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Old 04-13-2011, 02:57 PM   #1
MikeNW
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Cool DIY alignment

After I paid $69 for the last alignment, and got tired of seeing the wheels with - camber, I decided to do it myself.
Shops will not set optimum geometry, if the wheels are within tolerance, they are too lazy to mess with them.

I used a level, small ruler, and a calculator (to get degrees) and set all 4 wheels to 0 degrees camber (+.12, 0, 0, -.12 degrees) which is good enough. The rears were at the limit of - camber and were wearing tires on their inside surfaces.

The flat garage floor helps. (Apparently, in the south, they don't pour garage slabs with a slope).

There is a lot of trial and error, checking, adjusting, bolting on the wheel again, checking, re-doing but it really isn't that hard.

Now I am figuring how to check the toe-in.

The car rides fine on its first test. Steering wheel is a few degrees to the right though.
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Old 04-13-2011, 03:16 PM   #2
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Default Re: DIY alignment

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeNW View Post
I used a level, small ruler, and a calculator

Now I am figuring how to check the toe-in.
I've done this for quick fixes, but what kind of level?

The toe is easy. Use kit string. But compensate for the rear track, which is 1.05 cm or 0.4 inches per wheel (on my '96 anyways ).
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Old 04-13-2011, 03:23 PM   #3
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Default Re: DIY alignment

been there done that, unless you buy the proper equipment your DIY will never be spot on it will be "close enough" but not spot on..

and as to a shop not setting your car up properly i can tell you why.. you didn't ask them too and or tell them what setup you wanted, if you just pull up and say give me an alignment they will just get it somewhere in spec on each corner straighten the wheel and send you on your way.. i know this because i made the same mistake.. you live you learn.

i have since bought these and opted for the digital gauge since i've heard bad things about the bubble level

http://www.soloperformance.com/Longa...it_p_1141.html
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Old 04-13-2011, 03:42 PM   #4
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Default Re: DIY alignment

http://beatercars.proboards.com/inde...play&thread=24
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Old 04-13-2011, 06:17 PM   #5
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Happy Re: DIY alignment

You can build your own alignment equipment, and if done right and used carefully it is as accurate as the pro equipment.

I posted plans for a laser toe gauge and a very simple but accurate pendulum caster/camber gauge some time ago.

Buy a copy of "How to make your car handle" by Fred Puhn. That's where I learned the basics myself. You can align using plumb lines and snap lines, it just takes LOTS of time and patience.

I have been aligning my own vehicles for many, many years. The times I have had it checked professionally, it was right where I measured it to be. So I stopped having it checked professionally. A number of others on the forum do their own alignments too, I'm hardly the only one.
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Old 04-13-2011, 06:46 PM   #6
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Default Re: DIY alignment

+1^^Pay attention to what he is telling you here. This can be done at home with simple tools and come out spot on.

To check and set toe you need a trammel bar with arms that will reach the plane of the axle. An easy tool to build. Or you can go high tech with the laser gauge.
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Old 04-13-2011, 06:47 PM   #7
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Default Re: DIY alignment

Quote:
Originally Posted by eljefino View Post
Uhhhhhmmmm, .25 / 100 = .0025 . (Just sayin'....)
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Old 04-13-2011, 06:56 PM   #8
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Default Re: DIY alignment

To do this your geometry, trig, and basic math skills have to be up to par.
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Old 04-13-2011, 08:26 PM   #9
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Default Re: DIY alignment

Quote:
Originally Posted by eljefino View Post
The post at the link says "s-series spec is -.2 to 1.2 degrees" for total toe-in. My FSM (96) says +0.1 to +0.3 degrees total toe-in for the front and rear with the preferred +0.2.

0 degrees of camber is within the alignment spec for the front and back wheels. (OP said 0 degrees was good enough). Preferred is -.5 on the front wheels and -.7 on the rear. I set mine pretty close to the preferred just because I don't always slow down a lot for corners. The camber compensates the outside wheels for body roll during cornering since the outside wheels handle more force than the inside.
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Old 04-14-2011, 11:08 AM   #10
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Happy Re: DIY alignment

^^^^^^ +1. Exactly.

Zero camber may be OK if you are on nice flat road surfaces all the time and corner like a senior citizen (some of them anyway), but most people don't, won't or can't.

So the outer tire tread rolls sideways toward the center of the vehicle due to cornering forces and ends up wearing the outside edges anyway, exactly what you were trying to avoid with zero camber in the first place.

So you strike a compromise and go for it. Some negative camber (if the suspension was designed for it) also helps on crowned road surfaces because the side forces on the tires will help center the vehicle. As it tilts right, there is a left counter-force and vice versa. With zero camber it might actually make it worse.
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Old 04-14-2011, 02:33 PM   #11
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Default Re: DIY alignment

wow, appreciate all the info...
Yes I drive like a senior citizen and don't expect tremendous handling from this car anyway. (The tires are at 34 psi)
I used a square and small level to set toe. Drop a point to the floor from front and back of each tire. Use the same tread bar for reference on both wheels. Push the car back and measure the toe (on the floor). Seems to make sense. As long as the floor is level from SIDE to SIDE it will work.

