Anybody do their own alignments?

brokenblinker

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I just purchased my GT350 recently. I was curious if people just generally take their cars somewhere, or whether they perform alignments themselves. If so, what methods are used?

I remember my dad had some setup with strings when I was a little kid.

 

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Oh man this thread is dangerous :frown:
 
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brokenblinker

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Ive used the string technique and it works great.... on my lawn tractor and atvs.
My dad raced Spec Racer Ford for many years. He had a setup that bolted to some frame tabs or something. I'm not sure, I was like 7 at the time and didn't understand all of it. Alignment with strings was enough to be nationally competitive.

Conceptually, it doesn't seem like anything impossible. I was curious as to modern solutions.
 

galaxy

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If you do a little digging, it doesn’t take long to learn that a patient time, and a good set up with strings is the way to go. Unless you get a good specialty shop that cares, they’re gonna set you up in the green zone. With strings, you can set it exact. And then in my case, there’s just no accounting for the sheer joy of doing something like that yourself.

Doing my own alignments is a bucket list item for me. I know the basics very well, and have done alignments in the past on a rack, but I want to keep doing homework and get a goood setup built to do strings.

I also have no idea why this thread would be dangerous. Great topic. In fact, I think it’d be a good sticky thread where we can share pointers and stuff on this very topic.
 

Chhris

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Sorry, I don't follow. I tried searching and didn't find anything.
Just look for a alignment shop near you on google, tire shops usually do it, or they can recommend you one
 
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brokenblinker

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If you have an alignment issue take it to a qualified professional... Its absurd to consider making adjustments using backyard mechanic tricks.
Genuine question. Someone could extend the same argument to oil changes, etc.
Why is it absurd to consider making adjustments?
 

Gearz

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I do. Method:

I set the front camber first, if I'm changing it - usually either just check it or change it between street and track/autox. During autox season I'll just leave it maxed out negative camber<1>. I use a Longacre camber gauge although you can now get pretty decent camber readings using a straight edge on the rim lip and a level app on the phone.
Next I'll check the rear toe using the same toe plates. I'll also check the thrust angle using a laser pointer on the straight edge on the rim lip, shooting to the front where I put a steel ruler against the center of the hub of the front wheel. If the reading is different from one side to the other, the thrust angle is off. Adjust the toe until they match and the toe in is where you want it. Finally, check the camber in the rear using the same method as the front. It gets VERY tricky because changing the camber will change the toe and vice-versa. It's complicated by the fact that the upper link is where you set the camber and it's difficult to get to the bolt, and the hole is just slotted instead of using an eccentric/cam like the toe link has. Having an extended 18mm ratcheting end wrench with a flex head is really the only way to get to that bolt.
Because the rear camber link is such a pain to set if it's out I'll usually mess around with it for several hours, then decide to take it to a local shop and let them set it. Not an option if I'm doing it at the event.
The front end is really the only thing I tweak and it's pretty painless. I'll check the rear just to make sure nothing has moved.

<1> No, running max negative camber on the street/road will not destroy your tires. Running even a little bit of toe-out will. However, if you hit a rut/pothole/rough track crossing hard the risk of bending a wheel is higher than if you're at normal camber and yes, that happened to me.

Longacre camber gauge
Toe plates
18mm long wrench that makes the rear camber adjustment possible
 

Chhris

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Genuine question. Someone could extend the same argument to oil changes, etc.
Why is it absurd to consider making adjustments?
I feel like someone that doesnt know how to do an oil change could mess up and put a different oil in their car, this goes the same way, you could end up eating through tires if is not done right, like i said you could learn and do it yourself or take it to a professional with good reviews and have it done it perfectly
 
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brokenblinker

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I do. Method:

I set the front camber first, if I'm changing it - usually either just check it or change it between street and track/autox. During autox season I'll just leave it maxed out negative camber<1>. I use a Longacre camber gauge although you can now get pretty decent camber readings using a straight edge on the rim lip and a level app on the phone.
Next I'll check the rear toe using the same toe plates. I'll also check the thrust angle using a laser pointer on the straight edge on the rim lip, shooting to the front where I put a steel ruler against the center of the hub of the front wheel. If the reading is different from one side to the other, the thrust angle is off. Adjust the toe until they match and the toe in is where you want it. Finally, check the camber in the rear using the same method as the front. It gets VERY tricky because changing the camber will change the toe and vice-versa. It's complicated by the fact that the upper link is where you set the camber and it's difficult to get to the bolt, and the hole is just slotted instead of using an eccentric/cam like the toe link has. Having an extended 18mm ratcheting end wrench with a flex head is really the only way to get to that bolt.
Because the rear camber link is such a pain to set if it's out I'll usually mess around with it for several hours, then decide to take it to a local shop and let them set it. Not an option if I'm doing it at the event.
The front end is really the only thing I tweak and it's pretty painless. I'll check the rear just to make sure nothing has moved.

<1> No, running max negative camber on the street/road will not destroy your tires. Running even a little bit of toe-out will. However, if you hit a rut/pothole/rough track crossing hard the risk of bending a wheel is higher than if you're at normal camber and yes, that happened to me.

Longacre camber gauge
Toe plates
18mm long wrench that makes the rear camber adjustment possible
Really quality response. Thanks for your time.
 

The Rooster

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Genuine question. Someone could extend the same argument to oil changes, etc.
Why is it absurd to consider making adjustments?

... Oil changes are a little less complicated, and Im not sure where you adjust an oil change.

Have you seen what alignment equipment looks like these days? I find it hard to believe anybody could think they could come close with a string compared to the technology a properly equipped shop has (assuming they know what they're doing, if not find a shop that does).

How about castor and camber? rear wheel/four wheel alignment? All this with a string? Or are we going to bring in a 2x4 and protractor lol.
 
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brokenblinker

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... Oil changes are a little less complicated, and Im not sure where you adjust an oil change.

Have you seen what alignment equipment looks like these days? I find it hard to believe anybody could think they could come close with a string compared to the technology a properly equipped shop has (assuming they know what they're doing, if not find a shop that does).

How about castor and camber? rear wheel/four wheel alignment? All this with a string? Or are we going to bring in a 2x4 and protractor lol.
All of that fancy equipment is needed to be really fast and repeatable to make money doing it and not charge crazy amount.

Fortunately, throughput is not a huge concern for me since its my own vehicle and I can take more time and effort that is not directly proportional to a profit obtained.
 

Gearz

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Caster isn't really adjustable on these cars. I've had alignments done wrong by "professionals" although they've always fixed them after I checked. The shop I use now lets me hang out in the bay and "help" the technician. You'd be surprised how easy it is to mix up toe in and toe out.

It's like anything, if you're not comfortable working on it then take it somewhere. I've been wrenching on cars for a long time so my comfort level is not exactly average but everyone starts somewhere. I used the string method for a long time on a lot of different cars but the toe plates and laser pointer method works a lot better for me and is actually more accurate than the string method.

When setting camber it's also important to be on as level ground as possible. I have four spots marked on my garage floor with the number of tiles required in each one to get each tire on a level plane.
 

 
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