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|DIY Wheel Alignment Guide; The String Method|
|Topic Started: Sat Jan 10, 2009 3:28 pm (10,589 Views)|
|Neil||Sat Jan 10, 2009 3:28 pm Post #1|
This has been 'discovered' on Club GTI, so the work was actually carried out on a Mk2 Golf, but I thought
that the basic principle was pretty sound, so here it is as a guide to checking and correcting the 4-wheel Alignment on your car.
Thanks to NigeP from CGTI.
Spent some time sorting out the wheel alignment now the top mounts, Lower ball joints and wheel bearings have all been replaced.
I used what is known as The String Method, it's surprisingly accurate..
First, I started with a roll of SEA FISHING SHOCK LEADER, its strong fishing line, I bought 50m in Fluorescent Red off Ebay for £2.75 delivered.
Start by making sure the steering wheel is pointing straight ahead, if this is moved or off centre, you will end up with the wheel not dead ahead when the car is driving straight. !!
Your method may vary slightly, but the basic theory is the same. I have some pieces of stone laying around which were ideal, you need something moveable but heavy enough to stay in place.
Start by having a pile of blocks at each corner of the car, now run a length of line down each side of the car, approximately parallel and then ties round each pile of blocks, slide the blocks apart to tighten the line and move up and down so the line runs level with the car hub
Now, the IMPORTANT PART, much easier with a helper.
You want to ensure the lines are parallel down each side of the car, so measure the distance between the lines
In my case, it was 1.714m (this really doesn't matter)
Now do the same at the front of the car
You now know the lines are parallel to each other, but they also need to be parallel to the sides of the car.
Shown as NOT being parallel to the car below:
To check, you measure the Hub > Line distance.
Front drivers side. I measured from that raised part on the wheel centre to the line.
Just over 63mm
Now the same on the nearside front, I adjusted the blocks at each side, to move the line so the front measurement was the same.
Rear Drivers side, 69mm from wheel to line
Rear passenger side, 69mm wheel to hub.
Lines parallel to the car with Hub measurements shown.
TAKE TIME DOING THE ABOVE STEPS.
If you rush it, there is not point continuing.
You Need to keep measuring the distance from the wheels centres to the line and the distance between the lines to ensure
the Lines are parallel to EACH OTHER AND the lines are parallel to the car.
You now have to lines running down the side of the car, if you move these, you need to start again !
I started with the rear wheels.
I wanted to check the wheels were both pointing forwards.
The reason I checked this is that I fitted the rear beam and there is play in the mounting bolts to allow beam alignment adjustment.
It does NOT matter which point on the wheels you pick, but you MUST keep using the same point for every wheel.
It ensures consistency and stops silly errors creeping in.
Rear Passenger side, front edge to line : 51mm
Rear Passenger side, rear edge to line : 53mm
Rear Drivers side, front edge to line : 51.5mm
Rear Drivers side, rear edge to line : 52mm
What this means is that in my case, the rear wheels were slightly toeing out and the passenger side more than the drivers...
Wheel angle greatly exaggerated below to show what I mean.
I loosened the rear beam mounts and adjusted the beam until the measurements were equal at each side.
I ended up with the distance from the front edge of the wheels being as close to the rear edge as my adjustment allowed.
I still have slight toe out at the rear, probably due to a slightly bent rear beam, but as I`ve had this for 18 months and found the handling to be fine, I`m leaving it.
Next step was to move onto the front wheels.
I turned the car around and re set the parallel lines, so the measurements may not tie in with the ones above.
Front wheel measurement in progress
Front Drivers side, rear edge : 46mm
Front Drivers side, Front edge : 57mm
I took measurements for the Front Passenger side too, they were 52mm and 46mm.
This meant I had huge Toe IN.
This was not suprising, I`d had all the suspension apart when replacing most of the components, I would not expect someone checking a car that hadn`t had major works to be this far out.
To adjust the tracking, loosen the Tie rod locking nut
Move the nut sufficiently down the tie rod so it does not impede adjustment
Fit suitable spanner and adjust the tracking. In my case, you would push the rear of the wheel outwards, therefore bringing the front in.
