Alignment Explained (+ DIY Guide)

What is alignment, well, it’s like how your cars tires appointed right? Well, yeah more or less Why though do you care about how your car’s tires are pointed your wheel seemed to go straight enough you’re still driving down the road right may seem like a pretty small thing, but Alignment is so important in affecting how your car behaves is it squirrely is it dirty. Does it pull to the right? not only that it affects how long your tires last and how much grip you actually have and even your fuel economy a lot of People think that it’s really complicated but it’s not it’s actually pretty easy It just takes a little time and understanding to perfect it and get it. Just right So in this episode I’m gonna show you exactly how to do just that I’m gonna teach you how to do an alignment on your own So along the way we’ll explain the different things that we’re adjusting like the camber caster and toe which I’m sure you’ve heard of before We’ll talk about why you adjust each and what effect tweaking each one will have on your car, especially in a performance sense But I’m very excited because this is gonna be a little bit of a learning experience for us both I’ve done plenty of in shop alignments on alignment racks But this is my first garage alignment So it’s gonna be a little bit of a learning experience and I’m excited for it And by the end of this video, we’re both gonna be alignment wizards. I’m Zack. This is money pit. Let’s figure it out All right, so Alignment the basic concept is aligning your suspension to affect the angle at which your tires Contact to the road. We’re talking like this. This is camber And we’re talking like this. This is toe and then we’re talking like this for Caster if you imagine that my arm is the steering axis or the axis that your steering pivots around We’ve got positive caster up front if my arm is the steering axis to negative caster. Got it Okay, so what kind of tools do you need to perform an alignment at your house usually? Maybe some sockets and a socket wrench some wrenches of the regular sorts and an adjustable wrench can be your best friend when you’re doing alignment stuff because a lot of these parts are Gonna be a little big. Alright, so the hand tools are pretty basic But in order to measure the alignment angles, you’re gonna need some specific tools of some sort or another So first I bought these on Amazon these are camber caster and toe plates So these will measure all three of the alignment angles and there are only about 200 bucks So these should be pretty nice now for measuring toe well You can make a set of toe plates or you can also use string Something that you need to think about when you’re making alignment Adjustments is that your car needs to be loaded when you make the adjustments which means it needs to be Sitting on its tires like it normally would be so how do you do that and get under the car and make adjustments? Well in my case, I went to the old Home Depot bought some lumber and made some stands like this pretty rudimentary But I think they’ll do the job and we’ve got some masonite here So they’re kind of slippy because the other thing that’s important is that your suspension isn’t bound up and it’s pretty free to move So we’re gonna put the car down on these I think we’ll do that right now and then we’ll talk more about caster camber and tow All right, let’s start with caster caster is the backwards or forwards tilt of the steering axis Which tends to stabilize steering in a straight direction? What does any of that mean so caster angle is the tilt of your steering axis? Okay So your steering axis is the axis that your knuckle and your wheel and your tire all turn around when you turn your steering wheel on a double wishbone car like the Miata the steering axis is an Imaginary line through the upper and lower ball joints because that’s what determines The angle of your knuckle the forward or back tilt got it So if we draw an imaginary line through the steering axis We can see that it would intersect the ground in front of the tire But your tire touches the ground all the way back here So when you’re rolling forward what that means is that there’s a lot of drag back here where your tire touches the ground a lot of force pulling backwards And since the steering axis is all the way up here the force pulling back here The wheel automatically wants to snap around and rotate that steering axis to pull itself back to straight So that’s why when you take a turn the steering wheel wants to come back to Center after Every turn you take so now that we understand that let’s try to understand how to measure Castro to do that I’m going to use those tow plates. We’re also gonna have to use my homemade turn plates We’re gonna take a measurement at two different points first for this wheel. I’m gonna turn the wheel 20 degrees to the left I’m gonna set 0 on my plates and then I’m gonna swing 40 degrees back to the right and Then I’m gonna take a measurement then I’m gonna multiply that measurement by 2 and that’s gonna be our caster measurement. Okay, so we have currently six point two degrees of positive caster Awesome. I’m gonna write that down take note of that and we’ll move on. All right now the right side same thing Okay, so on turn the wheel to the right 20 degrees, please. All right

