Alignment How-to

Last updated: April 3, 2000

Date: Fri, 17 Mar 2000 20:44:02 -0800
From: Dale Thomas (
Subject: (rx7) (all)Aligning your car LONG

I'm sending this out to all the lists so everybody has a chance to see it. You should all get a camber/castor gauge from Racer Wholesale or other similar companies. It will cost you the same or less than just ONE alignment at a shop. The other things you'll need are a roll of heavy string or twine and I use six jack stands. That's it.

A slightly more detailed article with pictures is available in the book "How to Make Your Car Handle".

  1. The first thing you need to do is find the centerline of the car. Do not assume the body is true, because most cars aren't built to that close of a tolerance.The suspension pivots are what matters, and all measurements should be taken from them. Take careful measurements and mark the spot on the underside of the car that is the exact center between the two pivots. Do this at the other end of the car.

  2. Now, I use a piece of string between two jack stands for this next part. Stretch the string tight and have it extend past the car on both ends and raise it until it just touches your reference marks.This is the centerline of the chassis.

  3. Now set up four more jack stands with string and set them so the string is about two inches from the car on either side. Have the car on the ground and everything just as you would have it for driving.

  4. You measure toe from the string to the WHEEL RIM, so set the string at a height even with the center of the wheels or the hub is even better. Now, adjust the string so it's EXACTLY parallel with your centerline string. After you get it all set up, KILL anyone who trips over them! Toe measurements are made from the reference string to the wheel rim. Oops, before you measure, make sure your rims are true. If they aren't you use an average of several toe measurements. This is very time consuming so hopefully your rims are straight!

    Remember using this method you are only measuring ONE wheel at a time. So each wheel will have a toe setting ONE HALF of the total.

    Here's an example: if you want 1/8" toe in, each wheel will have 1/16" toe in when measured to it's respective reference line. Check the toe setting at the rear by measuring from the front and rear of the rim to the reference line. The distance to the front of the rim minus the distance to the rear is the toe for that wheel. If the toe setting is zero, then the two distances must be equal.

  5. Now set the front toe, first making sure the steering is centered. Checking this is easy with the string, because if it's not centered, on wheel will have toe-in and the other toe-out. Just turn the wheel a little and measure again. Take your measurements the same way as you did on the rear.

Now you should be all set and ready to take on your favorite twisty road :-) You can also use a much less complicated method to check the alignment on your motorcycles. If any of you use the marks on your swingarms when you adjust your chain and you think the bike is straight, I got a bridge in Brookland I'll sell ya... cheap!

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