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Old 10-23-2009, 06:30 PM   #1
MikeNW
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1997 SL
Default Alignment after strut installation

I wanted to pass this along, it seems to have worked for me.
First, I had an alignment in March and put new KYB struts on in October, so didn't want to spend another $75.

Here's what I did.

Jack the car, support it level.
Measure across the front strut towers with a 2x6 to get the side to side level.
Put a 24 inch level in the front door sill to get front to back level.

Use a silver magic marker, mark vertical lines on each wheel (with a 24 inch level.)
Now measure and record camber at each wheel. Use the bulgy part of the tire. Be consistent. (The suspension is at full droop.)

Install the new struts.
Tighten the strut-to-knuckle bolts snug.
Install the tires. Tighten the lug nuts snug.
Rotate each tire so it's vertical. Re-measure camber.
Kick the upper or lower part of a tire to knock it into alignment.
Check with the 24 inch level until the reading is the same as before.

Remove the tire.
Tighten the strut-to-knuckle bolts to 148 ft. lbs. (I think that's what it is)
Install the tire.
Tighten the lug nuts.
RECHECK the camber.

As long as you make readings consistently, you will get the same alignment that you had before you did suspension work. You aren't changing toe in or caster. Only camber.

RESULT- car rides perfectly. Camber is the same as before. I will watch tire wear to confirm.
The first time I did this, the steering wheel was off a little, I rechecked and reset, now it's right on.
...
97 SL. Born 6/5/97, bought 7/7/97
08 Burgman 400
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Old 10-23-2009, 06:40 PM   #2
2003MercMaraude
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Default Re: Alignment after strut installation

Checking camber at ride height will be just as easy and much more accurate. "Droop" is going to have your suspension on compressible stops and is not as repeatable. This also assumes your camber settings were valid to start with, which they may not have been.

A digital level ($39) will measure camber very accurately and you can zero it to your floor. I then string the car and make a box that is parallel to vehicle centerline and scribe centerlines in all 4 tires and can do a 4 wheel centerline alignment that way.
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Old 10-23-2009, 09:29 PM   #3
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1997 SL
Default Re: Alignment after strut installation

I checked the camber at droop, because the tires are bulged when it's on the ground. I also tried to figure out how to do this with only tools at hand.
The car was aligned only a few thousand miles ago, so I could assume it was OK.
Yes you can get more refined, I know of people who do their own alignments 100% in their garages. Someday I might try that.
In the meantime, I will watch the tire wear, if it's not uniform, I will get a shop alignment.
...
97 SL. Born 6/5/97, bought 7/7/97
08 Burgman 400
02 Haro MTB- can't kill it, still trying though

The Schofield Kid: Yeah, well, I guess they had it coming.
Will Munny: We all got it coming, kid.
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Old 10-27-2009, 09:05 AM   #4
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Default Re: Alignment after strut installation

I use nylon bushings you can get at Home depot/lowes/hardware store to make stand-offs of the wheel to clear the tire bulge. The ones Lowe's has at least, in the fancy nut/bolt drawers, measure exactly the same lengths consistently with a caliper, so they won't affect accuracy of checking camber.
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