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Re: [Shop-talk] home car alignment tools

To: Eric Murray <>
Subject: Re: [Shop-talk] home car alignment tools
From: David Hillman <>
Date: Sat, 12 Dec 2009 16:59:43 -0500 (EST)
On Sat, 12 Dec 2009, Eric Murray wrote:
> So, what's the best tools for measuring toe?  "toe plates"?

    Being cheap, I built my own with 12' of aluminum angle from 
McMaster-Carr.  Cost about $15-20 for a set of four.

> Any good sites that explain the process?  Can you get results at home
> that are accurate enough for daily driving?  The range in the factory
> spec is suprisingly large.
> I have also been thinking of using a digital angle gauge like...
> and a hunk of tubing with a couple bolts in the appropriate
> places to make a camber gauge, rather than spending $270 on
> the fancy version of the same thing-...

    I autocrossed a bunch of different cars for 12 years, and still do a 
little racing here and there.  Early-on I found that most alignment shops 
were only concerned with 'does it go straight', and even the relatively 
specialist shop recommended by racing friends wasn't much better ( had to 
go back twice to get him to do it right ).

    I gave up, and did my own.  It's really not hard at all, if you have a 
level place to work.  Toe plates, as mentioned, plus a bubble camber gauge 
( about $40, probably from Racer Wholesale or similar, I don't remember ), 
some spin plates ( two pieces of metal with grease smeared between ) and 
you can do a better job than your local shop probably will.  It's not the 
tools that make the difference, it's how bad you want it done right.  The 
first couple times I did my own, I subsequently took it to Just Tires for 
their free alignment-check service ( no longer available ) and their 
Hunter rack confirmed my accuracy ( or we were both wrong, but that's the 
point, right? )

    If you are really cheap, you can skip the bubble level and just do math 
to calculate camber.  A digital level is serious overkill unless you're 
just into cool toys.

    If you haven't got a level place to work, though, I imagine you'd be 
chasing your own tail so much that it wouldn't be worthwhile.

  David Hillman
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