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alignment how to's


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Aug 9, 2007
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will need list.

a roll of kite string, or other type of thin string,thread if your eyes are good enuff. This last time I used the string from a hard ball, from under the leather hyde the dog was chewing on. enuff to go out 4 feet from the tires. long ways.

4 jack stands all same brand and size helps, but can be done with mismatched,just takes a little extra brain power.

2 tape's or one tape and ruller in mm's or 32nds. , MM marks is easier, but one that's atleast in 16ths, 32nds or mm works best.

angle finder,one digi and one needle type. if only have one or the other that's fine, just helps to have both for double checking and fine tuning with the digi

your pick of a pair of toe plates , pocket value sometimes dictates I understand. things I've used. granted this is all on my garage floor, that cement, failry level and smooth.
trash bags,folded over lets the tires slip around aittle easier quite well to be honest
vinyl type of floor tile with salt or sand, between the tile and floor.
if on asphalt 4 floor titles and a dab a grease between two, like a sandwich on the tires.

fence plank, and a broom stick, cut fence plank long enuff to go under tires and cut broom stick in to 4 pieces put a fence plank on top of two homemade dowles. take note of grain so the weight dosen't split the plank.

couple of squares of 3/16 metal with metal dowels for something nicer and more perment and you can even mark your degrees etc.and makes reading caster that much easier.

if you have a little money to spend and want to speed things up, one of the many camber caster tools will help you out. They tend to range from 100-200. being the TTB can be a bitchy thing, I like the type that mount to the wheel and makes things sorta hands free to say. and they can be found starting about $150

fastrax spc91000,quicktrick DIY alighment to see what Im talking about.

EDIT***** found one for $40 bucks. its more basic and take's and alittle more brain skill then some of the others.
http://cdn.racerpartswholesale.com/downloads/RPW9500 instructions.pdf

Being that I had a digi angle finder and wanted a reason to fire up the welder and that I'm cheap I made my own handsfree wheel mount.not near as refined are theirs but it works.

There is also the bubble and digi gages that mount to the spindle. problem on ranger is the magnetic adapter wont work on the hubs of the 4x4's and would proably be wobbly on 2wd's. but if you found one at the right price it could be worth it.They do make a thread on adapter,but with the extra work it would take to set up,wheel mount type seems better here.

google stock car bubble caster camber gauge .

A angle finder on the hub end will work too. angle finder on the hub end is pretty accurate too if you take your time to set it up with a little math and taking a reading on the floor your working with just like with the hands free devices. Great for a quick check too.

a pair of 0o fixed or a pair of adjustable cam's also helps keep the caveman happy. little more work,but keeps things alittle more simple.you can ethier install or set these to 0o/0o now, or tempt pissing off the caveman if its your first time around or just not good with math. if you chose to install or set to zero's take the truck around the block a time or two to let the springs settle back in. before proceding. I have a pair of adj bushing, 20Ea at pepboys. 0-4 degree. they are built a bit cheap compared to some of the other's I have seen. but for most daily drivers they will be ok.

Northstar Manufacturing part number 44-5094 part number is for d35's 4x4's and 89-97 2wds rangers, bronco 2's and explorers

load the truck as how you drive it. if your beds full of crap, and that how you drive it, leave it in there. If your g.f weighs 300lbs, grab a bucket of ice cream and have her sit in the truck.same gos for you, just use something to resemble your weight in the drivers seat.

pull or push the truck on to the trash bags. dam fan can blow them away.Or what ever version of toe plates your using. drive on to them.But don't let a TTB or TIB truck back up, as it will screw you all off.

get the jackstands and put one behind each back tires aprx 1-2 feet behind the tire, put one jack stand in front of each front tire aprx 1-2 feet.

get your string and wrap it around one of the font jack stands so it cinches down and run the string to the jack stand behind the back tire( on the same side) pull it tight like a guitar string.

do this to the other side as well.

meassure the inside track of both the front and rear.
lets say the rear was 43 and the front was 44.5 we have a 1.5 diff. total. then we divide that in half, and get .750 ie 3/4 of a inch. so no we know we need to set our strings to 3/4 further apart on the rear than the front from our meassuring points. we can double check this by messuring off a common spot on the rims or the hub. just depends on how anal you are,but the more anal, the better is will come out. Done my truck many times using the hub center line to keep the caveman happy and has worked out fair.As good as most shops would have done.but the lower you can get the more accurate you can get.also boils down to how much patince you have.

to check your string levelness a bullet/slide type level is a help, or you can measure off the top of your rim lip to the top of the string and get them all even.I use the extention of the jack stand for room to roll the string up or down vs trying to shim the bottom of the stands to level out the string to the truck. Or you could even shim the rear tires to level the truck....once again how anal are you are will be up to you.

