Jump to content

Alignment Tool Recommendations


John
 Share

Recommended Posts

Would like to start aligning our Miatas. Any tool recommendations, toe plates, camber, castor gauges, etc? Any advice from someone who is doing their own camber, caster and toe? Thanks

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I use the Longacre toe plates and the Longacre camber/caster guage.     I've had them for 10+ years so not sure if the model numbers are the same.

I also have a laser pointer that I use in addition to the toe plates for setting rear toe with relation to the front of the car.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

First off, don't be lured into buying the Quiktrick alignment kit, it's junk.  A good set of turnplates that move both ways are expensive but necessary.  I use a Joes caster camber gauge with a magnet that sticks to a T shaped jig I bungee cord to the wheel.  I'll look for some pics of my setup.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Longacre makes good quality products. Toeplates make life much easier.
 

FWIW; Firestone, for $189, will give you lifetime alignment checks as long as the alignment components are stock. I’ve told them to max out camber and given custom other settings and they’ve never pushed back.
 

When I added camber plates to the Corvette Firestone would no longer make adjustments, but I could still have the toe settings adjusted and they’d give print outs to confirm any changes I made.
 

There was no limit to the number of checks / changes within a given timeframe, within reason of course.

Edited by Zuko305
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Before I had turnplates, I used 2 pieces of thin sheet metal with a dab of grease between them under the front tires to allow them to move around freely.  I run a ton of caster so the tires need to be able to move forward and aft during the sweep to get accurate readings.  I used masking tape on the steering wheel and column with marks at center, 20 degrees left and 20 degrees right to make sure I had repeatable accurate readings when checking caster.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I’ve been able to get some very good results doing my own alignments over the years.  I’m not a fan of using strings and find camber plates much easier to use.

If you are interested, I have a Longacre caster camber gauge and some toe plates I no longer use, make me an offer.   I can send you some pix if you’d like.   

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Based on everyone's suggestions, I am thinking the rim mounted Longacre 52-78298 camber/castor gauge and the 52-79501 toe plates would be a good choice. How do you align the back to the front using a laser? Has anyone tried oil or grease inside a garbage bag as turnplates? Sounds messing but might work.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

John,

One idea that I have seen is to use sheets of vinyl tile with a little bit of a lubricant between the tiles. Both Lowe's and Home Depot have them for like $1 a tile. That way they won't rip but will still allow rotation.

For the front to back alignment, what you are referring to is called the thrust angle. Basically if the toe of the rear is set, where is it pointing in relation to the front of the car. There are a few way to measure this, but with a laser you want to set the laser so that it's shooting a line that is parallel to the pinch welds/frame. Then you can measure from the toe plates what the pointing angle for that wheel is. You should measure half of what your total toe is, because your only measuring only one wheel according to a parallel reference line.

Keep one thing in mind, the more complex the suspension geometry the more of a pain it will be to adjust just one setting. On a strut based car, it's pretty straight forward to set camber then toe. On a multi-link, like the rear of the FRS and BRZ, all adjustments affect each other, so it can be a bit of a tail chaser.

I would suggest to get a few 12' tape measures at a hardware store and compare them to one another. If you have 3 or 4 tape measures and none of them agree on a measurement should be, you will think that your cars alignment is always changing but in reality it was just the measuring device. I would also get a 12" ruler where 0" is actually at the edge of the ruler instead of offset. A lot of these are called either a "steel rule" or a "machinist rule." I personally have these https://tinyurl.com/nuw8ybwm, and https://tinyurl.com/3kun2279

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

One more thing I always do before aligning is to get the car in "race mode" as much as possible.  I use free weights in the driver seat to mimic driver weight, have fuel tank full (or whatever level you race at) and have tire pressures set to where you race at as well.  Also try to perform alignment on the most level and true slab you have.  Variables in l the above will affect your alignment readings.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 3/23/2021 at 6:27 AM, SSLance said:

One more thing I always do before aligning is to get the car in "race mode" as much as possible.  I use free weights in the driver seat to mimic driver weight, have fuel tank full (or whatever level you race at) and have tire pressures set to where you race at as well.  Also try to perform alignment on the most level and true slab you have.  Variables in l the above will affect your alignment readings.

 

 

Lance, good point about the concrete slab being flat and level. You can also use the tiles as shims on the floor, but you will need a long level or a laser to set the height. Regarding the weight being in the car to simulate the driver weight, it usually is a tiny change. This varies from car to car and how stiff the car is. On an STX built car, adding the driver weight really only mattered when I corner balanced the car. The car camber change I couldn't measure the change because the car only squats like 1/4", maybe less, when I get in the car. I'm also no light weight at like 235lbs. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What do you guys think of the Tenhulzen Automotive 2 Wheel Alignment Tool? It's not too expensive and says you don't need turn plates.

https://www.amazon.com/Tenhulzen-3300-2-Wheel-Alignment-System/dp/B00PKI0YSU

Unlike Lance's experience, my 2019 Miata is not stiff at all and the driving's weight changes the camber readings quite a bit. The next time I went to the alignment shop with my 1992 Miata, I put weights in the driver's seat. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So the hardest part about all of these DIY "alignment tools" is holding the caster camber gauge on the wheel properly while doing that caster sweep.  NONE of them hold the tool securely to the wheel has been my experience.  We built a T shaped tube metal jig that we bungee cord directly to each wheel and use a magnetic gauge to attach to it.  The bungees let you position the jig so it's level and true and then they hold it in place very well.  It also extends out in front and behind the tire and has slots in it to attach tape measure ends too for setting toe.  Kind of an all in one tool...  

Some sort of slip mechanism IS required to get an accurate caster reading as the tire moves forward\in, backward\out as you make a caster sweep  The linoleum tiles\garbage bags\sheetmetal with grease ideas are all ways to let this happen...the turn plates just do one other job by adding the gauge to show you exactly 20 degrees each way.  You can also get by with masking tape marks on the steering wheel and column to replicate the 20 degree sweeps each direction though.

The big deal is holding the caster gauge securely to the wheel...none of the kits do this very well at all.  And when the gauge falls off or moves for the tenth time while trying to check caster, you'll come up with a way to hold it to the wheel securely.  Might as well do that from the start and skip buying the kit is my suggestion.  

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...