Sunday, February 03, 2008

Fixing Alignment Woes ~ many moons ago after much tinkering with an ailing drive-shaft (& eventually going thru some major part replacement), I’ve sent my car for a computerized alignment check ~ and the report card came out looking dreadful, with lots of red marks which, shouldn’t mean any good.

Red markings indicate misalignment settings outside of the manufacturer’s recommended range which can hasten tire wear rate & adversely affect the car overall handling, braking & ride quality. ~ No wonder my car handles awkward with hints of severe understeer during hard cornering & feels unsettled during hard launches from standstill.

Being an enthusiast who enjoys occasional aggressive spirited driving, I’m not taking any chances by leaving this alignment problem un-addressed. Talk about taking calculated risk when pushing a car to its limits ~ on a badly setup car could be potentially fatal.

Here I’ll attempt to throw some light on the 3 basic parameters of the alignment process.

1. Toe ~ (in degrees) toe angle identifies the exact direction the tires are pointed relative to centerline of the car when viewed from above. A certain enthusiast recommended a slight toe-out setting for better directional stability & sharper turn-in response. Mine falls well within the recommended range.

2. Camber ~ (in degrees) the angle of the wheel relative to its vertical axis, when viewed from the front or the rear of the car. As with most lowered cars *mine’s got a 1&1/2 finger clearance from scraping the fenders (front tires)*, camber characteristics are inherently negative. Mine checks out at an averaged -1’30” (30” off spec) ~ gives better cornering grip but at expense of straight-line tracking & excessive tire wear & tear on the inner edge. Necessitates tire swapping from time to time… can’t be helped unless start investing in an aftermarket camber kit. Pricey $$

3. Caster ~ position of the wheel forward or rearward when viewed directly from side of the car. Mine was in a bad shape as both of my front wheels exhibit negative caster; wheel positioned toward the rear of the fender ~ attributing to poor straight line tracking, reduced high speed stability & cornering effectiveness. This one’s the source of my headache since it is likely the caused by a bent front wheel lower sub-frame ~ result of a collision or impact with a pothole or pavement; there no quick fix of adjusting it….

(HT VOL75 is a good read up source for the alignment lesson)

The only fix is to go the whole 9-yards & replace the whole god-damn sub-frame

Damage: 380bucks for a reconditioned replacement unit + more substantial $$ for the worn out bushing, driveshaft boots replacements, labor charges & 3 days of down time in the garage…



Gobbled up quite a chunk off my bonus, but it’s finally fixed now. At least I have the groundwork laid out for Resolution#2. My next trip to the workshop would involve major internal works on the power plant. No more untimely, costly repair/maintenance works, I hope. Or i'll never get to starting my quest for more POWER.

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