I tend to space my strings off the front tire as close to a easy number as I can to make things that much more caveman efficent. in this case I would center the string 5 1/2 off the back wheels and 4 3/4 off the front wheels. I found a spot on my rims that allows me to use a "same spot" as a ref. p

this video should help alot understanding,on how to set up the strings.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8qFjAB67vk

now, grab your tape. I get pissed at tapes sometimes for the catch tab coming lose if Im going for the mm or 32nds. so I cut myself a 5 inch section off the tape or use a small ruler that's in mm or 32nds.

stat with your left front, and messure from the string to the lip of your rim front and back the diffrence is your toe. as we want these trucks toed in, or straight ahead we want the front side of the tire to be further away from the string then the back,for toe in. I like to set mine to zero to start if I have changed a part or starting from scratch or know Im going to be adjusting camber as well. do this with the right side as well. its ethier a 13 or 15mm nut for the tie rod adjusters. losen them up and adjust to get 0 toe. equal meassuments of the front and back of the rim from the string. now you see why the thinner the string"thread" is better.
RECORD your numbers.
If your just setting toe, and you want a 1/8th of total toe, you want 1/16th of toe per driver and passger side tires. if you want a 1/4 then you want a 1/8 per side and so on. a 16th total is a 32nd etc etc. Rember the front of the rim will have a bigger meassurment number then the rear. when setting for toe in.

now that you have your toe set, you can move on to camber.

if you made a hands free device,hopefully you were smart enuff to install it before setting up the strings.or left enuff room to switch it in there etc, with out troubleing the strings. not that you cant reset the strings if this happens, but it just makes it that much easier/faster less work..... and take your camber messurment.
for 4wd you can hold the angle finder to the hub and take a reading.rember to zero you angle finder to the surface your working on.

2wd, you can pop the dust cap and use the end of the spindle.
if your not using a hands free device. sadly the angle finder dont stick to plastic hubs.just makes it easier, and is what the hands free device dose so your not going back and forth with the angle finder. using a level or the other angle finder makes finding straight up and down vertical in the wheel center that much easier.one of the the other "speeds it up'" thats nice about the hands free.

record your camber readings.
if your using fixed bushings,read all the way threw and check your caster as well, before buying newbushings. as they do come camber and caster in one.

if you have adjustable bushings, refer to your cheat sheet and set your bushing for proper camber specs. take anouther reading to confirm your in proper spec

recheck you strings to make sure they are still in spec in hieght etc. and take anouther toe reading and adjust as needed. if you have to adjust much, go back and check camber again as well and repeat till you get both in spec.

now to check caster. all the books, laser machines and old school ways, was to turn the wheels 15 or 20o . this helps with time, and what makes having real toe plates come in handy,or one of the stock car type bubble gauges that has the end milled to make a gauge.or if your cheap like me, you figure it out, how to make one.
After searching the net, and looking at the corvette forums and other road race forums, I found to get a fairly accurate way of setting caster is to turn the sterring wheel 3/4 of a turn in each diretion while taking readings. this way dose take a road test or two to get it dead on per truck,but dose give you a good base reading to get on the right track.

this is wear a hands free device really shines and makes life easier.or a homemade one and a digi angle finder.

Im going to steal the text from quicktrick who also makes a DIY alighment kit.....as this is wear I learned the 3/4 turn trick. Along with their video.

Place the QuickTrick™ Stick against the tire and wheel you are checking. You can use the stands or not, we find it easier to not use them during this check. We also find it easier to remove the wheel contacts at this time so that the stick is resting directly against the tire. Remove the gauge from the bracket and place directly on the left hand side of the stick with gauge facing outward. Level the site bubble at the bottom of the gauge. Turn the gauge on make sure you are at 90 degrees. Using either a pen (we use a pen because it washes off and can’t be seen) or tape we mark the tire where the stick is exactly at 90 degrees and remove the stick and gauge. Repeat for the opposite tire.
Using pin stripe or tape, mark your steering wheel at 12 o’clock. Starting with either the right front or left front tire, it doesn’t matter just be consistent. With either the right or left you always want to start by turning inward ¾ of a turn of the steering wheel. If you started on the right front turn the steering wheel to the right to the 9 o’clock position (if you started on the left front you would turn to the 3 o’clock position).
Remove the gauge from the stick and place it back on the bracket. Place the stick against the tire and line with the 90 degree marks you made earlier. Turn the gauge on and hit the alt/zero button. Return the steering wheel to 12 o’clock and then ¾ of a turn to the 3 o’clock position. Place the stick against the tire finding your 90 degree marks, read the gauge and you have your caster for that wheel. Just remember, no matter which tire you start with you always turn in to begin the check. A lot of shops use 15 degrees or 20 degrees in turning the wheels but the truth is it doesn’t matter as long as you consistent. 20 Degrees is about one full revolution of the steering wheel in most cars. If you take your time and be sure of your marks you should be able to get within .02 of a degree using this method

basic: turn tire in 3/4 of a turn center stick in tire, zero the angle finder turn out 3/4 of a turn read caster. and you awlays want to shoot for postive.

recored your caster. refer to the specs your using for caster, do the math on what you need if your using fixed cams now you know what caster degree you will need as well as camber.