So we’ve got four point seven degrees positive caster on the right front which seems to be a little bit less than that side Thing doesn’t drive perfectly straight right now and that might be why Okay, there’s no caster adjustment at the rear. So on to camber So camber is essentially tilting the wheel in or out from the wheel Well, when the top of the wheel is more tucked in It has more negative camber when the bottom of the wheel is more tucked in Positive camber, okay So what is the point of each well beyond just trying to cram your two wide wheels under your fender from a performance perspective Negative camber is a good thing up to a point you see in a hard corner The outside tire is gonna want to roll under the car. And that means that your tires contact patch will be sacrificed Which means your grip will also be sacrificed, but if you add a little negative camber to the equation Then we’re perfectly prepared to take that hard corner positive camber isn’t really good Performance wise but it does have some benefits sometimes big buses or RVs will use a little bit of positive caster because it makes Turning them big Betty’s a little bit easier. We don’t really care about that in this case. So let’s (meem) Measure our camber as it is right now to do an alignment. You need to be on a level surface Ideally perfectly leveled and this is pretty level. It’s very close, but it’s not perfectly level so with the digital gauge What I can do is zero this thing out to the level that we’re on Like on these stands and then measure camber for an accurate measurement negative two point four or five degrees of negative camber Let’s write it down and keep measuring so that the rear we’ve got negative three point five five degrees camber Okay, negative one point eight degrees camber three degrees negative camber All right. So here we’ve got all of our caster and camber measurements written down so we don’t have to remember them. Let’s keep moving All right, let’s talk about tow tow is probably the easiest aspect of alignment to describe and The easiest to remember just think of your own toes point your toes in that’s toe in point your toes out and that’s toe out So as simple as that really a little bit of toe out can be beneficial for increased turn in or steering response Because you kind of already ready to turn a Liberto in will help straight-line speed stability So a lot of performance oriented alignments will go with a tiny bit of toe out A lot of MiAtA guys will go with a tiny bit of toe in I think we’re gonna split the difference and go with zero toe just straight ahead. So let’s get after it So we got the toe plates set up here on the front wheels And now we’re gonna take our toe measurement these plates. They touch the lip of the wheel here So we’re measuring from the wheel again, and then we’ll take a measurement from the rear of these toe plates and the front And then we’re gonna figure out our toe see what it’s at currently All right (K) So we’ve got our two measurements from the tape measures on the toe plates and basically you plug those in to this little formula Right here or the rear tape reading minus the front paper reading, okay The front tape reading is a little bit longer than the rear tape reading. Okay So if we exaggerate that a little and think about it from a top-down perspective Our front tape reading across the front of the wheels is longer than our rear So if you look at it like that, you can see that’s a toe out condition, but that is just total toe We don’t know where that toes coming from So we got to figure out how to measure Individual toe and I will show you how to do that using some strings which I think is gonna be awesome But first let’s talk about our target specs and what we’re trying to hit what we’re going for here So for target specs, this is what we’re going with in the front five degrees positive caster both sides two degrees negative camber both sides zero degrees toes No toe dead straight then in the rear we’re going to do two degrees negative camber as well. And then we’re gonna do 1/32 of an inch of toe in on each side So a little toe in on the rear so that should give us a pretty good Mildly aggressive yet, still drivable and good tire wear alignment, but how did I come up with that? How do I know that? Well, I went on the Internet. There’s a company called flying Miata if you have a Miata, I’m sure you’re familiar with them If not, check them out, they’re great They have a lot of good write-ups as well on their website Including one about doing alignment and in that write-up, they give you their recommended specs which are close to these I tweaked them a little bit made them a little bit more aggressive. I added a little negative camber and Went with no toe in the front where they recommend a little toe in. So I think this is gonna be a good Setup for what we want for the car, but there’s only one way to find out. Let’s put these specs into the car Okay, so we are ready to make some adjustments to the Miata, which is very exciting But before we make any adjustments, we need to talk about the order in which we make them because it matters There’s an order of operations to doing alignments So the order that you’re supposed to do things is caster Adjust caster then adjust camber then adjust toe and that should be okay

But if you do toe first, and then adjust your caster that the caster change will also change your toe so that said We’re gonna adjust our caster. Meet me under the car and I’ll show you how should be pretty easy. Okay? Where were we? All right, we’re under the car. Ah, where to the car now? hey and We’re gonna adjust caster. Okay So the way to do that on the Miata is this bolt right here. This is what’s called an eccentric bolt Which means that when you turn it it changes where the position of this control arm mounting position is it’ll move it in or out Which will ultimately affect the lower ball joint position, which changes caster Okay Okay, 285 we’ll take that 285 so that’s multiply that by two and we’re gonna get five points But I say two eight five five point seven point seven So that’s we’re in the right direction we came down half a degree But we need to come down another seven tenths of a degree. So same adjustment I just made on this side just more of it. Alright, let’s swing that puppy That’s the one this is the one I can feel it Two point four two point four twos out of joke. Oh my the way to do for our YY is stupid I’ll take it (GOOG) 2:55 so we’re at five point one degrees We’re gonna go with that Let’s measure the other side and see how that sides going. Okay? Surround twenty degrees to the right please more. Yep, okay One back right there. Well, it seems that we went in the wrong direction on this one I Guess I can believe that people on Two point five It says two point five. I’ll take it two point. Five times two is five. That’s what we’re going for Well, let’s had done. All right, so I’m gonna walk down my castor measurement and then we’ll move on to camber Okay, so now we’re getting ready to adjust our camber We’ve got the same tools which is kind of handy because it requires the same tools. It’s another eccentric bolt So this one as we turn it it will pull the lower control arm in or out so we’re going to turn our eccentric bolt to pull it back in okay to straighten the wheel out a little bit and See if we can you know hit it first try. Okay, so we made a look. Ah too far Oh Daddy I Would really like to see it too We’re gonna take that that’s just fine. That’s just fine to the other side. Yeah Why do we go too far? 270 what did you do? Nothing? Good. Give me a break what I literally don’t All right, let’s do the rear camera All right. So now we’re at the rear of the car. We’re gonna make our first adjustment back here So we’re gonna do that by adjusting these two eccentric bolts basically to move them out You get more negative camber pull the bottom more in you get more positive camber – too flat – on a dot 2.1 we were shooting for two, but that’s as low as she’s gonna go. Okay, let’s do the other side. What do you think? The leather when a plan comes together Okay, so that’s caster adjusted and that’s camber adjusted now. We got to figure out toe All right, so to adjust so what we’re gonna do here is set up a string box pretty simple in theory We just need to build a perfect box around the Miata with String and then we can measure from the string to the wheels to the front and the rear of the wheels to see What our toes looking like and adjust from there? So we’ve got our string set up and how do we get them Square to the car? Well right here I have the track width for the Miata. So the front track width is fifty five and a half inches The rear track width is fifty six point two inches that’s important because the rear track width is a little bit wider than the front So for the string to be square the string needs to be point seven of an inch closer to the rear wheels in total or 0.35 of an inch closer to each rear wheel for it to be square

