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Old 05-25-2021, 05:25 PM   #1
td1238
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Default Alignment For A Smooth Ride

Something interesting for you to try: I've read that the factory felt that front toe and camber were best at zero, and I agree with the camber part. Even a half degree in front is enough to make the ride bumpy because each wheel that has more traction during bumps is going to steer the car in the direction of that wheel's camber. Zero makes for a very smooth ride. As toe, goes, I've always noticed that when I accidentally had too much toe-in, like a quarter inch or more, the car rode more smoothly, but I felt that that was bad, and would produce excessive tire wear, especially since the factory calls for far less, but I also always found that the factory spec or zero produced a jarring ride. My theory is that too little toe would allow the wheels to toe out when they hit bumps, since the suspension is in rubber. When a wheel toes out, the car starts turning in that direction, and the suspension isn't designed to absorb bumps horizontally, so you get a jarring ride. I read elsewhere that some cars like Honda call for a quarter inch of toe, which I thought would be excessive, but evidently not. I've experimented on my car, and on two others, and I've found that 3/16 to 1/4 inch toe-in are really the sweet spot for an incredibly smooth, controlled, almost luxurious ride. If you go over 1/4 inch, you start to get what I call bobble-steering on bumps. That is, the car seems to bobble side to side over certain kinds of of bumps. Of course you also get excessive tire wear. At roughly 3/16 toe-in and 0 camber in the front, the ride is supreme.

For the rear, I do 1/4" toe-in, which makes for a smooth ride and also absolutely stops tail wander. The camber is at -0.5 per wheel, which is around factory spec.

I did all of this to a friend's SL2, and it rides beautifully. Also did the 3/16" toe-in to my dad's Ford Econoline, which greatly reduced bump jarring. For whatever reason, no toe-in seems to be somewhat popular, and it just makes for an awful ride.

Also, I did try 3/16" to 1/4" toe-out, which produces quicker steering, but not as smooth of a ride. My car also seems to steer more accurately with the toe-in vs toe-out, so I'm sure that toeing out the wheels does nothing good for steering geometry. I also prefer the not-so-quick steering of the toe-in.
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Old 05-25-2021, 09:01 PM   #2
Ccrussell
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Default Re: Alignment For A Smooth Ride

Interesting.
I will keep this info handy for my next wheel alignment. I wonder if the tech will heed this advice when requested? A lot of shops give you what they think you need , and not what you asked for.
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Old 05-25-2021, 11:21 PM   #3
td1238
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Default Re: Alignment For A Smooth Ride

Ya, tough to say if they'd do custom settings for you. They always did factory spec for me, and I was always dissatisfied with the ride. Now, I do all of my own alignments. Tedious, but effective. My garage floor is level, which helps.
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Old 05-25-2021, 11:50 PM   #4
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Default Re: Alignment For A Smooth Ride

Generally toe-in means outer tire-edge wear, toe-out means inner tire-edge wear. 0 toe means even tire wear and the longest tread life.

The same people that think the factory knows best about the alignment settings also can't comprehend how stupid Ford was in the 90's on the Explorers with the utter garbage tire pressure.
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Old 05-26-2021, 08:14 AM   #5
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Default Re: Alignment For A Smooth Ride

Quote:
Originally Posted by fetchitfido View Post
Generally toe-in means outer tire-edge wear, toe-out means inner tire-edge wear. 0 toe means even tire wear and the longest tread life.

The same people that think the factory knows best about the alignment settings also can't comprehend how stupid Ford was in the 90's on the Explorers with the utter garbage tire pressure.
See, what I've read was the opposite, that toe-in caused inner tire wear, and vice versa. With rear-leaning caster, toe-in would cause the inner edges to contact most, but maybe I'm missing something. I have always worn the outer edges of my tires, mostly in front, but that's because I corner like a mad man. Others I know whose cars I've set the same as mine seem to have relatively flat tire wear.

Concerning tire pressure, I kinda scratched my head at Saturn's recommendations of 30 in front and 26 in rear. However, 26 in the rear is actually quite ideal. With how little weight is back there, those tires still look well inflated, and it improves the ride. I might go for 28 max, but 26 is just fine. However, in front I find that at 30 the car is sluggish (poor acceleration), and the tires look squished down. At 32, which is where I normally keep them at, they are still squished more than the rears, due to the engine.
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