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International Automotive Technicians Network
Alignment by the numbers
Posted to Technical Tips Forum on 12/15/2009 5 Replies

I've tried to teach this tip to several Tech's over the years, but only a few took to doing it this way. You need to be good at Math and have either a good memory or paper and pen handy. This method is also faster when your comfortable doing it this way.

Most tech's adjust Toe by using the bar graphs on the alignment machine along with a steering wheel lock. The problem with this method is that accuracy is lost whenever there is any looseness in a gear box or steering column. Also sticky turn plates will contribute to error when using the bar graph method.

The alternative method I use to adjust toe with greater accuracy is done by referencing total toe only when adjusting.

The procedure goes as follows:

1. After camber and caster are set, start the engine and center the steering wheel. Shut the engine off and carefully exit without disturbing the wheel position.

2. Note the exact Toe readings and write them down or remember them. For this example they will be LF= -.65, RF= -.50, Total toe= -1.15

3. Divide Total Toe setting you need to achieve by 2. Example: If final toe setting is to be .10 then .10/2 = .05 per wheel.

4. Adjust the tire that is the farthest out of spec first. If in this example we are going to adjust the LF tire first, we will take the reading the toe was at initially on the RF and we will add to that reading .05( 1/2 of total toe desired). So if the initial reading was -.50 on the RF wheel we get -.50 + .05= -.45 We will adjust the LF wheel and stop our adjustment when total toe = -.45

5. Adjust the other tire (RF in our example) and stop when total toe = desired total toe spec(.10 in our ex) and your done.

It will not matter if the steering wheel moves while your doing the adjustment and the readings of toe on each wheel change. Ignore the reading on each wheel and focus only on your total toe live reading while adjusting. Total toe only changes when you adjust toe on either wheel, unless of course you move the tires so far that toe out on turns changes total toe. So keep them reasonably straight ahead.

Using math to make your moves is more accurate because you will be moving each tire the exact amount of change needed. Your steering wheel position will come out straighter more often using this method IF you understand how this works and do the math properly.

David from Michigan

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