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Re: [Shop-talk] home car alignment tools

Subject: Re: [Shop-talk] home car alignment tools
From: Steve Dillen <>
Date: Sat, 12 Dec 2009 16:18:51 -0800
....I'm really brain dead today...this is my >fourth< attempt to post my
answer to Eric's question to the list. I'm afraid the difficulty is a
result of a serious EBKAC (error between keyboard and chair), but here's
another attempt!

Funny that you bring this up as I've been playing with front end
alignment quite a bit over this last summer. My short answer to your
question is that I believe you can get very good toe-in adjustment
results at home with a lot of patience and a tape measure.

On my BMW 735il, I replaced lower control arms, center tie rod, outer
tie rods, idler arm and the thrust arms and aligned it when I was done. 
The specs call for 18 minutes of a degree of toe-in (+/- 5 minutes), so
I measured the distance between the front and rear of the tire (22
inches where I decided to take my measurement) and multiplied that
distance by TAN(0.3)....resulting in .115 of toe-in. Including the +/-
results in an acceptable range of .083 through .147.....and an 1/8" is
right in the ballpark. It was pretty easy to measure from a consistent
point on the tire tread to get this reading. The car tracks correctly
and I'm not seeing any evidence of unusual toe-in tire wear.....

On my Jeep TJ, I replaced coil springs which then required a change of
caster (in order to correct pinion angle) as well as a toe-in correction
due to the different angles the drag link and tie rod are now operating.
I used a protractor to measure the pinion angle (adjustable control arms
make this setting easy to adjust) and a consistent spot on the tire
tread to measure toe-in. I'm happy with my results.

Remember...the greater distance you can use to take your measurements,
the more room for error you have.....for instance if I clamped a few
straight edges to the rotors of the car and was able to take my
measurements 48" apart, my "in spec results" would be anywhere between
.182 and .321....or 3/16 - 5/16 -- well within the capability of
accurately measuring with a tape measure.

I haven't played with camber adjustments because tire wear on the car
indicates to me that it's all good and it's on the Jeep it's not

Steve Dillen
Maple Ridge, BC

Eric Murray wrote:
> I've been doing mods to my cars instead of my motorcycles lately.
> I think the toe is off. But I'd like to measure it myself and perhaps
> play with setting it to something other than the factory specs, like a
> closer to dead even.
> 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.
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