tried using. Granted, WD40 is very thin stuff and won't last for long, but it doesn't need to.

I'll try the Liquid Wrench with Teflon or maybe powdered graphite at some point, thanks.
 

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Countersteer forever
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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Bnystrom said:
Toe-in on the front will cause excessive tire wear. That's one of the reasons why the factory specs toe-out on the front. The point is that with a small amount of toe-out, the wheels will be pulled into relatively neutral alignment by the pressure of the drivetrain. If you start with toe-in, it will toe inward even further when you drive it, scrubbing the tires.
I think you have that backwards man. I've read several articles now that say the opposite. I talked to my Dad about this too, and he said that most cars come from the factory with toe-in because they will tend to toe-out with speed. He must be right because that's exactly the problem I was having when I had the car setup with just a little toe-out, the car would feel much less stable down the highway than it used to with factory specs. Then I realigned it with a little toe-in and it feels normal again.

Here's one of many articles that states this:
http://www.gnttype.org/techarea/suspension/align.html
 

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Apples to oranges comparison

What I said is true of front drive cars. The article you provided the link to is about rear-drive cars. RD cars use toe in on the front and toe out - if it's adjustable - on the rear.

The rule of thumb is that the driven wheels should be toed out and the non-driven wheels should be toed in.
 

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Countersteer forever
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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
Hmm... it still doesn't explain the problems I was having with toe-out (and it was barely any toe-out at all). Looks like I'm in for some more research.

I took another look at the alignment service standards from hmaservice.com...


I figured out what it was saying.
0.08" +- 0.08" means between 0" and 0.16" of toe-in. What I can't figure out is if that means total toe-in or individual toe-in. I'm thinking total -- anyone know?
 
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