I was after zero toe, I had run this before and liked the handling on track.
Measuring the front wheels
Front edge of the Drivers front wheel : 41mm
Rear edge of the Drivers front wheel : 41mm
Front wheels after adjusting both sides. Zero toe (parallel)
Final check of all 4 wheels to ensure nothing had moved.
I took the car for a test drive and there was NO crabbing or off centre positioning of the steering wheel required.
This method may SOUND simplistic and not very accurate, but you will be surprised how you can spot even the tiniest adjustments with a steel rule and fishing line...
|kentronix||Sat Jan 10, 2009 3:31 pm Post #2|
Jar jar binks makes the ewoks look like fkin shaft !
|Excellent info. I think I would err on the side of getting it checked free and only getting the string out if they say it needs doing.|
|Stempies||Sat Jan 10, 2009 3:35 pm Post #3|
Quite an old method as i remember my dad doing a very similar thing years & years ago!!
|Big Ben||Sat Jan 10, 2009 4:05 pm Post #4|
Sneaky 2.5-16 Driver!
Some Garages down here still do that as a basic check! Either that or a notched piece of wood and an abacus!
Considering we can get a full computer alignment check and adjustment done for £45.00 I wont be breaking out the fishing tackle box.
Full marks for ingenuity though
Wouldnt like to try it on a DS21 .:lol:
|Neil||Sat Jan 10, 2009 4:31 pm Post #5|
The chap that wrote this has pretty much built two Golf Mk2 track cars single-handed, and probably never lets anybody else work on his cars, so I thought it an ideal guide for the intrepid amateur - Andy Cowman came to mind, tbh.
That guy was a right little DIY dynamo, wish he'd drop back in sometime.
|Russell||Sat Jan 10, 2009 4:51 pm Post #6|
|Fascinating reading Neil, cheers for posting that, never actually thought how tracking works before.|
|Pug||Sat Jan 10, 2009 5:41 pm Post #7|
Part of things
Nicely done. Cheers for posting it.
I did only speed read, as I've got to shoot out shortly but what should our figures be (or did I miss that bit)?
|Will||Sat Jan 10, 2009 5:57 pm Post #8|
Great reading and certainly very useful, but it won't take into account the other geometry such as camber settings etc, would it?
If nothing else, invaluable for the DIY mechanic after working on steering/suspension items, perhaps before considering a full four-wheel laser alignment etc? Better than scuffing your tyres up on the way there, or during an evening/weekend when the facilities for a proper alignment wouldn't be available.
Thanks for posting that Neil
|dave_irl||Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:04 pm Post #9|
BUMP for this freakin' awesome thread Neil. Thanks for taking the time to CTRL+V and format nicely
This is really neat, perfect for toe at least. My rear wheels are toe-ed out 30' but Im not too happy with it. Unfortunately one of the mounting tabs on the subframe for the eccentric bolt is not in the best shape, so we can't get that wheel any further in, which means the other one must stay the same. So cue some welding of a plate over the eccentric hole to provide a round hole, and some rose-jointed adjustable arms like the camber arm, and some neon red fishing line!!
My mechanic mate is getting some camber gauges, so between the two of us, alignment should be covered. At least for experimenting with different track set ups anyway..
Now how would one do caster.... Hmmm.
|khimani_mohiki||Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:53 pm Post #10|
Part of things
|Without a pit in your garage, how would you get under to make adjustments without having to jack it and take a wheel off? would end up being a bit of a trial and error exercise trying to get it right|
|dave_irl||Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:56 pm Post #11|
I guess you could measure, jack it up with care not to upset the lines, crawl under, make adjustment, lower, measure, repeat etc.. Wouldnt be too hard with patience. Still free.
|NitrousVic||Wed Mar 11, 2009 9:24 pm Post #12|
|algord83||Wed Mar 11, 2009 9:40 pm Post #13|
I can count to potato
I used to set up the alignment on my classic Minis myself all the time. Not just tracking though, caster and camber as well.
I used string, a large angle finder (we use them for determining the angle of bay windows) A set square and various sizes of steel ruler.
I even made some little wooden trestles for holding the string at variable heights.
I think my brain has atrophied to much for me to do the calculations now
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