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Wheel Alignment Explained - What is camber, caster and toe? - Yospeed

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Remember, your wheels are the point that secures you and your family onto the road… or your race car on the track… or your 4x4 getting off the beaten trail so maintaining their alignment is the best thing for your safety, your purpose and your pocket!

Do-It-Yourself Wheel Alignment Guide | MOTHER EARTH NEWS

If the camber is out of adjustment, it will cause premature tire wear on one side of the tire's thread. This can usually happen when the vehicle has been involved in an accident, large pot holes, and the common disagreement with gutters whilst parking; these can cause structural damage or damage to the suspension assembly.

Camber will also go out of alignment when suspension begins to sag with age, or when ball joints and bushings begin to fail.

Remember, whenever camber changes it directly affects toe.

When the wheel is in front of the load the caster is positive. Three to five degrees of positive caster is the typical range of settings, with lower angles are being used on heavier vehicles to reduce steering effort.

If the caster is out of adjustment, it can cause problems in straight-line tracking. Tracking is the car pulling side to side, or following ruts and impressions of the road. If the caster is different from side to side, the vehicle will pull to the side with the less positive caster.

If the caster is equal but too negative, the steering will be light and the vehicle will wander and be difficult to keep in a straight line. If the caster is equal but too positive, the steering will be heavy and the steering wheel may kick when you hit a bump!

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Even though this sounds more involved than Camber, Caster has little or no effect on tire wear. Toe is the most critical alignment setting relative to tire wear, if your toe is out by even a third of an inch, each tire on that axle will scrub almost three and half feet sideways every mile and in turn dramatically reducing the life of the tyre.

These will all affect the Toe due to the geometry of the steering linkage in relation to the geometry of the suspension. The toe angle identifies the direction of the tires compared to the centerline of the vehicle. Caster is positive if the line is angled forward, and negative if backward.

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Typically, positive caster will make the vehicle more stable at high speeds, and will increase tire lean when cornering. This can also increase steering effort as well. Most road vehicles have what is called cross-caster. Cross castered vehicles have slightly different caster and camber, which cause it to drift slightly to the right while rolling. This is a safety feature so that un-manned vehicles or drivers who lose steering control will drift toward the side of the road instead of into oncoming traffic.

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Toe Perhaps the easiest concept to visualize is toe. Toe represents the angle derived from pointing the tires inward or outward from a top-down view — much like looking down at your toes and angling them inward or outward. Correct toe is paramount to even tread wear and extended tire life. If the tires are pointed inward or outward, they will scrub against the surface of the road and cause wear along the edges. Sometimes however, tread life can be sacrificed for performance or stability Positive toe occurs when the front of both tires begins to face each other.

Positive toe permits both wheels to constantly generate force against one another, which reduces turning ability.

Do-It-Yourself Wheel Alignment Guide

However, positive tow creates straighter driving characteristics. Typically, rear wheel drive vehicles have slightly positive tow in the rear due to rolling resistance — causing outward drag in the suspension arms.

The slight positive toe straightens out the wheels at speed, effectively evening them out and preventing excessive tire wear. Negative toe is often used in front wheel drive vehicles for the opposite reason.

Alignment 101 - Camber, Toe, and Caster

Their suspension arms pull slightly inward, so a slight negative toe will compensate for the drag and level out the wheels at speed. Negative toe increases a cars cornering ability. When the vehicle begins to turn inward towards a corner, the inner wheel will be angled more aggressively. Since its turning radius is smaller than the outer wheel due to the angle, it will pull the car in that direction.

Negative toe decreases straight line stability as a result. Any slight change in direction will cause the car to hint towards one direction or the other.