Precision measuring milk crates, okay. All right We’ve taken our measurements from the wheels now We’re going to measure from string to string and if those measurements are the same front and rear then we got a box, baby Knot pull that string right there Oh buddy, sixty six and three-quarters dead nuts We got a string box and we’re ready to adjust some toe Okay, now we’ve got our strings all set up and we’re squared and now we can take a toe measurement and then adjust and From when we took that toe measurement earlier We saw that we had some toe out and it’s visible against the string You can see that there is more room between the string and the back of the wheel than there is at the front So the wheels pointed a bit that way it’s the same on the other side it’s also important to note that we’ve got the strings running through about the center of the wheels because you want to measure toe from opposite sides of the wheel so now we’re gonna do is take this measurement from the string to the wheel and from the string to the wheel and Then we’re gonna adjust and try to get those measurements Equal make them the same and that’s how we’ll know. We have a perfectly straight zero toe wheel to adjust the toe We need to adjust the tie rod ends and to do that we need to break this jam nut loose and then we can spin the shaft which will Push the knuckle that way or pull it in now Let’s take a look at things and see if we’ve affected any change point seven eight. So we’re at seven zero here. So Okay, so cool. We’re close now. I’m gonna bring the toe back out a little bit and Even it up It is important to note that while you do this while you make any toe adjustments to the front You got to make sure your steering wheel is straight or else. Well, come on back under Ding ding ding ding ding ding ding. Okay, we’re at point seven one away from the string on both sides It doesn’t matter what that number is It just matters that they’re the same that means that we’re straight with a string and we know the string is straight So that means we’ve got no toe in this wheel now Onward now that we’re in it. This is kind of the easiest adjustment to make And often this is what you get when you go to a shop for an alignment on a lot of cars these days Caster isn’t adjustable and often camber isn’t either so on a lot of newer cars, especially front-wheel drive stuff. You’ll just find Toe to be the only thing you can really adjust and it’s honestly pretty easy to do at home Wow That part of my hand feels real weird enough We’ll take it that’s zero toe on the front so now our Front wheels are aligned Now we got to do toe in the rears which is not quite as easy to adjust as the front because there aren’t just tie Rods it’s adjusting those same eccentric bolts that we used for camber. So All right, let’s go do it Okay, so this This wheel is now aligned So we’ve got 1/32 of an inch or eight tenths of one millimeter Toe in on this rear wheel now we need to do the same thing to the other side And we’re done now That should be pretty freakin close 0.9 of a millimeter, I’ll take that I Think that’s it finally we’re gonna have to tighten all our bolts make sure everything’s good and tight very tight. So nothing slips I’m gonna paint mark all the eccentric bolts too so we can tell if anything does move I think that’s going to do it for tonight The next thing we need to do is go for a test drive and I’m going to do that tomorrow Because it’s late Well, it took a lot of work a lot of guessing check a lot of trial and error, but the car goes straight down the Highway and it feels great in the twisty stuff Which is a lot better than it felt before feels nice and balanced left turn feels identical to a right turn now Which is great. It feels like me in the car really starting to communicate. So that’s nice. Other than that We used a lot of tools today So I’ll put all of them in the description below so you can guys can check that stuff out if you’re interested overall I think I’m happy with the settings that we went with I think car feels really good Although next time around I’ll probably max out the front caster just to get a little more stability and I would like to Someday take the car to an alignment shop and put it on a machine and have them measure our settings just to see how accurate We’re getting in the garage. I think that would be interesting. So thank you guys so much for watching. I hope you learned something I definitely learned a lot this week a useful skill, which is aligning your car which especially if you’re under the track It’s nice to be able to tweak that stuff. We’re going to donut everyday I know you guys are cooped up during this quarantine, and I know that sucks

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