Adjust the camber first. It will mess with the toe setting. Adjust the toe. Recheck the camber.
It's really not too complicated.
I have heard of the Fred Puhn's book and will look for it.

This all took me parts of three days. No big deal.

The car rides and handles great. The steering wheel is centered.

"The camber compensates the outside wheels for body roll during cornering since the outside wheels handle more force than the inside." AHA! I was wondering why factory would allow - camber, that makes sense.

[I checked the rear, they are toed in .25 inch total. I won't open that can of worms!]

NEXT- fixing g/f's L200 with its crappy rear suspension, it needs all 4 outer bushings. Not a pleasant job.
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Old 04-14-2011, 04:36 PM   #12
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Default Re: DIY alignment

Only 3 days to do an alignment. I've been working on mine for weeks (off and on). LOL. I messed with the front toe-in a little more today again.

Here's a picture of a home made trammel bar (mentioned earlier by OldNuc). This is talked about in the book the that DIYGuy mentioned. I ordered a copy from Amazon after reading one of his earlier posts. It is a 2x2 with a couple of pieces of thin plywood attached. I set it in back of the tires and mark the plywood at the same location on each tire. Then set it in front of the tires. Align a mark on one of the fronts of a tire with the same tread location. Then measure the difference between the mark and the tread location on the other tire. You could also mark the tire by raising the car, spin the tire while holding a marker centered in the tread area.

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Old 04-14-2011, 07:28 PM   #13
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Happy Re: DIY alignment

I used one of those for years until I finally went with a laser design. Works great so long as you can find the center line of the tire .

A slight variation on it is to measure from the plywood sides to the rims of the wheel. You'll have to use a bit of ingenuity to do that, but it works even better. Trig it from there and you will obtain the toe angle.
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Old 04-14-2011, 08:44 PM   #14
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Default Re: DIY alignment

Lol, you guys, it really doesn't cost much for front-end aligns around here. Well, I guess if you are going to do them frequently...

I don't think I'd be able to offer "DIY" aligns to my customers, without a printout of the values.
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Old 04-14-2011, 08:48 PM   #15
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Default Re: DIY alignment

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Originally Posted by SaturnFix View Post
Lol, you guys, it really doesn't cost much for front-end aligns around here. Well, I guess if you are going to do them frequently...

I don't think I'd be able to offer "DIY" aligns to my customers, without a printout of the values.
Cheapest place here is ~$75. Average is $85-$90. No lifetime alignment option I know of either.
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Old 04-14-2011, 08:55 PM   #16
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Default Re: DIY alignment

Sheesh, usually $40 here for a decent computerized one.
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Old 04-14-2011, 10:39 PM   #17
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Default Re: DIY alignment

Probably more in the peoples republics of CA and NY as you have to be licensed. That would be the license to rob the customer blind.
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Old 04-15-2011, 11:08 AM   #18
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Roll Eyes Re: DIY alignment

For me it is not the cost so much as the string of spectacularly lousy alignments that I used to pay for (in Illinois, Texas and yes the PR of CA). Steering wheels not centered, pulls to one side or another, lack of highway stability, horrendous tire wear, underframe damage and so forth. Gets old after a while.

So I came to the conclusion that I couldn't possibly do it worse than the pros (at least the ones I encountered), and that if I didn't like the way the car felt or saw a tire wear issue, I could tweak it myself until it was good. And so it has gone for over 25 years now.

Same issue with tire changes. The Tire Rack is my friend. I mount and balance my own because although it is a fair amount of work, I got sick and tired of nicked and bent rims from places like America's Tire, Wheel Works and Big O. Plus they steal your fancy filler stem caps every stinking time (hint- take them off before you go there, better yet, don't go there).
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Old 04-15-2011, 12:08 PM   #19
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Default Re: DIY alignment

I would be more inclined to DIY, until I hear the amount of money some of my DIY friends have spent on tools...
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Old 04-15-2011, 12:40 PM   #20
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Default Re: DIY alignment

Finding a quality alignment shop is a major undertaking, it can be done though.


Quote:
Originally Posted by DIYguy View Post
For me it is not the cost so much as the string of spectacularly lousy alignments that I used to pay for (in Illinois, Texas and yes the PR of CA). Steering wheels not centered, pulls to one side or another, lack of highway stability, horrendous tire wear, underframe damage and so forth. Gets old after a while.

So I came to the conclusion that I couldn't possibly do it worse than the pros (at least the ones I encountered), and that if I didn't like the way the car felt or saw a tire wear issue, I could tweak it myself until it was good. And so it has gone for over 25 years now.

Same issue with tire changes. The Tire Rack is my friend. I mount and balance my own because although it is a fair amount of work, I got sick and tired of nicked and bent rims from places like America's Tire, Wheel Works and Big O. Plus they steal your fancy filler stem caps every stinking time (hint- take them off before you go there, better yet, don't go there).
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