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Camber, Caster, and Toe Wheel Alignment - Get It Straight (Or Not)

Wheel Alignment Can Play A Huge Roll In Your Stance

Mar 12, 2010

Having the straightest wheel alignment will give your tires the largest contact patch as well as the most even treadwear. But when it comes down to having low offsets, big lips and wide wheels, you can't always find wheels that will meet your fenders perfectly. Adjusting your camber is one method to adjusting your stance. But before you do that, you should know some of the basics to suspension and wheel tuning. Too much negative camber will reduce your tire patch and performance, yet somehow it's become the coolest thing since party poppers. I don't know what it is about negative camber. It definitely screams 'loss of performance'. But at the same time a VIP car, drift car or bosozoku style car is nothing without it. Somehow extremely lowered cars with extreme camber trigger a natural attraction in males, much like the mammary glands of opposite sex. Here are some of the basics you should know before you ruin your car. Now don't even get me started on tire stretching.

Toe
Toe is the alignment of two wheels on the same axis. Adjusting your camber will throw toe settings off. Toe-in or toe-out will cause improper tire wear. Similar to skiing, when you have toes inward you will lose speed.

Sstp_1004_01_o+wheel_alignment+toe Photo 2/7   |   Camber, Caster, and Toe Wheel Alignment - Get It Straight (Or Not)

Camber
CAMBER is the angle of the face of wheel in relation to a 90° line off the ground. Camber affects traction, tire patch, treadwear and handling. You might have noticed your tires wearing on the inside due to a bit of negative camber.

Sstp_1004_02_o+wheel_alignment+camber Photo 3/7   |   Camber, Caster, and Toe Wheel Alignment - Get It Straight (Or Not)

Caster
Caster is the degree of angle between the wheel and the steering axis, usually the top hat of the strut. When you have positive caster the wheel will be in front of the top hat. Caster directly affects steering wheel speed and turn radius. Imagine pushing a dolly or riding a bike. It's much easier with positive camber.

Sstp_1004_03_o+wheel_alignment+caster Photo 4/7   |   Camber, Caster, and Toe Wheel Alignment - Get It Straight (Or Not)

Scrub Radius (Kingpin Offset)
If you draw your kingpin axis all the way down to the ground, and it hits the center of the tire at the same point it hits the ground, then you have zero scrub radius. If it hits the ground before the center of the tire, then you have your kingpin offset. Having too much kingpin offset (or scrub radius) will cause higher steering effort and stronger steering wheel kickback, as well as affect braking and handling. Changing your wheel offset directly affects scrub radius.

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