Now if you have adjustable cams, refer to your cheat sheet once again. find the camber setting you set them too and find the caster you need, dial them in.

go back threw and check your toe, and camber and adjust as need and repeat till you get all 3 to line up. its like a freaking rubix cube.and the more "good enuff" moto you go by the more harder the rubix cube is at the end.

few hints and tips

make sure the wheel is straight and locked down, this will sometimes take a few pulling in and out to your working area if the truck is pulling to one side,just depends on how extreme the pull is. kinda like pulling a boat in to a trailer when there is a current . if the steering wheel is extremly off center straighten wheel while on toe plates, break steering linkage apart and eyeball with tires stright. then re hook linkage drive around block to settle springs and start with toe.

if every thing is "right" caster camber and toe, but your wheel is slighty off, adjust tierods evenly to bring steering wheel back straight. but do rember steering boxes have a netrual positon, and its best to get as close as possible. so sometimes its best to break down the linkage and adjust to center the wheel.

wright down what way makes the tire go in vs out in the tie rods adjuster.I make myself a flash card so to say, so I can look at the picture vs burning up brain cells and end up conjuring up the pissed off cave man.

dont let truck roll backwards AT ALL. use the E brake to stop you and lock truck in to place. or if your like me, and have no e brake, put truck in gear pus it forward till it stops and block up the back tires.

if you lift the truck off the ground for any reason, drive truck around the block again, and lock truck down before taking reading as a solid.

tie rod adjusters, white tighting, can pull toe a slight bit, as they sitfen the linkage when they get tight....

myself i like my tires to lean .5 to 1o in towrads the tops, and 5-8o of caster with a 1/8th of toe.

rule of thumb is to add .5 more caster to the passenger side for road crown, I find this to be more of a seat of the pants every truck and road is diffrent. its a good starting point in general,but you may have to fine tune a bit.

do check tire PSI before starting and adjust as need be. meaning check them cold and air them as to how you are going to drive on them.

if your truck is ehhhh driveable to start with, but could be better record all settigns before adjusting anything.As if you screw up or get to anoyed you can always set it back to be able to drive it.

set a full weekend ahead of you the first time around.

After doing it a few times, you will learn where you can add a few shortcuts to cut time.


Im not saying this is the only way,this is just how I have done mine and its worked for me. got a tip or trick or a way you do it, feel free to add on. As its getting harder and harder to find someone to alighn or should I say fine tune TTB and TIB's.
spelling nazi's have a field day.....
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Rock Auto 5% Discount Code: 7FA902352B4C01: April 5th, 2021


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and what better way then to type it out when there is a video.on checking camber caster and toe.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8v227HhP_1M anouther good video on how to check caster and toe

this will give you a ideal of how to use "magic strings" but can be done with the jack stands and brain power along with your string.

a really good write up with pics. shows step by step on how to set up strings for setting toe,but if your track width is not equal you have to compensate for it.So for me the front and rear jack stands are set of at diffrent widths from the tires front to rear.Also shows the use of the 40 dollar camber caster tool.


this ones good too with a home made tool much like what I made.http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=396113

anouther good video with some overall info and how to for camber bushings. its a f150, but they use the same type of bushing as the d28 with the nut on top of the upper ball joint. the dana 35 has no nut on the upper ball joint but is same concept in every other way. same with 89-97 2wd's. I forget how to explain 85-878 2wd.


anouther over all good watch video, kinda slow watch but puts it to sight. not a fan of wrapping the string around the tire if tire has side bitters can through you off.

anouther good over all video with a bubble gauge type .http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-yiJpe1sIA

for the A-arm ranger crowd 98 newer ranger with t bars and 95 newer explorers here is you cam plates/bolts/kits and how to use them.
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thanks for the detailed write up but 1 thing i have to throw in there, always adjust toe AFTER camber and caster. camber/caster can go either first or second but always do toe last. if your camber or toe are way off they will throw the other out so adjusting toe to bring camber back may be needed as well but still end with the toe.